Friday, 10 August 2012

Steps Through Geological Time

The great curse of being a geologist is never being able to go anywhere near a landscape without wondering (or being asked) about the geology beneath the surface. The great curse of being a teacher is never being able to go anywhere without thinking about whether it could be a learning opportunity.

So Paul rolled his eyes when I pulled off the main road in Derbyshire to head to the National Stone Centre. It was a popular place for my parents to take me on the way to or from Dovedale (which, as it happens, is where we were off to). Now, it's probably about 20 years since I last went there, so I have no idea whether this is a long-standing feature, but I was rather struck by the Geosteps:

From Precambrian at the bottom to Palaeogene at the top, the stones represent half a billion years of British rocks. And of course I'm going to show you (ages are quoted from the literature at the NSC)...

Antrim basalt (58-62Ma) and Portland limestone (146Ma)

Sherwood sandstone (230-240Ma) and Magnesian limestone (256Ma)

Rough Rock gritstone (316Ma) and Bee Low limestone (330Ma)

Much Wenlock limestone (425Ma) and Caradoc granodiorite (463Ma)

Borrowdale Volcanics green slates (453Ma) and Strinds sandstone (550-560Ma)

The ultimate destination, however, was a more intimate encounter with the rocks, as we headed to Dovedale to climb Thorpe Cloud.

It's a cracking ascent up a Carboniferous reef knoll for a hot summer afternoon. But it was a straightforward hike, and Paul even pretended to give a damn when I stopped to show him some crinoid fossils in a lump of scree.

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