Sample of a vesicular
        melanocratic dyke of probable Palaeogene age, Coed y Brenin

Strain-free basalt with spherical vesicles, Coed y Brenin


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Welcome to the website of John S. Mason
of Machynlleth, Mid-Wales

Scientific Interpretation: The Making of Ynyslas and other projects

As a writer as well as a scientist, one thing that I see as critically important is the effective understandable and accurate communication of the Natural Sciences to the public. My scientific interpretation work will typically involve detailed subject research and image-sourcing, to assess the scope of the topic.Once such a feel for the project has been developed, text and graphics will follow. Most such work has been with interpretation signs, books, booklets and websites, although I have also worked in radio and TV at times. Please email me if you have a project you wish to discuss.

In the interpretation of geology, for example, I aim to bring lost, ancient landscapes back to life through the power of words. Likewise, graphics sometimes get big concepts across effectively. Please click here for an example - the concept of Geological Time plotted against the human 12-month calendar.

I used the diagram in my recent book, "The Making of Ynyslas", a gripping chronicle of deglaciation, sea level rise and the drowning of Cardigan Bay over the past 25,000 years. The background to the book was that I joined the team co-managing the busy Ynyslas Visitor Centre in late summer 2018. One thing I quickly noticed was an unfilled niche in terms of how the place, with its submerged forest, shingle spit and sand dunes, came into existence, so I sat down and started work on exactly that theme in early 2019. Based on the peer-reviewed literature, the book not only tells the story of the place but adds heaps of good old hard evidence to support the conclusions drawn.

When I say recent, the book was published in August 2019, sold well for around five months - then I lost almost all of my outlets due to the pandemic! That was most definitely not part of the business-plan. The book was aimed in particular at high-footfall visitor centres - these closed at the end of the 2019 season and have not reopened since. However, I'm now back in touch with those outlets and they in turn are figuring out when they will reopen. Writing in early May 2021, it looks like I can hope to be back in business before too long. In the meantime, I've written another in this planned series, more about which soon, since I am busy proof reading and tweaking right now - a big project that was, oddly, well-suited to lockdown.

The Making of Ynyslas

In the meantime, The Making of Ynyslas is available online via Coch-y-Bonddu Books in Machynlleth:

In more normal times, illustrated talks and guided geological field-trips are both available. North and Central Wales feature some absolute classic features of UK geology and mineralogy, with new things being discovered most years.

Groups I have guided over recent years have included the Open University, Lifelong Learning students, the infectiously-enthusiastic Mid Wales Geology Club and final year undergraduates collaborating in my research. I can always put together an itinerary based on the specific interests of the party - email me for details and prices. The trips involve the shared use of private cars with some short walks, the aim being to minimise travel time and maximise geological time, so to speak!

Click here for an example of an itinerary in the forest of Coed y Brenin (porphyry-copper mineralisation) in central Gwynedd. There is a lot more to this afforested area than I realised on first acquaintance: recent finds have included extraordinarily well-preserved intrusive rocks (typically, the rocks are too altered to give the geologist much information in the field, but not in this case) and, in the same district, the southernmost Palaeogene dyke so far known from Wales.