Extracts from the Proceedings for previous anniversary years


150 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1873-1874 (Session 16)

Meeting held on November 13, 1873

The ELEMENTARY LECTURES were discontinued, owing to a full and excellent course on Geology being delivered by Dr. Robert Brown of Edinburgh to the Mechanics’ Institution.

There had been two previous references to the Elementary (or “occasional”) Lectures:  the minutes of the meeting held on October 19, 1871 record that a series of lectures on Elementary Geology was delivered by some of the office-bearers of the Geological Society of Glasgow at the mid-monthly meetings of the Society, and that the lectures had proved “exceedingly useful and attractive”; furthermore, the minutes of the meeting held on October 31, 1872 record that “a few occasional lectures of a more popular cast than the papers read at the ordinary meetings were delivered during the Session, and received with much favour.”

However, although no details were recorded in the Proceedings of either the topics of those lectures, or of the lecturers who delivered them, it is clear from The History of the Geological Society of Glasgow 1858-1908 (ed. MacNair and Mort, 1908, pp. 25-28) that lectures on Geology took place intermittently from as early as 1857 until 1871, the year when the courses given by Dr. Robert Brown began. Dr. Brown’s courses then took place in the Mechanics’ Institution during the three sessions between 1871 and 1874. Thereafter, John Young, LLD, FGS, Assistant Keeper of the Hunterian Museum, “began his course [in the Mechanics’ Institution] in 1874-5, carrying it on successfully till its close in 1881-2.” (ibid. p. 28)

Note: in 1881, the Mechanics’ Institution, which had been founded in 1823, became the College of Science and Arts, offering a wide range of daytime and evening classes; subsequently, in 1887, the College of Science and Arts merged with several other educational institutions to form the Glasgow and West of Scotland Science and Technology College, which eventually, in 1964, became the University of Strathclyde. Further information about the Mechanics’ Institution can be found at https://www.theglasgowstory.com/image/?inum=TGSS00015

Meeting held on November 13, 1873

The CHAIRMAN [Mr. E.A. Wünsch, Vice-President] exhibited some interesting specimens of the junction of granite and slate from the Island of Arran, and made some remarks on the position of the granite in that island, and on the various theories which had been propounded regarding its origin. He agreed with those who held that granite is a metamorphic rather than originally igneous rock; at the same time, he had no doubt it must have been subjected to great heat, probably at a considerable depth, and been in a partly fluid or pasty condition, when it was subsequently brought into contact with the ordinary sedimentary rocks against which it is now found. He described the junctions of the granite and slate in several parts of Arran, pointing out how the granite veins often penetrate the slate to considerable distances, altering the latter more or less along the lines of contact.

Meeting on March 26, 1874

An interesting series of rocks and fossils from Canada was exhibited, presented to the Society by Alfred R. Selwyn, Esq., F.G.S., Director of the Geological Survey of Canada, and brought to this country by J. Morgan, Esq., of Montreal. The specimens were described by Mr. John Young, V.P., who stated that the collection embraced typical rocks extending from the Laurentian to the Carboniferous formation, and was of much interest, as enabling members to compare the older rocks of the West of Scotland with those of North America. He reminded the members of the order of succession which had been established by Sir Roderick Murchison in the older Paleozoic rocks of Scotland, viz., that the gneissose rocks of Ross-shire, Sutherland-shire, and the Island of Lewis, are the oldest stratified rocks in Britain, above which the Cambrian and Silurian formations, lower and upper, come in succession. This “fundamental gneiss,” as it had been called, seemed to be the equivalent of the “upper Laurentian” rocks of Canada. It had been shewn by the able investigations of the Canadian geologists that these Laurentian rocks in that country constitute a great series, more than 30,000 feet in thickness, and occupying an area of about 200,000 square miles. Also, that they are separated from the Cambrian formation by a great thickness of quartzite rocks, called the “Huronian series.” Their antiquity must therefore be inconceivably great. It was in the lower beds of this most ancient system of rocks that the Eozoon Canadense, believed to be a gigantic Foraminifer, the oldest organism yet known to geologists, had been discovered. Specimens of this interesting fossil were included in the collection; also well preserved examples of Brachiopods, Gasteropods, Cephalopods, and other Mollusca, as well as Trilobites and Corals. These were commented on seriatim by Mr. Young.

Mr. JAMES THOMSON, V.P., also remarked on some of the fossils, and pointed out the exact correspondence between many of the rock specimens and those which he had collected for years in the Western Highlands, particularly in Lewis and Islay.

Some discussion, in which the President [Sir William Thomson] joined, then took place upon the granites in the collection, as to whether they should be considered altered sedimentary strata or true igneous products. The granite veins in the gneiss were, however, held as giving evidence of complete fusion of the rock matter.

