British regional geology: South of Scotland

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The British regional geology: South of Scotland has been converted to a series of articles for this wiki. The book is available for purchase at the BGS Online Shop Its full reference is:

Stone, P, McMillan, A A, Floyd, J D, Barnes, R P, and Phillips, E R. 2012. British regional geology: South of Scotland. Fourth edition. Keyworth, Nottingham: British Geological Survey.
British Regional Geology: South of Scotland (Fourth edition). P786102.



Early Palaeozoic Iapetus Ocean
Iapetus Suture
After Iapetus
Human Intervention

Ordovician and Silurian of the Girvan–Ballantrae district[edit]

Ordovician Ballantrae Complex
Sedimentary succession: Ordovician
Sedimentary succession: Silurian

Ordovician and Silurian of the Southern Uplands[edit]

Depositional environment
Crawford Group: Ordovician
Moffat Shale Group: Ordovician–Silurian
Leadhills Supergroup: Ordovician
Gala Group: Silurian
Ettrick Group: Silurian
Hawick Group: Silurian
Riccarton Group: Silurian

Caledonian structure and magmatism[edit]

Obduction of the Ballantrae Complex
Deformation of the Girvan succession
Southern Uplands accretionary complex
Late Caledonian dyke swarms
Late Caledonian plutonic rocks

Devonian: the ‘Old Red Sandstone’ and associated volcanic rocks [edit]

Lanark Group
Reston Group
Stratheden Group


Stratigraphical principles
Regional structure
Coal-bearing sequences
Tweed and Northumberland–Solway basins
Inverclyde Group
Border Group
Yoredale Group
Pennine Coal Measures Group
Warwickshire Group
Oldhamstocks Basin, Dunbar
Central outliers (Whitecleugh, Sanquhar and Thornhill)

Permian and Triassic[edit]

Southern Uplands basins: Stewartry Group
Carlisle Basin

Jurassic to Palaeogene[edit]

Post-Triassic subsidence
Palaeogene magmatism
Cenozoic uplift and erosion

Quaternary [edit]

Landscape evolution
Record of climate change
Ipswichian Interglacial
Devensian glaciations
Late glacial period
Sea-level change

Geology and man [edit]

Fuel and energy
Bulk minerals
Building stones
Metalliferous and associated minerals
Geological hazards
Hydrogeology and water supply

Foreword to the fourth edition[edit]

The south of Scotland is dominated by the bold, rolling hills of the Southern Uplands, a region underpinned by hard, intractable sandstone and mudstone of Ordovician and Silurian age, cut through in places by granitic plutons. Though these Lower Palaeozoic strata stretch from coast to coast, from the Firth of Clyde and Solway Firth in the west to the North Sea in the east, Upper Palaeozoic rocks fringe the southern and eastern parts of the Uplands, producing a softer landscape. To the north of the Uplands, and also in marked scenic contrast, lies the Upper Palaeozoic Midland Valley of central Scotland. To the south, though geology generally shows no respect for national boundaries, the rocks and landscape of northern England also stand in broad contrast to those of southern Scotland.

The Palaeozoic geological assemblage in the south of Scotland, together with some minor Mesozoic sedimentary and Cenozoic intrusive contributions, spans almost 500 million years of geological development — all topped and shaped by the deposits and erosive effects of the vast ice-sheets that finally retreated from the region only some 11 000 to 12 000 years ago. Perhaps most notably, the rocks of the Southern Uplands bear testament to the Early Palaeozoic growth and destruction of an Atlantic-scale ocean and the ensuing collision of the continents that once formed its shores. This tectonic saga has only been fully appreciated in relatively recent times, but the imposing landscape it produced clearly hinted at the drama within, inspiring the likes of Robert Burns, Sir Walter Scott, Robert Louis Stevenson and John Buchan. And quite apart from the literary associations, the more prosaic products of the Sanquhar and Canonbie coalfields, and the Leadhills–Wanlockhead and Galloway metalliferous mining fields have historically contributed much to Scotland’s economic well­being. Scott, though probably not Burns, would have appreciated the use of gold from Leadhills to augment the Scottish crown jewels as early as 1540.

