Orkney and Shetland : a landscape fashioned by geology

McKurdy, Alan. 2010 Orkney and Shetland : a landscape fashioned by geology. Scottish Natural Heritage, 58pp.

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These northerly outposts of Scotland, best known perhaps for their hospitality and historic remains, also hold a fascination for the geologist. Reading the buckled and fractured rocks of Shetland tells of colliding continents and a history dating back almost three thousand million years. By contrast, the distinctive red sandstones of Orkney, were formed in more recent geological times, laid down in a long-disappeared freshwater lake. These strata hold the fossilised remains of bizarre early life forms that are now long extinct. Until 11,500 years ago, these islands, along with much of the Northern Hemisphere, were held in an icy thrall, known as the Ice Age, and it was these most recent events that helped to shape the landscape we currently recognise. Further modification of the landscape continues to this day, as the roaring Atlantic breakers incessantly pound the coastline. Other elements of wind and rain also play their part; as does the hand of Man who has occupied this ancient landscape for over three millennia. In this booklet, we also trace the changing environments to which the land that was to become Scotland was subjected as it drifted northwards from a position close to the South Pole to its present location. On this epic journey, this chunk of the Earth’s crust has travelled through all the Earth’s climatic zones and each has left its mark. All these environments are recorded faithfully, albeit incompletely and sometimes enigmatically, in the record of the rocks.

Item Type: Publication - Book
Programmes: BGS Programmes 2010 > Geology and Landscape (Scotland)
ISBN: 9781853976025
Additional Information. Not used in RCUK Gateway to Research.: Item available for free download from
Additional Keywords: Landscape
NORA Subject Terms: Education
Earth Sciences
Date made live: 14 Mar 2011 09:36 +0 (UTC)

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