Latest Reunions

May 2016 - Class of 1971 - 45th Reunion Ireland

23 May

Day 1. The 'class of 71' group assembled in The River Lee Hotel in Cork city for sustenance on the Sunday evening, before heading off on Monday morning along a variety of routes to Portmagee, Co.Kerry, on the southwest coastline of Ireland. We arrived at 'The Moorings', our first night's stop, early-afternoon. The field trip commenced on Valentia Island, just across the bridge from Portmagee, first visiting the slate quarry in the Valentia Slate Formation, the oldest rock formation in the Devonian Old Red Sandstone succession. Here, very fine grained siltstones and mudstones had undergone deformation resulting in well-developed tectonic cleavage. The resulting slates were split into thin flat smooth slabs of variable sizes which were ideal for billiard/snooker tables, shelving and roofing slates (most notably roofing The Houses of Parliament).

Ring of Kerry Ladies View - J Hunter
Ring of Kerry
Ladies View
©J. Hunter
Ring of Kerry Moll's Gap - J Hunter
Ring of Kerry
Moll's Gap
©J. Hunter
The Moorings - A Hunter
Portmagee
The Moorings
©A. Hunter
Valentia Island slate quarry - J Hunter
Valentia Island
View from Slate Quarry
©J. Hunter
Valentia Island slate quarry - M Sarginson
Valentia Island
Slate quarry
©M Sarginson
Valentia Island slate quarry - M Sarginson
Valentia Island
Slate quarry
©M Sarginson

Subsequently, the group visited the famous Valentia Tetrapod Trackway (dated at 385 million years old), observing impressions of lizard-like footprints of one of the first vertebrate animals (amphibians) to walk on dry land. It was observed in the main trackway that the Tetrapod had different size limbs (two small forelimbs, and two big backlimbs). The footprint impressions were seen in silt-size sediments probably deposited on the banks of an ancient freshwater river margin or lake environment. These Tetrapod footprint impressions were subsequently rapidly buried by sediments derived from a succeeding flood. The first in a series of group photos was taken at the monument to the first cross-Atlantic communications cable which linked Valentia Island to Newfoundland. Dinner in the evening was held in 'The Moorings' restaurant, after sampling Irish cheeses and chocolates in the bar.

Valentia Island tetrapod track site - A Hunter
Valentia Island
Tetrapod track site - ripple marks
©A. Hunter
Valentia Island tetrapod track site - A Hunter
Valentia Island
Tetrapod tracks
©D. Moss
Valentia Island tetrapod track site - A Hunter
Valentia Island
Tetrapod track site
©A. Hunter
Valentia Island tetrapod track site - M Sarginson
Valentia Island
Tetrapod Track site - Ken explains
©M Sarginson
Valentia Island tetrapod track site - J Hunter
Valentia Island
Tetrapod Track site - Andy demonstrates
©J. Hunter
Valentia Island Atlantic cable - M Sarginson
Valentia Island
1st trans-Atlantic cable landfall site
©M. Sarginson

24 May

Day 2 started with the first stop at the nearby White Strand at Cahersiveen to look at a Quaternary (Holocene) matrix-supported till with unsorted variably-sized angular clasts from glaciation and variably-sized sub-rounded clasts from debris flows. An interesting detailed interpretation of these, and structures within the till was discussed. A quick stop was made to view the 1,000 year-old Cahergall Stone Ring Fort, before heading north and stopping for lunch at the Inch Strand café situated on an extensive Holocene sand spit.

Cahersiveen ice wedges - J Hunter
Cahersiveen
Quaternary - glacial ice wedges
©J. Hunter
Cahersiveen_Quaternary deposits - J Hunter
Cahersiveen
Phil's explanation of the glacial history had us all entranced
©J. Hunter
Cahersiveen ice wedges - J Hunter
Cahersiveen
Glacial plucking of the cleaved Devonian rocks
©J. Hunter
Cahergall Ring Fort - D Moss
Stone Ring Fort
Cahergall
©D. Moss
Dingle Bay - J Hunter
Dingle Bay
Inch Strand
©J. Hunter
Inch Strand - J Hunter
Inch Strand
Classic Inch conglomerate section buried by rock armour
©J. Hunter

