Thursday 2 September 2010

The Moine Thrust

This is a repeat of a walk I did here. This time though we went
round Knockan Crag with Donald, the geo-ranger for the
North West Highlands Geopark
 Donald is a geologist and  he added both colour and depth
 to a subject I know absolutely nothing about.
The afternoon got off to a good start. While waiting for Donald at the meeting point
in the car park dragonflies sat on the  steps posing for photographs.
I can't identify this one but my insect book shows one that it could be, called
a common hawker - I'll go for that, as they were all over the place.
Donald  pointed out the "Moine Thrust fault" with his hammer. It's easy to
not get excited about two different types of rock lying one on top of the other
but Donald just made it so interesting.  I  felt a sense of awe when he said I was standing
on the very same spot Peach and  Thorne  had stood  some hundred years before. Up until Monday
afternoon I'd not heard of  Ben Peach or John Thorne but by the end of our tour I could imagine them up on Knockan Crag  with their hammers dressed in their formal unsuitable clothing complete with collars and ties as they stood and marvelled at the realisation that rocks could be moved sideways and thrust upwards resulting here in the Moine Thrust
The  younger more eroded Durness Limestone sits below the much older Moine schists The earth's crust is made up of moving  plates (like a jigsaw puzzle.) Some millions of years ago some of these plates collided, but very very slowly - Donald said about the same speed as our fingernails take to grow.Continents with wonderful sounding names Laurentia and Avalonia, Baltica in the Iapetus Ocean got together and Scotland  in a very slow fashion came to be sitting on top of England.
I did have to concentrate to take it all in, and over there is a walk I'd like to do, but it was seriously
interesting and I should like to learn more
The geologist, engineer and chemist, (could this be the beginning of a bad joke?)  get into serious discussion
about  the energy and force needed for continents to collide and mountains to crumble. But
I'm beginning to crumble, I'm getting in a muddle with my Moine schists and Durness limestone
I leave the chaps to ponder on the earth's history and play on some 'art rock', a sculpture by a local artist, that is perfect for climbing on. I played with the picture too, due to a bad hair day, and funny trousers!
and I look out at the moving and ever changing landscape with it's incomprehensible time span and huge old age. It looks wonderful and I'm glad it's not a glacier or a sea bed or about to collide - just at the moment.

1 comment:

Lucille said...

That is an interesting new perspective on geological time. The speed of fingernails growing actually sounds faster than I expected. Fascinating.

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