Coal has been important to the Scottish economy for many centuries, the result of coal-rich successions through a significant stratigraphical interval, a range of coal types, and many outcrops. Scottish mining engineers were in the forefront of the Industrial Revolution, and drilling for coal reserves generally predated comparable applications in the English fields. Peak production, in the early 20th century, was over 40 x 106 tonnes/year, with a decline to a mid/late 1990s output of less than 10 x 106 tonnes, including opencasted (surface-mined) coal (Fig. 17.1), the decline reflecting competition from other fuels and the depletion of the more accessible reserves. A broad review of the pre-1990s industry is given by Beveridge et al. (1991); potential and possible mining resources are described below. Recently, the potential for gas production from the coals has been investigated by deep drilling: the coalbed methane interest in Scotland is also discussed below. Underground gasification is a further possible energy option. With the exception of the small coalfield in the onshore Jurassic succession at Brora, all the coals are of Carboniferous age.
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This 4th edition of The Geology of Scotland is edited by Dr Nigel Trewin of the Department of Geology and Petroleum Geology at the University of Aberdeen. The volume is greatly expanded from the previous edition with 34 authors contributing to 20 chapters.
A new format has been adopted to provide a different perspective on the geology of Scotland. A brief Introduction is followed by a chapter outlining some of the important historical aspects that in the 19th century placed Scottish geologists at the forefront of a new science.
Scotland is constructed from a number of terranes that finally combined in roughly their present positions prior to about 410 million years ago. Thus the geology of each terrane is described up to the time of amalgamation, providing chapters on the Southern Uplands, Midland Valley, Northern Highland, Grampian and Hebridean terranes. At the end of this section, a brief synthesis summarizes the events that resulted in the amalgamation of the various terranes into the present configuration.
Traditional practice is followed in the description of the Old Red Sandstone, Carboniferous, Permo-Trias, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Tertiary and Quaternary strata. A separate chapter covers Tertiary igneous rocks. An attempt is made to tell the story of the geological evolution of Scotland, rather than catalogue all areas and formations. Priority is given to the onshore geology, encouraging the reader to go into the field and visit some of the world-class geology on show in Scotland. The chapters are broadly-based, attempting to integrate the sedimentary and igneous histories, and summarize changes in palaeogeography and palaeoenvironments.
Economic aspects are covered with chapters on Metalliferous Minerals, Bulk Resources, Coal and Hydrocarbons. A new departure is a chapter on aspects of Environmental Geology and sustainability.
Additionally, this publication contains a colour section of 32 plates, illustrating aspects of Scottish Geology, as well as a coloured geological map of Scotland.