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


150 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1868-69 (Session 11)

Meeting held on November 5, 1868

Mr. JOHN YOUNG exhibited a vertical section of the strata in Gilmorehill Quarry, which he has constructed out of the pounded material of each stratum. The section is enclosed within a long wooden box, with a glass front, and is constructed on a scale of one-half inch to the foot. It exhibits in a clear manner the comparative thickness of each stratum, their natural colour, and the gradations they assume. It has been placed in the Hunterian Museum as a memorial of the quarry.

Mr. JOHN YOUNG read a paper, “On the section of strata at present being worked in the western portion of the Gilmorehill grounds, for the purpose of obtaining building-stone for the erection of the new Glasgow University.” The paper was illustrated by specimens of the sandstone, &c., and by vertical and horizontal sections of the strata in the quarry.

This paper was published in the society’s Transactions for 1869 (Volume 3). It can be found here.

Meeting held on April 1, 1869

Mr. ROBERT CRAIG, Langside, Beith, exhibited several species of arctic shells, recently discovered by Mr. Yates, junior, coalmaster, Kilmarnock, in sinking a pit, on the farm of Woodhall, near Kilmaurs. The shells were found in a thin bed of sand, one foot three inches in thickness, which in this new pit underlies fifty feet of boulder clay and upper drift, and overlies the bed in which the remains of the mammoth and reindeer were formerly found.

Among the many shells found, the following species had alone been preserved, many having been broken during the process of extraction from the matrix, viz.:- Leda oblonga, Tellina calcerea, Pecten Islandicus, Cyprina Islandica, Astarte sulcata, A compressa, Natica Groenlandica and fragments of a large species of Natica and a Littorina.

Mr. JOHN YOUNG exhibited a collection of upwards of 300 seeds of freshwater plants belonging to five or six species, the more abundant being a species of Potamogeton and a Ranunculus, recently obtained by him from the washing of a small piece of sandy clay, which had lain in the Hunterian Museum since 1829, being part of the matrix in which the tusk of the mammoth and horns of the reindeer found in the old Woodhill quarry, Kilmaurs, were embedded. Mr. Young said he had failed to discover any trace of marine organisms in the clay in question, and he was therefore of opinion that it was an old estuarine deposit, which at one time had partly filled up the Carmel Valley.

A fuller account of the above presentations was given in a paper published in Volume 3 of the society’s Transactions (published in 1869). It can be found here.

Meeting held in April, 1869

Professor Sir WILLIAM THOMSON, read a paper on “Geological Dynamics”, in the course of which he replied to the criticisms of his views contained in the anniversary address to the Geological Society of London, by the President, Professor Huxley.

This paper was published in Volume 3 of the society’s Transactions (published in 1899). It can be found here.

Summer excursions, 1869

April 17.—Hurlet. Mr. Hull, F.R.S., Conductor. Train to Nitshill. Sections of carboniferous limestone, with intrusive trap dykes.

May 1.—Crofthead. Mr. Robert Craig, Conductor. Train to Crofthead. Lacustrine deposits and boulder clay.

’’ 15.—Thornton Quarries. Mr. James Thomson, F.G.S., Conductor. Train to Eaglesham Road Station on Kilbride Railway. Section of trappean ash in railway cutting—Sections of carboniferous limestone, trappean ash and boulder clay.

’’ —(Queen’s birth-day).—Bathgate. Dr. John Young, President, Conductor. Extensive sections of carboniferous limestone and shale, rich in corals and other fossils.

June 5.—Spout of Ballagan, Campsie Glen, and North Hill. (Joint Excursion with Edinburgh Geological Society). Mr. John Young, Conductor. Spout of Ballagan—natural sections of thin-bedded limestone capped by sandstone and trap. Campsie Glen—Ballagan Beds, overlaid with trappean ashes and trap. North Hill—sections of carboniferous limestone and eruptive traps.

