#6 East Kilbride: An Excellent Geoscience Research Facility

The Natural and Environmental Research Council (NERC) is royally chartered organisation which is responsible for funding and managing research, training and knowledge exchange in the environmental geosciences in the UK. NERC fund my current research project at the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoScience. In addition to funding research for many of my colleagues, NERC funds a significant proportion of research within the department here and at other universities.

The Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (SUERC) in East Kilbride is a collaborative centre for research set up by the Universities of Glasgow and Edinburgh. The facility there is host to many NERC-owned facilities as well as in-house SUERC-managed facilities.

I have the privilege of using their in-house ICP facility to gather trace element data on my Norwegian Eclogites. The director of research at SUERC is Prof. Rob Ellam, and the ICP facility is largely operated by Dr. Valerie Olive. Both Rob and Valerie have been immensely welcoming and accommodating with me and my research. They have shown immense interest in not only gathering exceptional geochemical data on my samples, but have also been incredibly keen to better their analytical procedures to handle these quite problematic samples (see my old post on this).

I highly recommend both the facility and staff at SUERC. SUERC along with Rob and Valerie will hopefully part of published work of mine expected mid-late 2013.

#5 The Moine Thrust at Knockan Crag

The Moine Thrust, visible at Knockan Crag, brought 800-1000 Ma Moine rocks over 480 Ma Durness limestones.

The geology of Scotland is truly spectacular. One of the most fascinating places for geology is the North West Highlands, particularly the Assynt Window. The window itself is defined by the Moine Thrust which can be viewed very easily at the Kockan Crag visitors centre. During the Caledonian Orogeny (ca. 490 -410 Ma) in Scotland, this thrust (post 437 Ma) brought old Moine rocks over 100 km from the south east over progressively younger rocks to the north west and is one of the best examples of thrust tectonics in the world. At Knockan, not only is there a minimum 100 km difference in provenance for the two adjacent rock types, there is also a 310-510 million year age gap too.

It’s well worth visting the following websites for more information on the Moine Thrust and Knockan Crag:

If you would like to ask any questions about the geology of the area, don’t hesitate to ask questions here. I have over 6 weeks field experience in the Assynt Window and I’m happy to have my brains picked!

#4 R: A powerful tool for the geochemist

The graph shows contoured fields generated from data scatters, overlain by scattered points. Contours are based on a density distribution estimated by the ggplot2 package, the data is simply xy.


R is an incredibly powerful programming tool used by a large community of people who require an easy to use, light weight, FREE, and fundamentally awesome statistics package! I have recently discovered that R can be used by geologists whose IT skills are often pitied by their more computer literate geophysicist colleagues. Long story short – if you are using excel on large data sets then you will more than likely find that using R is a much better solution for analysing and graphing your geochemical data.

Here are some useful links to get you started:

I’m still learning R myself, but when I come across useful things I very much intend to share them. This includes useful code for fellow igneous/metamorphic geochemists!