The PRESIDENT expressed the pleasure he felt in being present to receive this friendly gift and token of remembrance from their brethren of the Geological Survey of Canada. He remarked that these provinces, which are so closely connected with this country by ties of kindred and family, seemed also to be specially related to Scotland geologically. He pointed out how much the study of science might be advanced by such friendly interchanges between those labouring in different parts of the world; and concluded by conveying the cordial thanks of the Society to Mr. Selwyn and the other officers of the survey for their valuable gift, and also to Mr. Morgan for his kindness in conveying it thither.

Meeting held on April 16, 1874

Dr. ROBERT BROWN, F.L.S., F.R.G.S., Ex-President of the Royal Physical Society of Edinburgh, read a paper “On the Noursoak Peninsula and Disco Island, North Greenland.” The paper was illustrated by maps and sections, and some interesting specimens of the rocks and fossils referred to.

Dr. Brown’s paper on this subject can be found in Transactions, vol. 5, 1877, pp. 55-112. He had been President of the Royal Physical Society of Edinburgh from 1870 to 1873. He was elected an Honorary Member of the Geological Society of Glasgow on January 18, 1883.

Robert Brown (1842-1895) was born in Campster, Caithness. He studied at Edinburgh University, excelling in botany; at the age of 19, he was appointed naturalist on a scientific expedition to several Arctic territories, including Spitzbergen, Greenland and Baffin Bay. Then in 1863, he was appointed seed collector on an expedition to British Columbia on behalf of the British Columbia Botanical Association of Edinburgh; during the following year, he led the Vancouver Island Exploring Expedition, on which the artist was Frederick Whymper, brother of the mountaineer and explorer Edward Whymper, whom Robert Brown joined in an expedition to Greenland in 1867. On his return to Scotland, he gave lectures in both Edinburgh and Glasgow on botany, zoology and geology. He also published extensively, and in 1876 he moved to London, where he continued to write on several aspects of natural science and geography, and where he also worked as a journalist for the Echo and the London Standard, among other publications. He died in London at the age of only fifty three.

In 1875 he had married Kristiana Augusta Maria Eleonora Rudmose from Demnark; they named their home in London “Ferslev”, after the area of Frederiksborg where Kristiana came from. They had three children, all of whom studied for their first degree in Aberdeen University. Their eldest, Thomas Rudmose-Brown, became Professor of Romance Languages at Trinity College, Dublin. Their second son, Robert Rudmose-Brown, followed in his father’s footsteps to some extent, studying botany and marine biology, and exploring widely in Arctic regions; he eventually became Professor of Geography in Sheffield University. Their daughter, Augusta Rugmose-Brown studied English literature, and started her career on the staff of Stockwell College of Education in London.

Excursion on May 9, 1874

Members of the Society travelled to Giffnock to view the carboniferous sandstone, cement limestone, and shale for which the district is remarkable. Mr. Dewar obligingly acted as conductor. On arriving at Giffnock station the party at once proceeded to the extensive quarries wrought for so many years by the Messrs. Stevenson, who very kindly had retained a number of the hands to give any assistance necessary. The managers, Messrs. Low, it is right to say here, were also in attendance, and in a courteous manner conducted the party through the workings, which, the general reader will note, are underground, and to some extent intricate, from their extent and the darkness which pervades them. The Giffnock quarries are unique in their way, affording a field of study for the practical geologist. They consist of vast tunnellings underground. The arches, formed in the course of years by the removal of the sandrock, are 40 feet high or more in many places, and the mine resembles in outline the interior of so many cathedrals. The walls, right and left, go straight to the roof; the roofs take a hemispherical form, and, though rough to a degree, send forth an echo. Altogether the workings are very wonderful and full of interest. The mine requires to be lighted up while the men are working. This is done by means of large naphtha lamps, which on this occasion were carried by the men in attendance. This sandstone, extensively used, is well known for its white colour, its lasting quality, and its absence of stratification, from which latter circumstance it has been denominated the “liver rock”. It is on that account capable of being cut with freedom in any direction when being taken from its native bed or hewn for building. This sandstone lies on the base of the upper carboniferous limestone series overlying the Possil group of coal and limestone to the north and west of Glasgow. The equivalent to the sandstone on the north of the Clyde is Kenmuir and Bishopbriggs sandstones, which have also been largely wrought for building purposes. The position of this group of sandstones lies upwards of 400 fathoms under the red sandstones of the Bothwell and Blantyre district visited by the Society on its former excursion; and the distance of this sandstone to the underlying Campsie and Hurlet strata will be upwards of 300 fathoms. It therefore occupies a middle position in the carboniferous basin. The thickness of the carboniferous strata in the Glasgow coalfield is nearly 800 fathoms. Mr. Young and Mr. Dewar further explained the position and the characteristic features of this sandstone; after which the party next proceeded to Mr. Dewar’s Orchard Cement Works, which are contiguous to it. The limestone wrought here lies over the sandstone, the strata dipping to the south and east. The band of limestone is from 20 to 24 inches thick and of excellent quality, and has been long worked as a cement. Underlying this limestone is a thin seam of coal, from two to three inches thick, which is used for calcining the limestone, which is then ground into a powder before being sent to the market. The shale overlying the limestone contains an interesting group of fossils, many of which are in an excellent state of preservation. The principal fossils which have been found are Productus costatus, Spirifera lineata, Actinoceras giganteum, Leda attenuata, Orthoceras subcentrale, with other Univalves and Bivalves, Foraminifera, &c. The members applied themselves to the search for fossils with great energy; and having employed themselves very pleasantly in this way for upwards of an hour, they proceeded to examine an interesting group of flagstones, which is worked in the quarry to the westwards of Giffnock, and which lie under the position of the sandstone first visited. The flagstones are from three to twelve inches in thickness, and are separated at almost regular intervals by a thin layer of dark-blue sandy shale, which causes the beds of sandstone in the face of the quarry to have almost an artificial appearance, from the way the strata are built up layer above layer. On examining the various layers of flagstone, it is found that the upper surface has been penetrated vertically to the depth of from two to three inches by the burrows of Annelids. So numerous are these burrows on the surface of the beds that they produce a horny crust or riddle-like appearance. On some of the flagstones the traces and ejectamenta of other marine worms are left in high relief, presenting an appearance similar to that which is to be found on the sands of our shores at the present time. The burrows are filled up with dark-blue shale. Mr. Dewar and Mr. Young (V.P.) explained the position and nature of the beds, and a hearty vote of thanks was accorded them for the graphic and interesting descriptions given of the various localities.