A report of the June 5 excursion to Campsie Glen can be found here

125 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1893-1894 (Session 36)

Meeting held on October 12, 1893

Dr. JOHN YOUNG, F.G.S., exhibited specimens of a White Vein-Quartz, enveloping crystallized calcite of a deep, reddish-brown colour. This is the Haematoconite of Hausman, a variety of red calcite seen in the Italian marble, “rosso antico.” The specimens exhibited were found on the Corrie shore, Arran, during last autumn, by Dr. Thomas Young, of Manchester, and were presented by him to the Hunterian Museum. They formed part of a small boulder, the great contrast in colour between the pure white of the quartz and the red of the calcite giving the rock a striking and handsome appearance. Such colour appears to be rare in Scottish calcite.

Meeting held on November 9, 1893

Sir Archd. Geikie, Bart., [was elected] as President; the CHAIRMAN proposed a hearty vote of thanks to Lord Kelvin, the retiring President, for his long-continued services to the Society, and this was warmly approved of.

Mr. James S. M‘Lennan read a paper entitled “A Ramble up the Maich Water, Ayrshire.” A short discussion followed.

This paper was published in Volume 10 of the society’s Transactions (published in 1895). It can be found here.

Meeting held on January 11, 1894

The HON. SECRETARY (Mr. Murdoch) exhibited, on behalf of Mr. John Smith, specimens of Serpentine from the Boulder-clay near Lendalfoot, Ayrshire, and read some notes by Dr. Forster-Heddle on the occurrence in Ayrshire of this particular variety of the mineral. The find is of considerable interest, as serpentine, with veins of chrysotile, crystals of pseudo-enstatite, and precious serpentine, all of which are contained in Mr. Smith’s specimen, has only been known previously to occur in Scotland at Colafirth, in Shetland. Its presence in the Ayrshire Boulder-clay seems to indicate that it may be found at no great distance in situ from the same locality. (See also March 8 extract.)

Dr. JOHN YOUNG, F.G.S., exhibited several specimens, as follows :—

1. Pearlstone, which belongs to the pitchstone group of the felspars, has a pearly lustre, and is sometimes found in small spherules, as in spherulite.

2. Uraninite or Protoxide of Uranium, from Perth, Western Australia. This mineral is of much value in the painting of porcelain, as it yields an orange colour in the enamelling fire, and a black colour in the baking furnace.

3. A new species of Sigillaria found by himself, in 1864, during the sinking of a pit to the Possil ironstone at Robroyston, north-east of Glasgow. This species had been recently described by Mr. Robert Kidston, F.G.S., in a paper to the Royal Physical Society of Edinburgh, as being the first British example of the Ribbed Sigillaria which had been found in strata older than the millstone grit series. Mr. Kidston had named it, after its discoverer, Sigillaria Youngiana, its provisional name having been S contracta, Brongt.

Mr. JOSEPH SOMERVILLE exhibited, with remarks, specimens of Magnesian Limestone, with Oolitic Structure, from Somersetshire—the stone of which St. Paul’s Cathedral is built—also specimens of Magnesian or Dolomitic Limestone from Roker, near Sunderland, on the coast of Durham. Dr. Young and other members took part in the subsequent discussion on the structure of these limestones.

Meeting held on March 8, 1894

The HON. SECRETARY (Mr. Murdoch) exhibited specimens as follows :—

1. Serpentine with Chrysotile, from Colafirth, Shetland, the only known locality for the latter mineral in Scotland until specimens of Serpentine containing it were found by Mr. John Smith in the Boulder-clay near Girvan.

2. Steatite from the ” Klebber Name Rock,” a huge mass of the mineral which stands out cliff-like in the north end of Fethaland, Shetland. The softness of the rock, which allows it to be easily cut with a knife, has induced visitors for many years past to carve their names and initials upon its face, and the present specimen is part of the inside circle of a large O in the name Victoria, which had scaled off and fallen down.

