Carboniferous World

Sarah Alexander
Thursday 2 July 2015

What do volcanoes, earthquakes, giant millipedes and ancient forests all have in common? You can see traces of all of them along the Fife Coastal Trail!

My project involves collating information about a number of geologically renowned sites along the coast, taking photos, doing voice recordings, and eventually packaging all the features into a app that will be available from the app store in a couple of months. This information is also going to be uploaded into Qraqrbox, a multimedia platform that will enable visitors to download content from wifi hubs that the Fife Coast and Countryside Trust is planning to install along the trail. This will be extremely useful in the many areas along the route that are still in the Dark Ages where 3G is sadly unavailable. Qraqrbox will ultimately feature multiple layers with information about a number of different topics so that there’ll be something to suit everyone’s interest.

My enthusiasm for the project was bolstered by meeting a group of fossil hunters who’d travelled all the way from Australia to look for the Arthropleura tracks at Crail. Arthropleura was a millipede-like creature that grew up to 6ft long lived in swampy environments during the Carboniferous period, around 359 – 299 million years ago. The tracks at Crail harbour were even featured in a David Attenborough documentary, First Life: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c2lJbjoOuNs. The Aussies were worried that they weren’t looking on the right beach so it was great to hear they’d find digital information useful.

The tracks are the parallel traces near the front of the bed. The hollows represent individual feet.

The giant millipede tracks are the parallel traces near the front of the bed. The hollows represent individual feet.

It’s been very interesting to learn about so many sites right on our doorsteps – although I’ve visited a few during sub-honours fieldtrips I’ve also seen all sorts of features I didn’t know existed. Luckily I’ve been accompanied to a few of the locations by staff from the Earth Science department whose eagle eyes have spotted small details I probably wouldn’t have noticed.

The Rock and Spindle near Kinkellis the remains of an ancient volcano

The Rock and Spindle near Kinkell is the remains of an ancient volcano

I’m really enjoying working on my internship and am excited about seeing the finished project, as well as any future versions with additional information.
Good luck to everyone over the summer and see you at the next leadership training weekend if not before!

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