Museum Expeditions & Field Trips - 2005
One of the most geologically complex parts of England, the Lake District of Cumbria displays many features of it's remote volcanic past during the Ordovician - Lower Devonian, overlaid with evidence of glaciation during the Pleistocene - the meltwaters of which originally formed the lakes.
The innumerable igneous intrusions that scatter this area have provided a wealth of minerals in the past ranging from iron, copper and zinc to lead, arsenic and tungsten. Little mining still exists in the area with most commercial exploitation now being for the ornamental pink and blue granites of Shap and the green Westmorland slates of Borrowdale.
The area is surrounded by narrow country roads and lanes and as much of the soil is poorly drained - despite the steep slopes - it is advisable to leave your car in one of the public car parks in Ambleside, Elterwater, Chapel Stile or Grasmere and proceed on foot. Once off the main Cumbrian Way footpath, paths tend to be of loose rock and boulders and stout walking footwear is strongly recommended, particularly when wet. Weather in this part of the country can be unpredictable so you should cater for all eventualities. On the day of our field trip, the temperature ranged from T-shirt to fleece in a matter of moments!
Please Note: As this part of the Lake District forms part of a National Park, use of hammers is strictly prohibited.
Stone Museum of Geology extends its grateful thanks to Post Office Limited for sponsoring our trip.
Stone Museum of Geology
Stone Museum of Geology
This field trip explored the geological boundary that divides the original Jurassic marine limestones of this area (laid down when this area formed the bottom of the Tethys Sea) from the igneous rocks of the Massif Central area produced during the upthrust phase of mountain building when the African and European tectonic plates collided some 40 million years ago.
This makes this part of France an interesting one geologically in that within a relatively small area, specimens of igneous, sedimentary and metamophic rocks can all be found in abundance. Given the height of the Alps - which are still growing at the rate of 1cm per year - the formation of a number of glaciers between the mountain tops, further increases the geological interest of this region.
The boundary is best viewed within the Guisane Valley where the east and west slopes are formed of these totally different rocks. The base of the eastern flank of the valley are composed of middle Jurassic grey limestones inter-bedded with black marl clays with the summit comprising limestones metamorphosed into schist dating from the Upper Cretaceous. The western flanks of the valley are composed mainly of granite.
Fragments of marble that can be found amongst the river bed gravels of the Guisane and Claree rivers provide further evidence of metamorphism.
Stone Museum of Geology extends its grateful thanks to Mr Alex Glover for the photographs and specimens illustrated here.
The second largest of the three Maltese islands, Gozo produces about 400 tons of salt each year by evaporation of sea water from salt pans built along the beach. The photographs shown here are from Qbejjar, a 10 minute walk from the main harbour town of Marselform.
Water is pumped from the sea into holding tanks and then transferred once a week into each salt pan. The salt is then harvested by hand, washed, packaged and sold locally.
Originally, the harvested salt was stored in a nearby cave, hewn out of the rock by hand. The cave now forms a tiny museum showing how the salt is made and shows and displays some of the implements used to harvest the salt an to excavate the cave. The museum also houses a few local fossils including some massive shark's teeth and a boulder containing a complete monkfish (the mouth, teeth and tail are clearly visible).
Stone Museum of Geology extends its grateful thanks to Mr Tony Hills for the narrative and photographs that appear here.
Morroco has a rich and diverse geology that spans all of the major geological time periods. Much of the country is mountainous from the Anti-Atlas in the deep south, formed during the Precambrian when Africa and America collided to form the supercontinent of Pangaea, through the High Atlas of the South and Middle Atlas in the centre of the country to the Rif Mountains of the North, all formed during the Cretaceous when Africa collided with Europe.
Rock types vary from the ancient pink and weathered granites of the Anti-Atlas, through the igneous and mineral rich rocks of the Middle Atlas to the fossil rich limestones of the High Atlas and Atlantic coastlines.
Everywhere in the Atlas Ranges, you will come across stalls selling minerals and fossils at very tempting prices but beware of fakes - particularly the brightly coloured ones. Ornamental dark marble rich in fossil orthoceras ammonite shells dating from the Ordovician is quarried, prepared and exported all over the world from the town of Erfoud and can be found in almost all gift shops in the country.
A mineral rich country, manganese and copper ores can be found around the town of Tamegroute, to the south east of Marrakesh.
There are many fossil and mineral shops in the hamlet of Sidi Chamarouche, in the Mizane Valley and in the town of Taddert in the High Atlas.
Notes for travellers