125 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1898-1899 (Session 41)

Meeting held on October 13, 1898

Mr. J. B. MURDOCH, Hon. Secretary, exhibited specimens of Minerals from Gloucestershire, obtained at several of the excursions of the British Association during the recent meeting at Bristol.

1. Crystallised Calcite taken from strong veins passing through the Lower Carboniferous Limestones, worked for industrial purposes near Wickwar, about 18 miles N. of Bristol.

2. Gypsum from beds exposed in a fine section on the shore of the Severn, known as Aust Cliff, and a few miles N. of the great railway tunnel into Wales. These beds belong to the Keuper Marls of the Triassic rocks. Associated with them vertical strings and veins of gypsum also cross and ramify, evidently filling old cracks in the surrounding rocks.

3. Celestite (or Celestine of the older authors) from a curious surface deposit of the mineral near Totworth, and not far from Wickwar. Such deposits are characteristic of the Keuper Marls of the Bristol district which fringe the rim of the coalfield. The Celestite occurs in large nodular masses, and very irregular beds, which vary from 3 feet to 15 or even 18 feet in thickness, and is got just under the surface clay of a few feet in depth, the probe being used to find them. When located they are bared and worked opencast.

The exact conditions of the generally coarsely crystalline form of this mineral are not well understood, but it is believed that the Celestite was probably precipitated in an amorphous form, and that it afterwards aggregated in more or less crystalline masses. Chemically known as sulphate of strontium, it is used industrially in the beetroot sugar refineries in Germany and elsewhere. It combines chemically with the sugar and effects complete discolouration, after which it is supposed to be separated out; but the question remains whether the Celestite is all extracted, or whether some portion of it does not remain in combination and find its way to the teacup with what is known to us now-a-days as “pure cane sugar.”

Meeting held on November 10, 1898

Mr. JOHN SMITH exhibited specimens of Ancient Lead Slag from the moor between Leadhills and Crawfordjohn, Lanarkshire. This Slag, dark or yellowish in colour, is found on a patch entirely bare of vegetation, and from the large proportion of the mineral it still contains, evidently the site of a very ancient smelting. In parts it shows strongly iridescent colour on the surface. Charcoal frequently found shows that wood was used for reduction, though no trees now grow anywhere near. The date of these old works is merely conjectural.

Meeting held on January 12, 1899

Mr. JOHN SMITH exhibited specimens of the Shale from which Gas was first made by William Murdock. He is said to have conducted his early experiments at Bell’s Mill, near Lugar, the material used, and now exhibited, being a black and extremely tough bituminous shale, giving much ash. It occurs in connection with a band of stratified fossiliferous clay-ironstone, and is still used by the people of the district as fuel. There are two qualities, the best having been probably that used by Murdock, though to outward appearance there is very little difference.

Mr. John Smith (1845-1930) was a very active member of the Society; a comment in the History of the Geological Society of Glasgow, 1858-1908 states that “No worker in geology during the last forty years has done more for the science than Mr. John Smith.” (ed. MacNair and Mort, 1908, p.78). A link to an account of his life, written by Dr. Murray Macgregor, can be found in the entry for Session 10 (Meeting held on February 6, 1868) in the extracts from the Proceedings for previous anniversary years.

Meeting held on May 25, 1899

A paper entitled ” Lord Dundonald, Ninth Earl, the Discoverer of Coal-gas as an Illuminant,” by Mr. Robert Craig, of Beith, was, from the author’s absence through illness, read by the HON. SECRETARY (Mr. Murdoch).

