Wednesday, 30 March 2016

The Great Birmingham Geomooch!

Myself and two other fellow geology nerds, one from London and one from Birmingham, embarked on a full day of geomooching around Birmingham – because how else would one spend Easter Sunday? We had planned this day to look at urban geology around central Birmingham, so that we could produce some guides for people to explore the city for themselves and to learn more about their surroundings. Parts one and two of the guide have already been published.

Fossils in the steps at Brindley Place

People are often surprised when you tell them you can go fossil hunting in Birmingham city centre. Personally, it’s one of my favourite past times! There are multiple locations where fossils can be found, either as a specific geomooch or as part of your visit to the city centre. The guides (links above) can be downloaded. This blog is just a very quick introduction to the project; I will post separate blogs about each site with more information and photos. Birmingham is also great if metamorphic rocks are more your thing; there’re loads of facing stones made from gneisses and schists, as well as igneous granites of all types. Truly a geological wonderland.

For this research-walk-day out-geomooch day, we walked across the length and breadth of Birmingham, from Victoria Square to Brindley Place, back to St Martins and the Bullring, along Colmore Row and around the back of Rackhams (ooh err).

Sardinian Grey Granite (Italian) with a band of Balmoral Red Granite (Finnish) seen at the Symphony Hall.

I am always finding more sites of interest, and for those with fossils I am slowly submitting to the Paleourbana map to populate Birmingham with sites. This map is a great resource for finding urban palaeontology. 

If you are in London, Ruth Siddall has produced some brilliant guides to urban geology there, and you can also download an app called Pavement Geology

Longitudinal cross section through a coral seen in a doorway on Colmore Row. Frosterly Marble from Durham.

Fossil casts in Portland Stone, Needless Alley. This stone is still quarried on the Isle of Portland in Dorset.

Rapakivi Granite (Finland) seen on Cherry St, opp McD's.

Liesegang banding in sandstone on the floor at the Cathedral.

A geological mystery on the streets of Birmingham! The wall at Nationwide bank, Bullring,

Thursday, 24 March 2016

Rowley Hills

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In the Rowley area of the Black Country, there is a patch of land with my favourite things – rocks! Part of this land is a designated nature reserve, but in a previous life, it was a quarry.

Part of the exposure of the 'Rowley Rag'.

The rocks here are dolerite and were formed as part of a lopolith. The dolerite here shows very, very good examples of ‘onion skin weathering’ which occurs as the rocks expand and contract with heating and freezing. This causes layers to peel off the rocks, like an onion!

Me, with a very nice area of onion skin weathering.

I’ve never been to this site before and I would quite like to go back and have a proper look at the rocks here – always more to see! 

Mega nice example of onion skin weathering!
More examples of onion skin weathering.

Saturday, 19 March 2016

A Trip to A&E!

All pics taken by me. Some are gross and feature blood n stuff.

So I successfully managed to slip whilst peeling a carrot with a knife and sliced my thumb open and thus I had a Friday evening adventure to hospital with my momma! 

Temporary dressing to keep the pressure on without me having to hold it. Didn't stop bleeding for over an hour.

I fainted.

Beautiful clean cut! Lots of anaesthetic and two stitches later..

One week later - had taken off the bandage. Two stitches and three butterfly stitches to keep the wound closed!

 Don't play with knives, kids.

Wren's Nest Nature Reserve

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The Wren’s Nest Nature Reserve in Dudley is one of my favourite places in the entire world, I go maybe three or four times a year and I never get bored. The main part of this site has an exposed and uplifted Silurian reef area, absolutely covered in fossils (mostly corals, crinoids and brachiopods). There are also trilobites found here, but I’ve only ever seen one on the reef before.

My work colleague on her first trip to the Wrenna!

South of the reef area are some steep slopes that have been fenced off. This part is ancient seafloor, about 427million years old, and there are preserved ripple marks on the surface! These are super useful for determining the environment at the time, as there are different sizes and orientations to the ripples. These changes reflect the changes in ocean dynamics.

Ripple marks (best seen top right of pic).

I tend to spend most of my time on the reef, looking for and photographing my finds. Hammering is not allowed at this site but it is easy enough to pick up loose fossils or bits of limestone debris. On a sunny day this is the best place to bask in the sun! It is high up and exposed so perfect for catching some rays.

The reef, looking south-ish.

Halysites, a chain coral.

Tail section of a trilobite! My first trilobite found on the reef.

Sedgley Beacon

All links open in new windows, and all pics were taken by me!

This part of the world is somewhere I’d never heard of until a few days ago! I think I’ll be spending a lot of time here over the next year as part of my new role as a Conservation Trainee with the Birmingham & Black Country Wildlife Trust.

Looking SE-ish from Segley Beacon towards Birmingham.

Sedgley Beacon is an area of land in the Black Country, near to Dudley & Wolverhampton. This site is interesting to me as a geologist and geogeek as it has a disused quarry area with limestone, younger than that found at the nearby Wren’s Nest. Sedgley Beacon Quarry is also a geosite, part of the Black Country Geopark.

The rocks here are about 425million years old and contain marine fossils, mostly brachiopods but possibly other things including crinoids and trilobites. I need to spend more time looking to say for sure though!

Part of the rockface. Aymestry Limestone from the Silurian period (approx. 425million years old).

This site is important because there are several rock types in the area that make this location perfect for industry. There is nearby coal which has ironstone nodules, and the limestone was used as part of the iron smelting process. 

A sample of limestone, with a solitary rugose coral fossil (white curved area towards top right of sample).

Brachiopod shell impressions. 

Saturday, 5 March 2016

In a previous life...

So when I was kid I lived abroad – in Saudi Arabia! This year (2016) marks the 20 year anniversary of leaving and coming back to England. I lived in Saudi with my fam, because my dad worked out there during the 80s and early 90s with BAE. While I don’t remember most of what happened in Saudi, the stuff I do remember is GREAT. I love that country, I love the desert, I love the heat, I love the dry air, I love the sandstorms. I miss it, quite a lot. I get horribly homesick for the desert on a clear night when I can see all the stars.

I’m posting this because starting in May, I will be posting the journal and photos and memories of the journey home over on a tumblr blog, which will be live soon. Still typing up the diaries and scanning pics for it! You can take a looksie at it here

For now, here’s some pics.