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Death of an Ocean: A Geological Borders Ballad

Out of Print

By: Euan Clarkson(Author), Brian Upton(Author)

210 pages, colour photos, colour & b/w illustrations

Dunedin Academic Press

Paperback | Jul 2017 | #210162 | ISBN-13: 9781780460345
Out of Print Details

About this book

The Scottish Borders region is famed for its frontier history and attendant myths and ballads. Death of an Ocean: A Geological Borders Ballad concerns the much more ancient geological history revealed by its rocks. The authors tell how the once great ocean of Iapetus met its end through the inexorable motion of the tectonic plates that brought continental masses on a collision course. Impaction of these continents spelled the death-knell for Iapetus and, in so doing, brought about intense folding and uplift of huge quantities of ocean floor sediment to form the mighty Caledonide mountain chain. These momentous events brought the essential building blocks of Scotland into their final positions. After attaining their maximum grandeur, the Caledonide mountains were progressively eroded to become shadows of their former glory; meanwhile, the unified tectonic plate on which Scotland sits proceeded to drift northwards. In so doing 'ancestral Scotland' migrated from the southern hemisphere, across the equator to ultimately reach its present temperate position.

The rocks of the Borders record much of the Palaeozoic history of the ocean closing, the building and subsequent breakdown of the mountains, as well as of the history of the deserts, rivers and forests that came and went on its northerly migration. This Borders story tells also of volcanoes large and small and how their existence is indelibly recorded in the Borders hills whilst the latest geological events to sculpt the Borders landscape were the Pleistocene ice-ages.Written in the accessible style familiar to readers of the authors' Edinburgh Rock this volume describes a differing geological history in Scotland. Intended for those wanting to learn more about the origins of a popular region it will also appeal to geologists on field trips and students of geology as the authors display their deep affection for and knowledge of the geology of the Scottish Borders.



1 - Introduction
2 - The Time Lords
3 - Geological overview of the Borders
4 - Planet Earth, its drifting continents and moving plates
5 - The Southern Uplands and what they are made of
6 - The birth and death of Iapetus
7 - The Pit and the Pendulum
8 - Charles Lapworth and his legacy
9 - Small fry of the surface waters
10 - The Moffat Shales - graptolites, eruptions and glaciations
11 - Tsunami!
12 - The early Devonian: volcanoes and desert storms
13 - Late Devonian landscapes and sedimentation
14 - Rivers, lakes and shallow seas of the sub-tropical 'Borders'
15 - Volcanoes of the steamy wetlands
16 - The iceman cometh


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Euan Clarkson, a palaeontologist, and Brian Upton, a volcanologist, are professors emeritus of geology at the University of Edinburgh.

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