Posted by: paulgarner | June 16, 2011

Heading up to Scotland

On Saturday I’m making the long drive up to Glasgow to meet John Whitmore for a week of fieldwork on the Coconino Sandstone project. We want to take a look at some classic exposures of “windblown” sandstones in the Permian of Scotland in order to compare them with the Coconino of Arizona that is the main focus of our study. The first couple of nights we’ll be staying on the Isle of Arran to take a look at the Corrie Sandstone. Then we’ll be heading up to the Morayshire coast to see the Hopeman Sandstone. Finally we’ll be taking a look at the Locharbriggs Sandstone in Dumfries, before heading back to the airport. That’s the plan, anyway. Hopefully when I get back I’ll upload a few photographs from the trip.

In the meantime, why not take a peek at the cover article in the July 2011 edition of Earth magazine, which reports creationist activities at last year’s Geological Society of America annual meeting? Our Coconino work even gets a “starring role” in a sidebar all of its own. The article is written by Steven Newton of the anti-creationist organisation, the National Center for Science Education (NCSE), so it’s a bit “sniffy” about it all. Still, Newton begrudgingly admits that the posters and talks “appeared to follow standard geologic practices in preparing samples and collecting data” and that the field trip leaders offered “real observations on real outcrops”. What’s particularly interesting to me is that Newton cautions his more overzealous colleagues against banning or censoring creationists from taking part in such meetings or leading such field trips. He thinks that would be counterproductive and hand a propaganda coup to the creationists. I agree and hope that others that would take a more strident line are listening.

Finally, Todd Wood has posted the list of talks scheduled for the geology part of this year’s Origins conference. There are some interesting topics on the agenda, and it’s still not too late to book a place at the meeting. The biology talks will be announced later.

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