FOUR scenic Scottish areas have been picked by members of the UK public in a top ten of Britain’s most important geological spots.
Mountainous Assynt, famed for its beautiful wild landscapes, Siccar Point in Berwickshire and volcanic Glencoe in the Highlands join Inner Hebrides island Staffa as favourite “geosites” chosen by the Geological Society of London, to be celebrated as part of Earth Science Week, which starts today.
Assynt came top in the category “Landscape” and Glencoe for its “Fire and Ice”. Staffa was chosen as the public’s favourite “Adventurous” site, with tourist boats only able to visit the secluded island for puffin and cave viewing in calm weather, while Siccar Point won for “Historical and Scientific Importance”.
Divided into ten categories including landscapes, human habitations and sites of scientific importance, the list also features educational sites such as Scarborough’s Rotunda Museum and Stonehenge, in Wiltshire. These ten “people’s favourites” were chosen by 1,200 members of the public from a list of 100 geosites across the United Kingdom and Ireland handpicked by the society.
A geosite is anything that highlights the importance of geology to human civilisation – a beautiful landscape, an engineered site, a museum, a historical site or a structure featuring striking building stones.
As well as outcrops and landscapes, the full list of 100 identifies famous stone buildings such as Westminster Abbey and Durham Cathedral and feats of engineering including the Channel Tunnel, Bath Spa and Geevor Tin Mine.
An interactive map has been created to show the top 100 sites and winners of the public vote, and to help the public visit their nearest site.
Professor Rob Butler, who chairs the Geological Society’s geoconservation committee, said: “The list highlights the huge range of incredible geology the UK and Ireland have to offer.
“From the Outer Hebrides to Cornwall, from rocks showing how the crust formed billions of years ago to young sediments pushed around by ice sheets a few thousand years ago, we are unique in having such a diverse geological heritage over a relatively small area.”
Earth Science Week, which was founded in 2011, aims to make members of the public more aware of the world around them.
This year’s event is being held until 18 October and will celebrate the theme “Earth’s Connected Systems”.
Prof Butler added: “Thousands of people have been inspired to find out more about Earth science from first encounters in front of geological landscapes or a museum.
“Earth Science Week and the 100 great geosites are designed to encourage even more of the general public to get involved and enjoy some of the geology that surrounds us all.”
The final list of 100 was selected from over 400 nominations, the majority of which were submitted via social media, using the #100geosites hashtag.
Discussing their top picks on Twitter, Garaint Owen, geologist in the geography department at Swansea University, wrote: “Assynt: Earth history and history of geology in a unique and majestic landscape,” while vulcanologist Dave McGarvie, who works at the Open University, wrote: “Glencoe… spectacular volcanics.”
1 Assynt, Highlands
2 Ironbridge Gorge, Shropshire
3 Siccar Point, Berwickshire
4 The Rotunda Museum in Scarborough, Yorkshire
5 Staffa, Inner Hebrides
6 Stonehenge, Wiltshire
7 Hunstanton Cliffs, Norfolk
8 Craster, Northumberland
9 Millook Haven, Cornwall
10 Glencoe, Highlands