Meeting held on April 12, 1894

The HON. SECRETARY (Mr. Murdoch) showed some fine specimens of Barytes, and part of the root of a Carboniferous Tree (Stigmaria ficoides), from the highest part of Eaglesham, Renfrewshire, which had been sent for exhibition by Mr. Allan Gilmour younger of Eaglesham. The latter specimen, which must have been transported by ice to the place where it was found, contained a portion of the large central pith, with the characteristic markings. Its perfectly round form showed that the root must have been fossilized while in a growing position, and without being crushed.

Meeting held on May 10, 1894

Mr. JOHN SMITH, V.P., exhibited a specimen of prismatic Sandstone, from Saltcoats. When the Caledonian Railway was being made, a bed of very fine grained sandstone, rendered prismatic by its proximity to trap, was passed through. Thinking from its appearance that it would make a good whetstone, Mr. Smith took a specimen, but on attempting to work it into shape he found it to be exceedingly hard, taking a polish and glitter like a cut agate.

Meeting held on May 31, 1894

Mr. JAMES NEILSON exhibited specimens of Zeolitic Minerals from the new Lanarkshire and Dumbartonshire Railway, near Bowling, including Prehnite, Analcite, Thomsonite, Lamontite, &c, making some remarks upon their occurrence. He also exhibited (2) a portion of a Glass-pot, shewing radiated prehnite-like structure from excessive firing, and (3) a specimen of Red Stilbite, said to have been got at New Kilpatrick. Mr. Neilson also exhibited a number of Worked Flints, from the Raised Beach at Larne, Co. Antrim, and read some interesting notes on the section there. Photographs of the locality and of the flints were thrown on the screen

100 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1918-1919 (Session 61)

Meeting held on December 12, 1918

Mr. JAMES STARK read a paper on ” The Glacial Origin of the Auld Wives’ Lifts,” and a short paper on “The Whangie.”

This paper was published in Volume 16 of the society’s Transactions (published in 1920). It can be found here.

Messrs. Dron, Macnair, Neilson and Tyrrell took part in the discussion, and Mr. Stark was warmly thanked for his interesting paper.

For information about previous papers and discussions on the subject of The Auld Wives’ Lifts, and also about an excursion to the site, see Extracts from the Proceedings for Session 58 (1915-1916) and Session 59 (1916-1917).

Meeting held on February 13, 1919

Mr. G. W. TYRRELL delivered a lecture, entitled ” Modern Views on Volcanoes.”

The older idea of volcanic activity was that steam escaping from magmatic solution was the chief agent in bringing about the ascent of the lava and the accompanying explosions. The essential features of volcanoes were the escape of lava and gases from a pipe or fissure. The gases observed, which differ in different volcanoes, were steam, hydrogen, methane, sulphur, sulphur dioxide, hydrogen sulphide, chlorine, boric acid and carbon dioxide.

In attempting to explain how volcanic vents are opened one had to consider the place of eruption and its persistence in one place, also its independence of neighbouring vents. Mr. Tyrrell then discussed the hypotheses put forward by Daly, Brun, Day and Shepherd. Prof. Daly’s great contribution is the linking-on of volcanic activity with the vastly greater subterranean activity, and developed the gas-fluxing hypotheses of volcanic vents. Dr. Brun advocated the view that volcanic activity is essentially anhydrous; but this was disproved by Drs. Day and Shepherd, who actually collected the gases from the lava lake at Kilauea, and demonstrated the presence of water, although in comparatively small quantity. The other view of volcanic mechanism was that it was comparable to a steam engine; the more modern view is that the analogy is more with a gas engine actuated by internal combustion.

