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Laird of the rings in Lochaber Geopark draws experts

Source: Source:BBC News Published:Sep 22,2008

A group of 33 scientists from around the world have explored the Ardnamurchan ring complex - the remains of ancient volcanic activity.

The geology within Lochaber Geopark gives an insight into the inner workings of active volcanoes.

The team running the geopark said the rings were famous among scientists and pictures of it adorn the walls of university geology departments.

Four large volcanoes were once active in the west Highlands.

The scientists who made the visit were from South Africa, Russia, Sweden, Ireland and the UK.

The four-day workshop was led by geologists from Glasgow and Keele universities and supported by the Mineralogical Society of Great Britain and Ireland and the Geological Society of London.

Evidence of four significant volcanoes have been found on Skye, Rum, Ardnamurchan and Mull.

The rings of Ardnamurchan are the remains of the interior of one of these volcanoes, exposed by erosion which started while the volcano grew and finally by the erosive force of glaciers during the last Ice Age.

The volcanoes were active from 55 to 60 million years ago.

Lochaber became Europe's newest geopark last year. It boasts 1,000 million years of geological history.

The area followed the north west Highlands in winning the internationally recognised status.

The European Geoparks Network (EGN) was set up in 2000 in an effort to protect and promote zones with rocks and features considered to be unique.

The Lochaber bid received more than £200,000 in funding - including £75,000 from Scottish Natural Heritage.

Highlands and Islands Enterprise Lochaber contributed £56,500 towards the project, £45,900 was given by the Heritage Lottery Fund, £15,000 from Highland Council and £10,000 of European funding.

The park stretches from Rannoch Moor in the south to Knoydart in the north, and from the Small Isles in the west to Glen Spean in the east.