Extracts from the Proceedings for previous anniversary years can be found here.
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150 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1867-68 (Session 10)

Annual General Meeting held on October 3, 1867

The Secretary read a report on the state and progress of the Society for the past year, which showed that the members on the roll were, for 1867, 233— a satisfactory increase over the preceding year. The library had been largely increased by exchanges with Foreign and British societies; and, among other donations, Archibald Smith, Esq., of Jordanhill, had, with great liberality, presented the Society with one hundred volumes of geological works from the library of his late father, sometime President of the Society.

Meeting held on October 31, 1867

The PRESIDENT [Dr. John Young] paid a high tribute to his predecessor in office, the late Mr James Smith, of Jordanhill, and expressed his gratification at the erection of the Geological Survey of Scotland into a separate branch, under the directorship of one so competent as Mr Archibald Geikie.

James Smith of Jordanhill was President of the Geological Society of Glasgow from 1864 until his death (aged 84) in January 1867. A link to the account given to the Society by Rev. Henry W. Crosskey of James Smith’s remarkable life can be found in the entry for Session 9 in the extracts from the Proceedings for previous anniversary years.

Meeting held on February 6, 1868

Mr. J . WALLACE YOUNG exhibited sections of pitchstone from Arran by means of the microscope. Pitchstone to the unaided eye appears like a piece of bottle glass, but when sections are examined under the microscope beautiful needle-shaped crystals of pyroxene are observed in a colourless felspathic base.

Mr. JOHN SMITH exhibited a remarkably well-preserved crinoid from the carboniferous limestone, Beith. The specimen, evidently belonging to the genus Phodocrinus, showed the stem, calyx, and fingers all in position, a state of preservation in which crinoids are very rarely obtained in the carboniferous limestones of Scotland.

John Smith (1845-1930) was an active member of the Geological Society of Glasgow for 65 years. He devoted much of his life to the study of the geology, natural history and archaeology of Ayrshire. An account of the life of John Smith, written by Dr. Murray Macgregor, can be found here.

Meeting held on February 27, 1868

Sir WILLIAM THOMSON, D.C.L., read a paper on "Geological Time". (This paper can be seen here.)

Meeting held on March 28, 1868

ARCHIBALD GEIKIE, Esq., Director of the Geological Survey of Scotland, read a paper on " Modern Denudation ". (This paper can be seen here.)

[There followed] an animated discussion, in which Sir William Thomson, Professor Allen Thomson, Mr. John Young and the President took part, after which the Society adjourned till April 2nd.


125 years ago

Extract from the Proceedings for 1891-92 (Session 34)

Meeting held on January 14, 1892

The HON. SECRETARY said that the Council had agreed that, subject to the approval of the members, a letter of congratulation to Sir William Thomson, President of the Society, on his accession to the peerage [under the title of Baron Kelvin], should be sent, and moved accordingly. The motion was unanimously agreed to.

A motion to devote £8 from the funds towards the purchase of books for the Library was made by Mr. James Thomson, F.G.S.  Mr. John Wight, C.A., Hon. Treasurer, seconded, upon the condition that the expenditure should, if possible, be restricted to £5, and, with this alteration, the motion was agreed to.

Meeting held on February 11, 1892

Mr. JOHN MAIN, F.G.S., exhibited, by the oxy-hydrogen lantern, an extensive series of Photographs of the Moon's Surface, showing numerous evidences of Volcanic Action on a large scale, and also other views of corresponding terrestrial appearances. An interesting discussion followed, being taken part in by the Chairman (Mr. Young), Drs. Ross and Sloan, Messrs. Dunlop, Sommerville, and other members.

Meeting held on April 14, 1892

Mr. M. BLAIR exhibited specimens from two large boulders near King's Cross, Arran. He remarked that the erratic blocks in this neighbourhood are very numerous, but are nearly all local, being traceable to Goatfell, 10 miles north, from which they must have crossed two deep valleys and a ridge. The two large blocks referred to are totally different from any Arran rock. From a description given by Professor Judd, in a paper on " The Secondary Rocks of Scotland" in the Quart. Jour. Geol. Soc, of certain beds in the Island of Raasay, Mr. Blair thought that the rock might be found there in situ, and he had brought up the specimens in the hope that some of the members might be able to identify them.  Prof.Judd's description is as follows :—"Conglomerates (formed of rounded or sub-angular fragments of white or purple quartzite, of Torridon sandstone, and of compact or sub-crystalline limestone) alternating with irregular lenticular beds of coarse micaceous sandstone, into which the conglomerates insensibly graduate." The CHAIRMAN said he would endeavour, through the good offices of the schoolmaster in Raasay, to obtain specimens of the rock in situ, so that they might be compared with these Arran boulders.


