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== Geological history of Northumbria ==
 
== Geological history of Northumbria ==
  
By '''Colin Scrutton''' University of Durham
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By Colin Scrutton University of Durham
  
Northumbria (Northumberland, Durham, Tyne & Wear and Cleveland north of the Tees) is dominated by rocks of Carboniferous age [[:File:YGS_NORTROCK_FIG_00_1.jpg|Figure 1]], [[:File:YGS_NORTROCK_FIG_00_2.jpg|Figure 2]]. On the northern margin of the area, they rest on a range of older rocks in the Scottish borders, principally Silurian sediments and the lavas of the early Devonian Cheviot volcano. Lower Carboniferous sediments, which crop out on the coast of north Northumberland, form a broad belt inland, skirting the ancient volcanic pile and striking southwest parallel to the Scottish border, before turning south-southeast along the Pennine front. Gentle easterly and southeasterly '''dips''' bring in the mid Carboniferous to the southeast, forming a narrow triangular outcrop with its apex on the mid Northumberland coast and its base forming the north Pennine peaks and the Durham dales. The upper Carboniferous Coal Measures in turn form the south Northumberland coast and extend inland as a north–south outcrop, widest at the Tyne and narrowing into south Durham. There, the Coal Measures are '''overstepped''' by the Permian, which rests '''unconformably''' upon them. These Permian rocks form the high ground in the east of County Durham and the distinctive buff coastal cliffs of Durham and Tyne & Wear. They pass up into Triassic rocks underlying the low ground of Tees-side. Younger Mesozoic and Tertiary rocks, apart from some small '''igneous''' intrusions, are not preserved in Northumbria, but the effects of the Pleistocene glaciation are apparent everywhere. '''Tills''' mantle the solid rocks, particularly thickly in central and south Durham.
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Northumbria (Northumberland, Durham, Tyne & Wear and Cleveland north of the Tees) is dominated by rocks of Carboniferous age [[:File:YGS_NORTROCK_FIG_00_1.jpg|Figure 1]], [[:File:YGS_NORTROCK_FIG_00_2.jpg|Figure 2]]. On the northern margin of the area, they rest on a range of older rocks in the Scottish borders, principally Silurian sediments and the lavas of the early Devonian Cheviot volcano. Lower Carboniferous sediments, which crop out on the coast of north Northumberland, form a broad belt inland, skirting the ancient volcanic pile and striking southwest parallel to the Scottish border, before turning south-southeast along the Pennine front. Gentle easterly and southeasterly dips bring in the mid Carboniferous to the southeast, forming a narrow triangular outcrop with its apex on the mid Northumberland coast and its base forming the north Pennine peaks and the Durham dales. The upper Carboniferous Coal Measures in turn form the south Northumberland coast and extend inland as a north–south outcrop, widest at the Tyne and narrowing into south Durham. There, the Coal Measures are overstepped by the Permian, which rests unconformably upon them. These Permian rocks form the high ground in the east of County Durham and the distinctive buff coastal cliffs of Durham and Tyne & Wear. They pass up into Triassic rocks underlying the low ground of Tees-side. Younger Mesozoic and Tertiary rocks, apart from some small igneous intrusions, are not preserved in Northumbria, but the effects of the Pleistocene glaciation are apparent everywhere. Tills mantle the solid rocks, particularly thickly in central and south Durham.
  
 
As well as dominating Northumbria geologically, Carboniferous rocks, with their natural resources, have been a major socio-economic influence on the region. Mineral deposits have long been worked in the Pennine dales, and the rich coal resources of the Northumberland and Durham Coalfield underpinned the heavy industry of Tyneside, Wearside and Tees-side. The Permian has contributed also, with salt and '''anhydrite''' deposits formerly worked under Tees-side. The region is still in transition following the painful contraction of its powerful industrial base of the earlier 20th century.
 
As well as dominating Northumbria geologically, Carboniferous rocks, with their natural resources, have been a major socio-economic influence on the region. Mineral deposits have long been worked in the Pennine dales, and the rich coal resources of the Northumberland and Durham Coalfield underpinned the heavy industry of Tyneside, Wearside and Tees-side. The Permian has contributed also, with salt and '''anhydrite''' deposits formerly worked under Tees-side. The region is still in transition following the painful contraction of its powerful industrial base of the earlier 20th century.

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