Learning geology and promoting BGS's OpenGeoscience at the OUGS Festival of Geodiversity...by Gemma Nash

The BGS stall set up ready to receive visitors.
On Friday 18 October, I packed my car full of BGS flyers, goodies and specially created OpenGeoscience posters and headed over to the Queen Margaret University on the east of Edinburgh for the Open University Geological Society (OUGS) Festival of Geodiversity.

I didn't know what to expect, but was greeted by some very friendly OUGS organisers and set up a BGS stand in a break out room opposite the main lecture theatre for the weekend's talks. I was sharing the space with BGS's Don Cameron who is the OUGS secretary and was selling some of BGS's published books.

I was there to promote the new data that is available via OpenGeoscience and found that the Festival's demographic were particularly interested in our newly available Publications and Maps Portal. I also had a lot of interest in testing the new version of our iGeology app.

As a web developer whose knowledge of geology has only been absorbed during my eleven years working for the BGS, I was surprised quite how much I understood at the three talks I attended over the Friday and Saturday and and how much new geological knowledge I obtained. The other delegates were very keen to share their learning and experiences which complemented the lectures.

From L-R: Tim Kearsey presents 'Evolution of life on land: how new Scottish fossils are re-writing our understanding of this
important transition'; Maarten Krabbendam presents 'Origins of the Torridon and Moine in the foreland basin of the
Grenville Orogen'. 
BGS's Tim Kearsey and Maarten Krabbendam both presented and were very well received. Maarten described how the Moine and Torridonian rocks are actually intertwined over Scotland and Canada. Tim talked about the TW:eed project where four-legged animals Tiny (Aytonerpeton) and Ribbo were discovered as our Scottish ancestors.

On the Monday, I was lucky enough to be invited on a field trip to Siccar Point and Cove, south of Dunbar.Our trip leader was Angus Miller from Geowalks who described the local sedimentology and geological periods as we walked along the top coastal path near Cove.

From L-R: Angus Millar and his dog Roxy providing scale for Hutton's Unconformity;
Cove Beach surrounded by Old Red Sandstone cliffs. 
Then we trekked over to Siccar Point and I was mesmerised. Not only is the scenery beautiful, but I felt privileged to be standing on arguably the most important geology in the world, where James Hutton proved the world was millions of years old. Angus explained that the eroded Old Red Sandstone that was layered almost at right-angles to the Wacke below shows that these sediments were laid down at different times; about 65 million years apart!

We ended the trip with a picnic on beautiful Cove beach which is only accessible by a slightly creepy and dimly lit sandstone and brick tunnel. On the beach we found lots of evidence for the Anthropocene in the form of beautiful pebbles of beach glass. We then discussed how the sedimentary rocks that formed part of the harbour wall contain features that enable you to decode different river processes that laid down the sediments over time.