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11 May 08
Let's rock on to bigger and better things this summer

By Ian Mitchell of Scottish Natural Heritage
British summertime officially started at the end of March and now is the time when we traditionally think about getting out there and seeing what this great area of ours has to offer.

So why not take advantage of the wealth of fascinating geological features we have in the north of Scotland - with key sites Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve (NNR) near Elphin and the vast North West Highlands Geopark well worth a visit.

Last summer at SNH's Knockan Crag NNR we employed a part time visitor guide to explain the importance of this internationally celebrated geological site. The post was co-funded by HIE Caithness and Sutherland and we were lucky be able to take on Scourie-based geologist, Donald Fisher. The service proved popular with local people and visitors and it is hoped to repeat it this summer.

It was interesting to see last week evidence of the biggest meteorite ever to hit the British Isles was found by scientists from the University of Oxford and the University of Aberdeen. It is thought that a large meteorite hit the northwest of Scotland around 1.2 billion years ago.

Scientists had believed that many of the unusual rock formations in the Ullapool area were volcanically formed, but a report in the journal "Geology" explains there may be evidence buried in rock layers pointing to some of these formations as being material thrown out over an area of around 50 kilometres across. The crater of this meteorite is believed to lie under the Minch, close to Ullapool.

This fascinating trip back through time is just one element of the geological interest in this part of the world. We are fortunate to have the North West Highlands Geopark, Scotland's first Geopark which won the UNESCO and European Geopark accolade in 2004.

The Geopark covers an area of the north west from Durness to Achiltibuie and aims to encourage sustainable rural development by raising awareness of the north west's outstanding geology and supporting economic and social development, especially linked to tourism. And it also supports environmental educational initiatives and research activities relating to the geological, natural and cultural heritage of the area.

Some of you may well have attended the successful European Geoparks Conference held in Ullapool last September. At the opening event, Scottish Natural Heritage chairman Andrew Thin confirmed the importance of Geoparks for communities and the economy of the north west. More than 150 international delegates converged on Ullapool and then travelled around looking at the links between geology, culture and land use. There were representatives from 31 Geoparks across Europe and the rest of the world. The furthest-travelled was John Collyer from the Warrnambool Aboriginal Cooperative, who gave a spectacular presentation about cultural landscapes in Australia. Fortunately there were no further meteor strikes on Ullapool while they were there!

Seventy five per cent of the Scottish adult population made at least one visit to the outdoors for leisure and recreation purposes in 2005 and these visits were estimated to be worth £4.8 billion to the Scottish economy. Wildlife tourism has grown in importance and a major visitor survey in 2001 demonstrated that 70% of visitors list wildlife and landscape as key parts of their Scottish holiday.
If you are looking for places to visits check out SNH leaflets 'Where to See Wildlife and Landscapes in Caithness and Sutherland' and 'North West Seaboard/Cladach An Iar Thuath', which are available from SNH offices in Golspie and Ullapool and Local Tourist Information Centres.

The leaflets are also available on our North Highland web pages http://www.snh.org.uk/scottish/nhighland/publications.asp

Finally, and still sticking to our geological theme, watch out for details of an open day SNH is planning at Achanarras in Caithness this summer to launch our new visitor facilities here. Achanarras Quarry is an internationally known site for fossil fish finds and SNH is currently investing in a range of improvements to make visits more interesting and enjoyable.

Key Earth Science Sites In Caithness  - From www.fettes.com

Code Name Block Grid Ref
351   Achanarras Quarry   Silurian - Devonian Chordata
835   Baile an t-Sratha   Quaternary of Scotland
364   Banniskirk Quarry   Silurian - Devonian Chordata
1022   Dirlot Castle   Moine
1989   Duncansby to Skirza Head   Coastal Geomorphology of Scotland
227   Dunnet Bay   Coastal Geomorphology of Scotland
647   Holborn Head Quarry   Silurian - Devonian Chordata
353   John o`Groats   Silurian - Devonian Chordata
375   Leavad   Quaternary of Scotland
2749   Loch of Winless   Quaternary of Scotland
648   Pennyland   Silurian - Devonian Chordata
1814   Pennylands to Castlehill   Non-Marine Devonian
352   Spittal Quarry   Silurian - Devonian Chordata
2496   Too of the Head   Old Red Sandstone Igneous
354   Westerdale Quarry   Silurian - Devonian Chordata
355   Weydale Quarry   Silurian - Devonian Chordata
1812   Wick Quarries   Non-Marine Devonian
399  Drumhollistan Quaternary of Scotland


Caithness Geological Notes  - April 1985

The North West of the Highlands is the first area of Scotland to be awarded UNESCO-endorsed European Geopark status following an announcement made this morning in Sicily during the European Geoparks Networks annual meeting.   Geopark status has been awarded to the area which encompasses parts of Wester Ross and the whole of North West Sutherland on the basis of its outstanding geology and landscape, the strength of its partnership approach to sustainable economic development and its existing geological interpretation facilities.