100 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1916-1917 (Session 59)

Meeting held on February 1, 1917

For the background to the following extract, see the entry for Session 58 in the extracts for previous anniversary years.

The discussion of Mr. J . Neilson's paper on " The Auld Wives' Lifts " was continued. Prof. J. W. GREGORY pointed out that the structure shows a much greater resemblance to a tor than to a cromlech. He admitted the glacial moulding of the surrounding surface, but held that the amphitheatre was pre-glacial, as the direction of its drainage was across that of the ice. Mr. J. RENWICK maintained that the "Lifts " could not be classed as a dolmen, as the latter were erected for use as burial places and had much larger chambers. Similarly it could not be likened to a menhir, as the top stone could not be raised in the way the latter are supposed to have been erected. While the legends and superstitions show that the trilith had been used for religious pur­poses, it probably originated through the action of frost in the joint planes of the local sandstone. The absence of other blocks in the immediate neighbourhood is probably due to their use in building dykes, as there is good reason to believe that a very large block near the "Lifts" was broken up for this purpose a number of years ago.

Mr. NEILSON agreed that the hollow was natural, but objected to a pre-glacial origin for it, as a tor would certainly have been swept away completely during glacial times. The stones themselves are not glacial, and were erected by human agencies. With regard to Mr. Macnair's suggestion that the problem of its origin might be settled by excavations, in order to determine whether the rock surface on which the trilith rests was glaciated or not, he did not think that this was necessary, as it seemed a fair inference that the glaciated nature of the surrounding rock surfaces extended to that underlying the "Lifts."

Meeting held on April 12, 1917

Mr. G. V . WILSON read a paper entitled, " Notes on the Geology of Mull." A brief description of the structure of the island was given, and the distribution of the Pre-Kainozoic rocks pointed out. In Kainozoic times a great sequence of lava flows was poured out; in the north and west areas these are fresh olivine basalts, but in the south-east, within a circle passing through Salen, Craigmure, and Lochbuie, the basalts are much altered and baked. Within a smaller circle round the head of Glenmore lavas of the pillowform variety are also found. These are thought to have been deposited in the caldera of an old volcano. A few interbedded sediments occur sporadically through the whole lava series, and these include the famous plant-bed of Ardtun. This great series of lava flows has been folded into a set of anticlines and synclines in south and central Mull, but in the west it is flat, and gives rise to a terraced country. Large masses of gabbro and granophyre have also been intruded at various periods, some being probably connected with the folding, and others being definitely later. In central Mull large patches of volcanic breccia occur in the crater of the old volcano. Besides the large intrusive masses, central Mull is riddled with "inclined sheets," having a concentric arrangement, and dipping inwards at an angle of about 5 0 degrees. Two sets occur with slightly different foci, and the later can be seen cutting through the earlier. Another kind of concentric intrusion, "ring-dykes,'' is also found; these consist of vertical, circular dykes of gabbro and granophyre, which in some cases occur along fault-lines, good examples being seen near the head of Glenmore. In addition to the intrusions already mentioned, the whole area is cut by a great series of N.-W. and S.-E. basalt dykes, which may be regarded as the last phase of volcanic activity in the island. The paper was illustrated by a large number of lantern slides.


75 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1941-1942 (Session 84)

Meeting held on October 11, 1941

This meeting was held in the Geological Department of the University and at its close members present were the guests of Professor and Mrs. Trueman at tea. (Professor Arthur E. Trueman was the retiring president of the society.)

The meeting was devoted to a series of exhibits and demonstrations arranged by various members: (a) wooden implements from old coal-workings near Law village, by Dr. M. Macgregor; (b) a map illustrating transcurrent faulting in oil-shale workings near Uphall, by Dr. W. Q. Kennedy; (c) coal with oil films, by Mr. H. H. Roderick; (d) natrolite and pectolite from Orrock Quarry,  by Miss E. Melville; (e) a Lower Devonian trilobite with the rostral plate in position, by Mr. J. L. Begg; (f) ammonites from Morvern, by Miss R. M. MacLennan; (g) slides showing shell structure, by Professor A. E. Trueman; (h) cellulose peel sections of ammonites, by Dr. E. D. Currie; (i) minerals from the U.S.S.R., by Dr. G. W. Tyrrell; and (j) a series of photographs, by Dr. D. Leith. 

