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Geology

 
The rocks at Glencoe, including the volcanic rocks, bear witness to many different environments: some were formed on the floor of a shallow sea, others in subtropical deserts, and some were ground down under the base of a vast ice sheet.
 
Around 470-460 million years ago a period of extraordinary upheaval and violent movement changed the face of the Earth and initiated the process of mountain building that we recognise in the geology of today’s landscape. This was the period of Caledonian mountain building, when the huge geological plates carrying the ancient continents of Laurentia, Baltica and Avalonia collided.

Then 420 million years ago Glencoe witnessed a period of cataclysmic volcanic activity. During this time five major volcanic eruptions occurred, each of which displaced thousands of cubic kilometres of magma from inside the Glencoe volcano, leaving a huge void. After each eruption the unsupported rocks sagged and collapsed piecemeal along the major fault lines into the magma chamber below, forming a ‘caldera’, a huge basin-like crater, eventually extending to some eight kilometres across. Later in the history of Glencoe, after much of the volcanic activity had ceased, magma was squeezed into the fault lines, were it solidified to form the so-called ring intrusions that now surround the volcanic rocks.

Over the millions of years since the caldera formed, hundreds of meters of volcanic rock have been eroded by ice, wind and rain; what we see today is the exposed remnants of ancient volcanic eruptions that sunk into the caldera millions of years ago.
 
For more information on Geology in the Lochaber area please visit the Lochaber Geopark Website.
Crowberry Tower
Crowberry Tower
Local Expert Jim Blair leads a walk
Local Expert Jim Blair leads a walk
Coire Gabhail
Coire Gabhail

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