Last Thursday I went on a field trip to Castleton with Manchester Museum. The purpose of the outdoor adventure was to try out a new app which would give geology students instant access to information from experts via videos, figures and readings. I had my smart phone with me so I could see how it worked for myself. It was quite straight forward, and would be even easier if you were used to augmented reality apps although it's probably best shown on a tablet to make the most of the multi-media features.
Mam Tor means "Mother Mountain" possibly due to it's breast shape but also as it appeared to have "given birth" the other mini hills around it, in reality caused by landslips due to unstable layers of shale lower down. This also led to the moniker; "The Shivering Mountain".
One of the features was "Beneath Your Feet" showing a map of the kinds of rock making up the area around. By accessing your camera function (which does sap your phone battery so charge up!) the view in front of you appears with markers showing points of interest you could choose to click on, accessing videos, commentary and maps. This will allow instant access to localised information whilst out and about. This technology is easy to keep up to date and add to, unlike textbooks and abandoned websites. The alternative would be carrying around huge educational tomes or having to print out current figures on lots of bits of paper to faff about with (which would have been impossible on Mam Tor which was sunny but VERY WINDY).
Beneath Your Feet: here are some of the rocky slabs that make up the steep path.
This old path looks quite serene and well-trodden, like a natural part of the landscape. In contrast this huge crack in the abandoned road further along our journey clearly shows the layers of tarmac of recent years in futile attempts to patch up the constant deterioration caused by the landslips aggravated by heavy lorries from the quarry.
I enjoyed getting out in the fresh air with a really nice bunch of people and the view from Mam Tor was amazing, from far and also near if you looked closely. Part of the route was interspersed with some really nice metal markers displaying it's Iron Age history as a fort.
Here is a site featuring Blue John, a precious mineral only found in some special areas in Derbyshire. This area was originally full of sea creatures, and fossilised chrinoid specimens can be seen in the rock. Examples of chrinoids were brought along by Manchester Museum's Curator of Earth Sciences Collections, David Gelsthorpe.
The museum has many specimens from this area. It is rich with finds having been a route for animals such as bison in ancient times. It was great to see them in the places where they could be originally found and discuss them and learn in situ.
his trickle of oil you can see under the grass is the product of the ancient sea-life remains that would have lived here. Combined with the maternal name and visible changes and movements, it really seems as if the rocks here are alive, and I think the aim of the app will be to animate the science and information learned from them in the same way.
To learn more about the rocks and fossils collections of Manchester Museum (and lots of other interesting stuff), David Gelsthorpe has his own curator's blog you can check out here. Another good blogpost on this trip can be found at MancOnline. There's always great stuff on at the Museum, so to keep your eye out for more events like this check out their website here. If you join their mailing list too, you can be the first to know!