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Siccar Point, Scottish Borders, Scotland, UKi
Regional Level Types
Siccar PointPoint
Scottish BordersCouncil Area
ScotlandCountry
UKCountry

This page kindly sponsored by Paul Brandes
Key
Latitude & Longitude (WGS84):
55° 55' 51'' North , 2° 17' 57'' West
Latitude & Longitude (decimal):
UK National Grid Reference:
NT813709
Locality type:
Köppen climate type:
Nearest Settlements:
PlacePopulationDistance
Coldingham550 (2017)10.1km
Eyemouth3,430 (2017)14.6km
Ayton560 (2017)14.6km
Chirnside1,400 (2017)15.4km
Dunbar8,470 (2017)15.5km
Other/historical names associated with this locality:
Berwickshire


The angular unconformity at Siccar Point is one of the world’s most celebrated geological localities on account of its role in establishing that the earth is of great age. Less well known is the fact that it is also a mineral locality, as the rocks are cut by thin veins of barite, providing a convenient justification for including this famous site on mindat. Collectors should note, however, that owing to its great historical importance it is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI), and hammering is unlikely to be appreciated! The barite is of poor quality anyway, although it does exhibit cockscomb habit when crystallised in small cavities.

It is the role the locality played in the early development of the earth sciences that makes it so special. Gentleman farmer and amateur geologist, James Hutton visited here in 1788, with his friends John Playfair and Sir James Hall. Hutton himself seems to have been rather blasé about it. He had already found other examples of unconformities in Scotland, and had read descriptions of continental examples. His friends, however, were impressed. Playfair was later to write: “What clearer evidence could we have had of the different formation of these rocks, and of the long interval which separated their formation, had we actually seen them emerging from the bosom of the deep? …. The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time.” (Playfair, 1805). Ever since the locality has been cited as proof of the great age of the earth, and is a Mecca for geology students. For a detailed account of the history the reader is referred to Montgomery (2003).

The accompanying photos show what they found. As explained in Moreton (2011), “The upright beds are Silurian greywackes and shales. Hutton knew these must have been deposited originally as horizontal layers. Overlying them at almost a right angle are gently dipping red Devonian sandstones. The bottom layer of these is a breccia full of broken fragments of the underlying Silurian rocks in a red sandy matrix. This, Hutton realised, was an ancient land surface where once the upright Silurian strata had been exposed and eroded, and onto which the red sandstones were deposited. These rocks indicated a sequence of events far longer than the Biblical 6000 years. Firstly, rocks had to be eroded to generate the sediments deposited on an ancient sea floor. These were then hardened into rock, folded until the beds were upright, elevated and eroded to create a land surface. Onto this eroded surface was deposited another generation of sediments, creating the beds of red sandstone. These too hardened into rock, were tilted slightly and eroded to expose them, and the underlying rocks, once more.” For a fuller description and review of the geological literature on Siccar Point see Moreton (2011), and also the photos and their captions here.

Links to the references are provided below.

Regions containing this locality

Eurasian PlateTectonic Plate
British IslesGroup of Islands
North SeaSea

Select Mineral List Type

Standard Detailed Strunz Dana Chemical Elements

Mineral List


1 valid mineral.

Detailed Mineral List:

Baryte
Formula: BaSO4
Reference: Dr. S. Moreton observation

List of minerals arranged by Strunz 10th Edition classification

Group 7 - Sulphates, Chromates, Molybdates and Tungstates
Baryte7.AD.35BaSO4

List of minerals arranged by Dana 8th Edition classification

Group 28 - ANHYDROUS ACID AND NORMAL SULFATES
AXO4
Baryte28.3.1.1BaSO4

List of minerals for each chemical element

OOxygen
O BaryteBaSO4
SSulfur
S BaryteBaSO4
BaBarium
Ba BaryteBaSO4

References

Sort by

Year (asc) Year (desc) Author (A-Z) Author (Z-A)
Montgomery, K. (2003) “Siccar Point and Teaching the History of Geology”. Journal of Geoscience Education, vol. 51(5), p. 500-505.
Moreton, S. (2011) “Rocks in their heads”. The Skeptic, vol. 31(2), p. 52-54.
Playfair, J. (1805) Biographical Account of the late Dr. James Hutton, Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, V(III), 39-99.

External Links



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