The first edition of this guide to the geology of the South of Scotland was written by J Pringle and published in 1935. Pringle then produced a second edition, with relatively few changes from the first, in 1948. A third, radically revised edition was compiled by D C Greig and published in 1971, but its preparation was mostly carried forward during the late 1960s, before the full effects of the plate tectonic revolution had permeated all aspects of geology. This fact alone would justify a new edition, but the huge volume of additional data generated over the last 30 years makes it long overdue. Prominent amongst those advances are the refinements in graptolite biostratigraphy and radiometric dating that have enabled the internationally agreed stratotype for the base of the Silurian System to be established in the heart of the Southern Uplands.

The fresh insights and interpretations presented here owe much to those who have contributed to the revolution in our understanding of the south of Scotland’s geological development that has been carried forward since publication of the third edition of this guide: colleagues within the British Geological Survey, academic researchers, energy and mineral exploration geologists, civil engineers and, increasingly, scientists working with a broadly based environmental brief. Accordingly, this fourth edition is an eclectic work, developed from the perspective of dynamic geological development; tectonic processes, sedimentation and magmatism are integrated rather than being treated separately in the traditional fashion. The book gives a comprehensive account of the geology of the region that it is hoped will prove informative to a wide range of users, from students and those seeking a better understanding of their surroundings, to professional scientists, planners and engineers.

John N Ludden, PhD. Executive Director. British Geological Survey.


This edition of British Regional Geology: South of Scotland has been compiled by P Stone and edited by him, S G Molyneux and J E Thomas.

Chapters have been written by the following authors:

  1. Introduction P Stone
  2. Ordovician and Silurian of the Girvan–Ballantrae district Ballantrae Complex P Stone Sedimentary succession J D Floyd and P Stone
  3. Ordovician and Silurian of the Southern Uplands Ordovician J D Floyd and P Stone Silurian R P Barnes and P Stone With contributions on biostratigraphy by A W A Rushton and on the Ordovician, Bail Hill Volcanic Group by E R Phillips
  4. Caledonian structure and magmatism R P Barnes, P Stone and E R Phillips With a contribution on geophysical modelling by G S Kimbell
  5. Devonian: the ‘Old Red Sandstone’ and associated volcanic rocks P Stone and J D Floyd
  6. Carboniferous A A McMillan, P Stone and J D Floyd With contributions on palaeontology and biostratigraphy by M T Dean and on magmatism by E R Phillips
  7. Permian and Triassic A A McMillan With a contribution on geophysical modelling by G S Kimbell
  8. Jurassic to Palaeogene P Stone and E R Phillips
  9. Quaternary A A McMillan With a contribution by J W Merritt
  10. Geology and man Fuel and energy J D Floyd and P Stone Bulk minerals J D Floyd and P Stone Building stones A A McMillan and J D Floyd Metalliferous and associated minerals

The authors are grateful to the following (British Geological Survey unless otherwise indicated):

Mike Browne, Diarmad Campbell, Doug Fettes, Dick Merriman, Jon Merritt, Roger Musson and Adrian Rushton for their independent reviews of all or parts of the text.
Peter Brand advised on aspects of Carboniferous palaeontology; Robin Cocks (The Natural History Museum, London) advised on Silurian brachiopod taxonomy. Mark Woods and Sally Wild located specimens in the BGS palaeontology collections. Regional geochemical images were prepared by Andreas Scheib.
Figures were produced by Craig Woodward, Keith Henderson, Louise Wilson and Lesley Oliver.
Book design by Amanda Hill.
Photographs from the BGS archive were prepared by Brian McIntyre and Fergus MacTaggart.
Index compiled by Audrey Jackson.