Nature Notes from Argyll
(and occasionally other places)

Fri 28 May 2010 Kerrera - part 2 (back to part 1)

Unconformity, Kerrera

Moving west a bit we came to this spectacular unconformity, for which Kerrera is famous.  You can see the Old Red Sandstone conglomerate directly above the slate which is 150 million years older.

Unconformity, Kerrera

Here's a close-up of the unconformity: conglomerate above and slate below.

Contorted quartz beds in slate, Kerrera

Contorted beds of quartz in slate.

Turbidites in slate, Kerrera

Turbidites - laminated silts produced by turbidity, in slate.  Graded beds with coarse sediments at the bottom, fine at the top, so that you can tell the younger layers are to the left.  The pattern is repeated as other events formed new sequences of layers.  This is a cross-section of the Iapetus ocean bed, now on its side.  There must have been slopes nearby to deposit all this material on the ocean floor.

Breccia, Kerrera   Fallen sandstone slab, Kerrera

From the same spot, the sandstone layer above the unconformity here takes the form of breccia, rather than conglomerate.  This means that the stones embedded in the sandstone matrix are angular rather than rounded, and therefore had not been transported any great distance.  This suggests that there was something like scree slopes adjacent to the beds where the sandstone formed.

The second picture shows people examining a slab of sandstone that had fallen from the rock above into a convenient cavity.  The following photos show what was found on the slab.

Ripples in sandstone slab, Kerrera

These ripples were formed 400 million years ago when the slab was part of a sandy lake bed.

Insect trails in sandstone slab, Kerrera   Worm burrows in sandstone slab, Kerrera

Living creatures had also left their mark on the lake bed.  The LH pic shows insect trails and the RH pic shows worm burrows.  Trust me, they really do.

Razorbacks, Kerrera

My notes on this say only "razorbacks" and I can't find any info about this as a geological term.

Imbrications, Kerrera

And my notes on this say only "imbrications".  Self-explanatory really.

Muscovite mica, Kerrera

This is the surface left where a large chunk of rock broke off, by natural process, about 10 years ago.  It is covered with glittering flakes of Muscovite Mica.  The rock containing the mica must be from a lake in the desert with volcanoes around it.  This is because mica dissolves in sea water and cannot be transported.  It must have come from mountains nearby.  The stones in the breccia just above this level must have come from screes on these mountains.

Layered sedimentary rock within breccia, Kerrera

Where the chunk of rock mentioned above fell away, it sheared right through the stones in the breccia.  Here is part of the breccia with the sheared off stones embedded in it.  The large stone near the middle is of interest, as it is a piece of layered sedimentary rock, perhaps from some earlier lake bed, which became distorted and solidified by pressure and then perhaps after further upheaval ended up on the mountainside, from where it fell into the lake to become a constituent of a new sediment in turn.

Dolerite dyke, Kerrera

On the way back to the ferry we saw this dolerite dyke from the Mull volcano.  It has been slightly built up into a wall and is shown as one on the map.

Dolerite-slate contact zone, Kerrera

Here the same dolerite dyke had intruded through the slate, baking the slate and cooling the dolerite where they touched.  The dolerite is in the LH half of the pic and the slate in the RH half.

Dolerite vesicles, Kerrera   Elongated dolerite vesicles, Kerrera

Vesicles where gas has escaped from the dolerite.  In the RH pic the vesicles are elongated because the dolerite was still moving when the gas escaped.

A great thing about this walk was that because it was near home and because I noted the grid ref of every feature we looked at, I'll be able to go back and look at these things again at my leisure and hopefully learn to recognise them when I see them elsewhere.  Many thanks to John and Zoe for an enthralling day out.



All photos and other content copyright Carl Farmer