After lunch, the Devonian Inch Conglomerate with coarse clasts of pre-Cambrian medium and high -grade metamorphics set in a reddish purple micaceous sandstone matrix was viewed in a roadside cutting. The original sediment was thought to be derived from the uplifted Dingle Bay Lineament to the south, now the site of Dingle Bay. After a brief stop for refreshments at the South Pole Inn (established by Tom Crean the Antarctic explorer) at Annascaul, the afternoon ended with a visit to the Storm Beach in Kilmurry Bay, where very (very) large well-rounded sandstone boulders were steeply inclined in a seaward direction. In the cliff section, packages of 380 million year old fossilised very large-scale cross-bedded aeolian sand dunes were observed in the Kilmurry Formation. Before leaving Kilmurry Bay, the group made a short walk up the hill to the ruins of Minard Castle to view the inter-dune facies complete with well-preserved mudcracks. The overnight stop, including dinner, was made at Gormans Clifftop House at the far end of the Dingle Peninsula.

Inch Conglomerate - K Denison
Dingle Peninsula
Roadside outcrop of Inch conglomerate
©K. Denison
Inch Conglomerate - D. Moss
Dingle peninsula
Inch conglomerate
©D. Moss
South Pole Inn - J Hunter
Annascaul
South Pole Inn
©J. Hunter
Kilmurry Bay - J Hunter
Kilmurry Bay
Boulder beach scramble
©J. Hunter
Kilmurry Formation - C Denison
Kilmurry Formation
Middle Devonian aeolian dunes
©C. Denison
Kilmurry Bay - A Hunter
Kilmurry Bay
Discussion in progress
©A. Hunter
Kilmurry Bay - K Denison
Kilmurry Bay
The group
©K. Denison
Below Minard Castle - D Moss
Below Minard Castle
Examining the inter-dune facies
©D. Moss
Kilmurry Bay Mudcracks- J Hunter
Below Minard Castle
Inter-dune mudcracks
©J. Hunter
Gormans Hotel - A Hunter
Smerwick Harbour
Gormans Hotel
©A. Hunter
Mount Brandon - A Hunter
Mount Brandon
View behind Gormans Hotel
©A. Hunter
Smerwick Harbour Sunset - J Hunter
Smerwick Harbour sunset
from front of Gormans Hotel
©J. Hunter

25 May

Day 3 began with a scenic drive around Slea Head (where we couldn't stop because of 'Paddywagons'), and then a visit to Dunquin, first for a coffee stop, then to Dunquin Pier/Harbour. Here mid-Silurian Wenlock Bulls Head Formation buff marine sandstones and mud-clast conglomerates were observed overlain by the Early Devonian steeply dipping purple and green sandstone beds of the Eask Formation, interpreted as early fluvial infill lake deposits prograding into the Lower Devonian Dingle basin. Of interest were desiccation cracks in the dried-out Bulls Head Formation mudstone, infilled with sandstone, as well as regularly spaced quartz veins in the competent sandstones of the overlying Eask Formation, giving a 'stepladder' effect.

Dunquin Harbour Charter Day - C Denison
Dunquin Harbour celebrating
University of Sheffield Charter Day
©C. Denison
Dunquin Bulls Head Formation - D Moss
Dunquin Harbour
Bulls Head Formation quartz 'ladders'
©D. Moss
Dunquin Harbour - J Hunter
Dunquin Harbour
©J. Hunter

After lunch at the Blasket's Interpretive Centre, Dunquin, the group arrived at Clogher Strand for a 3km loop walk. This was to observe Silurian marine fossiliferous sedimentary rocks of the Ferriter's Cove Formation of late Wenlock age, containing brachiopods (mainly rhynchonellid), gastropods and trilobite fossils within a siltstone matrix. Further along on the coastal walk, going southwards, the group observed younger volcanic pyroclastic flow deposits which had dramatically disturbed the shallow marine environment in which these animals lived. These are deposits of the Clogher Head Volcanic Formation. A number of volcanic rock types and textures were observed, such as light grey lithic tuff with sub-angular to angular fragments, part of one of several ignimbrites which also displayed the characteristic dark grey, blocky, welded tuffs with fiammé (pumice pancakes!). These felsic volcanic rocks are suggestive of a destructive plate boundary, and are thought to represent the final phase of closure of the Iapetus Ocean. In the overlying Mill Cove Formation variable-sized volcanic lava bombs were observed in the non-marine red beds, along with thinner air-fall pyroclastic tuffs, and are the last gasp of the volcanic episode. At the final location further along the coastal walk, siltstones and fine-grained sandstones of the Drom Point Formation were observed exhibiting branching burrows of the trace fossils Chondrites and Teichichnus. The presence of hummocky cross-stratification in the sandstones give an indication of the shallow marine setting these animals lived in. Early evening the group arrived at the Skelligs Hotel in Dingle and had an excellent dinner at The Boatyard Restaurant in Dingle town.

