agricultural reforms, waste-disposal, and afforestation of poor soil lands. Again, disarmingly, we had before us a very professional statement from the Union of Professional and Technical Civil Servants of Ireland, which in some 30 pages seemed to sum up most of the arguments for future work in the Republic with good presentation and some very effective photographs to underline the points. Sub-titled A Policy for Nature Conservation in Ireland, Earth science is given a fairer share than usual in plans that emphasize the need for a fuller survey as a necessary start.
Mud springs in Britain W. I. Stanton (Westbury-sub-Mendip) writes: The article on mud diapirs (Geology Toduy, v. 4, p. 89, 1988) reminds me of the curious mud springs of Templars Firs, near Wootton Bassett in Wiltshire. In 1974, River Authority workmen were clearing the channel of a small stream, Hancocks Water. In the little copse known as Templars Firs (SU 0788 16) they found the channel obstructed by a mass of grey clay. When they began to dig away the clay, grey liquid mud gushed into the channel from beneath tree roots. For a short while it spouted a third of a metre into the air, at a rate approaching 8 litres per second, according to the workmen. At the same time, young trees growing near the stream began to sway about. The mud gushed in pulses, with pauses coinciding with the expulsion of large gobs of more solid material, including peat-like vegetable matter, sticks, stones, fossils, cow bones and artificially sharpened stakes. The wooden objects had a brittle consistency like charcoal.
As the Authoritys geologist I went to investigate
this phenomenon. In Templars Firs, on the right bank of the stream, I found three mounds each about 10 m long by 5 m wide by 1 m high. They were mud blisters, consisting of a more or less liquid mud core contained within a living skin created by the roots of rushes, sedges and other swampy vegetation, including shrubs and small trees. The workmen had cut into the end of one blister, allowing it partly to deflate. The liquid core was (and is) at least 2 m deep, as I ascertained by probing with a stake that had been sharpened and left there by other investigators. Grey liquid mud oozes from splits in the skin. In places the skin is very thin and the blister quakes Like a jelly when climbed. The ground surrounding the blisters is level; thus they must be nourished, very slowly, by liquid mud rising from below them.
The landowner told me that the bogs in the copse have always been there and that cattle have been lost in them. They are underlain by 10-20m of Kimmeridge Clay resting on the Coral Rag sub- division of the Corallian. I am inclined to rule out mud diapirism arising from a Wootton Bassett accretionary complex as the source of these mud springs and plump instead for artesian leakage up through a weakness in the Kimmeridge Clay from the Coral Rag, which is locally a minor aquifer. But why the springs are of mud, and why the mud remains liquid instead of settling out of suspension, need to be explained.
Housing and industry are spreading out from Wootton Bassett and the mud springs of Templars Firs are not far beyond some new estates. I know of no similar springs and have suggested to the Nature Conservancy Council that they merit SSSI protection, without response so far. Do readers of Geology Toduy know of other mud springs in the UK?
Geological Colour Photography Competition 1988 Winners w e are pleased to announce the prizewinners of our 1988 Photography Competition, which brought in a variety of interesting entries.
The FIRST PRIZE of f125 is awarded to A. Grey of Hove, East Sussex, UK, for his picture of Minerva Terrace, Yellowstone National Park, USA. He also becomes the 1988 GEOLOGY TODAY PHOTOGRAPHER O F T H E YEAR and his prizewinning entry is printed on the front cover of this issue.
The SECOND PRIZE of 75 goes to J. B. Saunders of Basel, Switzerland, for his picture of a mud flow at Moruga Bouffe, Trinidad.
Equal THIRD PRIZES of f50 each go to J. W. Sheraton of Canberra, Australia, for his picture of Torres del Paine, Chilean Patagonia, and to L. A. J. Garvie of Bristol, UK, for his picture of whaliform sand bodies in Wyoming, USA.
The judges also felt that photographs of Variscan folding at Crackington Firth, Hartland, Devon, UK, by S. Miller of Sutton Coldfield, West Midlands, UK; sharks teeth in Blackheath Beds in Abbey Wood, Kent, UK, by G . Lucy of Great Dunmow, Essex, UK; and Monument Valley, Arizona, USA, again by our fxst prizewinner, A. Grey, of Hove, East Sussex, UK, should be HIGHLY COMMENDED.
The second and equal third prizewinning entries will feature on the front cover of the January/February 1989 issue, and those highly commended will appear inside.
We congratulate the winners and ako thank all those who submitted photographs. We are grateful to Fred Dunning and Martin Pulsford at the Geological Museum in London for their help with the judging, and where, as for last years competition, an exhibition of the best photographs submitted is being arranged - see details in our next issue when we shall be commenting more fully on the competition.
GEOLOGY TODAY November-December 19881187