The following is an abstract of Mr. Robert Craig’s paper (Transactions, vol. 11, 1900, pp.290-291):


When Mr. John Smith exhibited, in January last, “specimens of the substance from which William Murdock first made gas,” my intention was to have attended the meeting, and to have pointed out that he (Murdock) was not the discoverer of coal-gas but that Lord Dundonald was. Being, however, prevented from coming that evening through illness, I now send this note on the subject.

I have no wish or intention of detracting from the merits of William Murdock, who if not a man of genius was at least a man of talent, and one who knew how to use both his head and his hands. Of late years it has become the fashion to put him forward as the discoverer of coal-gas, and also as the assistant of James Watt in perfecting the steam-engine, but these are both pure fictions.

The real discoverer of coal-gas as a product from coal, and its first application as a powerful illuminant, was Lord Archibald Cochrane, 9th Earl of Dundonald [1748-1831], a man of transcendent genius. First joining the navy, he then went into the army, but not finding either profession to his mind he settled down to devote his life to science, principally chemistry, at a place, I believe, called Annsfield, near Glasgow.

Amongst his other discoveries was the production of gas-tar – as it is now called – from coal. When working at this at Culross Abbey, in Fife, he observed an easily ignited blue vapour being given off, and fixing an old gun barrel to one of his condensers he lighted the escaping gas at the outer end. This was the first introduction of gas as a curious lighting experiment, but he does not seem to have tried to bring it into practical use, as he was intently pushing his newly discovered coal-tar as a preservative of the bottoms of wooden ships, at that period usually destroyed in about three years by a marine boring worm. To prevent its ravages the timbers were thickly studded with flat-headed nails, but this was done only in the case of the larger ships.

To manufacture the tar he took out a patent and started works at Muirkirk, Ayrshire, where he lighted a shed with gas conveyed through an old gun barrel from a condenser, as he had previously done at Culross. Unfortunately, this work was not long in operation, when someone invented copper sheathing for covering ships’ bottoms, and this quite superseded Lord Dundonald’s patent tar.

Mugdock, who had been employed in the erection of the tar works at Muirkirk, or in some other capacity about them, saw the use the gas was put to, and when he afterwards got into the Soho Works at Birmingham, under Boulton and Watt, he put his previously acquired knowledge to practical account, by first lighting the place he worked in with gas which he made, and then, with the assistance of Boulton and Watt, he erected the first gaswork, from which the whole of the Soho Works were lighted, and which was very much on the lines of those of today.

Lord Dundonald was using gas as an illuminant as early as 1782, at Culross Abbey, and on his way to London about that time he called on Watt, and explained his gas discovery. One writer says that perhaps Murdock may have afterwards got his knowledge of gas from Watt, but I believe that, as already stated, Murdock learnt the use of gas for himself at the Muirkirk tarworks.

In any case, as the inventor of the gaswork, who brought gas into practical use as an illuminant, Murdock’s fame is sure, though probably Watt’s knowledge as a chemist must have assisted him – for instance, in the purification of gas by passing it through lime and water.

Lord Dundonald, the 9th Earl, the real discoverer of coal-gas, was a chemist of profound knowledge, though not a man of business tact, and hence he failed to benefit himself and his family by many of his inventions and discoveries which were far in advanxce of his time. This is perhaps not the place, nor the opportunity, to say more than that I believe his discoveries deserve an exhaustive paper beyond those of any neglected genius whom I at present remember.

Mr. John Smith was not present at the meeting at which Mr. Robert Craig’s paper was read by Mr Murdoch, and, as there is no further record on the subject in the Proceedings, it is not known whether Mr. John Smith responded to Mr. Robert Craig’s paper.

By 1899, Robert Craig was elderly and infirm, so it is understandable that he was seldom able to travel from his home in Beith to Glasgow to attend meetings of the Society. He had been born in Langside Farm, near Beith, about 1822, but as there are no OPR records in existence for that area at around that time, the exact date of his birth is not known. A Biographical Notice (which includes a photograph) of Robert Craig, “the famous quarrymaster-geologist of Beith”, is published in the History of the Geological Society of Glasgow, 1858-1908 (ed. MacNair and Mort, 1908, pp. 208-210); it includes the following information: “He went to learn the business of quarrymaster at an early age, and turned his attention to the quarrying and burning of limestone on the lands of Broadstone and Langside, carrying on this trade for over forty years. Mr. Craig joined the Geological Society of Glasgow in 1867, and contributed a number of papers, several [around twenty] of which are printed in the Transactions. [. . .] As well as giving attention to the Carboniferous rocks of his district, he devoted some of his spare time to glacial geology, and has given us some interesting information concerning the great ice age. [ . . . ] During Mr. Craig’s active working years as a quarrymaster, no place was more frequently visited by members of the Society than Beith. There was a double attraction, Mr. Craig’s own personality, and the large store of duplicate fossils to which visitors were always welcome to help themselves, so that members visiting Beith brought back two loads, one of added knowledge and another of highly prized specimens.”

