Friday, 1 March 2013

Good old days in the Carreck Archive by Michael Perkins

Work progresses on the fascinating Carreck Archive. The photographers are making steady headway through the huge pile of albums and ephemera, taking fabulously high-resolution shots of every image, postcard and letter in the collection. My contribution to the effort involves transcribing the photo captions – or more generically, capturing metadata - into a database to allow the images to be indexed and searched in GeoScenic.

It’s a painstaking task, not only requiring the deciphering of the antique handwriting but also much subsequent corroboration of place and fossil names to ensure correct spelling. But there is much to be learnt. It's a great opportunity to expand one's geological vocabulary – particularly as some of the common geological parlance from the beginning of the 20th century is replaced or gradually falls out of use over time. The members of the Geologists’ Association lived in a world full of hading fault planes, mammillated surfaces and false bedding.
The work also gives a wonderful opportunity to relive some classic field trips, and for those whose geological stamping ground is limited to one particular part of the country, it gives a chance to learn about the marvelous geology accessible in other regions.

Some of my favourite images are from Yorkshire, when the GA visited the Settle area:

Settle from Castlebergh
 This one from the spectacular Brinham Rocks (note here the false bedding) almost looks like it was taken from the wedding album of a keen geologist! Meanwhile at Norber the geologists found Silurian glacial erratics resting on Carboniferous limestones:

The Cottage Loaf

These pedestals show that the limestone has been protected when it has been
covered by the boulder but the remainder has been weathered down for that distance

Other spectacular locations include the waterfall at Easegill Force, and the unconformity above the Horton Flags displayed at the Arco Wood Quarry near Settle. This one would no doubt have particular excited Hutton! 
Easegill Force

Annotations: Carboniferous Limestone, bedding, Horton Flags

In fact, such industrial geology is particularly well represented in the collection, with quarries and railway cuttings the preferred way to get up close to the rocks. These photos give a glimpse of how quarrying, mining and construction methods have changed over the course of a century, with the almost ubiquitous small scale workings shown quite different to the large, highly-mechanised operations of today.
A particularly nice image shows the construction site for the foundations of the dam at Blackbrook Reservoir in Leicestershire: 

Foundations for Blackbrook Reservoir Dam, looking E. Excavated in Low Beds
of the Charnian Serives, Charnwood Forest. 20.5.02. Presented by Messrs G
and F Hodson, the Engineers

while the following image shows tunnels dug for sand workings in Surrey:

Tunnel workings in Folkestone Sands, Godstone. (Miss M.S.J., 16-6-00)
Even in those days, some geologists were lucky enough to be able to core through great thicknesses of rock. Drilling in Somerset gave a great chance to inspect an extended sequence of Mesozoic and Palaeozoic sediments:

Cores obtained in boring thro’ 2000 ft of New Red Sandstone (Keuper, Bunter
and Permian). Dunball, Somerset. T.W.R. 2-6-11
All these and many more fascinating images will incrementally be made available on GeoScenic in the coming months, so keep your eyes peeled! Meanwhile the team will stay busy with this laborious yet rewarding work for some considerable time to come.

By Michael Perkins (BGS Volunteer)

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