Centre for Open Learning, University of Edinburgh: short courses in 2017-18:
From Monday 25 September, 2017, 6.30-8.20pm Geology
of the Lothians - Further details
Adult Education at City of Edinburgh Council: Geology walks courses
From Thursday 22 February 2018, 10 am-12 noon (course
2 - Post-beginners) - Course
information and booking
Illustrated talks for groups - see my talks page.
Geology of the Lothians
Edinburgh is justly famous for its remarkable scenery: a landscape that results from the interaction of the processes of erosion and glaciation with the solid bedrock formed millions of years ago. Across the Lothian area we find a variety of rock types and ages; a mixture of sedimentary and igneous rocks formed by different processes, mostly in the period from 400 to 300 million years ago. This course examines these rocks, describing how they were formed, the varying conditions that have existed here through geological time, and how the rocks have been modified, moved and eroded.
The course includes an introduction to the geology of the Lothians, and the way that the underlying rocks influence the landscape. We then consider the sedimentary and igneous rocks of the area in more detail, including case studies of the Arthur's Seat and rocks used by people. The course concludes with an analysis of the effects of glaciation in sculpting the landscape of the Lothians.
Past volcanic eruptions have had a significant role in shaping Scotlandís landscape, creating for example the rocks of Glencoe and Skye. By exploring modern eruptions around the world we can develop an understanding of the volcanic activity in Scotlandís geological past.
What are volcanoes? Why do they erupt? An introduction to the different kinds of volcanoes and eruptions, and the variety of igneous rocks that are found in volcanic environments. The course considers case studies of active volcanoes and recent eruptions, and looks at how volcanoes work and the materials that they produce: lava flows, pyroclastic flows, ash falls.
The course then moves on to consider the ancient volcanoes and the landscape of Scotland, investigating volcanic episodes in Scotland, and their influence in the local landscape and the shape of country. Scotland's past volcanic eruptions will be examined thematically, exploring volcanic activity associated with ocean closure and continental collision, and then volcanic activity associated with plate rifting and ocean formation. The type of volcanic activity seen in Scottish volcanoes in the past will be illustrated with examples from modern eruptions from around the world.
Geology of Scotland's Hills
Scotland is renowned for its beautiful and varied mountain scenery. Look beneath the surface and discover a long and complex geological history that has produced a wide range of rock types in difference locations. From the Northwest Highlands to the Southern Uplands, we'll explore Scotland's hills and discover the geological stories which make them unique.
The course begins with an overview of the main episodes in Scotland's geological history, the rocks of Scotland, and why different rocks have formed at different times. Subsequent sessions investigate different areas of Scotland, describing the rocks and landscapes of each area, and considering how the rocks formed, and how they have been modified and eroded. These sessions include consideration of the Scottish Highlands, covering metamorphic rocks, and then the hills made of igneous rock; the hills of the Midland Valley, including the Ochils, Campsies and Pentlands; the Southern Uplands; and the Islands of the west, including Skye, Rum, Mull and Arran.
Geology of Scotland's Coast
Scotland has an amazing coastline of cliffs and beaches, firths and sea lochs, headlands and islands. This coastline reflects Scotland's complex geological history, which has resulted in a varied range of rock types formed at different times. The interaction of the sea with these rocks has produced a unique, ever-changing coast. We'll explore the coast from Shetland to southwest Scotland, including several case studies from all parts of the country, and consider the factors that influence the current shape of the coast and will continue to do so in the future.
The course includes a day excursion exploring the varied coastal landscapes of East Lothian, including visits to St Baldred's Cradle, Barns Ness and Siccar Point. In exploring a variety coastal settings we get an opportunity to see some practical examples of the influence that geology has on the shape of the coast and deepen our understanding of coastal processes.
Edinburgh's Seven Hills
Edinburgh's landscape is dominated by the seven hills. Each has a hard core of igneous rock, and they have been altered and eroded by natural forces and human activity. This course will include an introductory classroom session and excursions by minibus to the Seven Hills to get a glimpse into the varied geological history of Edinburgh.
Note: the offical Seven Hills are - Calton Hill, Castle Hill, Corstorphine Hill, Craiglockhart Hill, Braid Hills, Blackford Hill, Arthur's Seat. I think it is unfair that Salisbury Crags is excluded, just because it lies beside Arthur's Seat - the Crags are more impressive than many of the other hills. And Craigmillar perhaps deserves a mention (the organisers of the Seven Hills Hogmanay fireworks thought so one year), but it is made of sedimentary rock when all the rest are igneous.
Natural Disasters: Threats to Humanity
Earthquakes, storms, tsunamis and floods are all natural events which occur frequently, damaging property and destroying lives. But fortunately they rarely have more than a local or regional impact. Much larger events, including super-volcanoes, meteorite impacts and rapid changes in climate, have occurred in the geological past with catastrophic effects reaching across the entire globe. What can the past tell us about the future? Would civilisation survive a disaster on this scale or will a large natural event be the end of humanity as we know it?