Robert Craig was elected an Honorary Member of the Geological Society of Glasgow on December 10, 1896. He died on January 14, 1901, at around eighty years of age.

100 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1923-1924 (Session 66)

Meeting held on January 10, 1924

Mr. D. B. DUNCANSON introduced a discussion on ” Recent Theories of Crustal Movement.” Mr. Duncanson gave a comprehensive summary of Prof. Joly’s theory, and an interesting general discussion ensued.

It is clear that Professor Joly’s theory of crustal movement formed a significant part of the discussion at this meeting on January 10, 1924; in March of the previous year, Professor Joly had delivered, in Dublin, a lecture entitled “The Surface Movements of the Earth’s Crust”, and the May, 1923 edition of the journal Nature published the transcript of the lecture, which can be found at https://www.nature.com/articles/111603a0.pdf

Professor John Joly (1857-1933) was Professor of Geology and Mineralogy in Trinity College Dublin from 1897 until his death in 1933. Information about Professsor Joly’s ancestry, his life and work, and his many achievements, can be found at https://royalsocietypublishing.org/doi/pdf/10.1098/rsbm.1934.001

Meeting held on February 14, 1924

The President, Dr. G. W. TYRRELL, delivered a lecture on “The Geology of the North Atlantic.” Dr. Tyrrell defined the extent of the North Atlantic, described its configuration and wedge-shaped contours, and discussed the geological frame in which it is set, emphasising the element of symmetry in the structure of its east and west sides, and the trans-polar strike of the Caledonian folding. The lecturer briefly surveyed the main occurrences and petrographic characters of the Kainozoic igneous episode, as illustrated by the North Atlantic islands, and by dredgings of the Rockall and Porcupine banks. Slides were exhibited, showing characteristic occurrences and structures.

Dr. TYRRELL summarised the theories of Suess, Wegener, Joly, and Kober, and discussed their application to the origin of the North Atlantic. He (Dr. Tyrrell) suggested that the rifting apart of the continents took place by the subsidence of wedge-shaped masses in a wave of movement from south to north, each subsidence being heralded by eruptions of basalt and dolerite, the earliest occurring in South America and South Africa, in Jurassic times.

Rev. RAMSAY SIBBALD made reference to the death of Mrs. Gray, and moved that an expression of sympathy be sent to the family. This was agreed to.

Mrs. Gray was Elizabeth Gray, neé Anderson (1831-1924), a celebrated fossil collector; she was elected an Honorary Member of the Geological Society of Glasgow on May 31, 1900. There is a previous extract concerning Elizabeth Gray in the entry for the meeting held on January 20, 1873 (Session 15), which can be found in the extracts from the Proceedings for previous anniversary years.

Meeting held on April 10, 1924

Dr. TYRRELL read part I. of his presidential address—”Igneous Action and Earth Movement—The Caledonian Revolution.” Dr. Tyrrell commented on the parallelism of igneous and tectonic history, and suggested that it might be appropriate to speak of petrographic periods rather than of petrographic provinces, such periods being simply sequences of rock types. Dr. Tyrrell described the phenomena and phases of diastrophism, and analysed the diastrophic cycle of the Lower Palaeozoic of Scotland, describing the rock types associated with each phase. The continental phase of the Torridonian showed no igneous activity. This formation probably corresponds to the Sparagmite Sandstone of Scandinavia, which is generally regarded by Scandinavian geologists as belonging to earliest Cambrian times. The Sparagmite formation includes amygdaloidal basalts and quartz-dolerite. In America the continental phase is associated with great floods of basaltic lavas. The submergence (or geosynclinal) and the alternating (or transgression) phases are represented in Scottish Palaeozoic igneous activity by outpourings of soda-rich, spilitic lavas, with albite, and by intrusions of serpentine and green-rocks, transformed by earth movements into hornblende-chlorite and talc-schists. In the alternating stage igneous activity is at a minimum. In the final upheaval of the Caledonian Revolution there appears to have been two paroxysms of igneous activity, separated by earth movements; this accounts for the foliation of some of the igneous rocks of this phase, and its absence from others. Granodiorites and andesites are the rock types of the Caledonian Revolution. Andesite lavas occur in the Ochil, Sidlaw, and Cheviot Hills, and are never foliated.

75 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1948-1949 (Session 91)

Meeting held on January 13, 1949

Mr. J.S. Filshill, J.P., of the National Coal Board gave a lecture on “A Visit to the Ruhr Coalfield.” Mr. Filshill was a member of a party from the National Coal Board who had visited the Ruhr Coalfield about a year previously to study mining methods.

