Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Ancient story of Dartmoor tors has an ice-cold twist

Date:
June 13, 2012
Source:
Durham University
Summary:
Ice extended further across the UK than previously thought and played a part in sculpting the rocky landscape of Dartmoor in South West England during the last Ice Age, according to new research which challenges previously held theories.

Haytors at Dartmoor.
Credit: David Clewer / Fotolia

Ice extended further across the UK than previously thought and played a part in sculpting the rocky landscape of Dartmoor in South West England during the last Ice Age, according to new research which challenges previously held theories.

A study of the National Park area of Dartmoor, UK, shows for the first time that an ice cap and valley glaciers were present in its centre and that the naturally castellated stone outcrops, known as tors, were survivors.

The new research by the Universities of Durham and Exeter, and Stockton Riverside College, is published in the journal Quaternary Science Reviews.

Researchers, who carried out detailed observations on the ground and using aerial photography, say the evidence includes glacial features such as elongated rounded mounds or drumlins and hummocky landforms or moraines. Similar features may also exist in other upland areas of southwest England, indicating that small upland glaciers were regularly hosted in the region during periods of glaciation.

Dartmoor represents one of the largest areas of exposed granite in Britain, some of which was used to construct parts of the British Museum, National Gallery and Covent Garden in London, and London Bridge in Arizona. It is also the location for the world-famous annual Ten Tors hike.

Tors are produced by deep weathering and the removal of weathered rock. A number of theories exist to explain their formation including the effects of repeated freezing and thawing.

The researchers believe the glacier ice -- previously believed not to have developed on Dartmoor -- helped to shape its distinctive landscape. On the highest summits in the middle of Dartmoor, the ice cap, which was an estimated 80km2 in area and up to 100m thick, either destroyed and carried away tors or prevented their formation over thousands of years.

However, distinctive outer tors probably survived because they were untouched by the ice or because the ice layer on them was not substantial enough to destroy and move them.

Professor David Evans, Department of Geography, Durham University said: "The Dartmoor tors tell a story of ancient landscape development but that story has a surprising ice-cold twist. The story is more complicated than we have traditionally believed.

"A landscape that has been regarded as a classic example of cold, non-glacial processes was in fact covered by a glacial ice cap. Dartmoor was the location of the southernmost independent ice cap in the British Isles, the evidence for which is so subtle that researchers had missed it for almost 100 years."

University of Exeter scientist Dr Stephan Harrison said: "Dartmoor was high enough and big enough to develop its own ice cap.

"The evidence of an ice cap over Dartmoor is compelling when you look closely at the landscape and our research techniques may help us to see if other southern upland areas of the UK were also glaciated and shaped by ice."

Dartmoor is one of 15 National Parks in Britain and the Ten Tors event has become so popular that there is now a restriction on entries of 2,400 individuals a year.


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Durham University. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Journal Reference:

  1. David J.A. Evans, Stephan Harrison, Andreas Vieli, Ed Anderson. The glaciation of Dartmoor: the southernmost independent Pleistocene ice cap in the British Isles. Quaternary Science Reviews, 2012; 45: 31 DOI: 10.1016/j.quascirev.2012.04.019

Cite This Page:

Durham University. "Ancient story of Dartmoor tors has an ice-cold twist." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 13 June 2012. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120613091144.htm>.
Durham University. (2012, June 13). Ancient story of Dartmoor tors has an ice-cold twist. ScienceDaily. Retrieved August 20, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120613091144.htm
Durham University. "Ancient story of Dartmoor tors has an ice-cold twist." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2012/06/120613091144.htm (accessed August 20, 2014).

Share This




More Earth & Climate News

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Unsustainable Elephant Poaching Killed 100K In 3 Years

Newsy (Aug. 20, 2014) Poachers have killed 100,000 elephants between 2010 and 2012, as the booming ivory trade takes its toll on the animals in Africa. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

Charter Schools Alter Post-Katrina Landscape

AP (Aug. 20, 2014) Nine years after Hurricane Katrina, charter schools are the new reality of public education in New Orleans. The state of Louisiana took over most of the city's public schools after the killer storm in 2005. (Aug. 20) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

Green Power Blooms as Japan Unveils 'hydrangea Solar Cell'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) A solar cell that resembles a flower is offering a new take on green energy in Japan, where one scientist is searching for renewables that look good. Duration: 01:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

Disquieting Times for Malaysia's 'fish Listeners'

AFP (Aug. 19, 2014) Malaysia's last "fish listeners" -- practitioners of a dying local art of listening underwater to locate their quarry -- try to keep the ancient technique alive in the face of industrial trawling and the depletion of stocks. Duration: 02:29 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins