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.

henslow map angleseyAnglesey 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 Greenly's mapmost 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.  You can download a PDF copy of Greenly’s Geology of Anglesey

During his work he was assisted by his long suffering wife Annie who learnt geology from her husband as they carried out the survey.  Prof Cynthia Burek has written an article (Burek, 2007) on both Annie Greenly and Catherine Raisin who did much to advance the understanding of the metamorphic rocks of Anglesey. See a poster version :  A tale of two female geologists on 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.

References

Burek, C.V. 2007. The role of women in geological higher education Bedford College, London (Catherine Raisin), In Burek & Higgs (eds) The role of women in the history of geology. Geol. Soc. London Spec. Pub. 281, 9-38

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

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