Meeting held on April 10, 1919

Mr. G. W. WILSON, H.M. Survey, read a paper on “The Millstone Grit Fireclays of North Ayrshire.” These beds, when discovered by Mr. John Smith, were described by him as Volcanic Tuffs, but the discovery by Mr. Douglas of the highly refractory nature of the Monkcastle clay led to a reconsideration of the whole deposit of the Bauxitic clays. The outcrop has been traced from Saltcoats to Kilmarnock, and deposits of a similar nature occur at Mauchline, Sanquhar, Stranraer, and in Arran. The material is very black, hard and non-plastic, and contains many oolites. Its Al203content runs from 26 to 50 per cent. When exposed to high temperatures rosettes of sillimanite, coloured blue possibly by titanium, are formed. This, as well as the oolitic structure, was demonstrated by a series of photomicrographs. With regard to the origin of those deposits the lecturer put forward the hypothesis of tropical conditions acting on the beds of lava, on which perhaps a hummocky surface permitted the formation of extensive pools of stagnant shallow water, with abundance of decaying vegetable matter giving rise to CO. C02 CH4 gases. The gases, by reducing action, might render soluble the iron and alumina, and lead to their segregation in different parts of the deposit. The oolitic structure of the alumina particles seemed to suggest that this mineral might, under certain circumstances, pass into solution. The deposits elsewhere are regarded by Mr. Wilson as due to redistribution.

Mr. TYRRELL asked if any evidence had been noticed as to volume change, but Mr. Wilson said he had none, as the rock is non-porous. Mr. Macnair also took part in the discussion.

A hearty vote of thanks was accorded Mr. Wilson.

Meeting held on May 8, 1919

Mr. H. R. J. CONACHER read a paper on the “Micrology of the Oil Shale Series.” It was pointed out that the most striking features of the sandstones was the angularity of the grains, and the occasional presence of fresh and angular particles of volcanic rock. The cement of these sandstones is generally calcareous, and frequently constitutes a very large percentage of the whole rock as seen in thin section.

Some clue is given as to the age of this cement by its relation to the oil which sometimes saturates the rock, and the age of which can be fixed by that of the igneous rock which distilled it from the shales. Occasionally the sandstone occurs as very thin ribs in blaes, or even as a single layer of sand grains along the bedding plane, as if strewn across the wet surface of mud by wind. The sandstones sometimes pass by imperceptible gradations into dense hard oolites. When a nucleus can be detected in the oolitic grain it is generally found to be a fragment of plant tissue still showing the structure, but signs of animal life are rare, except carbonised worm tubes, although an oolitic limestone may pass either upwards or downwards into an entomostracan seam. Spirorbis limestones occasionally occur, and the frequent ostracod beds present numerous interesting features under the microscope. Not the least interesting part of Mr. Conacher’s notes was the very fine series of some fifty micro-sections by which it was illustrated. These were exhibited with the Society’s micro-projector, and were demonstrated by Mr. Conacher. Mr. Conacher was complimented for the skill and industry in which his researches on the oil shales and their origin were being prosecuted, and a hearty vote of thanks was awarded him.

75 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1943-1944 (Session 86)

Meeting held on October 9, 1943

This meeting was held in the Geology Department, The University, where tea was served in the Palaeontological Laboratory.

At the first meeting of Session 82, held in the Hunterian Museum on October 21, 1939, a decision had been taken that, under war conditions,“ the Society should endeavour to carry on its meetings as regularly as possible, but that the day and time should be changed to Saturday at 3 p.m.”  Five years later, at the first meeting of Session 87, held in the Geology Department on October 14, 1944, it was decided “ to revert to evening meetings to be held on the second Thursday of the month at 7 p.m.”  It appears that, during the Second World War, the October meetings of Sessions 83 to 87 (1940 to 1944) were held in the Geology Department of the University. Although the minutes do not record where the remaining meetings of each session were held, it may be assumed that they took place in what previous minutes refer to as “Society’s Rooms, 207, Bath Street, Glasgow”; this building was owned by the Royal Philosophical Society of Glasgow, and, between 1880 and 1961, it was also the principal venue for meetings of the Geological Society of Glasgow. 

