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A feast of geology!

Alastair's encounters with paddy fields and volcanoes in Indonesia.
Alastair Chalmers’ Thursday talk on Zoom “Paddy and the three Volcanoes” was very informative and appealed to the closet geologist in all of us! Alastair and his wife had travelled extensively in 2012 to Indonesia where they explored the island of Lombok to the west of Bali. In the city of Solo, , ruins that had lain buried by the 9th century eruption of the local volcanoes until 1814, have been restored to their (almost)former glory by UNESCO. Alastair’s photos of the carved stone Buddhas, the symbols of fertility and the beautiful carvings in the paddy fields where the women labour daily, planting and harvesting the rice were as stunning as the views we saw all evening.

The journey from here to the eventual three volcanoes further east was beautifully illustrated and narrated by Alastair, who showed us the native population in their daily routines, their food and their unique society, as well as their Royal Palaces, the sacred mosaics in the largest Islamic settlement in the world, and the water lilies in the Dutch Colonial centre of Malang.

They travelled through landscapes shaped by the elements through the centuries, to the Caldera area, home of four volcanoes whose eruptions have had considerable impact upon the world over 820,000 years. We were royally treated to barren landscapes and were amazed by the rock formations and the stunning landscapes of the region. Later we enjoyed scenes from a gentler, more peaceful paradise, where rice and coffee were prolifically cultivated, and the photos and videos depicted daily life and bustling markets.

Alastair was very knowledgeable about the chemical industry and the production of sulphur from the mines that occupied the men of the villages for most of the day. We enjoyed his photos of the sulphur shrouded lakes within the crater, and wondered at the cost to human life and vegetation of the 0.7 PH sulphuric acid waters and the polluted atmosphere. We were equally amazed that Alastair and his wife completed the very rigorous climb up Mount Rinjani, an active volcano which is the second highest in Indonesia. But the views were spectacular!o
It was a very informative evening, and one in which we learned a great deal about an area erstwhile a mystery to many of us. I was particularly intrigued by his reference to the Wallace Line in the Lombok Straight between Lombok and Bali. A boundary first recognised by the British naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace, it is a natural line between two distinctly different faunal regions. Here, a distance of just 35 kms astride tectonic plates, separates the contrasting plant and animal species between the islands and lands beyond.

Members are reminded to send entries for the next Competition "The Letter Q", as soon as possible.

Jenny Short 31.03.2023