Earth Science Week is an October celebration by The Geological Society of London, with various events held in the United Kingdom and Ireland. One of the highlights is the group's annual photo competition, which took a more personal approach this year.
Organizers asked photographers to submit images of geological sites throughout the U.K. and Ireland that "mean something in their lives — whether a field trip site, a location close to their home, or a place they love to visit."
This year's first-place winner was Andy Leonard for his black-and-white photograph of Bow Fiddle Rock in northeast Scotland.
"Bow Fiddle rock is eroded from Cullen Quartzite and is an extremely well-known landmark. I, and many others, moved to NE Scotland in the oil boom of the 1980s, and this is one of the many beautiful landscapes within the area," Leonard wrote in his submission.
The 12 winning images feature locations in Scotland, Ireland, Northern Ireland, Wales, England and even the Falkland Islands, a U.K. territory. You can learn more about each locale and why they're important to the photographer in the captions below each image.
"A place myself (and millions of others) visit to admire the beauty of the north coast of Northern Ireland." — Nigel Bell
"A micro landscape photographed on an exposed quarry face of Ballachulish Slate Formation. The dark coloured mudstones contain Iron Pyrites (Iron Sulphide). This reacts with oxygen and water to form iron oxide (rust) and sulphuric acid. The acid reacts with any calcareous cement in the mudstone to form gypsum (hydrous calcium sulphate). This reaction is very important to engineering geologists (like me) as the acid attacks concrete and the gypsum causes heave." — Ursula Lawrence
"Slioch, famed in the geological community for its unconformity, is just as treasured in the communities who live in Wester Ross. It dominates the skyline as we travel long distances to school, to work, to play and to visit our closest supermarket 60 miles away! When you understand the geology — and the missing one billion years — even the longest of journeys seems to pass in a flash." — Emma Smith
"The Porthkerry Member of the Blue Lias Formation (Rhaetian-Sinemurian age) is exposed in extensive wave-cut platforms along the Glamorgan Heritage Coast, South Wales. It is close to where I live and illustrates the erosive power of the sea." — Kevin Privett
"The Falklands, a British overseas territory at the other side of earth. New Island is located in West Falklands. There are only two permanent residents living in this island. I cannot imagine what they experience in their everyday lives after a short-time visit to them. Maybe the surface vegetation growing along the very special geology feature there can give us some clue." — Wuquan Cui
"A cloud inversion seen on a morning run on the Cambridge 1st year undergraduate field trip to Arran. This photo highlights for me what an inspiring place Arran is for introducing Geology to students who are still making up their minds about what subject to study." — Alex Copley
"While studying for my PhD in nearby Bristol, the Carboniferous limestone cliffs of Cheddar Gorge have been a reliable escape from the busy world of PhD life." — Tim Gregory
"This is a place I have only visited a few times, although I live only a few nautical miles across the Minch. Its peaks of flood basalts form a horizon I see almost daily as long as the weather prevails (which is not often!) The strata of ancient basalt is extremely young in comparison to the Archan Lewisian Gniess that forms the hills around my home. It is therefore, when I do get a chance to visit, a very exciting place!" — Fraser Wotherspoon
"A quiet evening on the Isle of Iona. It turns out it was the autumn equinox, and I watched a beautiful sunset from the highest point of the island." — Sandra Angers-Blondin
"This image was taken at Ireland’s most Northerly Point at Malin Head, on the Inishowen peninsula in Co Donegal. This wild and rugged landscape is mainly composed of metamorphic and igneous rock formed over 400 million years ago. You might recognise this landscape from the recent Star Wars movie which was partly filmed here in 2016." — Yvonne Doherty
"'Ardvreck' is about the use of rocks by people and age being relative. Of all the rocks found in Britain, those that can be found in Assynt are the oldest. Crofts, sheds and castles were made long ago of rocks that are far older, by people who were completely oblivious to what information the materials they were working with holds. Cambrian quartzite, Torridonian sandstone, Durness limestone and of course Lewisian gneiss; they all tell stories that make those of humans make completely insignificant. Not to mention what weathering, erosion and sedimentation have done to the place." — Gijs de Reijke
The Geological Society of London was founded in 1807 and is a nonprofit organization comprised of more than 12,000 scientists. Their mission is to "investigate, interpret, discuss, inform and advise on the nature and processes of the Earth, their practical importance to humanity, and, in the interests of the public, to promote professional excellence."
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