Just in my inbox. Emphasis mine: I am feeling extremely cynical about what it takes to get a dude in a position of power to make that kind of a statement...
I'm calling for information from the broad community about bad rock coring damage.
Many important sites are being devastated by this practice and it's bringing our science into disrepute. So I'm raising this as chair of the Geological Society of London's Geoconservation Committee - hopefully to guide approaches to reduce the problem. I know this is not just a UK problem .... There is however a spate of this going on in the NW Highlands at the moment. I also know there's been discussion on this list about bad rock sampling practice. So let's try to stamp this out together....
I'm sure many of you will be dismayed to see the attachment here of rock-coring damage to this famous outcrop of the sub-Torridonian unconformity adjacent to Loch Assynt, in NW Scotland. This location is visited by many hundreds students every year and is a key location in the NW Highlands Geopark. The local officers are dismayed about this. The outcrop is on land owned by the John Muir trust - a major conservation organisation (http://www.jmt.org/vision.asp).
Doing collecting like this is equivalent to stealing birds eggs or butterflies. Can you imagine archeologists being allowed to drill into the megaliths of Stonehenge etc? It's a question of ethics and must stop. Geologists in general risk being viewed as having no regard for their environment. So our various conservation and public awareness campaigns and initiatives may become less well-regarded or ignored.
Other sites in NW Scotland that have been attacked in this way include designated Sites of Special Scientific Interest that are protected by law - so such coring is a criminal act. Pleading ignorance is no defence! They include a lot of the classic outcrops of Durness limestone around Durness itself and eastern Eriboll and the Scourie dykes at Scourie More. Not to mention virtually every one of the dykes forming part of the Tertiary swarm at Elgol on Skye.
Don't get me wrong - I'm not against rock coring itself - but it can be done better - such by excavating parts of outcrops then recovering them. Even then the holes should be refilled - and ideally finished off with the outcrop face off-cut of the core all bonded with a resilient, weather-proof cement - to leave the least visible trace of the activity. Going after the best, most visited and previously photogenic sites is reprehensible. There are plenty of good-practice guides around that could be consulted... and applied (e.g. www.geologistsassociation.org.uk/
So - what to do? Too often we discuss and report these as individual incidents. It's time to gather information more widely. Of course it's not just members of the tectonics community who are responsible - and so please pass on this request for information to colleagues.
And send me images (really not at not too large a file size: to [e-mail address]) - with some location specifics. If you can tie these examples of damage to specific publications that have arisen from them - then you might like to send me the link to the paper too. Although I'm specifically interested in auditing the extent of the problem through the UK - - please also share examples from elsewhere in the world.
Once we know what's going on, then we can work out better strategies to educate those who do this kind of thing - and promote better practice.