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Death of an Ocean: A Geological Borders Ballad

Euan Clarkson, Brian Upton

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Product Details
05 Dec 2013
Dunedin Academic Press
210 pages - 234 x 156 x 17mm
The Scottish Borders region is famed for its frontier history and attendant myths and ballads. This book 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.
Preface; 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; Bibliography; Index
Euan Clarkson, a palaeontologist, and Brian Upton, a volcanologist, are professors emeritus of geology at the University of Edinburgh.

'High standards are expected from Euan and Brian, who delighted us with Edinburgh Rock, The Geology of Lothian in 2006. Death of an Ocean lives up to these expectations. This excellent book is thoroughly readable and accessible as a popular geological guide, stuffed with golden nuggets of information gleaned from their combined experience - which totals over 100 years of fieldwork! Beautifully illustrated, with a good choice of colours, the book enhances the understanding of this fascinating area of Scotland. It is clearly organised and styled to appeal to a wide audience; geologists, amateur and professional and anyone interested in extending their scientific knowledge of the Borders.' Newsletter of the Palaeontological Association, 2012

'Death of an Ocean is an illuminating, entertaining and authoritative read for the non-specialist interested in the ancient geological history of Britain, and in the fundamental act of union between Scotland and England.' Nature Geoscience

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