Meeting held on November 8, 1941

A paper by Dr. M. Macgregor entitled "A Notice of John Smith," was read by title and Mr. Colin Leitch, B.Sc. then delivered an address on  'Roumanian Oil-fields,' in which he outlined the history of the Roumanian oil industry from 1918 up to the present time. (The paper on John Smith can be found here.)

John Smith devoted much of his life to the study of the geology, natural history and archaeology of Ayrshire, where most of his life was spent. He was an active member of the Geological Society of Glasgow from 1865 until shortly before his death in 1930.


50 years ago

Extract from the Proceedings for 1966-1967 (Session 109)

Meeting held on March 9, 1967

The following papers were read by members:

'A temporary exposure in Quaternary sediments at Renfrew' by Mr. P. Aspen and Dr. W. G. Jardine. (This paper can be seen here.)

'Arthropleura — a giant "centipede" from the Coal Measures' by Dr. W. D. Ian Rolfe (Scott. J. Geol. 3: 118-24).

'The explosion-breccia pipes near Kentallan' by Dr. D. R. Bowes (Trans. R. Soc. Edinb. 67: 109-43).

Meeting held on September 7, 1967 (Extraordinary Meeting)

Dr. Patterson (Edward M. Patterson, the society's president) opened the meeting to a general discussion on the financial position of the society and the necessity for raising the subscription. Two main points emerged from this discussion. The first was a request for a widening of the qualification of Associate Membership, the second was for consideration to be given to any Member whose circumstances may warrant a reduced subscription.

The proposal to increase the subscription to £3 per annum was carried.

The previous subscription, held since 1960, was 30/- (£1.50), and so the new amount represented a 100% increase. Prior to the meeting, Dr Patterson sent a letter to all members giving a detailed justification for the increase. This letter, which contains a fascinating account of the society's subscription history and its financial situation in 1967, can be seen here.


25 years ago

Extract from the Proceedings for 1991-1992 (Session 134)

Meeting held on November 14, 1991

Dr. Michael C. Keen (University of Glasgow) gave his Presidential Address to the Society. He spoke on “Global Events and Sea Level Changes".

The recent geological past has seen dramatic changes in eustatic (global) sea levels caused by the expansion and contraction of the polar ice caps. Whole continental shelves which were recently above sea level have been submerged during the past 10,000 years, giving rise to some of the earth’s most spectacular features such as the Great Barrier Reef of Australia. These eustatic changes are clearly related to climatic change, and study of oceanic cores has shown climatic cycles of varying duration known as Milankovitch Cycles* (20k, 40k, and 100k years). These are increasingly recognised in the geological record as small scale cycles (1-2 Ma). While they are readily explained in the context of a glacial world, such cycles are more difficult to explain in a non-glacial world such as existed during the Jurassic and Cretaceous. Larger scale cycles, which form the basis of sequence stratigraphy, have a duration of 2-3 million years and are difficult to tie in with climate. Repeated transgressive-regressive events are seen as large scale coarsening-upwards cycles believed to be eustatically controlled. The succession of biofacies can help in their recognition. Not all sea-level changes are of eustatic origin, however. The Messinian salinity crisis of the late Miocene affected the whole of the Mediterranean Basin, but was brought about by geographical changes related to plate movement; the closure of the Straits of Gibraltar brought about the desiccation of the basin, with sea level changes of several thousand metres. Major regressions have had considerable effects on the biosphere, and are considered to be one of the prime influences on faunal turnover. The mass extinctions the Permian/Triassic and Cretaceous/Tertiary boundaries were examined in this light.

*The existence of astronomically-related climatic cycles, in particular the eccentricity (100 ka) and precession (23 ka) cycles, was first proposed by James Croll in 1857, 60 years before Milutin Milankovitch published his more detailed theory.

Excursion to East Kirkton Quarry and the Bathgate Hills, September 19 1992 (Leaders Dr. A. J. Hall and Miss R. McGill)

This excursion was planned in relation to the East Kirkton Symposium held in Edinburgh.

The Lower Carboniferous sequence exposed in the quarry and excavated by the Royal Scottish Museum is interpreted as that of a lacustrine deposit with a hot-spring influence within a volcanic terrain. Its fame stems from its unique early terrestrial biota. The Petershill Limestone, rich in marine fossils, was also visited as well as the nearby site of Hilderston silver mine.

More information about the Hilderston silver mine can be found here.