Excursion guide to the geology of the Isle of Skye

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From: Bell, B.R. and Harris, J.W. An excursion guide to the geology of the Isle of Skye : Geological Society of Glasgow, 1986. © 1986 B.R. Bell & J.W. Harris. All rights reserved.

Contents

Chapter 1 Introduction

(A) History of research

(B) Geological synopsis

Chapter 2 Pre-Tertiary rocks

(A) Lewisian Gneiss

(B) Torridonian sedimentary rocks

(C) Moine schists

(D) Cambro-Ordovician sedimentary rocks

(E) Triassic sedimentary rocks

(F) Jurassic sedimentary rocks

(G) Cretaceous sedimentary rocks

(H) Pre-Tertiary minor intrusions

Chapter 3 Tertiary extrusive products

(A) Basal Tuffs

(B) Interbasaltic sedimentary rocks

(C) Interbasaltic laterites

(D) Plateau lavas

(E) Acid lavas

Chapter 4 The Cuillin Complex

(A) Introduction

(B) The Outer Marginal Gabbros and Eucrites

(C) The Border Group

(D) The Layered Peridotite Series (Sgurr Dubh Peridotites)

(E) The Outer Layered Allivalite Series

(F) The Outer Layered Eucrite Series

(G) The Outer Layered Gabbro Series

(H) The Druim nan Ramh Eucrite

(I) The Inner Layered Allivalite Series

(J) The Inner Layered Eucrite Series

(K) The Inner Layered Gabbro Series

(L) The Coire Uaigneich Granite

(M) Thermal effects of the Cuillin Complex

(N) The volcaniclastic pipes of the Cuillin Complex

Chapter 5 The Srath Na Creitheach Centre

(A) Introduction

(B) General field relationships

(C) The Meall Dearg Granite

(D) The Ruadh Stac Granite

(E) The contact between the Meall Dearg and Ruadh Stac granites

(F) The Meall Dearg Acid Breccias

(G) The Blaven Granite

(H) Shape and mechanism of intrusion of the granites

Chapter 6 The Western Red Hills Centre

(A) Introduction

(B) The Belig and Meall a' Mhaoil vent agglomerates and breccias

(C) The Marsco Summit Gabbro

(D) The Glamaig Granite

(E) The early northern granites of Maol na Gainmhich and Eas Mor

(F) The Beinn Dearg Mhor and Loch Ainort granites

(G) The early southern granite of Glen Sligachan and the Southern Porphyritic Granite

(H) The Marscoite Suite

(I) The Northern Porphyritic Felsite and the late northern granite of Meall Buidhe

(J) The late southern granite of Marsco

(K) Mechanisms of intrusion and volcanic processes

Chapter 7 The Eastern Red Hills Centre

(A) Introduction

(B) The Kilchrist Hybrid Ring-dyke

(C) The Beinn na Cro Gabbro

(D) The Broadford Gabbro

(E) The Glas Bheinn Mhor Granite

(F) The Outer Granite

(G) The Inner Granite

(H) The composite sills and dykes

(I) Thermal and metasomatic effects of the granites

Chapter 8 Pyroclastic rocks of The Central Complex

(A) Introduction

(B) The Srath na Creitheach Deposits: description

(C) The Srath na Creitheach Deposits: origin

(D) The Creagan Dubh and Kilchrist Deposits: description

(E) The Creagan Dubh and Kilchrist Deposits: origin

Chapter 9 The minor intrusions

(A) Introduction

(B) The regional dyke swarm and associated subswarms

(C) The compositions of the basic dykes of the regional swarm

(D) The cone-sheets of the Cuillin Complex

(E) The tholeiite sheets of the Western Cuillin Complex

(F) The Gars-bheinn ultrabasic sill

(G) The layered ultrabasic dyke of Stac Suisnish

(H) The basic sill complex of North Skye

(I) The ultrabasic (picritic) dykes and sills of Central Skye

(J) The ultrabasic (allivalitic) dykes of North Skye

(K) The trachyte dykes

(L) The augite-andesite dykes

(M) The pitchstone dykes

(N) The leidleite dyke of the Tungadal River

(O) The brecciated rhyolite and acid breccias of the Kilchrist Area

(P) Deformed Lower Tertiary dykes and sills

Chapter 10 Tectonic and stratigraphic evolution

(A) Introduction

(B) The Moine Thrust Zone

(C) The Sea of the Hebrides and Inner Hebrides sedimentary basins

(D) The Camasunary Fault

Chapter 11 Quaternary and Recent geology

(A) Introduction

(B) Glaciation and glacial deposits

(C) Raised beaches

(D) Landslips

(E) Screes and rockfalls

(F) Diatomite deposits

(G) Alluvium

(H) Peat

(I) Blown sand

Chapter 12 Origin of the magmas and the hydrothermal systems associated with the Skye centre

