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Knockan Crag

Knockan Crag visitor centre The Moine Thrust fault at Knockan Crag The Globe

Knockan Crag is a line of cliffs in Assynt, Scotland 21 kilometres (13 miles) north of Ullapool. The name is an anglicisation of the Gaelic Creag a' Chnocain meaning 'crag of the small hill'.[1]

The Moine Thrust runs through the crag and there is a small visitor centre providing interpretation and artwork that explains the background to the 'Highlands Controversy' concerning the geology of the area.

Contents

Geological significance

During the 19th century prominent geologists conducted a prolonged and bitter debate about the fault line exposed here. The argument was primarily between Roderick Murchison and Archibald Geikie on the one hand and James Nicol and Charles Lapworth on the other. This was finally resolved by the work of Ben Peach and John Horne whose 1907 paper on the subject remains a classic text.[2][3]

The main issue was that the Moine schists at the top of the crag appeared to be older than the Cambrian and Ordovician rocks such as Durness limestone lower down. Murchison and Geikie believed the sequence was wrong and that the Moine schists must be the younger rocks. The conundrum was explained by the action of a thrust fault - this being the first to be discovered anywhere in the world. The older rocks had been moved some 70 kilometres east over the top of the younger rocks due to tectonic action.[4]

A monument to Peach and Horne's work was erected by the international geological community at Inchnadamph a few miles to the north.

Visitor Centre

Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve is part of the North West Highlands Geopark, inaugurated in 2004 and part of the International Network of Geoparks.[5]

There is a visitor interpretation centre, and various walks along the crag explaining the features and including artwork such as 'The Globe' by Joe Smith. [6]

See also

Geology of Scotland

References

  1. ^ Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve. Scottish Natural Heritage. Retrieved on 2007-09-08.
  2. ^ Peach, B.N., Horne, J., Gunn, W., Clough, C.T., Hinxman, L.W., and Cadell, H.M. (1888) Report on the recent work of the Geological Survey in the north-west Highlands of Scotland, based on field notes and maps by Messrs. B.N. Peach, J. Horne, W. Gunn, C.T. Clough, L.W. Hinxman, L.W. and H.M. Cadell. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, 44, 378-441.
  3. ^ Peach, B.N., Horne, J., Gunn, W., Clough, C.T., and Hinxman, L.W., (1907) The Geological Structure of the Northwest Highlands of Scotland. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of Great Britain.
  4. ^ Dryburgh, P. M. et al (1995) Assynt: The geologists' Mecca. Edinburgh Geological Society.
  5. ^ North West Highlands Geopark. North West Highlands Geopark. Retrieved 18 August 2007.
  6. ^ Knockan Crag National Nature Reserve: Rock Art. Scottish Natural Heritage. Retrieved on 2007-09-08.
Categories: Sutherland | Geology of Scotland

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