Scotland and the adjacent continental shelf have proved to be exceptionally rich in oil and gas thanks to the presence of two source rocks. Onshore, the Carboniferous oil shales around Edinburgh were the basis of a thriving shale oil industry in the latter part of the 19th century. Offshore, the Upper Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay Formation is the source of most of the oil in the North Sea fields, discovered and produced in the latter part of the 20th century. The development of these natural resources has proved to be hugely challenging scientifically, technologically and commercially.
The economic return to Scotland and the rest of the United Kingdom has been immense; since 1965 the oil industry has generated an operating surplus of £250 billion (DTI 2000). Hydrocarbons from the UK Continental Shelf as a whole contributed £4 billion to the UK’s gross domestic product in 1999, equivalent to 1.8% of the total. However, in addition to this most obvious and important impact, the production of oil and gas from the ‘geology of Scotland’ has left its mark in other ways. There have been changes in the science of geology as practised in Scotland, and on the history and landscape. In West Lothian the working of oil shale during the late 19th and early 20th century produced the distinctive waste heaps known as bings (see Chapter 20, Fig. 20.1). More recently oil development has brought economic benefits to the northeast of Scotland and the Shetland Islands.
This account of
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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.