Geodiversity audit of Spireslack and Mainshill Wood surface coal mines

Ellen, R.; Callaghan, E.. 2015 Geodiversity audit of Spireslack and Mainshill Wood surface coal mines. Edinburgh, UK, British Geological Survey, 70pp. (CR/15/126N) (Unpublished)

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This report describes a geodiversity audit of the Spireslack and Mainshill Wood surface coal mines (SCM) carried out by the British Geological Survey (BGS) on behalf of the Scottish Mines Restoration Trust (SMRT). For the present study, in order to place the geodiversity of the two SCMs in context, BGS records and published sources of the surrounding geology were reviewed, including digital geological maps and historic field slips, digital aerial photography, and published papers, memoirs and reports. Documentation for nearby sites already recognised as Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and/or Geological Conservation Review (GCR) sites was also reviewed. Field assessments of sections within Spireslack were conducted in August 2015. Due to flooding restrictions, access to Mainshill Wood was not possible. Therefore, data from previous field visits and photography by BGS geologists are used within this report to document sites of geodiversity value there. Geoscientific merit of individual sites within Spireslack was evaluated in terms of the rarity and quality of the key features displayed at the site, according to well-established procedures. Spireslack and Mainshill Wood SCMs provide spectacular exposures of Carboniferous strata not otherwise seen naturally on anything approaching the same scale or completeness across the whole of Scotland, or further afield in the UK. As such, they are of national significance. A total of 18 sections were identified as candidates for recognition and protection as local geodiversity sections within Spireslack, whilst the whole of the remaining void within the south-western corner of Mainshill Wood is presented as a geodiversity site worthy of protection. The sections selected include the best examples of geological features within each surface mine and are considered to be representative of the diverse range of geological strata and structures that characterise the geology of these sites and the wider surrounding area. It is recommended that these sections within Spireslack and Mainshill Wood should be protected and preserved during any subsequent development of the surface mine workings. Many of the identified sections of local geodiversity value have the potential to be enhanced through interpretation on site to inform visitors and students at all levels about geology, and the links they have with the local economic and cultural heritage within East Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire, and the Central Belt of Scotland as a whole. These sites also offer opportunities to the research community, to generate a wide spectrum of internationally significant teaching and strategic research activity. Whilst Spireslack and Mainshill can be considered as ‘flagship’ sites in terms of their spectacular exposures of complete stratigraphic sequences and unique structural geology preserved within them, they also form part of a subset of inactive and active surface mine sites across East Ayrshire and South Lanarkshire. Collectively, and in the longer term, this network could form the basis for a potential Geopark across the south-western Central Belt of Scotland.

Item Type: Publication - Report
Funders/Sponsors: British Geological Survey, Scottish Mines Restoration Trust
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: This report made open by author in January 2018. This item has been internally reviewed, but not externally peer-reviewed.
Date made live: 09 Feb 2018 10:17 +0 (UTC)

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