Geology Field Trip: What on earth is the Moine Thrust?

Jane Hunter Geological Art - Moine Thrust - Knockan Crag - NW Highlands

When I started reading about and looking at maps of the North West Highlands, I was blown away by the complexity of how this landscape was created. I was equally blown away with the maps, how much work went into researching and producing them and most of all.... how beautiful they are!

Geological Map Inchnadamph Assynt Scotland Peach and Horne Courtesy of The BGS

(Courtesy of the BGS, Assynt District, Special Sheet)

The Moine Thrust is a linear geological structure which runs from Loch Eriboll, on the North West coast of Scotland, South West to the Sleat peninsula on Skye. 

During the Caledonian Orogeny, around 420 million years ago, the Baltica (Scandinavian) and Laurentian (North American, which incorporated Scotland at the time) tectonic plates collided. This collision thrust many different types of rock on top of each other, often in sequences you would not expect with older rock moving over younger rocks.

The first geologist to recognise the structure was Charles Lapworth. It's said he had nightmares about being ‘bodily caught up in the Moine Thrust’ and being crushed under what he called the ‘great earth engine. I have to say I can understand what he meant, I was a bit overwhelmed when I stood 'in the thrust' at Knockan Crag!!!

Jane Hunter Scottish Artist Geology Moine Thrust Assynt Scotland

It was Ben Peach and John Horne who finally mapped the area in the late 1800's, I had a wee chat with them when I visited the thrust exposure at the crag!

Jane Hunter Scottish Artist Geology Moine Thrust Peach and Horne Knockan Crag

This is one of my favourite photographs from the Inchnadamph section of my research trip.

Inchnadamph Jane Hunter Scottish Artist Moine Thrust Geology Scotland

It was taken from the ruins of Ardvreck Castle, looking south east along the banks of Loch Assynt. This grassy mound of jumbled and folded, crazy looking rocks is mainly Durness Limestone, Salterella Grit and Fucoid Beds that have been thrust and faulted over millions of years. 

It's a great example of just how complex, and beautiful, this landscape is!

See some of the results of my research here:

Geology, Assynt - Textile Art Print - Jane Hunter - Map Moine Thrust Zone, NW Highlands - Textile Art Print - Jane Hunter - Map Moine Thrust Art - Textile Art Print - Jane Hunter - Cross Section Durness to Ullapool NC500 Art

1 comment

  • paul c Nathanail

    Came across your website as I plan my summer field trip – thanks for the inspiration!

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