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16 October 2014

mountainman - December 2007

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Back again

Been away from here for a while - blame the bugs that are around at this time of year - I really havent felt like going anywhere! Anyway, better now and as the weather looked OK for a while anyway, on Sunday the 2nd i took a wee saunter up Cnoc Fuar.

Weather was sunny, and the clouds were really impressive. Before it all closed in of course. No geology for you unfortunately, but here are some cloud pics - no particular order, but most are taken looking over towards Ardnamurchan:

So thats it for now. Geology class is back on, on Wed evening at 7:00 pm at An Tobar. There is a field trip planned for this weekend - actual location is to be decided (we can pin that one down on Wed). Rain has stopped play a couple of times, so here's hoping for an improvement.

See you soon!

JW (MM) Tobermory, Mull

Posted on mountainman at 18:14

Back on the rocks

Saturday the 8th Dec was the day for the second of the geology class field trips. Because of a combination of illness and really bad weather, there has been a bit of slippage in this department. However, we more than made up for it on Saturday! The forecast wasnt great, but there was a bit of a weather window, certainly for the morning. We met up at Carsaig pier at 10am and then set off to look at some rocks.

The road just above Carsaig was interesting as it was blocked by a fallen dead tree. Took 3 of us to clear it. This didnt augur well for the day (and more of this sort of thing later) however, it did stay relatively dry, even although it was soggy and boggy underfoot.

Everyone agreed at the end of the day, when the weather really came in that it had been well worth it and I think they all thoroughly enjoyed it. Moral of story: go for it. As Bill has put it to me several times " the weather always looks and feels worse from inside the house looking OUT the window!" Anyway, what did we see?

One of the other good things about this trip is that the timing meant that the tide was right out - this made for some seriously good rock exposure. I think this first time I have been to Carsaig when the tide was right out - well worth it!

Anyway, the crowd assembled:

We set off for the west side first of all - there is more to see here and we werent sure how long it would remain dry. Much of the beach is made up from shaly rocks with a lot of fossils in them. Carsaig is probably one of the best places in Mull to find fossils in fact. The fossil bearing shales are absolutely criss crossed by dykes and sills:

This sill is a good text book example of this sort of thing. It cuts across the shales and has hardened them in places. In this next pic, we have the sill on top of shales, and another thin sill underneath:

In thi snext pic you can see a dyke running straight towards the sill. Things get really complicated next, so we'll not worry too much about the details:

Right at the end of the sill, next to the sea there is a really strange looking thing - I reckon it is a xenolith, a piece of rock caught up in the sill as it was emplaced. The sills in this area are full of xenoliths, some of which have been found to contain sapphire. This one looks a bit like a canoe:

We continued to explore right to the waters edge:

There are a couple of small dykes which intersect - looks like a saltire:

Guess what, yet another dyke:

It has to be said, that if anyone wants to get a look at a lot of geology in a small area, it is hard to beat Carsaig - there is simply so much going on. And the interaction of igneous and sedimentary geology is everywhere. I personally reckon it is the best geological location in Mull which is easily accesible. There are arguably other more interesting places, but Carsaig is effortless as well as dramatic

Also, the rocks on the shore are Mesozoic - middle age rocks if you like. The basalts in the cliffs above are Tertiary - youngsters, relatively speaking. So between the two is the famous K/T boundary (Cretaceous / Tertiary - yes I know Cretaceous is spelt with a C not K but that's geology for you..) And what is special about the K/T boundary? Well it marks a major extinction in the evolutionary timescale - thats when the dinosaurs died out. Asteroid impact? Global warming? Who knows. We didnt find any dinosaur tracks, but hey, in similar rocks in Staffin in Skye, they found tracks not so long ago. It's actually about the only thing missing in Mull.

Sandstone in the clifff, showing big round "concretions":

I was here with the wee ones a few weeks ago, so full marks if you recognise that pic....

The walk back to the pier for lunch:

It was beginning to get a bit windy and starting to get wet, so we only had a short trip to the east side of the pier. I had been here on several other trips, and there are lots of pictures on some of my earlier blogs, so I didnt take many.

However, the cave behind the waterfall is always a neat place for a pic:

(By the way, I mentioned the fallen log earlier. While walking along the path to the waterfall, we noticed some seriously damaged trees - it appears that some large boulders had come crashing down from above. It must have happened very recently. Just a warning in case you are ever along that way!)

Neil in the pic is actually nice and dry as he is standing behind it!

And that was that. Back to the pier then back up the road in howling wind and lashing rain. But well worth it - an excellent morning well spent. Carpe diem!

We'll be back on the rocks again soon. Next weeks trip will be either a road excursion taking in lots of "roadside geology" or else, if the weather forecast is good, we will probably go to Ardtun and Fionnphort.



Posted on mountainman at 21:08

The Wild South East

There had been a bit of talk at the last geology class evening about the wild and remote south east corner of Mull. This is the bit that is almost an island becasue of the string of Lochs Spelve, Usig and Buie! Check it on the map and you'll see what I mean. I hadnt done a lot of exploring but needd a good day to check out some geology for a possible research project. I have been waiting for months for the right opportunity - Monday looked like a good day - the forecast was good, certainly in the morning so I decided to have a look.

