Friday, 26 June 2015

A picture speaks a thousand words: delving into GeoScenic ... by Caroline Adkin

GeoScenic was launched in early December 2009 as part of OpenGeoscience, a free service where these images can be downloaded and used for private study, educational activities and research.

GeoScenic is an image library which currently has over 86,000 modern and historical images from BGS's archives. These images can be located under various categories such as Best of BGS images, a summary of the best photographs from the collections, Geoscience Subjects, covering a range of topics such as geoscience areas of interest, fossils and general photographs, and Special Collections, covering important or historical collections from the archives.

Each of these main categories will also have many subcategories. The existing images cover a range of subjects, for example different rock structures around the UK, fossils and the impact of natural events on the landscape for instance flooding and volcanoes, which have become of great interest to many people in recent times. It is also proving extremely popular with both teachers and members of the public.

P711374 Aerial views of flooding in Cumbria 2009.
Since the launch, there has been a total of 48,814,120 views. The most popular images being viewed are photographs of flooding and pictures from one of the Special Collections, the Henry Mowbray Cadell Archive.

Henry Mowbray Cadell
P769232 India tour. Mosque.
From the HM Cadell photographic archive.

Born in 1860, Henry Cadell was a mining consultant and industrialist. He had acquired considerable geological knowledge of the Lothian coalfields. In the 1850s, he had passed on a wealth of geological information about the Bo'ness area to Archibald Geikie. Cadell later went onto study geology under Geikie at Edinburgh University in 1878.

Archibald Geikie became director of the Geological Survey in 1882. Cadell joined the Geological Survey in Scotland in 1883. Staff were being recruited to work in the Highlands, at that time the largest part of the British Isles that remained geologically unsurveyed. Cadell spent much of his time mapping this region and rapidly became an efficient and reliable field geologist. His focus was mainly on the complexities of the Moine Thrust Belt.

During this time, Cadell's interest in the geometry and mechanisms of thrusting was demonstrated in 1885 with 'squeeze box' experiments that compressed wet sand and plaster of Paris (later settling for clay, sand and plaster of Paris) layers to recreate thrust geometries similar to those that he had been mapping.

Cadell's career in the Survey ended in 1888, following the death of his father. Following his marriage in 1889, he travelled extensively to many parts of the world, for example Norway, USA, Switzerland, Australia and New Zealand, Russia, India and Burma, recording geological and geographical information.

Cadell's archive comprises of notebooks full of copious notes, diagrams and sketches. His watercolours portray less detailed information. The photographs were taken on his extensive travels around the world.

In addition to views, there have been numerous downloads, and once again the most popular being pictures of flooding, but also photographs from other Special Collections including the National Stone Collection, microscope slides from the Sir Joseph D. Hooker Collection and photographs from the Edmund Oswald Teale Collection.

P776120 Genus: Stigmaria; Taxon:
Plants: Gymnospermophyta;
Locality: Wolverhampton.
Microscope slide from the
Sir Joseph D Hooker Collection.
Sir Joseph D. Hooker

Born in 1817, Joseph Hooker was one of the greatest botanists of the 1800s. Hooker joined the Survey in 1846 until 1847. During his brief time here, his work involved plants of the Carboniferous Coal Measures.

In 1846, the Geological Survey was under the directorship of Henry de la Beche. Hooker, as one of the new employees, and part of a small team of geologists, palaeontologists and surveyors, spent the summer investigating the Bristol, Somerset and South Wales coalfields.

The majority of the slides in the collection comprise of sections of Coal Measure plants. Labels had been inscribed onto the glass – few of which were signed J.D.H 1846. The remaining slides comprise of fossil wood collected on previous travels including some samples collected by Charles Darwin (who was a very good friend) whilst on HMS Beagle. According to Darwin's correspondence, he and Hooker exchanged some fossil wood slides in 1844. This would appear as to how some of these sections found their way into the collection.

This 'unregistered' slide collection had become 'lost' at some point. Hooker was off on his travels and was unavailable to assist cataloguing his collection. The collection was moved around a few times over the years. With each move, the significance of the collection became more obscured until 2011, when by chance the collection was rediscovered. The collection has since been photographed and made available online.

Edmund Oswald Teale (formerly Thiele)

Born in 1874 in Australia, Edmund Teale first started his career as a field geologist with the Geological Survey of Victoria where he worked in Australia and New Zealand. Around 1908, after gaining a First Class Honours degree in Geology, Palaeontology and Mineralogy, Teale travelled to Africa to start what would become an illustrious career. Starting first in Nigeria then in Portuguese East Africa. He became Assistant Director of the Gold Coast Geological Survey in 1915.  Unfortunately he returned to Australia in 1916 due to the occupation of the German colony in the First World War.

In 1917, Teale (formerly Thiele) anglicised his name and also found employment in the Geology Dept at the University of Melbourne. After the war, he returned to Africa, and continued his explorations, some with Albert Ernest Kitson when they discovered diamonds on the Gold Coast in 1919. Teale then went on to establish the Geological Survey of Tanganyika in 1926, where he remained Director until 1935. Teale was created a knight in 1936 during his colonial service there.

P776550 Mrs Charlotte Teale trims Edmund's hair. Field camp,
PortugueseEast Africa. 1911. EO Teale photograph collection.
After his death in 1971, he left behind a massive archive which is now held by the British Geological Survey, after years travelling widely through Africa and Australia. A few items still reside in the Australian archives. The collection comprises of a typescript autobiography, around 1400 photographs and lantern slides covering his life, work and travels in Africa, Australia and New Zealand. Other items include diaries for 1928-1936, many letters, field note books, testimonials and a typescript history of the Geological Survey in Tanganyika.

New pictures are being added on a regular basis. This is an excellent way of showing the public and promoting the variety of work and activities carried out by BGS scientists. If you would like to see what images are available on GeoScenic then gohttp://geoscenic.bgs.ac.uk/asset-bank/action/viewHome

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