Acrylic on canvas,
101cm x 122cm

The rocks of Lewis (in north-west Scotland) were once part of the
supercontinent Rodinia and included all the pieces of continental crust of the
time. Recrystallised rocks of around 2.9 to 3.3 billion years ago formed a
pavement over which ancient rivers (>1.0 billion years ago) deposited thick red
sandstones. At around 870 million years ago (mya) it is thought a giant mantle
plume, originating from the liquid core of the earth, ascended, thinned the crust
and began the tearing apart of Rodinia. This rifting process carried on from 870
mya to about 600 mya. This time period falls into what is often called the Late


Acrylic on canvas,
101cm x 122cm

Between 600 and 550 million years ago the superplume had torn Rodinia into
smaller continents giving birth to the Iapetus sea (a ‘foretaste’ of the Atlantic)
and the birthing of new continents, including Laurentia and Gondwana. Sands,
muds and tsunami fans were deposited on the sea floor of Iapetus. Runny lava
was ejected from its mid-oceanic volcanoes to form new ocean floor. The
Iapetus widened to some 4,500 kilometres.


Acrylic on canvas,
76cm x 60cm

At around 420 million years ago Laurentia experienced plate collisions with
Avalonia and Baltica as the Iapetus Sea was squeezed shut. Southern England
and Southern Ireland were located on the Avalonia plate but were about to be
welded onto Northern Ireland and Scotland (still part of the Laurentia plate).

The spotted dark blue represents the Isles of Lewis (or Hebrides). The wavey
medium blues are the future Highlands. The reddish purple the future Midland
Valley and the greens the Southern Uplands.

The red stripe is the Moine Thrust Belt. The orange stripe is the Great Glen
Fault. The Yellow stripes are the Highland Boundary and Southern Uplands
Faults. The green stripe marks a possible ‘Laurentia/Avalonia Suture’ that is
known as the ‘Iapetus Suture’.


Acrylic on canvas,
76cm x 60cm

By 400 million years ago (early Devonian) the Iapetus Sea had closed like a
zipper with the first closure in the south-west followed by the north-east. The
closure was the consequence of anticlockwise rotating and oblique converging
plates. Huge ‘blocks’ of rock moved horizontally past each other forming giant
faults/sutures that included the Great Glen Fault (orange), The Highland
Boundary Fault (top yellow) and the Southern Uplands Fault (bottom yellow).

The green ‘ribbon’ represents the Iapetus Suture, and has been defined as the
boundary where Avalonia was underthrust the Laurentian plate.

The red ‘blobs’ represent granitic magmas that penetrated the roots of mountain
chains. They range in age from 440 to 390 million years ago. These roots,
together with their magmatic cores were later exposed by erosion. The mauve
line is the outline of UK’s current coastline.


Acrylic on canvas,
101cm x 122cm

Prior to the ‘docking’, but during the closure of the Iapetus Sea, remnants of
oceanic crust (see purple mass at bottom left), and possibly mantle, were
squeezed up and thrust over the existing rocks. These rocks are known as
ophiolites. The ‘docking’ of the Avalonia plate with the Laurentia plate
involved anti-clockwise shear deformation (orange and yellow ribbons) and
north-west thrusting (eg., the Moine Thrust shown as a wavey, red ribbon).
Scotland now consisted of the Hebrides (dark blue in top left), the Northern
Highlands (dark blue ribbons on light blue), the Grampians (light blue ribbons
on dark blue), the Midland Valley (mauve ribbons on burgundy) and the
Southern Uplands (mauve ribbons on green).


Acrylic on canvas,
101cm x 122cm

The term ‘Old Red Sandstone’ is used to label non-marine conglomerates,
sandstones and siltstones that were derived from eroding the Caledonian

Scotland was drifting north from 25º south to 10º south. The land was red and
hot. Sediment was being deposited from rivers and wind. The wind was
depositing impressive large sand dunes.


Acrylic on canvas,
101cm x 122cm

Scotland continued its journey north to arrive at the equator. tropical forests of
simple and small trees grew rapidly. Great thicknesses of fallen tree ferns and
giant club mosses (green in centre) began to decay. As they decayed they turned
into peat. The climate oscillated between hot and cold as the polar ice caps
came and went.