The Ruhr Coalfield is approximately 1,500 square miles and is elongated in shape extending from S.W. to N.E. 65/75 kilometers and with a width of about 30 kilometers. The coal-bearing strata in the Ruhr are thrown into a series of anticlines and synclines of a pronounced nature and five anticlines and synclines are given names. The actual coals in the 3,000 yards of Carboniferous strata are approximately 70 yards. The coals are very much softer and very much more brittle and consequently are more adapted to mechanised mining than the British. Overlying the whole of the Ruhr there is an overburden which deepens from south to north and consists of chalk beds and sand. Consequently in the Ruhr there is a considerable amount of serious shaft sinking problems. The speaker described several of the large collieries visited and commented on the types of machinery used. The lecture was illustrated with lantern slides.

The meeting then adjourned for coffee.

Before the second paper was read, the President [Dr. J.G.C. Anderson] intimated that the Council had decided to hold a Society Dinner. Thanks to the good offices of Professor George this would be held in the University Club at 7 o’clock on Thursday 17th February.

Mr. D.M. Boyd, B.Sc., F.G.S. then read a paper entitled “A Magnetic Reconnaissance over the Essexite Intrusion and the Campsie Fault, near Lennoxtown, Stirlingshire.”

Mr. Boyd said the problem was to investigate the structural relation of the Campsie Fault and the Essexite Intrusion. The Campsie Fault is nowhere seen and the Essexite is poorly exposed. This made it appear to be a problem suitable for solution by the variometer method. The speaker gave a brief account of the survey, explaining how the map of the magnetic field is interpreted. As a result of the survey the following conclusions had been reached. There is a fault running between the masses of Essexite. There is no indication of the fault bending to pass south of the Essexite on the road. The position of the south end of the Essexite is fixed, but not the nature of the junction. Although there is no indication that the Essexite crosses the fault, the evidence is insufficient to fix definitely the relative boundaries of the Essexite to show any displacement due to the fault.

Note: The President, Dr. J.G.C. Anderson (elected as President on November 13, 1947) served only two years of the usual three-year presidential term; this was due to his election in 1949 to the Chair of Geology at University College, Cardiff. The minutes of the meeting held on November 10, 1949 record that “Professor T. Neville George was elected President of the Society and took the Chair vacated by Professor Anderson.”

Meeting held on February 10, 1949

This meeting was held in the Geology Department of the University by kind invitation of Professor T. N. George.

The meeting was devoted to a series of short papers and exhibits by members.

Professor J. Walton [Professor of Botany in the University of Glasgow] read a note on “A Thalloid Plant showing evidence of growth in situ from the Coal Measures at Dollar, Clackmannanshire.”  [Transactions, vol. 21, Part 2, 1951, pp. 278-280]

An interesting contribution by Detective-Sergeant Cannon entitled “Ten Minutes of C.I.D. Geology” gave some examples of the application of the technique of sedimentary petrology to police problems.

Dr. B.C. King described and illustrated by a fine series of lantern slides the occurrence of feldspar augen in specimens of a grey gneiss from near Ilorin, Nigeria, and outlined the evidence for regarding these as of metasomatic origin.

In a brief contribution entitled “Some Notes on Hardness”, Mr. E. Stollery stressed the fact that in most of the techniques made use of in testing the hardness of minerals there was no consistency in the actual factors involved in the tests.

Dr. A.J.T. Dollar described an occurrence of curved crystals of vein quartz which he had found in a vein in a sedimentary rock in the south-west of Lundy Island.

Mr. W.G. Jardine exhibited examples of a porcellaneous breccia from Desford Colliery, Leicestershire.

Dr. N. Holgate exhibited and described a simplified conoscopic projector for interference figures in birefringent minerals, and Dr. Dollar had on view a number of mineralogical and petrological instruments.

Coffee was served in one of the Departmental laboratories where the exhibits were displayed, and the Hunterian Museum was open to members by courtesy of the Honorary Curator of Geological Collections, Professor T.N. George.

50 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1973-1974 (Session 116)


The new office of membership secretary was created during session 116, in order to keep up to date the Society’s membership list, so that prompt action could be taken on changes of address, resignations, subscriptions and arrears. Paragraph 10 of the constitution would be more strictly adhered to, so that those with subscription arrears of two years would automatically be deleted from our membership list.

The total membership at the end of session 116 was 386.

The total membership for session 114 was 352. The apparently anomalous figure of 340 for session 115 is accounted for by the larger than usual number of deletions of members in arrears. These were made as a result of the new system of keeping records.

Meeting held on November 8, 1973

Dr. D.S. Weedon delivered his Presidential Address on “Tertiary Igneous Rocks of Skye – a Review.”

It is possible that igneous rocks of Skye have stimulated more petrological research that any other igneous suite within a comparably small geographical area; however, when coupled with the controversies regarding their nature and origins, they must indeed rate high for this petrological honour.

Stemming from the work of Macculloch, with his famous 1919 ‘Description of the Western Isles of Scotland,’ in which he recognised that the gabbros and granites, basalts and felsites were a contemporaneous series of rocks, there arose subsequently considerable argument regarding the ages and origins of these rocks. Geikie, disagreeing with Macculloch, and subsequently with Judd on many points of discussion regarding these rocks, was answered by Judd: “The author agreed with Dr. Geikie on one point, namely, reluctance to enter upon this controversy . . . “ However, he did.

