History of geoconservation on Anglesey
Anglesey has long been the focus of geological interest; it is speculated – although not documented – that Charles Darwin, prior to embarking on the HMS Beagle, visited the Island on his June 1842 tour of North Wales with Adam Sedgwick since he had relatives living on the island and there is a day’s gap in his diary after he arrived in Bangor.
Anglesey is possibly one of the most geologically mapped areas in Britain; Darwin’s tutor at Cambridge, John Henslow, published the first map and account of the geology of Anglesey in 1822.
The island was again mapped by Ramsay in the 1840s and most famously in tremendous detail by Edward Greenly who had retired from the Geological Survey after working in Scotland and spent the rest of his life touring Anglesey examining every bit of rock he could find. His work was published in 1919 as both a map and an extensive memoir. During his work he was assisted by his long suffering wife Annie,a geologist in her own right. You can download a PDF copy of Greenly’s Geology of Anglesey
Research has continued up to the present-day, GeoMôn staff have accompanied and assisted various groups carrying out research and mapping; most recently this was with the Universities of Leicester and Tokyo. The occurrence of fossils in the limestone blocks of the Gwna Mélange came to light when Dr Margaret Wood described stromatolites (algal mats) from the north coast (Wood and Nicholls 1973); these have since been dated to around 860Ma and are the oldest fossils in England or Wales. Dr Wood was invited to submit the Melange as one of the 100 most significant exposures by Japanese scientists (Wood, 2012) who ranked it as number 7 in the world
Given Anglesey’s interesting and well-exposed geology, coupled with its popularity as a holiday destination, there are surprisingly few modern field-guides covering the island’s geology (Treagus, 2008; Conway 2010); however, the publication by the Geologists’ Association (Bates and Davies 1984) has gone through at least four reprints indicating that the demand for a technical publication is remarkably strong.
Conway, J S, 2010 Rocks and landscapes of the Anglesey Coastal Footpath / Creigiau a thirweddau Llwybr Arfordirol Ynys Môn, GeoMon (bilingual)
Greenly E, 1919 Geology of Anglesey, Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain (2 vols), Geological Survey of Great Britain, HMSO, London
Henslow J, 1822 Geological Description of Anglesea, J Smith, Cambridge
Treagus, J, 2008 Anglesey Geology – a field guide. Seabury Salmon and Associates
Wood, M, 2007 Application dossier for nomination to the European Geopark Network (unpublished), GeoMôn Anglesey Geopark
Wood, M 2012 The Historical Development of the term melange and its relevance to the Precambrian geology of Anglesey and the Lleyn Peninsula in Wales, UK. The 100’s significant Exposures of the World, Japanese Journal of Geography 7, 168-180
Wood, M and Nicholls, G D, 1973 Precambrian stromatolites from Northern Anglesey. Nature 241, 65
Wood, M, Campbell, S, Roberts, R, Brenchley P, Conway, J S, Crossley, R, Davies, J, Fitches, B, Mason, J, Matthews, B, Treagus, J, and Williams, T, 2007a Developing a methodology for selecting Regionally Important Geodiversity Sties (RIGS) in Wales and a RIGS survey of Anglesey and Gwynedd. Volume 1: Methodology. Report to Welsh Assembly Government, Cardiff
Wood, M, Campbell, S, Roberts, R, Brenchley P, Conway, J S, Crossley, R, Davies, J, Fitches, B, Mason, J, Matthews, B, Treagus, J, and Williams, T, 2007b Developing a methodology for selecting Regionally Important Geodiversity Sites (RIGS) in Wales and a RIGS survey of Anglesey and Gwynedd. Volume 2: Site Survey. Report to Welsh Assembly Government, Cardiff