When the ice melted rainfall increased, rivers built deltas (left hand edge), sea
levels rose and limestones (blue circular pellets in bottom right) were deposited
in shallow tropical seas. These deposits from shallow seas and deltas buried the
peat. The peat was converted into coal. This coal was to become the energy for
Scotland’s industrial revolution.


Acrylic on canvas,
122cm x 101cm

The establishment of rift basins, a triple junction and associated volcanism in
the North Sea occurred during the Jurassic Period (208 to 146 million years
ago). The triple junction is in red with yellow, volcanic, glass shards. The sands
(large pale-yellow dots) running north-west of the triple junction represent the
Moray Firth Basin, the ones going directly north, the Viking Graben and those
running off to the south-east are the Central North Sea Basin.

The medium and fine blue dots on the left-hand side represent fine sand, silt and
clay in the early North Atlantic depression before the new oceanic crust is

These Jurassic rocks made valuable oil and gas, particularly in the North Sea


Acrylic on canvas,
122cm x 101cm

A vast outpouring of magmas known as the North Atlantic Igneous Province
originated from a hot, mantle plume that is now located beneath Iceland. The
main period of this activity started in the Palaeocene (60.1 million years ago)
and continued to the early Eocene (54.5 million years ago). The result was that
Scotland and the Western Europe tectonic plate separated from Greenland and
Laurentia plate. The floor of the North Atlantic continues to grow today.

The large circle represents the area of mantle being influenced and heated by
the Icelandic Plume. It has been suggested that this influence and heating is
keeping north-western Scotland above sea level.


Acrylic on canvas,
76cm x 60cm

The last of the ice ages started at about 2.6 million years ago and probably
ended ~11,700 years ago (the Pleistocene). This artwork shows the last glacial
maxima at ~20, 000 years with a single ice sheet covering Scandinavia,
Scotland, most of Ireland and Wales and northern England.

Pollen and beetle studies at around 13,000 years (in southern Britain) have
demonstrated that temperatures could rise 10ºC in 100 years. Furthermore, there
appear to have been 20 of these rapid temperature rises during the last 60,000
years. (reference: Toghill, P. (2000) The Geology of Britain).

During the glacial episodes the ice obtained thicknesses up to 3 kilometres and
the sea levels would drop by up to 100 metres. When the ice melted the beach
levels would rise by up to 300 metres. (reference: Park, G. (2014) The Making of Europe – A
Geological History).


Acrylic on canvas,
76cm x 60cm

As a development geologist in the Central North Sea I experienced hitting a
glacial boulder whilst pile driving on the Auk oil platform. This was a big
negative, expensive ‘Unknown Unknown’.

On this artwork I have superimposed underneath the boulder the Brent Oil Field
(located in the Viking Graben) where as an appraisal, well site geologist I
discovered the Statfjord Sands. These sands with oil were a very, exciting,
positive and profitable ‘Unknown Unknown’. I ‘dreamed’ this vertical cross-section as the Central North Sea and the Viking Graben are in different

The red between the yellow sand grains is gas, the green is oil and the blue is
water. Pale blue is capillary water and dark blue is movable water. The top sand
is Brent, then immediately beneath is the micaceous shale.


Acrylic on canvas,
76cm x 60cm

This is my revolutionary, new concept to investigate the ‘birth’ of subduction
zones. I am playing with the idea that mid-oceanic spreading centres are not the
only driving force sending ocean floors under the continents. The vertical
represents around 1,000 metres where 2 rotating mantle masses collide to form
a wrench zone that grinds and devours the crust into the mantle. The red and
purple at the bottom are the revolving mantle masses (left side rotating towards
you and right rotating away from you, in short sinistral).

The Moine Thrust (red ribbon), the Great Glen Fault (orange), the Highland
Boundary and Southern Uplands Faults (yellow) and the Iapetus thrusts (green)
are arranged to display a ‘Super Flower’ structure. The orange cross beds are
the Old Red Sandstone in the Midland Valley. The deep & medium blues on far
left and right are Lewisian gneisses. The pale & medium folded blues are the
Grampian & Northern Highland “slices”. The green and the folded blue are the
Southern Uplands.


