Stephen Johnston – “Spain: Rocks, Romans and Rioja”

Stephen Johnston – “Spain: Rocks, Romans and Rioja”
by Andrew Bryant, 21 May 2015. 

Dr. Stephen Johnston, professor of geology at the University of Victoria, took us on a lively and all-encompassing journey to Spain.

Based on his extensive knowledge of Pangea, that supercontinent formed by wandering tectonic plates some 350 million years ago, Stephen gave a wonderful example of how everything is always connected to everything else.

Want to find gold in Spain?  Look for apple and chestnut trees, as these were often planted by the Romans while they were looking for gold.

Want to know why Las Médulas became a World Heritage Site?  Thank Pliny the Elder, who fortuitously published his notes shortly before his death in the Mount Vesuvius eruption in 79 AD.

Why is there a Sequoia tree growing at the University of Salamanca?  Because Christopher Columbus brought seeds back from America, at the same time that loads of Spanish mercury were being shipped to the New World to be using in gold mining operations there

In short, this was not your typical travelogue!

Barbara Sherriff – “Arsenic and old waste”

Barbara Sherriff – “Arsenic and old waste”
by Andrew Bryant, 15 May 2014. 

Dr. Barbara Sherriff spoke from her long experience as a Professor of Geology at the University of Manitoba.  Now re-located to Powell River, Barbara serves as our current Club President and reminds us that geological processes have not stopped.

She spoke about the causes and some solutions for environmental issues related to metal mining, including acidic drainage and arsenic with examples from gold and base metal mines in Manitoba, the Northwest Territories, and elsewhere around the globe.

I unfortunately missed her talk, but her Powerpoint presentation was masterful.  To the point.  Focused.  Thorough. And with data!  And one of those presentations when people just shake their heads in wonder and say “I had NO idea…”