Wednesday, 28 January 2009

British Geological Survey

Today I had a very interesting meeting with Ken Hitchen of the British Geological Survey, who is also leader of the BGS Rockall Continental Margin Project team. He, I'm sure he wouldn't mind me saying, is as much of a Rockall nerd as I'm rapidly becoming. Following my meeting with Ken, I have been able to update the timeline on the website and confirm that two of my proposed research tasks are yet to be completed: obtaining a rock sample from Hasselwood Rock and establishing the true orientation of Rockall.

Ken was also able to correct or update a number of the facts on the website, provided me with some new avenues of potential research, as well as giving me some reading material to keep me busy! He also confirmed that the BGS will be more than happy to process any rock samples I manage to obtain during my stay on the island.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Ken was able to say with absolute certainty that there is no oil or gas under Rockall (although there is significant potential in the adjacent Rockall and Hatton Basins), and that the island's ownership can not be disputed as it is within 200 nautical miles of the habitable British territory of St. Kilda.

Tuesday, 13 January 2009

Leica Sponsorship

I now have my first sponsor. Thanks to a recommendation from the OS, Leica Geosystems have kindly agreed to sponsor me with the loan of a survey-grade GNSS receiver for the duration of my occupation of Rockall, and to provide processing support in conjunction with the offer from Ordnance Survey. It is hoped that with the right weather conditions I should be able to locate Rockall to the millimetre via cross reference to land based fixed reference points.
This is a fantastic step towards the Rockall 2011 project, and I hope that from this point Leica's commitment will lead to other corporations coming on board.

Survey Marker

Well, a successful couple of days. First and foremost the survey marker from the Ordnance Survey has arrived (above).

Until now this endeavour has only been communicated and progressed via email, the Internet and the telephone. Finally, something physical has happened, albeit quite small, but its actually been quite a big mental step in the right direction.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Science and Research

I am finally getting somewhere with this aspect of the expedition. To a certain extent it has actually been easier to progress this than other aspects:
The Ordnance Survey have very kindly agreed to provide me with a brass survey marker to place on Rockall, and to process any GPS measurements I might take. All I have to do now is drill a 60mm deep hole in the granite to fix it!
The Natural History Museum in London has expressed serious interest in helping me to collect, preserve and identify any insect material I might be able to obtain, and I will hopefully be meeting with them later in the year.
Geoff Hancock (no relation), Curator of Entomology at the Huntarian Museum in Glasgow, who himself has undertaken studies of invertebrates on St Kilda, has also agreed to provide me with equipment and guidance for collecting any invertebrates on Rockall, to identify them and preserve them for future study.

Tuesday, 6 January 2009

Guinness World Record

Well, Guinness World Records have declined to register my attempt as eligible for a World Record, citing,
"We receive over 60,000 enquiries a year from which only a small proportion are approved by our experienced researchers to establish new categories. These are not 'made up' to suit an individual proposal, but rather 'evolve' as a result of international competition in a field, which naturally accommodates superlatives of the sort that we are interested in. We think you will appreciate that we are bound to favour those that reflect the greatest interest."
Fair enough I suppose.

Monday, 5 January 2009

Shelter and Research

One of the major issues to be resolved for the expedition, amongst the many, is that of shelter. I am currently undertaking research and design for my own 'home from home'. Greenpeace used a bespoke re-usable fibre-glass pod, which I understand they utilise in protests around the world. Tom McClean used a home made plywood box, reinforced on the corners with metal and with adjustable legs. I am currently leaning towards a similar wooden structure, light but rigid, with light-weight insulation and adjustable legs to allow for the uneven surface on Hall's Ledge. This shelter will also require tether points to allow it to be attached to Rockall by steel 'guy-lines'. Any additional ideas or suggestions would be gratefully received.

In addition, I have been in email contact with the Natural History Museum in London, and the British Geological Survey in Edinburgh with a view to outlining potential scientific research tasks for me to undertake whilst in occupation on Rockall. I hope to meet with the academics involved in the next few months.