Meeting held on November 13, 1943

The President [Dr. John Weir] announced that Dr. E. B. Bailey had been awarded a Royal Medal of the Royal Society.

Dr. J. B. Simpson delivered an address on “The Study of Fossil Pollen Grains.” He pointed out that the serious study of fossil spores has been confined to the last twenty-five years, and went on to describe the work done by others on fossil pollen grains in peat mosses and in Tertiary coals and lignites, as well as on spores in coals of Carboniferous age. Dr. Simpson’s own work was the study of pollen in Tertiary coals and in coal seams occurring in Upper Cretaceous, Lower Cretaceous, and Jurassic strata. Most of the plants are still flourishing and so the fossil pollen can be compared with that of living forms. The method of study was described in some detail. The lecturer then showed lantern slides of fossil pollen grains of alder, maple, conifers, and water-lily, together with corresponding living forms. In the case of the alder and maple, it was pointed out that the British Tertiary pollen grains are allied to present-day Asiatic forms.

Meeting held on December 11, 1943

Dr. G. W. Tyrrell exhibited a series of lantern slides illustrating some mineral deposits of Soviet Russia. The slides were made from photographs taken by Dr. D. Williams who was Dr. Tyrrell’s companion on the expedition to the Kola Peninsula during the Geological Congress in Russia in 1937.

Meeting held on January 8, 1944

Dr. T. Robertson delivered a lecture on ” The Limestone Resources of Scotland,” in which he summarised the results of the investigations on Scottish limestones carried out recently by the Geological Survey with the collaboration, on the chemical side, of the Macaulay Institute for Soil Research. The results of this work are now available in a series of eight wartime pamphlets issued by the Geological Survey.

Meeting held on March 11, 1944

Dr. J.C.G. Anderson gave an address on “Scottish Slates” and summarised the results of the work recently carried out by Dr. J.E. Richey and himself on the slate deposits of Scotland (see Geological Survey Wartime Pamphlets, No. 40, May, 1944). An exhibit of slates arranged by Mr. T. Graham and others interested in the industry were on view and both visitors and members took part in the discussion which followed the lecture.

50 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1968-1969 (Session 111)

Meeting held on October 10, 1968

Dr. K. A. G. Shiells delivered a lecture entitled “Palaeoecoligal Perspectives”.

Dr. Shiells gave a general account of some aims and achievements in the study of fossils in relation to the environments in which they lived.

Dr Shiells and his wife were drowned in a boating accident in November 1968. This tragedy was referred to at the meeting of December 10, 1968 (see below). Dr. Shiells’ obituary, which was published in this issue of the Proceedings, can be seen here.

Meeting held on November 14, 1968

[Two lectures were delivered by] members of the Society who had attended excursions in Czechoslovakia prior to the 23rd International Geological Congress in Prague.

Dr McLean outlined the regional geology which includes mountain chains of Variscan and Alpine age. In Slovakia the Carpathians may be divided into two structural areas separated by a “klippe” zone. The Inner Carpathians have nappe structures where Trias has been thrust north over Cretaceous for distances of 20 miles. There are intermontane basins containing poorly-sorted sediments which have undergone spectacular weathering. Most of the country has not been glaciated.

Professor George described karst country with spectacular limestone caves. He also showed coloured slides of tufa at Carlesbad where recent volcanic activity has given rise to mineralizing hot springs.

Both speakers paid tribute to the Czechs for the magnificent work they had done in organising the Congress and expressed their regret that it had been disrupted by the Russian invasion.

Meeting held on December 12, 1968

The president referred to the recent tragic loss, in a boating accident, of Dr K. A. G. Shiells and his wife.

It was agreed that a letter of sympathy be written to Dr. Shiells’ parents on behalf of the Society.

