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Self-Organization in Geological Systems

6-10 June, 2022

University of Edinburgh (UK)

organized by Sean McMahon (



This special workshop will bring about 30 people to the University of Edinburgh to discuss abiotic self-organization and pattern formation in rocks, minerals, and other geological materials (including chemobrionic self-organization or “chemical gardens”). We will share evidence, theoretical developments, practical advice/protocols, and demonstrations on two questions:

(1) which geological phenomena (mineral formations, diagenetic phenomena, pseudofossils, etc.) can be elucidated by investigating them as instances of self-organization, i.e., spontaneous pattern-formation driven by the internal dynamics of nonequilibrium systems? (Established examples in geoscience include Liesegang rings, agate banding, manganese dendrites and basalt columns);

(2) how do specific experimental, numerical, and analytical methods help us to understand these phenomena?


Presentations will be of three kinds:

  1. “Traditional” conference-style talks presenting recent results in the field of geological self-organization. These will be delivered in-person and streamed live from the lecture hall if the presenter consents. Talks will last 20 minutes followed by 10 minutes for questions.

  2. Training demonstrations of key experimental methods. These can be delivered “live” using the lab and imaging facilities on-site or pre-recorded. Pre-recorded videos may be streamed for online participants if the presenter consents. We anticipate that method demonstrations will typically be 30 minutes followed by 10 minutes for questions.

  3. Presentations of problematic geological materials (including samples that you may wish to bring with you), geological systems, and open geological questions that require elucidation and discussion by the self-organization community. We anticipate that these discussions will typically last 40 minutes.


There will also be sessions for open discussions.


Edinburgh uni.jpg


James Clerk Maxwell Building, University of Edinburgh.

Like most of the University of Edinburgh’s science buildings, the James Clerk Maxwell Building is located on the King’s Buildings campus about two miles south of the city centre. The King’s Buildings campus is well served by the city’s bus network. The most direct bus from the city centre is the number 41, which runs approximately every 10 minutes during the day. Services 24, 42 and 67 also run from the city centre to stops on Mayfield Road near the King’s Buildings. Bus journeys can be paid for by tapping a debit card when you get on; you do not have to tap again when you get off. 


  • Edinburgh Airport (EDI) lies to the north-west of the city and is served by a large range of domestic and international carriers. A tram service connects Edinburgh Airport with the city centre, running at least every 10 minutes from early morning until late night. The Airlink 100 also runs from the airport terminal to the city centre. A black cab (taxi) from the airport to the James Clerk Maxwell Building will take 20-35 minutes depending on traffic and will cost about £20.

  • Edinburgh's principal railway station, Edinburgh Waverley (EDB), is well placed on the UK rail network and is served by a number of rail operators. It is conveniently located in the heart of the city. Signs in the station point the way to the taxi rank on Market Street. A black cab (taxi) from Waverley to the James Clerk Maxwell Building will cost around £12-£15 and should take around 15 minutes, depending on traffic.


Edinburgh is a popular tourist destination with thousands of AirBnBs, numerous excellent hotels, and many traditional, reasonably priced “Bed and Breakfast” guesthouses, many of which are conveniently located along or around Minto Street, Mayfield Gardens, Craigmillar Park and Lady Road near the King’s Buildings campus.

COST Action reimbursement

Only in person participants from countries participating in COST Action Chemobrionics and invited experts will be eligible for travel cost reimbursement.

For more details check COST Vademecum

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