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April 1988 Index

Bulletin Index Caithness Field Club

Caithness Field Club Bulletin
March 1990

24 April (Tuesday) -  7.30 pm at Halkirk School.

"The Small Isles Canna, Rhum, Eigg, and Muck" by John Love. This lecture is in conjunction with the Department of Adult Education and Rural Studies, Aberdeen University. The Annual General Meeting of The Caithness Field Club will follow.

29 April (Sunday)
Outing by car to Aukingill, with short walks to places of interest. Leave Thurso at 9.30, Wick at 9.45, meeting at Aukingill Museum, led by Ernest Jones.

11 to 13 May - Weekend in Orkney, based in Kirkwall.
Travel by car to John 0 Groats to catch the Friday 6pm ferry, returning on 7pm ferry Sunday. Book with leader Alan Abernethy.

17 June (Sunday)
"Plants of the River Valley". Leave Thurso at 9.15, Wick at 9.30, and meet at Dunbeath Mill, led by Ken Butler.

15 July (Sunday)
Borgie Forest to Loch Loyal - seven miles along paths and over heather with optional climb up Ben Stomjno. Leave Wick and Thurso at 9 to meet at the tourist car park in Borgie Forest, led by Geoff Leet.

12 August (Sunday)
Walk from Loth to Kildonan - nine miles of easy walking, with places of archaeological interest on the way. Leave Thurso at 9, Wick at 9.15, meeting at the "Last Wolf" layby. Led by Margaret Abernethy, Marion Owen, and Elizabeth Rintoul.

9 September (Sunday)
"Exploring from Helmsdale". Leave Thurso at 9.30, Wick at 9.45, meeting at the car park by the old bridge. Led by George Watson.


I have agreed, somewhat reluctantly, to edit an edition of the Bulletin. My reluctance is partly due to the fact that I am a retired science editor and had put that life behind me. The other reason is that I lack the means of producing a good printed journal, or commissioning articles for one.

January saw the long-awaited publication of the 4th edition of the British Regional Geology, "The Northern Highlands" by G.S. Johnstone and W.Mykura, H.M.S.O., 1989. Unfortunately Willy Mykura was killed before this edition came to press. It would be impossible to adequately review a book of this complexity in an editorial article, but considerable advances have been made in our knowledge of the geology of the Northern Highlands since the 3rd Edition by Phemister. The Lewisian has been considerably revised to include high-grade metamorphic rocks east of the Moine Thrust previously mapped as Moinian. The Moine Thrust and the Outer Hebrides Thrust are also revised.

There is a review of the literature on the Great Glen Fault giving arguments for and against the presumed sinistral fault movement and a further extension of work on the associated Brora-Helmsdale Fault.

The Old Red Sandstone has been revised, based on the work of Noweii Donovan, which was very painstakingly carried out but it is, sadly, weak on the fossil fishes. Donovan is a petrologist. Willy Mykura wanted to meet me for a discussion on the Old Red Sandstone but the date he had in mind coincided with one of my visits to the north of England. He died before a further meeting could be arranged. The "supposed Old Red Sandstone Outliers" near Tongue of Phemister's edition are now shown to be of probable Permo-Trias age on the evidence of a single fossil obtained during a marine survey off the north coast of Sutherland. These outliers form the considerable mountain of Ben Tongue, the cliffs at the east of Coldbackie Bay, Eilean nan Ron and Kirtomy. Earlier last year I discovered another such outlier at the deserted crofting complex at Poulouriscaig which lies to the east and considerably higher than Kirtomy. These outliers are of ill-sorted conglomerate, the pebbles of which are not very rounded. They are very calcareous. The Old Red conglomerates are, strictly speaking, breccias since they are fresh and angular showing only mechanical fracturing under desert conditions. They are very acid rocks. The two are therefore quite distinct.

There are one or two items that the authors have not revised, presumably from ignorance of published literature, They continue to call the Ousdale series the "Barren or Basement Group". They are anything but barren, having yielded remains of the Lower Old Red Sandstone Fish Porolepis and innumerable trace fossils, eg arthropod tracks.

This new edition will, however, receive almost universal acclaim from the geological fraternity. It is a big improvement on the 3rd Edition.

Of more concern to Field Club Members is the recommendation of the Highland Regional Council to ask the Nature Conservancy and its successor to urgently review the number of Sites of Special Scientific Interest with a view to drastically reducing the number of them. Now I have spent 20 years trying to get some of the geological SSSI's scheduled, and, no doubt others in the Field Clubs have their own particular hobbyhorses. It is my belief that, if this proposal is carried out without proper consultation with the experts, it will be a very retrograde step indeed.

Articles for submission should he preferably be typed, in duplicate with wide margins, including top and bottom to make it easier to edit.

Jack Saxon
7 Rockwell Terrace