Malvern Hills Geology Project

The Malvern Hills Geology Project
December 2020 update

Following on from the Dave Bullard 3-day course called the ‘Geology of the Malvern Hills’ held in June 2018, a project was set up to consolidate and extend the lessons we learnt at that time.

The principal project aim was to ensure that none of the valuable material that was made available to us from the presentations and the field trips was lost and to provide a single access point, knowledge base for anyone interested in the geology of the Malvern hills to use into the future. Dave Bullard is a keen to supporter of the project in person and from his own archives.

Since the inception of the project many people have become involved and have been very generous with their active support. The sections below will give you an idea of what they have achieved so far.

Bullard Archive

All the material associated with Dave Bullard’s PhD thesis has been copied, indexed, digitised and organised into a maintained archive which will soon be made available to all. Many members were involved in the tedious jobs of copying large documents and photographs. Especial  thanks go to Hilary Harland and Lucy Cornelius who played a big part controlling all this material, not helped by Dave Bullard’s handwriting

Dave Bullard’s hitherto unpublished thesis has now been digitised to Microsoft Word format and so is now searchable. All his field survey maps have been ‘stitched’ together, Geo-referenced and put on QGIS (see later).

Geological Locations

Brian Hughes has produced two very valuable pieces of scholarly work which are key to the project.

Firstly, a Gazetteer of every geological location that appeared in published papers. Currently this amounts to more than 450 sites in a 200-page document. Each entry has a brief description of the site and the references to that site in the publications. This work is on-going now we have enlarged our study area.

Secondly a geological history of the Malvern Hills, again drawn from academic reference sources. Both pieces of work will be of enormous value to any future researcher into the geology of the Malvern Hills.

Following on from Brian’s Gazetteer it was necessary to check that the correct Ordnance Survey grid references were quoted and this resulted in a host of volunteers going out on the hills checking those sites and producing condition reports.

The resulting reports were much more valuable than expected and have been incorporated into a spreadsheet listing all known sites in the project study area, giving the confirmed National Grid location in several formats, with links to the Gazetteer entry, to site reports, to ‘Streetmap’ website map location and to a satellite view on Google maps website.

Information extracted from this spreadsheet is used in another significant piece of work which will be one of our main outputs, QGIS project

QGIS

This is a software application which is able to take any set of data which has a geographical reference and layer it on any base map you chose. Many layers are being developed for the project and they can be turned on and off at will according to your area of interest. These layers are being built up at the moment and currently we have ordnance survey grids, ordnance survey 1: 25,000 maps, site locations, contour maps, BGS maps, Dave Bullard’s survey maps, quarry sites and geochemical assay results. All the points on these maps will be linked to other sources of information, for example if you click on a quarry this will bring up the history of quarrying in that area. One of the main purposes of using QGIS is to enable geology walk routes to written on to the map layers and again linked to other material such as descriptions and photographs. Any suggestions for other map layers are welcome.

We are grateful to the Herefordshire and Worcestershire Earth Heritage Trust for providing us with training in GIS systems. Jan Szymanski is taking the lead in this part of our project.

History

Cheryl Stewart, who is a keen local historian, is researching the history is of all the quarrying activities in Malvern hills and has produced a number of fascinating stories of quarrying in the Malvern Hills again using proven sources. These will be made available in various formats and at the moment they are being prepared for uploading to this website.

The Geologist’s Association

Part of our project plan included republishing David Bullard’s ‘The Geology of the Malvern Hills; a student’s guide’ and several walks that he had written up but not published. These walks have been thoroughly checked by members of the group and a lot of discussion took place about how these walks were to be published and how to raise the money needed.

Peter Bridges, who is a member of the geologists Association, had discussions with their commissioning editor with the result that we are to collaborate with them in the production of new GA guide to the Malvern Hills to replace the 1970 version. The project members  will provide most of the content and the GA will bear the costs of publishing the guide and providing some editorial content.

There will be a lot of work to do to produce this new guide. Our study area has been extended to provide more geological variety for the walks which will be the main content of the guide. Once again, we will be calling for volunteers to prove the walks that will go into the book and provide descriptions and photographs of those walks.

MHG Server

From the preceding you will gather that we have generated a huge amount of material which for the most part relied on individuals’ own computers and this soon became unacceptable from several points of view. To secure what we already have and to provide for a sustainable future we have been able to purchase our own high-capacity server thanks to the generosity of two of our members, Margaret Rodway and Jan Szymanski with assistance from Malvern U3A Geology group who had already provided financial help.

Everything that we have and are currently working on will reside on the server and group members contributing to the project are encouraged, for data security, to use the server and keep their part of the project in a ‘work in progress’ section which can then be moved to the archive sections once the work is complete and can be made available for use.

Rock Sample collection

It was always our ambition to have our own comprehensive set of samples of Malvern Complex rocks and the collection has started under the direction of Adrian Wyatt but Covid 19 has caused this and other aspects of the project to be suspended.

This year Cove in 19 has limited our progress especially not being able to hold meetings to thrash out the issues involved in the project but nonetheless I think a huge amount of progress has been made thanks to the efforts of many individuals.

For more information on the project look up the presentation that we gave recently on the U3A Geology website under the TALKS tab. It is called ‘MHG Progress Presentation’.

Quarry History: One aspect of the project is to write histories of the various quarries in the area. Click here for details.

The working group contact is:    Alan Hughes
Email:               amhmerlyn@gmail.com
Land line:           01886 880130
Mobile:              07763 451292

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