University of St Andrews

Professor Colin Ballantyne addresses the First Scottish Geodiversity Forum

Monday 21 November 2011

On November 19th, Colin Ballantyne delivered an invited keynote address to the First Scottish Geodiversity Forum entitled Rock and Ice: geodiversity at landscape scale in Scotland.

The first ever forum devoted to geodiversity in Scotland was convened at the Battleby Centre near Perth. The meeting attracted a broad cross-section of the geoscience community in Scotland, including representatives of Scottish Natural Heritage, the Edinburgh and Glasgow Geological Societies, Geopark managers, countryside rangers, teachers, students and university researchers. Following an introduction to the proposed Scottish Geodiversity Charter by John Gordon (Honorary Professor in Geography at St Andrews), Colin Ballantyne delivered a keynote address entitled Rock and Ice: geodiversity at landscape scale in Scotland. The theme of his address was that geodiversity requires not only to be recognised at the scale of individual sites of outstanding interest, but also at the level of entire landscapes. He illustrated this concept by explaining the contrasting ways in which successive Pleistocene ice sheets have modified the different structural provinces of Scotland – the Hebridean Craton, Caledonian Fold Mountain Belt, Midland Valley, Southern Uplands and Tertiary Volcanic Province – in contrasting ways that reflected not only the response of different rock types to glacial erosion and deposition, but also the dynamics of former ice sheets. He highlighted in particular the contrasts between areas of rapid movement of former wet-based ice sheets in the western Highlands with the more limited modification by cold-based ice sheets in the Eastern Highlands, a contrast that explains the survival of pre-glacial surfaces and deposits in NE Scotland despite recurrent cover by ice sheets over the past million years.