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The love of geology

My name is Sophie Bagshaw, I am 18 and I have a thing for nature. I am passionate about everything within it - bird, insects, flowers, rocks and more! I've collected many things from places I visit, but undoubtedly the main things I bring back with me are rocks.


When I was younger, I didn't know much about rocks, I simply collected them as they were all unique, they have a variety of colours and they are one of the environment's natural formations that you're able to hold and closely inspect. However, I wanted to know more about them, and I wanted to be able to identify them out in field and at home, so at college I decided to take A-level Geology.

Learning from the course

From taking this course I have already learnt a lot, and have seen a lot! The course took me to Iceland for the second time: an amazing place for both wildlife and rock structures, such as the columnar joints, which are like thise found on Giants Causeway in Ireland. These form when the volcanic rock cools and then contracts (shrinks inwards), which causes columns. You can see this in the picture to the left!

 
Finding fossils in unexpected places!


As rocks are everywhere, I'm always finding something I've never seen before. I go beachcombing a lot! It's always fun throwing rocks into the sea to make the biggest splash possible. I was about to do just that with a discus shaped rock, but then I saw an ammonoid at the top of it!


So what's an ammonoid? This is the family of fossils which contains ammonites - probably the best known fossils! I had never found one before, so I was definitely going to keep it. When I got it home, I studied it closer and realised it had ridges around it and some cross cutting. These were not natural, so after researching into it and asking a few people, we came to the conclusion that it's a prehistoric fishing weight! I'm working with members of Geo Lancashire to try and identify it further. The fishing weight is shown in the picture below.

We have also talked about another unusual find from the same area, a concretion. A concretion is a mass of mineral material that forms in a rock. Did you know that there are even different types of these? The one I had found is known as a "Turtle Stone" (or more formally known as a Septarian Nodule). These are often found in ancient soils, especially Triassic soils - from 250-200 million years ago!!


Geology day trips

A friend and I went to Yorkshire to walk the Ingleborough Caves, where you can find stalagmites (rock formations rising from the floor) and stalactites (icicle shaped formations hanging from the ceiling of a cave). 


Further up the hill is Gaping Gill: this is a natural cave made from limestone and is 198 metres deep and 11,600 metres long! We explored the stream Fell Beck, which flows through, looking for some interesting souvenirs to bring back with us and we were lucky enough to find a fossil in a large rock.


Smashing it against other rocks (in true geology style) we managed to get the fraction of the rock containing the fossil. It was later identified as a Gastropod (these are animals like snails) and it is probably from the Carboniferous period, which was 360-299 million years ago! 


A few months later we went back to Yorkshire, to Brimham Rocks. These are Millstone Grit rocks which have been eroded (worn away) by water, glaciation and wind, leaving behind the rock formations seen now. 


Wherever you are, there is definitely bound to be geology. If you look close enough at any rock there will be something intriguing about it. The best things about geology are that you will never find two rocks alike, starting a collection is easy, you'll always have something unique and it's free! 


Sophie Bagshaw
Aged 18


To find more guest blogs by Wildlife Watchers, take a look here!!