I parked at the head of Loch Uisg and walked round to the south shore of the loch - there is a "path" cuts over from this point. The views of the surrounding hills were great:

Beinn nan Gobhar:

Ben Buie:

Creach Bheinn:

The path over to the shore on the other side was a sorry saga of mud, tussocks, bracken and well, you know what I mean. Heavy going, really heavy going. Worth it though. Here is Port a Ghlinne and a foamy sea:

And a close up of the foaminess:

Complete solitude here. Absolutely no sign of anyone. I had a quick look at the rocks and then after lunch it was time to head back over - just a quick sprint of a trip this!

Some old ruins:

And a view to the south , looking into the sun:

I managed to find a "path" with a lot less bog and tussocks for the trip back over to Loch Uisg. Still soggy and heavy going however.

Some more pics of the hills:

There is a bit of a "bealach" here where the glen descends to Loch Uisg - here's Ben Buie peeping through with a bit of snow on top:

And here's Creach Bheinn again:

So that was that - curiosity satisfied, but I would definitely want to spend a lot more time exploring - didnt really have an awful lot of time today but the weather was too good to miss. Well worth it!

See you all soon

Posted on mountainman at 17:52

Geology Field Trip to Ross of Mull

Saturday the 15th was the date for our third field trip. Weather looked OK, if not brilliant so we decided to go for it. The idea is that field trips are an integral part of the course and I try to get as much variety in them as possible. The Ross of Mull really is a gem as far as geology is concerned - there is so much to see in a relatively small area. I dont care for hyperbole laiden expressions like "amazing" "wonderful" and "fantastic" , but if I did , I would probably use them!

Anyway, we met up in the car park at Fionnphort and set off to look at some rocks. We were joined by Dr John Faithfull, a professional geologist who knows , the area intimately and this added an extra dimension to the whole trip. If you are reading this, John, many thanks again for taking the time - we all learned tons!

This sort of thing is always best explained in pictures so lets go:

First stop was to the rocks just south of Fionnphort jetty, where the granite (pink) has been intruded by a dioritic rock (grey in colour) The contrast is good. John explained in quite a bit of detail about what was actually happening here - good to get that in-depth knowledge - you can only get so much from books. Getting it from a professional geologist who has had papers published is so much better!

As you can see, the sea was quite rough NExt stop was the cafe then over to the granite quarry at Tormore. There is a neat rock face here where you can see the holes made to split the rock during quarrying:

Then down the path to the shore, past some very nicely made dry-stone walls of granite:


There is a fascinating little cave near the shore - its even got a window....

There are a lot of dykes and stuff running through the granite here. We learned a lot about some fascinating research that has been done on these rocks, some of it only recently published. The dykes contain "xenoliths", pieces of rock that have been brought up from grreat depths. By studying these it has been ascertained that they must have originated in the Upper Mantle. ie a very long way down!

Here's a dyke which has been eroded out to leave sort of cleft running up the hill:

And then it was back to the cars at the slipway, passing by the huge split boulder on the beach:

After lunch it was off to Ardtun for a look at the famous leaf beds. Didnt find any convincing looking leaves, but the scenery is spectacular here and it is always worth a visit. We really need to come here at low tide sometime to get a good view of things - the rocks on the shore are interesting but the tide was just a bit high. Got soaked in other words.....

Here's the gully where the leaves are found:

And yes it is quite steep and loose - if you go there, be careful.

Neil hunts for leaves:

The weather was starting to get a bit wild and anyway, it was time to head back. We had a really good day - I know we had been there before, but these are the sorts of places you just keep going back to and never get tired of.

Anyway, its off to Iona again on Tuesday and hey, the forecast is for sun. Maybe be back blogging again quite soon....

See you!


Posted on mountainman at 23:28

Just some pics

Tuesday and wednesday this week, the weather was quite nice - cold, crisp, frosty and quite sunny. Makes a change. Great thing about this time of year is that the low angle of the light makes for some nice pictures. Also makes it a complete pig when you are driving right into it!

Anyway, it was off to the "sacred isle" for a days work, staying overnight in the Abbey. At this time of year, Iona can be pretty wild, but over the past few days it was beautiful - still, quite, cold, just serene.

It would be quite easy to get all "spiritual" and "left side of the brain" -ish about such a setting, but my reason for being there, was as ever, much more prosaic - fixing PCs, broadband and keeping users happy!

And I didnt even manage to get a look at the rocks! Too tired, too busy and too much work in Tobermory!

Anyway, I did manage a few pics, and the drive up the road was very nice. Here's a few shots:

The waves sweep into Iona:

Shafts of light:

Burg from the road to Pennyghael:

Ben More and a' Chioch

And Corra Bheinn and Cruachan Dearg:

And all the way back to Tob it was more of the same - just a really nice winters day. I am off to St Andrews tomorrow and back on Mull on Saturday. If I get any decent pics then, well hey, I'll bore you rigid with them, if not, then as the hippies would say "Have cool Yule" . I'll settle for "Nollaig Chridheil" Died in the wool pagans may say something about "Sol Invicta" Whatever. Even Richard Dawkins has admitted to liking Christmas carols - which proves , if nothing else, that there is always hope!

Enjoy it!

I'll see you soon


Oh aye, before I forget, geology classes start again inthe New Year - there is still some work to finish off as well as 2 field trips. And a new course starting in Bunessan. More soon!

Posted on mountainman at 00:50

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