(A) Introduction

(B) Mantle melting events and crustal contamination of magmas

(C) The parental magmas of the Cuillin Complex

(D) Generation of the acid magmas

(E) Magma-mixing

(F) Hydrothermal systems associated with the Skye Centre

Chapter 13 Regional setting of the Skye centre

Introduction to excursions

List of excursions

Excursion 1 The area around Isleornsay

Excursion 2 The areas around Ord and Tarskavaig

Excursion 3 The Strathaird Peninsula

Excursion 4 Beinn an Dubhaich

Excursion 5 Kilchrist

Excursion 6 The area around the Old Manse at Kilchrist

Excursion 7 The Broadford area

Excursion 8 Creag Strollamus

Excursion 9 Strollamus to Torrin

Excursion 10 Camasunary Bay

Excursion 11 Loch Coruisk - Druim Hain

Excursion 12 Gleann Torra-mhichaig - Coire nam Bruadaran - Belig

Excursion 13 The Moll Coast

Excursion 14 The Allt Daraich section

Excursion 15 Marsco

Excursion 16 Glen Brittle and the Western Cuillin Hills

Excursion 17 The Portree area

Excursion 18 Bearreraig Bay - The Storr

Excursion 19 The Loch Cuithir diatomite deposits

Excursion 20 The Kilt Rock

Excursion 21 Kildorais to Staffin Bay coastal section and The Quirang

Excursion 22 West Trotternish

Appendix 1: Glossary of petrological names and terms

Appendix 2: Glossary of fossil names

Appendix 3: Glossary of place names and grid references

Foreword

The Isle of Skye has attracted geologists since the beginning of the Nineteenth Century. Within this comparatively small area many of the major geological units of Scotland are found. In this guide we have attempted to describe the geological history of the island. The accompanying excursions allow many of the important field relationships to be observed directly. In a few instances, however, supplementary information is provided in order that interpretations can be presented. In following the excursions additional observations will doubtless be made. We hope, therefore, that the guide will stimulate new interest in this classic area.

Acknowledgements

During the production of this guide two organisations have been most generous with facilities and funding. Britoil plc. provided cartographic facilities through Aileen Clark and Michael Cairns. The high quality of the maps and diagrams in this guide is the result of their skills. The Scottish Development Agency provided funds in order that the excursions to the guide could be prepared. This contribution allowed us to include more detailed information which we believe substantially improves the text. Dr Jain Allison of the University of Strathclyde gave much valuable information on the publishing of the guide, as well as advice on aspects of structural geology incorporated in the text. Dr John Hudson of the University of Leicester reviewed the section on the Mesozoic sedimentary rocks and helped with the stratigraphic sections within the excursions. On Skye, Mr David Lloyd of Broadford most generously made available to us his cottage and provided logistic support during our fieldwork. We thank the University of Strathclyde for the academic environment which enabled this guide to be written and for the use of its facilities to carry out the work involved. Finally, our thanks go to all who gave permission to reproduce maps and diagrams: their important contribution to the guide is acknowledged in the appropriate places in the text. Grid References in the text and on maps are from the Ordnance Survey and are reproduced by permission of the Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office.

References

The Geological Survey of Great Britain memoirs which deal with Skye are excellent sources for references on older publications (Harker 1904; Clough and Harker 1904; Peach et al. 1910; Lee 1920; Anderson and Dunham 1966). Listed below are more recent publications, together with selected older papers.

ADE-HALL, J.M., M.A. KHAN, P. DAGLEY and R.L. WILSON. 1968a. A detailed opaque petrological and magnetic investigation of a single Tertiary lava flow from Skye, Scotland. I. Iron-titanium oxide petrology. Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc., 16, 375–388.

