TrowelBlazer Margaret Wood is our featured star in this post, but it is important to recognise that her contribution comes on the heels of other fearless female scientists! Our knowledge of the geology of the island of Anglesey in Wales has been dependent on the dedication of some outstanding women. Without the inspiration and practical assistance of Annie Greenly, her husband Edward might have never finished his classic map and monograph, The Geology of Anglesey (Greenly, 1919, 1920; Williams, 2007). More recently Margaret Wood was co-author of the first full geology of Anglesey since Greenly (Campbell, Wood & Windley, 2014). Working in collaboration with others, she has also secured recognition of the international importance of the island’s geodiversity, with hundreds of geology students visiting Anglesey every year. However Margaret Woods’s contribution to geology extends from the deep sea to the moon, and includes discovering some of the oldest fossils in the UK.
Champion for Anglesey, Geodiversity and Geoconservation
Educated in a convent school in Manchester, Margaret had an early interest in geography, biology and physical education. She did her B.Sc. (Hons 1972) at the University of London and returned to Manchester where she carried out her M.Sc. (1974), a geochemical investigation of samples from the deep ocean floor. Her Ph.D (1977) was an examination of transition of rare earth elements in natural and synthetic phosphates. In addition, as an analytical geochemist working in the University of Manchester (1964-79), she analysed the moon rock from every Apollo Mission. In the period 1966-79, she was also a partner in a geochemical consultancy, the Nicholls-Wood Partnership, which had a range of British and international clients.
Margaret is a qualified teacher and teacher trainer. Geological science has greatly benefited from her enthusiasm, strong communication skills and ability to explain complex issues. She worked as teacher and extramural lecturer in Manchester, and she has co-supervised M.Sc. and Ph.D. studies at several universities. Margaret was also a friend of the late Sir Kyffin Williams, celebrated Anglesey artist, and often discussed the geological foundation of his landscapes with him.
An opportunity to move to Anglesey arose in 1989 and in the first decade of the newly created Countryside Council for Wales, Margaret worked as North Wales Region Geologist, monitoring and managing the nationally important Geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest. She also had a key role in setting up a lower conservation designation tier of Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS) between 2000 and 2003. Following her establishment of RIGS groups in all parts of Wales, she served as chair of the Association of Welsh RIGS Groups for 10 years.
At the same time Margaret led the successful bid securing for Anglesey in 2009 membership of the European Geopark Network, to be followed a year later by acceptance as a Global Geopark member. The sustainable use of Anglesey’s geosites for education is one of the chief objectives of network membership, while the larger Geopark Network seeks to develop geotourism based on the appreciation of the heritage value of geological collections and associated sites. In 2010 Margaret received the Distinguished Service Medal from the Geological Society of London. In 2015, UNESCO instituted a new programme for the Geoparks, elevating their status and they are now called “UNESCO Global Geoparks” and have special logos for their use. Covering the entire island of Anglesey the Geopark is now called “GeoMôn UNESCO Global Geopark” and the prestigious logo can be used by all statutory bodies on the island.
Margaret continues to celebrate the geology of Anglesey. On one occasion she organised a band to lead a large group of the local community from the village of Cemaes Bay to the ancient church of Llanbadrig for the opening of a new geological trail. It was a very memorable and beautiful sunny day, with local politicians and dignitaries happy to support geoconservation and recognise its contribution to the local economy. However it is also a reflection of the huge respect and appreciation of the local and worldwide geological community for Margaret Wood, who has secured a place for Anglesey on the international geological stage.
Written by Dr. Catherine Duigan (@c_duigan), with input from Stewart Campbell.
Campbell, S., Wood, M. & Windley, B. (2014). Footsteps Through Time. The Rocks and Landscape of Anglesey Explained. GeoMôn, Isle of Anglesey County Council, 193pp.
Conway, J.S. & Wood, M. (2016). A Geoheritage Case Study: GeoMôn in Wales. In: Hose, T. A. (ed) Geoheritage and Geotourism A European Perspective. The Boydell Press, Woodbridge, 219-231.
Greenly, E. (1919). The Geology of Anglesey, Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain (HMSO, London), 980pp., (2 vols). Greenly, E. (1920). 1:50,000 b (and 1 inch to 1 mile) Geological Map of Anglesey. Geological Survey of Great Britain, Special Sheet No. 92 and 93 (with parts of 94, 105 and 106).
Williams, T.P.T. (2007). The role of Annie Greenly in the elucidation of the geology of Anglesey. The Role of Women in the History of Geology, Geological Society, London, Special Publications, 281, 319-324.
Wood, M. (2003). Precambrian Rocks of the Rhoscolyn Anticline, Seabury Salmon and Associates, 48pp.
Wood, M. (2012). The Historical Development of the Term ‘Mélange’ and Its Relevance to the Precambrian Geology of Anglesey and the Lleyn Peninsula in Wales, UK. Journal of Geography (Japan). 121 (1) 168-180.
Edited by Suzanne and Brenna