Harker in his famous memoir of 1904, apart from excellent mapping and petrological descriptions, laid down firm age relationships for the igneous rocks. Richey, in an outstanding paper to our Society on ‘Tertiary Ring Structures’ [Transactions, vol.19, 1937, pp. 42-140] contradicted Harker in suggesting two centres for the Skye central complex, and other authors subsequently have questioned Harker’s theories.

Since 1945, many petrologists have involved themselves in the problems concerning the Skye igneous rocks, and their age relations and modes of origin have been constantly questioned.

Meeting held on December 13, 1973 (Annual General Meeting)

The AGM was followed by A Geological ‘CALL MY BLUFF’.

The panel members were Professor T. Neville George, Dr. J.G. MacDonald and Mr. G. King, and their opponents, who were the winners in the game, were Mrs. Jane MacDougall, Dr. B.J. Bluck and Dr. D.F.B. Palframan. Dr. Rolfe presided over the panel.

A vote of thanks was accorded to those taking part for a most enjoyable and entertaining evening, and also to Mr. Addison and Drs. Ingham and Rolfe for having arranged the game.

Dr. M.J. McIntosh, of Glasgow University Library, had kindly laid out a display of geological dictionaries and glossaries for perusal after the meeting.


Mr. Archibald Forrest, F.S.A. (Scot), the eldest son of a former provost of Lanark, was born near Lanark on 8th December 1884, and died after a short illness on 18th January 1974.

He came to Glasgow in 1905 and started his long and successful career as a butcher, in premises in Victoria Road, Glasgow. After the end of the Second World War he took his son, Robert, into partnership in the business and finally retired in 1960. He played an active part in the charitable and trade organisations associated with his trade, and was President of the United Fleshers Society in 1930 and Deacon of the Incorporation of Fleshers in 1932.

Throughout his life he was a keen motorist and acquired his first car, an Argyll, in 1913, and he only ceased driving at the age of 82. An enthusiast of the royal and ancient game, he played regularly on the links at Wester Gailes course in Ayrshire and in due course was elected club captain.

His interest in archaeology led to his election as a Fellow of the Society of Antiquarians in Scotland and he joined the Geological Society of Glasgow in 1944, becoming a keen and active member. He was a ‘weel kent’ face at Society meetings and excursions for almost 30 years and rendered sterling service as an auditor to the Society. He specialised in semi-precious stones and created what is possibly the finest collection of cut and polished Scottish agates in Scotland today. He was a pioneer in the revival of the almost lost art of the lapidary in Scotland and was well known in lapidary circles in the U.S.A. which he visited, with Mrs. Forrest, on several occasions.

Archie Forrest was a quiet and courteous man, a good companion and a staunch friend. He was equally welcome and at ease in cottage or mansion and the older members of the Society will long remember him for his many small private courtesies and kindnesses.

He is survived by his wife with whom he celebrated his Golden Wedding in 1962 and his Diamond Wedding in 1972, and four of his five sons.

J. Stevens.

25 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1998-1999 (Session 141)

Meeting held on October 15, 1998

Dr. Peter Kokelaar of the Earth Sciences Department, University of Liverpool


Since the work of Clough, Maufe and Bailey (1909), the Glencoe volcano has been taken to exemplify caldera collapse in which coherent-block subsidence occurs piston-like along a ring-fault during a major eruption. However, recent detailed mapping of the Glencoe caldera floor and fill, and reconstruction of five intracaldera ignimbrites, show that collapse was incremental and that it involved complex movements of numerous fault blocks. Caldera depocentres shifted throughout the early volcanic history, before formation of the ring-fault. This “piecemeal” caldera collapse was profoundly influenced by tectonism along pre-existing major faults trending NW and NE. A dominant NW-trending graben controlled the major depocentres and persistently channelled a major river through Glencoe, probably flowing towards the active Great Glen Fault. Glencoe shows that the “piecemeal” nature of calderas may only be plainly evident in deeply dissected systems and suggests that piston-like subsidence is less common than hitherto recognised. Major aspects of the new interpretation of Glencoe were presented and the implications for old caldera models explained simply.

Meeting held on March 11, 1999

Dr. Alan Gibbs, Midland Valley Exploration, Glasgow


Geology involves us in the process of making observations and then trying to place these in the context of a model which allows us to understand the geological processes in space and time, which gave rise to present day geology. The development of geological tools to take advantage of recent advances in computer graphics gives rise to new capabilities in our science. In particular, we can now work in full three dimensions rather than on flat paper and then use the power of the computer to travel through geological time.

Meeting held on May 13, 1999


The summaries that follow are a selection of the short talks given by members.