ADE-HALL, J.M., M.A. KHAN, P. DAGLEY and R.L. WILSON. 1968b. A detailed opaque petrological and magnetic investigation of a single Tertiary lava flow from Skye, Scotland. II. Spatial variations of magnetic properties and selected relationships between magnetic and opaque petrological properties. Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc., 16, 389–399.

ADE-HALL, J.M., M.A. KHAN, P. DAGLEY and R.L. WILSON. 1968c. A detailed opaque petrological and magnetic investigation of a single Tertiary lava flow from Skye, Scotland. III. Investigations into the possibility of obtaining the intensity of the ambient magnetic field (FANG) at the time of the cooling of the flow. Geophys. J. R. astr. Soc., 16, 401–415.

ALMOND, D.C. 1960. The Tertiary igneous geology of Strathaird, Skye. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Durham.

ALMOND, D.C. 1964. Metamorphism of Tertiary lavas in Strathaird, Skye. Trans. Roy. Soc. Edinb., 65, 413–434.

AMIRI-GARROUSSI, K. 1977. Origin of montmorillonite in the early Jurassic shales of NW Scotland. Geol. Mag., 114, 281–290.

ANDERSON, F.W. 1948. Algal beds in the Great Estuarine Series of Skye. Proc. Roy. Phys. Soc. Edinb., 23, 123–142.

ANDERSON, F.W. and L.R. COX. 1948. The 'Loch Staffin Beds' of Skye, with notes on the molluscan fauna of the Great Estuarine Series. Proc. Roy. Phys. Soc. Edinb., 23, 103–122.

ANDERSON, F.W. and K.C. DUNHAM. 1966. The Geology of Northern Skye. Mem. Geol. Surv. Great Britain.

ANDREWS, J.E. and J.D. HUDSON. 1984. First Jurassic dinosaur footprint from Scotland. Scott. J. Geol., 20, 129–134.

ANWAR, Y.M. 1950. The two granophyres of Meall Dearg, Skye, with a special study of the clinopyroxene contained in one of them. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis (Part II), University of Durham.

ANWAR, Y.M. 1955. A clinopyroxene from the granophyre of Meall Dearg, Skye. Geol. Mag., 92, 367–373.

ARKELL, W.J. 1933. The Jurassic System in Great Britain. Oxford Univerity Press, Oxford.

BAILEY, E.B. 1947. Chilled and "baked" edges as criteria of relative age. Geol. Mag., 84, 126–128.

BAILEY, E.B. 1952. So-called amygdaloidal gabbro, Skye. Geol. Mag., 89, 369–375.

BAILEY, E.B. 1954a. Relations of Torridonian to Durness Liniestone in the Broadford–Strollamus district of Skye. Geol. Mag., 91, 73–78.

BAILEY, E.B. 1954b. Contact of Tertiary lavas with Torridonian near Broadford, Skye. Geol. Mag., 91, 105–115.

BAILEY, E.B. 1955. Moine tectonics and metamorphism in Skye. Trans. Geol. Soc. Edinb., 16, 93–166.

BAILEY, E.B. 1956. Hebridean notes: Rhum and Skye. Lpool. Manch. geol. II., 1, 420–426.

BAILEY, E.B., C.T. CLOUGH, W.B. WRIGHT, J.E. RICHEY and G.V. WILSON. 1924. Tertiary and Post-Tertiary geology of Mull, Loch Aline, and Oban. Mem. Geol. Surv. Great Britain.

BELL, B.R. 1982. The evolution of the Eastern Red Hills Tertiary igneous centre, Skye, Scotland. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of London.

BELL, B.R. 1983. Significance of ferrodioritic liquids in magma mixing processes. Nature, 306, 323–327.

BELL, B.R. 1984a. The basic lavas of the Eastern Red Hills district, Isle of Skye. Scott. J. Geol., 20, 73–86.

BELL, B.R. 1984b. The geochemistry of Lower Tertiary basic dykes in the Eastern Red Hills district, Isle of Skye, and their significance for the proposed magmatic evolution of the Skye Centre. Mineral. Mag., 48, 365–372.

BELL, B.R. 1985. The pyroclastic rocks and rhyolitic lavas of the Eastern Red Hills district, Isle of Skye. Scott. J. Geol., 21, 57–70.

