Deep Scottish Geology
The Hunterian rock and mineral collections are an internationally important scientific resource, and support a range of research activities at Glasgow and elsewhere. The curator of rocks and minerals, John Faithfull, is particularly interested in rocks which carry gem-quality sapphires from Lewis, and potential diamond sources in Sutherland. He was an invited keynote speaker at the major international conference: Discovery and Delivery of Minerals to the World Economy held in Cardiff in January 2012, and delivered a talk (subsequently published) entitled "Gem sapphire and diamond potential in NW Scotland".
He has recently published a paper, with colleagues in Edinburgh, Potsdam and London, on the sapphire-bearing dyke in Lewis. This demonstrated that it is the youngest onshore igneous rock known in the British Isles at a mere 45.2 million years old, and that similar young rocks occur in West and East Greenland, and Ireland suggesting a regional link to the hot "plume" currently producing volcanism in Iceland. A major paper on potentially diamond-bearing rocks from Sutherland is currently in preparation.
Image 1. The youngest igneous rock in the British Isles, which also contains Britain's finest gemstones - large crystals of sapphire