25 years ago

Extracts from the Proceedings for 1993-1994 (Session 136)

Meeting held on October 14, 1993

[The first meeting of the session] was the occasion of the presentation of the T Neville George Medal to Professor Diane Edwards (University of Wales, Cardiff) in recognition of her work in the field of palaeobatany. Her lecture was entitled “In the Footsteps of Kidston and Lang”. It is a fitting tribute to the enduring quality and fundamental nature of the research activities of these two Glasgow based palaeobotanists that their pioneering descriptions of early land plants are as relevant as ever to studies of terrestrialization. In this lecture Professor Edwards returned to some of their Scottish and Welsh Borderland assemblages and showed how technological developments such as scanning and transmission electron microscopy have extended their anatomical observations and very occasionally modified their assessment of affinity. She also explained how an integrated approach, involving zoologists, botanists, geologists and geochemists, can provide new insights into early terrestrial ecosystems.

Meeting held on February 24, 1994

Prof. Jake Hancock addressed the Society on “Geology of Wine”.

Of the five controls on the quality of wine before the manufacturing process (grape-variety, type of yeast ferment, amount of warmth, supply of water and nourishment), geology is the major factor for the last three in most quality vineyards. Warmth is a critical factor in northern vineyards, as in Germany, where the best vineyards are directly related to orientation and angle of slope. Water supply is more complex, but ideally a vineyard-rock has a high porosity, high mass permeability and low matrix permeability. Nourishment of vines is mostly related to availability of K+ but it is better for the nitrogen content of the soil to be low. The lecture was illustrated by examples from a broad variety of vineyards.

Summer excursions, 1994

May 7, 1994: Corrycharmaig, Killin

Leader: Dr A J Hall, University of Glasgow

18 people attended this excursion and the number of cars was limited to five due to access. he Corrycharmaig serpenenite is one of a number of intriguing small serpentinite bodies that occur in a linear zone extending through Middle Dalradian rocks of the Scottish Highlands from near Loch Fyne in the south east to the moray Firth in the north east.

We examined the textures and minerals present in the serpentinite and considered how the rock originated and was modified by regional metamorphism. Relatively unusual minerals such as antigorite, chromite, talc and magnesite are found here in abundance. There are old workings here representing trials for chromium ore but both the chromite and talc magnesite have been considered more recently for their economic potential as refractories. Other minerals of economic significance which are often associated with serpentenites are platinum, asbestos and, indirectly, gold. The serpentinite outcrops as crags on the side of Glen Lochay with Loch Tay visible in the distance and it is a particularly suitable locality for contemplating the problem of balancing man’s consumption of metals and industrial minerals with the inevitable environmental consequences.

Access is easy, involving about a 1 km walk along a farm track from Corrycharmaig Farm (NN 528359) and up a gentle incline from about 150 m to 250 m; examination of the outcrops involves walking short distances up and down some fairly steep slopes but extending from about 250 m to only 350 m altitude. (OS 1:50000 sheet 51: Loch Tay)

August 17, 1994: Glensanda Quarry

Leaders:    Mr I. MacDonald, Foster Yeoman
Miss A. Smith, Tarmac Roadstones

by David Wilkinson

Everyone turned up at the arranged time of 6.45 a.m. at the Boyd Orr car park. Dr Alan Hall, who was to lead the visit and drive the minibus, was there in very good time – he thought it was a 6 a.m. start!

During the drive up Loch Lomond the weather kept changing from bright sunshine to showers and our arrival at foster Yeoman’s jetty at Rubha Garbh coincided with one of the gloomier periods. Looking down Loch Crerand towards Eriska and the Appin Peninsula however, the sea appeared silvery and smooth. As we threaded through the network of channels, past the island of Lismore and punched our way across Loch Linnhe, the sun came out and gave us spectacular views in all directions. Looking across the Loch to Glensanda, the red scar of the quarry workings just above the shore line was prominent, as was the road winding up the hill out of sight. Just to the south of the quarry buildings, in rather incongruous juxtaposition, was the rectangular tower of Glensanda Castle, decorated by the Saltire. Lying just offshore was a red and green ore carrier and on the shore line was a large shed and three conical heaps of aggregate.