Stephen Thomson spoke on the 1998 Expedition to the Breidamerkurjokel glacier in the SE of Iceland. This was a joint expedition (for which the Society provided financial assistance) of geographers and one geologist from Glasgow University studying the sedimentation in and around a glacial lake and seven civil engineers from Loughborough University updating maps of the area. The glacier no longer reaches the sea but calves icebergs from its toe into a lake which in turn discharges to the sea through many more meltwater channels than were mapped on the last survey. Traversing the area is difficult with a “new” road bridge now threatened by icebergs in a meltwater channel.

Dr. Neil Clark – A Stegosaur from Scotland – All the earlier finds described on Skye have been on the Trotternish Peninsula in the north of the island. In Berreraig Bay two pieces of ulna and radial elbow bones of the fore limbs of a dinosaur were found. From their size and shape the animal walked on all fours. They were compared with the appropriate bones of a Stegosaurus with which there are many similarities. In fact no other animal remains, especially from the Jurassic, exhibit the same characteristics, although there were some from the Cretaceous.

From the fossil assemblage, these Skye bones were dated in the Middle Jurassic, Bajocian Stage. Prior to this, the earliest Stegosaurus discovery came from the Lower Bathonian Stage, the one above the Bajocian, of the Jurassic. So these Skye bones came from the oldest Stegosaurus in the world!

Although only five dinosaur bones have been found in Scotland they represent a range of animals – Femur of a plant-eating Sauropod, a rib bone, possibly of a Sauropod, a vertebra of a Sauropod, one vertebra of a Coelophysis, and the Stegosaurus.

Roy Smart – “In the beginning” – An entertaining selection of excerpts from the History of the Geological Society of Glasgow 1858-1908 concerning some of the very early (1859) excursions of the Society, many of which started on Saturdays after 1 p.m. because most people had to work on Saturday mornings. Although there were some railways, transport was mainly by horse-drawn omnibus, followed by a lot of walking, with reports of a strange sight of a group of people walking through the villages of Bearsden and Milngavie. Only if public transport was unavailable and the walking distances were too great did the Society hire an omnibus and charge an appropriate amount for its use.

Excursion reports – all non-geological – were a collection of personal recollections and comments, including a rebuke in one about the excessive taking of refreshments. This was tempered in another when members had to repair to the local inn in Strathblane while the horses were rested for the return journey to Glasgow.

Allan Hall – Island of Melos (100 miles S of Athens)

This island, where the Venus de Milo statue was found, has no airport and therefore has few international tourists. It contains several connected volcanic centres, all now extinct, which caused high grade metamorphism. The resultant hot springs created deposits of sulphur, gypsum, alum, and china clay, all of which have been extensively worked, leaving only the coastal fringe untouched. Because of the economic importance of these deposits, the island has a long human history, with a map from 200 B.C. The many archaeological sites are now protected by guards.


Alexander Herriot, M.I.C.E., M.C.I.W.E.M. 1913-1999

From time to time there emerges someone who, while pursuing a successful career in one profession, is remembered by many of those who knew him for the contributions he made in another field of activity; Alex was one of these. From boyhood he spent many holidays on the island of Arran. Later in the 1930s, while studying Civil Engineering, it is perhaps unsurprising that he took up an interest in geology as a hobby. What is more remarkable is that, having equipped himself with a petrological microscope, and having mastered the use of this instrument in the study of thin sections of rocks, he acquired a mastery of igneus petrography of truly professional standard.

Alex joined the Society in 1937 and devoted a lifetime of support to it thereafter. He was a member of council for 35 years, held the office of Treasurer and was elected President from 1976 to 1979. His interest in Arran and its igneous rocks in particular never abated. It is no exaggeration to maintain that his knowledge of the island was unsurpassed, and when the professionals needed help, they could rely on Alex to keep them right on the intimate details of the outcrops there. He published a number of papers in the Scottish Journal of Geology and the Society’s Proceedings, and was co-author in 1983 of the third edition of the Geological Guide to Arran. The value of his work was acknowledged by the British Geological Survey when it incorporated many of Alex’s observations in the 1987 edition of the geological map of the island.

His interests in geology were not confined to Arran. He collected material from many parts of the British Isles and from further afield. One certain way to please was to present him with a piece of some exotic rock from a far country. His only stipulation was that it had to be big enough to make a thin section of it. Latterly, his collection of thin sections exceeded 5000, and it is now housed in the Hunterian Museum, where it constitutes a remarkable memorial to his skill and passion for igneous petrography. This enthusiasm was infectious. With Alex’s encouragement, many of the Society’s members were encouraged to take up the making of thin sections as a hobby, and there was a surge in the sale of Canada balsam.

Alex’s service to the Society was recognised in 1983, when he was made an Honorary Life Member. In 1990 he was presented with the Worth Medal of the Geological Society of London in recognition of his ‘scholarship and devotion in the advancement of geology’. But above all, he is remembered with affection by all who knew him, for his passion for geology, his patience and good humour when he taught others the skills that he had acquired, and the meticulous attention to detail that accompanied his investigations in the field or under the microscope.

J. G. MacDonald