The urban landscape is also a great place to learn many aspects of geology, especially from building stones. Whilst there is no substitute for exploring rocks in situ to obtain an understanding of the three-dimensional geometries of outcrops, much can be learned about petrography, petrology, palaeontology and the environment of formation of many rocks on the average high street. The urban geologist is exposed to an enormous variety of rock types, far more than the committed field geologist could ever see in outcrop in the field.
I’ve been an admirer of Ruth’s knowledge and passion for stone so on an unnecessarily cold March morning, I joined an interested gang for one of her London walks. In an hour and a half we covered huge range of stone on a mile or so route from Warren Street to great Portland Street. In this short walk, Ruth took us to Italy, Turkey, Ashburton (Devon) Finland, Sweden, Brazil, Italy (again), Aberdeen, The Channel Isles, Bath and wound up in Portland.
Ruth showed us stone that once laid 25 kilometres beneath the earth’s surface, stones from swamps, seabeds and volcanoes. I learn’t the relevance of slime, mushroom shaped coral, English pub granite, Ronald MacDonald’s travertine livery, that Marie Stopes’ blue plaque omits to mention that she was a leading geologist of her time (with a penchant for diaphanous gowns), as well as what to stone build your house from if your neighbours are the kind that launch cannon balls at you. Informative, engaging and inspiring.
Dates for Ruth’s upcoming walks here