The quarry manager, Iain McDonald, greeted us on our arrival and was introduced by Anne Smith, who had arranged the visit. We were then shepherded into the “man transporter”, which is rather akin to a Portakabin mounted on a truck with massive wheels. Inside, the seating was comfortable and, as we zigzagged our way up the hill, Iain told us something about the quarry operations. Glensanda is worked continuously day and night except in exceptionally bad weather, for example in heavy mist at night, or, less frequently, after a very heavy snowfall.

When we arrived at the top, 2,000 ft up the hill, we were able to look at the “benches” where the rock was being excavated. These slices out of the hill were several hundred metres long and about 30 metres deep along each bench. The quarry is being gradually worked further into the hill towards the boundary fence in roughly a semicircular arc. The rock was predominantly pink granite, well shattered and cut by several dykes of black basalt. The rock is not of particularly high quality, having a Polished Stone Value (PSV) of about 55, but it has good consistency and is widely used for concrete aggregate and road foundations.

There is an ICI plant on the site who provide the explosive used for blasting. The explosive used is inactive until the two components are mixed as they are poured down the pre-drilled blasting holes. After being blasted, the rock is transported by dumper trucks to the primary crusher, which breaks it up into pieces of about 20 cm cube.  The crusher is somewhat like a giant pestle and mortar made of chrome steel with the mortar being in the form of an inverted cone. The crushed rock falls through a hole in the bottom of the cone. From the crusher, the rock is taken by conveyor to the “glory hole” – a 3.3 m diameter vertical shaft 300 metres deep. The shaft is kept full and the rock gradually falls as it is removed at the bottom and fed on to another conveyor. During its fall asperities on the “clasts” are abraded away, thus reducing the amount of final crushing required. This was one of several serendipities which came about with the utilisation of gravity for the transport of the rock.

Primary crusher, Glensanda Quarry (David Wilkinson)

A near horizontal tunnel 1.8 km long houses the conveyer which removes the rock from the bottom of the glory hole. This conveyer is a continuous, steel-cored rubber belt about 2 m wide. This emerges to the surface where a downhill conveyer takes the rock to the final crushing plant. Secondary and tertiary crushing produces a range of final sizes from 50 mm down to 4 mm. The quarry has its own water supply, which is essential, as it is sometimes necessary to add up to 3% water by weight to the aggregate to meet the user’s specifications. The final transfer of aggregate to the ship is done by remotely controlled conveyer which allows a 75,000 tonne ship to be loaded in 24 hours.

The economics of quarrying are important, just as with any other business, but Foster Yeoman seem willing to wait longer than the average company for their return on their capital investment. This may be because they are a family owned company, but they also anticipate that the quarry will have a lifetime of eighty years, and it gives them control of the product from production to the point of use. Much of the English half of the Channel Tunnel has been constructed from the Glensanda aggregate; it is exported to Germany and even to the USA. Current maximum productive capacity is 5 million tonnes per annum, although the ultimate planned capacity is 15 million tonnes per annum. The company have not stinted the investment required, although the depressed state of the economy means that some of the projected development has been held back. All our party were very impressed by the scale of the quarrying and the efficiency of the operations. All quarrying operations have effects which are social, economic and environmental and Glensanda is no exception. There are arguments against disturbing an area of great scenic beauty, but, compared with large quarries I have seen in Germany, France, Italy and mainland Britain, Glensanda seems a model of an attempt to minimize pollution of the environment.

Our visit was well organised, visually stunning and extremely interesting. Our thanks go out to Foster Yeoman, Iain McDonald, Anne Smith, Allan Hall and Rosemary McCusker, who made this event so rewarding.