Ferriter's Cove Formation
Ferriter's Cove Formation
Silurian rocks
©J. Hunter
Clogher Strand gastropod - A Hunter
Gastropod in
Ferriter's Cove Formation
©A. Hunter
Ignimbrite - K Higgs
Clogher Head Volcanics
Ignimbrite showing fiamme
©K. Higgs
Mill Cove volcanic bombs
Mill Cove
Volcanic bombs
©J. Hunter
Clogher Strand - A Hunter
Clogher Strand
Bettie and crew
©A. Hunter
Clogher Strand Chondrites - A Hunter
Clogher Strand
Chondrites
©A. Hunter

Oh yes - There was something else happening on the Dingle Peninsula

Dingle J Hunter
Dingle town
In a shop window
©J. Hunter
Sybil Head J Hunter
Sybil Head
Star Wars set
©J. Hunter
Star Wars film crew J Hunter
Dingle Peninsula Hotel
Star Wars film crew signatures
©J. Hunter

26 May

Day 4 continued on the Dingle Peninsula where we visited the spectacular mountain glaciated scenery in the Mount Brandon range with a drive to the Connor Pass. From the top of Connor Pass a series of corries and paternoster lakes could be seen on the flanks of the U-shaped glaciated valley. Here ice from the corries fed the glaciated valley below that flowed from south to north. The rocks at Connor Pass are purple-coloured, coarse grained sandstones deposited 390 million years ago during the Devonian period.

A short drive from the top of Connor Pass brought the group to a roadside layby from where the group made a steep ascent up the rocky outcrop to Pedlar's Lake, which is a corrie once full of ice that fed the Owenmore glacier. On the lip of the corrie, we observed numerous striations on the Lower Devonian Dingle Group ORS bedrock caused by rocks carried by the ice as it flowed from the corrie.

Connor Pass - J Hunter
Connor Pass
Glaciated valley
©J. Hunter
Pedlar's Lake Group
Pedlar's Lake
Corrie
©J. Hunter
Pedlar's Lake Group
Below Pedlar's Lake
Group after rock scramble
©C. Denison

After a brief stop at the Dingle Peninsula Hotel for a lunchtime coffee, and an update on the 'Star Wars' filming, the group visited Wine Strand. Here, we investigated small beach inlets and observed three packages of fining up sequences. The lowermost package consisted of a thick basal coarse conglomerate containing quartz, jasper, volcanic, sandstone and siltstone clasts of variable sizes and shapes ranging from angular to sub-rounded. Due to the angularity and size of the coarse clasts in the basal conglomerate, it was interpreted that these were deposited within a river channel by high-energy flash floods from a nearby source. As the intensity of the flooding decreased, so did the grain size of the sediments, hence the fining-up grain-size sequence observed. Between the three packages of fining-up sequences from flash flood events, finer grained siltstones and mudstones were observed which probably originated from suspension settling in quieter waters following the flash flood events. Furthermore, at the first small beach inlet a dark grey-coloured Tertiary dolerite dyke intruding the Lower Devonian rock was observed. Within the dolerite numerous small amygdales containing quartz crystals were seen. In the early evening the group assembled in the Skelligs Hotel for a pre-dinner cheese tasting event before heading off into Dingle town for an excellent dinner at the 'Fenton's of Dingle' restaurant.

Wine Strand beach - A Hunter
Wine Strand beach
Coarse sand with red jasper pebbles
©A. Hunter
Wine Strand flame structures
Wine Strand
Red mudstone flame structures
©D. Moss
Wine Strand dolerite - A Hunter
Wine Strand
Dolerite dyke
©A. Hunter

27 May

Day 5. Travelled north to Tarbet, we then took the ferry over the River Shannon, and drove to the Diamond Rocks car park in Kilkee. From the car park, we walked westwards along the clifftop coastal path to Diamond Rocks, where a large dark-coloured mud diaper was observed intruding upwards into the overlying host rock sandstone strata of the Tullig Cyclotherm of the Central Clare group. Further westwards along the coastal path, we observed wave-rippled-topped sandstone bedding planes in the upper part of the Tullig Cyclotherm.