BELL, J.D. 1959. The geology and petrology of the northern end of the Blaven Range, Isle of Skye. Unpublished D.Phil. Thesis, University of Oxford.

BELL, J.D. 1966. Granites and associated rocks of the eastern part of the Western Red Hills Complex, Isle of Skye. Trans. Roy. Soc. Edinb., 66, 307–343.

BELL, J.D. 1976. The Tertiary intrusive complex on the Isle of Skye. Proc. Geol. Assoc., 87, 247–271.

BELL, J.D. 1982. Acid Intrusions. In D.S. SUTHERLAND (Ed.): Igneous Rocks of the British Isles. Wiley-Interscience, Chichester.

BEVAN, J.C. 1982. Reaction rims of orthopyroxene and plagioclase around chrome spinels in olivine from Skye and Rhum (NW Scotland). Contrib. Mineral. Petrol., 79, 124–129.

BEVAN, J.C. and R. HUTCHISON. 1984. Layering in the Gars-bheinn ultrabasic sill, Isle of Skye: A new interpretation and its implications. Scott. J. Geol., 20, 329–341.

BINNS, P.E., R. MCQUILLIN and N. KENOLTY. 1974. The geology of the Sea of the Hebrides. Rep. Inst. Geol. Sci., 73/14.

BLACK, G.P. 1955. The junction between Jurassic sandstones and Tertiary granophyre near Dunan, Isle of Skye: A re-interpretation. Trans. Geol. Soc. Edinb., 16, 217–222.

BLAKE, D.H., R.W.D. ELWELL, I.L. GIBSON, R.R. SKELHORN and G.P.L. WALKER. 1965. Some relationships resulting from the intimate association of acid and basic magmas. Q. Jl. geol. Soc. Lond., 121, 31–49.

BOTT, M.H.P. and J. TUSON. 1973. Deep structure beneath the Tertiary volcanic regions of Skye, Mull and Ardnamurchan, north-west Scotland. Nature Phys. Sci., 242, 114–116.

BOWEN, N.L. 1928. The evolution of the igneous rocks. Princeton University Press, Princeton.

BOWEN, N.L. and J.F. SCHAIRER. 1935. The system MgO-FeO-SiO2. Amer. J. Sci., 29, 151–217.

BROOKS, C.K. 1980. Episodic volcanism, epeirogenesis and the formation of the North Atlantic Ocean. Palaeogeogr., Palaeoclimatol., Palaeoecol., 30, 229–242.

BROWN, G.C. and A.E. MUSSETT. 1976. Evidence for two discrete centres in Skye. Nature, 261, 218–220.

BROWN, G.M. 1963. Melting relations of Tertiary granitic rocks in Skye and Rhum. Mineral. Mag., 33, 533–562.

BROWN, G.M. 1969. The Tertiary Igneous Geology of the Isle of Skye. Geologists' Association Guide No. 13. Benham, Colchester.

BUIST, D.S. 1959. The composite sill of Rubh' an Eireannaich, Skye. Geol. Mag., 96, 247–252.

CARR, J.M. 1952. An investigation of the Sgurr na Stri–Druim Hain sector of the basic igneous complex of the Cuillin Hills, Isle of Skye. Unpublished D.Phil. Thesis, University of Oxford.

CARR, J.M. 1954. Contemporaneous slumping and sliding in the banded gabbros of the Isle of Skye, Scotland. Bull. Geol. Soc. Amer., 65, 1238 (Abstract).

CARTER, S.R., N.M. EVENSEN, P.J. HAMILTON and R.K. O'NIONS. 1978. Neodymium and strontium isotope evidence for crustal contamination of continental volcanics. Science, 202, 743–747.

CHEENEY, R.F. and D.W. MATTHEWS. 1965. The structural evolution of the Tarskavaig and Moine Nappes in Skye. Scott. J. Geol., 1, 256–281.

CLOUGH, C.T. and A. HARKER. 1904. The Geology of west-central Skye, with Soay. Mem. Geol. Surv. Great Britain.

DAY, T.C. 1931. An intrusive junction between Jurassic sandstones and Tertiary granite, south-east of Dunan, Isle of Skye. Trans. Geol. Soc. Edinb., 13, 57–60.

DICKIN, A.P. 1980. Geochemical and isotopic investigations of continental igneous rocks, with special reference to the British Tertiary igneous province. Unpublished D.Phil. Thesis, University of Oxford.

