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16 October 2014

mountainman - April 2008

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April Fool?

Well it's that day again. Anyone found any crackers in the press or other media? "Spaghetti Trees" I seem to remember from some time back - I think it is considered the all time classic.

I remember when I was little, in Lowland Scotland anyway, it was referred to as "hunt the gowk" - a gowk of course being one of those tremendously expressive words meaning "idiot"

Some of the Scots words are seriously funny - "bahookie" - "mingin'" - "galoot"

Do people, and kids in particular still play tricks on April 1st?

Or is it another of these things that is slowly fading away......

Anyway, onto other things. I had lunch on top of a little hill near Salen yesterday - Cruach Torr an Lochain. Its one of my favourites - doesnt take long to get up it and the views are ace. There was still a bit of snow on some of the higher hills as you can see.

Here is the view down to the Sound of Mull:

And here is another - Salen down below:

Beinn Talaidh and the hills near Craignure had a bit of snow:

Beinn Talaidh closer up:

So that was that - a quick sprint up and down and then back to the joys of Windows, Broadband and such like...

Bye for now!

Posted on mountainman at 11:56

Ardalanish Geology Trip

We were due to have another geology field trip on Saturday - it all depended on the weather as always. It was a toss up between Iona and Ardalanish - on the basis of the forecast, Ardalanish won

Ardlanish Bay is one of those special places. I wont say "wonderful" "fantastic" and "amazing" cos I'm a hard nosed cynic who hates hyperbole.

But if i werent, I would...

The weather looked good - approaching Bunessan, the Ardmeanach peninsula looked very serene:

We met at Bunessan and then headed off to the beach car park just past Ardachy. Again, on this occasion, we had the pleasure of the company and immense knowledge of Dr John Faithfull of the Hunterian Museum in Glasgow. John knows the area intimately, and as well as bringing a keen eye to matters rocky, he is also very au fait with recent as well as pending published research.

The area from Ardalanish Bay round to Knockvologan has been very well studied. Many papers have been published and it is clear that there is still a lot that could be done. My own first visit here was in 1979 as an undergraduate from St Andrews. It is still a beautiful spot and one of my favourite places in Mull.

Anyway, onto the rocks. Ardalanish is a SSSI and is a "no-hammer" zone. So no hammering please! Incidfentally, the Gaelic for SSSI is ISSS (Ionad de Shuim Shaidheasal Shonraichte)....

There is a rocky knoll above the beach that is full of unusual minerals like kyanite and tourmaline and andalusite and stuff like that. The kyanite can appear as thin blue bladed crystals. It is this one knoll that makes the whole area so special. We spent a bit of time looking at the knoll before heading down to the beach and over towards where the Ross of Mull Granite is.

There is so much geology "happening" in this area that it would be a major tome to describe it in detail, so you'll just have to put up with a few pics and some descriptions. Here goes:

Nice folding in the rocks

John pointing out a rather neat rock that can be found here - garnet amphibolite. The garnets in some cases can be very large, up to a couple of cms across. Not of gem quality however!

More garnets:

On beaches like this, you occasionally come across some oddities that dont really belong. How did they get here? Brought on the tide? Where from? Ballast from boats? Who knows? There were a couple of conglomerate boulders which fit this category well:

And in close-up:

The Ross of Mull Granite is not far from here and that was where we were headed. On the way is this outcrop that looks like a volcanic plug - it isnt. But why it looks the way it does is a bit of a mystery. It is pretty steep all round:

Where the granite comes in contact with the metamorphic rocks, you have some seriously interesting structures (whoops, nearly said "fantastic" there....)

This is a classic locality - well studied, easy to get to, visually satisfying, a lot of geology in a small area. All good stuff

The granite has invaded the metatmorphic rocks and generally cooked and chewed them up. As a consequence there are a lot of xenoliths in the rocks:

This ones a beauty. The original piece of rock picked up by the granite is actually two types in contact. The granite has squeezed a vein into the contact between the two parts.

This pic shows a xenolith of garnet amphibloite in the granite:

You can still see the ganets in it - Its the long thin one at the bottom of the pic

After the Ross of Mull Granite, we intended to go to Scoor and look at some stuff there. However, we actually ran out of time. So after saying goodbye to John , we decided to have a look at Uisken instead.

Another great beach with more of the schists and amphibolites on display. Some pics:

Group heading over to look at the rocks

A very nice dry stane dyke with a lump of garnet amphibolite forming a capstone on one side of the gap. The white stuff is massive quartz - pure white, so it was...

And here it is in close-up! Neat eh?

OK, that was Saturday. Next trip is still to be decided upon. Probably Iona, but it will be in a few weeks time

If you want more geology, I am doing talks as part of Wild Isles Week. for details. The talks are on the 7th and 14th of May at the Isle of Mull Hotel

Catch up with you later!


PS: Speaking of the Ross of Mull Granite, on the last trip we had a look at the cave "Uamh nam Marbh" near the Tormore quarry. Here is yours truly grinning inanely through the window...

(Thanks to the other John for the pic!)

Posted on mountainman at 12:37

Out and About near Loch Ba

The weather has been very nice of late - long overdue mind you! You may remember that a group of my geology students were going to walk the length of the Loch Ba Ring Dyke last year - in the end it was cut very short because of the weather. I am still planning to get this done sometime, hopefully soon!

On Friday I decided to take another look at part of it - the section above Loch Ba, followed by a nice stroll back along the side of Loch Ba - the weather was very good, nice and clear. Here are some pics of the walk, together with some details:

From Knock, looking over to Cruach Torr an Lochain

Forest near Ben More Lodge, looking over to the hills above Loch Ba - the slightly "pointy" hill in the distance is called Na Bacanan - the Ring Dyke runs right across it and over into Glen Forsa

Loch Ba, looking down on it from the Ring Dyke (the light coloured rocks in the foreground) Weather couldnt have been better for the hills - sunny with a breeze and really good clarity.

Doesnt look much I know, but this is one of the smaller dykes that cuts across the Ring Dyke, and is therefore younger than it. Dykes of this type represent some of the very last igneous activity in Mull. I was reading up on the Sgurr of Eigg the other day, whcih you can see quite clearly from Mull if the weather is OK - the Sgurr is reckoned to be one of the very last, if not THE last example of igneous activity in Britain - Eocene period, 52 million years ago. The Mull rocks are a bit older than that. I feel a visit to Eigg coming on......

This is the actual Ring Dyke itself - up close and personal. At this point it is just like a wall of rock. Very impressive. No wonder the original Survey Officers got all excited...

This is more like it! Ben More, showing a snowy north face.

This is Ben More's neighbour, A'Chioch looking fine and pointy. This view is from further over, above Glen Clachaig from where the Cioch looks very impressive.

Right, back down at Loch Ba again - here is the fine hill of Beinn na Dubharach. Lots of the rock called gabbro up there, hence the knobbly craggy look to it. There is also a loch up on the hill called Lochan nam Ban-Uaine - lochan of the green women - Green? Jealousy? Fairies? Aliens? Fascinating name....

Heres another view across the loch to Sron nam Boc - this is where the ring Dyke outcrops on the NE Shore of the loch and gives rise to the line of crags up the hillside.

Here we are looking back to the SW part of the Ring Dyke (near where I started) The sun is really picking out the late dykes cutting across it (as in that picture above) The late dykes appear as parallel diagonal lines. Hadnt really noticed the effect before quite so strongly - must have been the way the sun was catching them.

And that was that. More soon hopefully!

Bye for now
Posted on mountainman at 18:20

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