River Shannon ferry - J Hunter
River Shannon
Ferry
©J. Hunter
Kilkee mud diapir - D. Moss
Kilkee
Diamond Rocks mud diapir
©D. Moss
Kilkee - J Hunter
Kilkee
Ripple marks and glacial striations
©J. Hunter

After a quick coffee/lunch break, the group drove from Kilkee to the Rock Shop and café at Liscannor, where the Liscannor flagstones were observed, characteristically exhibiting squiggly fossil tracks of marine animals which burrowed through the mud, silt and sand looking for food some 320 million years ago. A short drive further on took the group to the Cliffs of Moher. Here, the group viewed the vertical Upper Carboniferous Namurian Cliffs of Moher from the top, observing an interbedded deltaic sequence of sandstones, siltstones and shale, of variable thicknesses, resting on top of an older sequence of limestone rocks. The drive to Ballyvaughan took us down Cork-screw Hill getting our first view of the spectacular Burren limestone scenery. Early evening the group arrived at the Hyland's Burren Hotel in Ballyvaughan, where we had dinner in the Hyland's Burren Hotel restaurant.

Liscannor trace fossils - D Moss
Liscannor
Trace fossils
©D. Moss
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
Obviously something interesting
©K. Denison
Cliffs of Moher
Cliffs of Moher
Spectacular geology
©M. Sarginson

28 May

Day 6. After Ken Higgs completed his 9am 10km Ballyvaughan road race, the group drove to the lighthouse at Black Head. Here at this locality, the group observed a classic karst limestone pavement, where the bedrock consisted of grey bioclastic limestones and dolomites of the Black Head Limestone Formation (Holkerian). We observed numerous sub-vertical fissures / joints in two directions in the limestone pavement bedrock, called 'grikes', which had developed by the widening of pre-existing fractures in the rock by dissolution. Blocks of limestone separated by 'grikes' were called 'clints'. To the east of the lighthouse, we observed the presence of several large glacial erratics of Galway granite. Across the road from the lighthouse, we observed several Lithostrotian coral colonies in the younger Burren Formation (Asbian) limestones. A short coffee/cake break was taken at Vasco's near Fanore, before viewing a terraced limestone series containing the fasiculate coral Siphonodendron, Palaeosmilia and Dibunophyllum corals. After lunch in the square at Lisdoonvarna, we drove to the Mullagh More terraced limestone mountains of Asbian-Brigantian age, and viewed 'turloughs', which are seasonal lakes that form in karst depressions, where the water table level fluctuates between winter rainy and summer dry seasons. After a quick look at Father Ted's house at Craggy Island we ended the day by visiting the Poulnabrone megalithic dolmen, which is a portal tomb dated 3600-3800 BC, located on the limestone karst pavement landscape of 'clints' and 'grikes'. The dolmen consists of a large single capstone that rests on two portal stones, with a sill stone crossing the front of the entrance. From Poulnabrone, we drove back to Ballyvaughan for our last evening together. The tour thus ended by having evening dinner at the L'Arco Italian restaurant in Ballyvaughan, before returning to the Hyland's Hotel for late evening tea and discussions as to where and when the next 'Class of 71' reunion should be held.

The Burren limestone hills - D Moss
The Burren
Limestone hills
©D. Moss
The Burren, Clints & Grikes - D Moss
The Burren
Clints and grikes
©D. Moss
The Burren, Dibunophyllum - D Moss
The Burren
Dibunophyllum coral
©D. Moss
The Burren - J Hunter
The Burren, Black Head
Bettie explains to the group
©J. Hunter
The Burren, Craggy Island
The Burren, Craggy Island
Paddy & Ken check out Father Ted's place
©M. Sarginson
The Burren, Dolmen - M. Sarginson
The Burren, Dolmen
Ken completed the 10k Burren run
©M. Sarginson

Next morning, farewells were said, and everyone departed in their various directions. All participants on the Ireland field trip had a really enjoyable time, with the 'class of 71 geologists' providing geological input at each location visited. The week was blessed with fine weather throughout, and with excellent accommodation and meals arranged by the trip organisers. The party of 17 consisted of Ken and Bettie Higgs; Mike and Paddy Sarginson; Brian and Vicky Wilson; Chris and Kathy Denison; John and Alison Hunter; Andrew Bell; Phil Gibbard; Ian Gill; Chris Rowson, Mick Harvey, Rod Hill and Derek Moss.
Derek Moss, 10 June 2016



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