Upon the shoulders of giants

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"If I have seen further, it is by standing upon the shoulders of giants"

Sir Isaac Newton.

Afterglow light from a sunken sun permeates a deep zawn at Hartland Quay. The foreground flowers are Sea Thrift (Armeria maritima)

The rocks of Hartland Quay are the remains of a mountain range.

Sedimentary rocks, as sequences of shales and mudstones were deposited in a shallow sea during the Carboniferous period – around 320 million years ago.

Plate tectonics caused the collision of two super continents with Hartland Quay in the middle. Devon was at the southern margin of a super-continent called Laurasia, which collided with the super-continent Pangaea – to the South. Intense folding can be seen on the main cliffs at Hartland Quay.

The collisions which brought this about are known as the ‘Variscan orogeny’, which took place over about 100 million years.

The event created the Variscan mountain belt, which includes the mountains of Portugal and western Spain, southwest Ireland, Cornwall, Devon, Pembrokeshire, the Gower Peninsula and the Vale of Glamorgan. The Variscan mountains running through southwest England were possibly up to 3,000m high

The orogeny resulted in intrusions and volcanics in Devon and Cornwall – including the granite intrusions that underlie the SW peninsular of the UK (known as the ‘Cornubian batholith’). The batholith is exposed at the surface at several places including Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor.
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