12 August 2016
Scottish Charity No. SC004427
Dear Members,
I’m sorry to have to report the death of long-time supporter and HGS excursion leader, George Downie on 31 May. He hadn’t been in the best of health for a little while and died peacefully at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary. His funeral in Rosehearty was well attended and his nephew spoke movingly about George’s commitment to the British Schools Exploration Society (he led expeditions to Alaska, Greenland and the USA), as well as his love of teaching at the University of Aberdeen. Professor Stuart Munro drove up from Edinburgh for the funeral as he credits George with introducing him to the world of rocks having being shown a petrological microscope during a departmental open day. Although George hadn’t been active with the society for a number of years, he will be remembered with affection as a patient and knowledgeable field geologist.
On a happier note, the Friends of Hugh Miller, to whom the society is affiliated, had an extremely successful AGM in May. Prizes for a writing competition organised by the Scottish Geodiversity Forum were presented and the event culminated with one of the winning writers (Jim Gilchrist) picking up an almost complete specimen of the rare Devonian fish Cheirolepis trailli, described as one of the most extraordinary fossil finds at Cromarty for a generation. More information can be found at: http://s3.spanglefish.com/s/27844/documents/newsletters/newslettersummer16.pdf
Thank you to everyone who has supported our field excursions thus far. Our final jaunt this season will be:
Saturday 3 September – Sunday 4 September – Tayvallich volcanics, Dr Roger Anderton
Meet at the Kilmartin Hotel, Kilmartin, PA31 8RQ (NR 8351 9886) at 9.45 am. We plan to leave some cars at the hotel, if possible.
On Saturday we will examine coastal exposures of sedimentary and volcanic rocks at the boundary between the Middle and Upper divisions of the Dalradian Supergroup in the vicinity of Kilmory Bay (bottom end of Loch Sween, east side). The Ardrishaig Phyllites and Crinan Grits show changes in sedimentology and a variety of structural features. On Sunday we will continue looking at sedimentary and volcanic rocks of these Dalradian divisions around Rubha na Cille on the Tayvallich peninsula. In the afternoon, we will move forward in time and investigate Quaternary geomorphological features and archaeology in the Kilmartin area.
Dinner has been booked at the Kilmartin Hotel on Saturday so please let Alison know if you would like to join the group for dinner. See http://www.kilmartin-hotel.com/index.htm for more information.
**** New date****
5 October – Diamond - the most elusive gemstone? Don Duncan, Duncan Geological Consulting Ltd.
The world of diamond exploration was, until the 1980's, largely unknown outside of one or two companies. Upper Mantle studies were confined to a handful of geoscientists worldwide until a partnership was formed with the diamond industry and those studies proved to have applications in not only finding, but also in
exploiting kimberlites and lamproites. The talk is set out as a journey from exploration concepts through
exploration methods, ending in the evaluation of kimberlites as potential mines. On the way, there will be
illustrated diversions to various countries, together with anecdotes and asides. There will not, however, be
any free samples of the elusive carbon polymorph!
Don has worked for over forty years in mineral exploration and mining in Africa, China and Australia, with
the occasional foray into Russia and South America. He is also the author of ‘The Psychologist's Just
Been...’ which is written under the pseudonym of Tom Lindsay. This is a tale in the style of the James
Herriot 'vet' books: young geologist goes off to seek fame and fortune, then, somewhat older but no wiser,
writes about his adventures. The central character has thus far led a life more reminiscent of that of an
explorer in the 1800’s than that which might be expected of a modern scientist. His somewhat wry views on
many issues are coloured by the numerous locations and cultures in which he’s not only worked, but lived,
often during periods of significant social change.
The book is available on Amazon Books (and other internet sellers) in both paperback and Kindle format
and has received numerous positive reviews. Don will be happy to sign copies for members after his talk.
9 November – A Geologist’s Perspective of the Role of the Highlands and Islands in Hydrocarbon
Exploration and Production, Jim Ritchie, Subsurface Director, Speedwell Energy Ltd, Aberdeen
Major engineering facilities in the Highlands and Islands provide visual evidence of the impact of the oil and
gas industry in the region. Examples include the platform fabrication yards at Ardersier, Kishorn and Arnish
Point on the Isle of Lewis, the exploration rig maintenance yards at Invergordon and Nigg with mobile rigs
lined up in the Cromarty Firth and, further north, the oil terminals at Flotta and Sullom Voe, as well as the
subsea production and control bundles fabrication facility at Sinclair’s Bay. What is perhaps less well
known is the important contribution of the Highlands and Islands to the understanding of the subsea geology
in the Moray Firth, North Sea and Atlantic Margin. The consequent successful exploration for, and
development of, oil and gas in these areas continues to be very important to the economy of Scotland and the


UK. Jim’s talk will give some examples of applying outcrop studies to the offshore environment and will
also describe some onshore hydrocarbon exploration and development activity. There will also be a
description of the components needed for a working petroleum system, which is essential for successful
hydrocarbon exploration.
7 December – The real mineral resources of the UK, Professor Peter Scott, Peter W. Scott Ltd. and
Camborne School of Mines, University of Exeter
Rocks and minerals mined or quarried in the UK provide many of the raw materials for our basic industries.
Those currently extracted include sand and gravel, limestone, dolomite, sandstone, igneous rocks, silica
sand, gypsum, potash, salt, china clay, ball clay, common clay, building and dimension stone, slate, fluorite,
barite, and talc. They are worth about £2.5 billion to the UK economy and provide around 20,000 jobs at
about 2,000 sites of extraction. Processing and manufacture into mineral-based and other products that
contain one or more of these minerals add considerably more value and gives even more employment. By
contrast, metal ore extraction in the UK in recent years was worth about £1 million, although this will
increase with a new tungsten mine now on-stream in Devon. The lecture will describe the geological
features of some of the minerals that were once extracted in the UK and discuss the geological problems in
extracting some of the present ones.
Contact information:
Chairman: Alan Thompson 01463 238992 alanrossthompson@hotmail.com
Secretary: Dr Alison Wright 01309 671949 a.j.wright00@aberdeen.ac.uk
Treasurer: Dr Rhona Fraser rhonabifraser@tiscali.co.uk
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