Two Ancient Worlds -
The Moon & The Northern Highlands of Scotland

Britain's Rocky Past
Geological Survey Of Ireland
Database of Minerals - French
Geologic Information
British Geological Survey

Fossil Collections of the World
US Geological Survey Learning Web
Geology at Oxford Brookes University
West's Geology Directory
About Geology - Masses of links here
The Geological Society of London
AAPG Publications
Yahoo Geology
General Geology
UK Earth Science Courseware Consortium
Geological Society - UK

Online Geoscience Journals
AGU Journals including:

Earth Interactions
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Bulletin of Environmental Contamination and Toxicology
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Contributions to Mineralogy and Petrology
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Mineralium Deposita
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Physics and Chemistry of Minerals
Physics and Chemistry of the Earth
Physics of the Earth and Planetary Interiors
Planetary and Space Science
Precambrian Research
Pure and Applied Geophysics
Scottish Journal of Geology
Sedimentary Geology
Theoretical and Applied Climatology

See Also
Quarries In Caithness

Fossil Links

European Geological Surveys
European Geological Surveys Home Page..
Foregs Forum of the European Geological Surveys Directors
GEIXS European Geological Data Resource
Austria - Geological Survey of Austria (Geologische Bundesanstalt)
Czech Republic - CGU - Czech Geological Survey (Ceský Geologický Ústav)
Denmark - GEUS - Danmarks og Grønlands Geologiske Undersøgelse
Estonia - GSE - Geological Survey of Estonia
Finland - GTK - Geological Survey of Finland (Geologian Tutkimuskeskus)
France - BRGM - Bureau de Recherches Géologiques et Minières
Germany - BGR - Bundesanstalt für Geowissenschaften und Rohstoffe
Greece - IGME - Greek Institute of Geology and Mineral Exploration
Hungary - MGS - Hungarian Geological Survey (Magyar Geológai Szolgálat)
Lithuania - Geological Survey of Lithuania
Netherlands - NITG - Nederlands Instituut voor Tregepaste Geowetenschappen
Norway - NGU - Norges Geologiske Undersøkelse
Portugal - Instituto Geológica e Mineiro
Slovenia - Uprava Republike Slovenije za Geofiziko
Spain - ITGE - Instituto Tecnologico GeoMinero de España
Sweden - SGU - Sveriges Geologiska Undersökning
United Kingdom BGS British Geological Survey

Geoscience Link Sites
The Geological Society
The Volcanic Home Page
Earthworks, Geoscience job vacancies and opportunies
Geological Association of Canada
Quaternary Research Association
SVEKALAPKO Europrobe Project
United Kingdom Earth Science Coursework Consortium
Geological Society of London

University College Dublin - Geology

Applied Geophysics Unit, National University of Ireland, Galway
Department of Geology, Trinity College Dublin
Department of Geology, University College Cork
Geophysics Section, School of Cosmic Physics, Dublin Institute of Advanced Studies
Geophysics Research Group, University of Ulster at Coleraine
School of Geography, Queen's University of Belfast

Edinburgh University - School Of Geosciences

Glasgow University, Division of Earth Sciences
University Of Aberdeen - Geology and Petroleum Geology
St. Andrews University, Department of Geology

United Kingdom
Aberystwyth University, Institute of Geography and Earth Sciences
Birmingham University, School of Earth Sciences
Bristol University, Department of Geology
Cambridge University, Department of Earth Sciences
Cardiff University, Department of Earth Sciences
Durham University, Department of Geological Sciences
Imperial College, London
Keele University, Department of Earth Sciences
Leeds University, Department of Earth Sciences
Leicester University, Department of Geology
Liverpool University, Department of Earth Sciences
Manchester University, Department of Earth Sciences
Open University Geological Symposium
Open University, Department of Earth Sciences
Oxford University, Department of Earth Sciences
Oxford Brookes University, Department of Geology
Plymouth University, Department of Geological Sciences
Portsmouth University, School of Earth, Environmental and Physical sciences
Royal Holloway, University of London Department of Geology
Sheffield University, Department of Environmental and Geological Sciences
Southampton Oceanography Centre
Sunderland University, Department of Geology
University College London, Department of Geological Sciences

United States Of America
University of North Carolina Earth Sciences
The CalTech seismology labhome page has lots of information of recent earthquakes.
U.S. Geological Survey
Duke University's Division of Earth and Oceanographic Sciences
North Carolina State University's Department of Marine, Earth & Atmospheric Sciences

Earth Sciences site maintained at the University of Calgary.
University of Arizona's seismological link

Other American Links
American Geophysical Union
Geological Society of America

Ocean Drilling Program
Ocean Drilling Program - Leg 198
Ocean Drilling Program
National Hurricane Center
North Carolina Geological Survey

Geology Links Lists
UK Geological Society Links Page

European Geoscience University Departments - Complete List of World Wide Geoscience Departments and Organisations

Rest Of The World
Brunei University

Photo Sites
Fluorescent Mineral Photo Gallery
Fluorescent Minerals
Mineral Info Photo Index
Yup Rocks
John Betts Fine Minerals
Mineral Image Index