DICKIN, A.P. 1981. Isotope geochemistry of Tertiary igneous rocks from the Isle of Skye, N.W. Scotland. J. Petrol., 22, 155–189.

DICKIN, A.P. 1983. Hydrothermal Fluid pathways at the contact of the Beinn an Dubhaich epigranite, Isle of Skye. Scott. J. Geol., 19, 235–242.

DICKIN, A.P., J.L. BROWN, R.N. THOMPSON, A.N. HALLIDAY and M.A. MORRISON. 1984. Crustal contamination and the granite problem in the British Tertiary Volcanic Province. Phil. Trans. R. Soc. Lond., A310, 755–780.

DICKIN, A.P. and R.A. EXLEY. 1981. Isotopic and geochemical evidence for magma mixing in the petrogenesis of the Coire Uaigneich Granophyre, Isle of Skye, N.W. Scotland. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol., 76, 98–108.

DICKIN, A.P., R.A. EXLEY and B.M. SMITH. 1980. Isotopic measurement of Sr and 0 exchange between meteoric-hydrothermal fluid and the Coire Uaigneich Granophyre, Isle of Skye, N.W. Scotland. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 51, 58–70.

DICKIN, A.P. and N.W. JONES. 1983. Relative elemental mobility during hydrothermal alteration of a basic sill, Isle of Skye, N.W. Scotland. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol., 82, 147–153.

DONALDSON, C.H. 1975. Ultramafic inclusions in anorthite megacrysts from the Isle of Skye. Earth Planet. Sci. Lett., 22, 251–256.

DONALDSON, C.H. 1977. Petrology of anorthite-bearing gabbroic anorthosite dykes in northwest Skye. J. Petrol., 18, 595–620.

DREVER, H.I. 1969. Northern Trotternish. In J.G. CAPEWELL (Ed.): The Tertiary igneous geology of the Isle of Skye. Geologists' Association Guide No. 13. Benham, Colchester.

DREVER, H.I. and R. JOHNSTON. 1958. The petrology of picritic rocks in minor intrusions—a Hebridean group. Trans. Roy. Soc. Edinb., 63, 459–499.

DREVER, H.I. and R. JOHNSTON. 1966. A natural high-lime silicate liquid more basic than basalt. J. Petrol., 7, 414–420.

DUNHAM, A.C. and R.N. THOMPSON. 1967. The origin of granitic magmas: Skye and Rhum. J. geol. Soc. Aust., 14, 339–343.

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FERRY, J.M. 1985b. Hydrothermal alteration of Tertiary igneous rocks from the Isle of Skye, northwest Scotland. II. Granites. Contrib. Mineral. Petrol., 91, 283–304.

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GEIKIE, A. and J.J.H. TEALL. 1894. On the banded structure of some Tertiary gabbros in the Isle of Skye. Q. Jl. geol. Soc. Lond., 50, 645–660.

GIBB, F.G.F. 1965. A note on the age relationships between the Sgurr Dubh ultrabasic laccolite and the Cuillin gabbros. Scott. J. Geol., 1, 300–303.

GIBB, F.G.F. 1966. A petrological investigation of the xenolithic ultra basic dykes of the Cuillins and the Strathaird Peninsula, Isle of Skye. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of St. Andrews.

GIBB, F.G.F. 1967. Cognate xenoliths in the Tertiary ultramafic dykes of Southwest Isle of Skye, Scotland. Geol. Soc Amer. Special Paper, 115, 76 (Abstract).

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HUTCHISON, R. 1964. The Tertiary basic igneous rocks of the Western Cuillin, Isle of Skye. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, Univerisity of Glasgow.

HUTCHISON, R. 1966a. Intrusive tholeiites of the Western Cuillin, Isle of Skye. Geol. Mag., 103, 352–363.

HUTCHISON, R. 1966b. The age relationships between the Sgurr Dubh ultrabasic laccolite and Cuillin gabbros. Scott. J. Geol., 2, 227–228.

HUTCHISON, R. 1968. Origin of the White Allivalite, Western Cuillin, Isle of Skye. Geol. Mag., 105, 338–347.

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JASSIM, S.Z. 1970. The Loch na Creitheach Volcanic Vent and the surrounding area, Isle of Skye. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Leeds.

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