Members Reports and Photos
SATURDAY 25th JANUARY 2014
MUSEUM TRINITY COLLEGE
LEADER: PATRICK WYSE JACKSON
Geological Museum Visit, and a Tour of the Building Stones of the Campus
Patrick Wyse Jackson, a former President of the Field Club, is Associate
Professor of Geology and Curator of the Geology Museum. His main interests are
in fossils and his research area has focused on bryozoans that range in age from
the Ordovician to the Recent, with particular emphasis on Mississippian faunas.
The meeting commenced in the hallway of the museum building where the exhibits in the glass-fronted display cases were viewed and explained by Patrick. We then proceeded to the Geological Museum. The Geological Museum is situated on the top floor of the Department of Geology. The Museum collections date from 1777, and comprise about 80,000 specimens. The main palaeontological holdings include Irish Silurian and Carboniferous invertebrates, Mesozoic ostracods, and Upper Palaeozoic miospores. The mineral collection largely dates from the 1820s and contains both Irish and foreign specimens. The exhibition The Story of the Earth contains displays covering the complete range of geological topics. More than an hour was spent viewing the exhibits but so great was the interest that as one member remarked: “You could spend an hour viewing one case”.
explained the important early contributions made by Irish scientists to the very
polarising 19th Century topic of the age of the earth:
John Joly, who hailed from Co Offaly, was a former Professor of Geology and Mineralogy at Trinity College proposed to calculate the age of the earth from the accumulation of sodium in the waters of the oceans. He calculated the rate at which the oceans should have accumulated sodium from erosion processes, and determined that the oceans were about 80 to 100 million years old. Although this method was later considered inaccurate and was consequently superseded, it radically modified the results of other methods in use at the time.
Thompson (Lord Kelvin) from Belfast, published in 1862 calculations that
estimated the age of Earth at between 20 million and 400 million years. He
assumed that Earth had formed as a completely molten object, and determined the
amount of time it would take for the near-surface to cool to its present
temperature. His calculations did not account for heat produced via radioactive
decay (a process then unknown to science) or convection inside the Earth, which
allows more heat to escape from the interior to warm rocks near the surface.
More than an hour was spent viewing the exhibits and Patrick provided much information and answered many questions from the partcipants. So great was the interest that one member remarked: “You could spend an hour viewing one case”.
then proceeded to view the building from the top town as Patrick pointed out
some of the features of particular interest. The Museum Building, which houses
the Geology Department, was designed by Thomas Deane and Benjamin Woodward. It
is inspired by the Byzantine architecture of Venice and was built in 1853-57.
The many interior and exterior carvings were executed by the Cork-born brothers
John and James O'Shea, who gathered fresh flowers to use as their models. The
exterior walls feature Wicklow granite and Portland Stone. The interior walls
are faced with Caen Limestone. The pillars, balustrades and bannisters contain
examples of Irish marbles and Cornish serpentine, while the domed roof is made
of blue, red and yellow enamelled bricks. There are plans to use this
magnificent building as an exhibition centre.
final part of the visit included a look at the outside of the Old Library
building which had been recently cleaned and the meeting concluded at the
Examinations Hall where a discussion was held about the about the campanile and
the origin of the cobblestones in Front Square officially known as Parliament
Square which was originally funded by the Irish Parliament.
Museum Building Museum Door Geology Museum
Initials of Architect and Builder Carving by O'Shea Brothers
Ediacaran fossils Gneiss (Mayo) Dingle fossils
Nautilus pompilius Pillow Lava
Coal from Castlecomer Fluoorescent minerals
Cooksonia plant fossil "Diplopodocus and "Tyrannosaurus" Plesiosaurus macrocephalus
Fern fossil Clubmoss fossil Gingo biloba & fossil Horsetail fossil
Sun-coral Titanites giganteus fossil "Triceratops"
Photos © P Lenihan and others