Acrylic on canvas,
76cm x 60cm

A sunrise, version of probably the world’s most famous geological sites –
Siccar Point, just east of Edinburgh, on the Scottish coast. Here in 1788, James
Hutton (the Founder of Modern Geology) established that the world was much
older than 6,000 years, it was even much older than a million years.

Hutton realised the vertical blue rocks were once horizontal on the seabed, were
then turned on their sides and pushed up into a mountain range, eroded and then
‘iced’ with horizontal, pink sandstone. The time required to do all this is
estimated between 30 and 50 million years.

It was Hutton’s expansion of Earth’s age that allowed Charles Darwin to evolve
his ‘Origin of Species”


Acrylic on canvas,
76cm x 60cm

Chalk was made in shallow, Cretaceous seas (100-65 million years ago). It is a
limestone made from microscopic, planktonic, marine algae, called coccoliths
(shown in artwork). It is unique because it is not found anywhere else in the
geological column and cannot be seen forming anywhere in the world today.

Most of the chalk that was deposited on the Scottish mainland has been eroded
away and lost. However, there are up to 1,400 metres of chalk preserved in the
Central North Sea graben.


Watercolour on paper,
76cm x 60cm

Myths helped our ancestors ‘explain the world’ and take ‘control over their
surroundings and circumstances’. In a world before science the stories handed
down to us by folklore were a very real attempt by our forebears to wrestle with
the mysteries of life. reference: Westwood, J. and Kingsmill, S. (2009) The Lore of Scotland.

The story of Nessie was first written about when the Irish monk Columba
bought Christianity to Scotland in the 6th century AD. Columba was said to
have defeated a Pictish wizard and repelled a monstrous ‘water beast’ at the
northern end of Loch Ness. The Columba legend goes on to say the monster
appeared ‘cum ingenti fremitu’ or ‘with loud roaring’. reference: Mackay, N. (2019)
Scotland’s myths and legends: the real story. Loch Ness sits on the Great Glen Fault and it is possible what Columba heard/saw was the release of gas as the Great Glen
moved and gas escaped from deep sediments.


Framed watercolour on paper,
76cm x 60cm

From 3 billion to 550 million years ago great thicknesses of sandstone,
limestone, muds and lavas accumulated in Scotland whilst it was still part of
and attached to North America and Scandinavia. The earliest traces of life have
been found in these Scottish rocks. The oldest rocks in Scotland are the
Lewisian gneisses and date up to 3 billion years old.

In this artwork we see the Lewisian gneisses being rifted apart at around 600
million years ago. It is the birth of the Iapetus Sea.


Framed watercolour on paper,
76cm x 60cm

As the Iapetus Ocean widened the oceanic crust grew and was covered by great
thicknesses of marine sediment. The grains of sediment became smaller the
further they floated from shore. When slumps or earthquakes occurred on the
continental slope they triggered tsunamis that transported large quantities of
sand and mud and in turn produced deep-sea, ‘tear shaped’ fans. All this action
occurred between 510 to 440 million years ago.


Framed watercolour on paper,
76cm x 60cm

Between 440 and 410 million years ago the Iapetus Ocean was squeezed shut
and Laurentia (containing North America and Scotland) collided with Avalonia
(containing England and Wales). The collision also saw the Hebrides (Isles of
Lewis), the Northern Highlands, the Grampians, the Midlands and the Southern
Uplands all welded together to birth Scotland. Some of the old, Iapetus, oceanic,
volcanic seafloor (see purple ‘blob’ in lower left) was also squeezed up to
become part of Scotland.


Framed watercolour on paper,
76cm x 60cm

During the collision of Laurentia and Avalonia the ancient mountain chain of
Caledonia was created. This mountain chain was eroded rapidly between 410
and 360 million years ago whilst Scotland drifted across the region where the
Sahara Desert exists today. Layer upon layer of red sandstone was deposited.
At times much of the sand was blown into dunes.


Framed watercolour on paper,
76cm x 60cm

By 360 to 290 million years ago Scotland’s drift north had taken it to the
equator. It had spent more than half its life in the Southern Hemisphere.
Rainforests now flourished and produced peat and coal when they were buried
by deltas and limestones.