Geology

A Portrait of Great Britain

 

Angela Palmer created the ‘geological spine’ of the UK, using 16 rocks sourced from the length and breadth of the country, representing every geological period spanning 3 billion years of our country’s history. The rocks are polished on one side, showing the magnificent ‘underbelly’ of Britain in geological sequence, and left rough on the reverse, as we may encounter them in the landscape. The work is intended as a maquette for a large scale installation in a prominent public location, with each rock over 2m high. The artist is currently seeking a suitable location and sponsor. 

 

The spine begins with a 3 billion-year-old Lewisian Gneiss from NW Scotland, followed by a 2 billion-year-old White Anorthosite, also from NW Scotland, which is the same type of rock found on the Moon and retrieved by Apollo 15 astronauts in 1971. The penultimate rock in the spine is an erratic boulder, deposited in the most recent glacial episode. Through the sequence of rocks, you will be propelled from Britain’s origin near the South Pole – where Scotland and Northern Ireland were separated from England and Wales by the Iapatus Ocean – to our merging as a nation as we slowly drifted northwards, across the Equator, and towards our current northern location.

The final element in the spine symbolises the Anthropocene, the new geological age to be officially declared in the near future, reflecting man’s impact on the planet; it will supersede the current Holocene epoch. To represent the Anthropocene, the artist has created a rock-like structure in mirror polished steel, to reflect the onlooker

 

Anthropocene maquette
Anthropocene maquette

The Fine Art Society, London

Anthropocene maquette
Anthropocene maquette

he Fine Art Society, London

PRECAMBRIAN Lewisian Gneiss
PRECAMBRIAN Lewisian Gneiss

NW Scotland Circa 2500 – 3000 million years old

PRECAMBRIAN White Anorthosite
PRECAMBRIAN White Anorthosite

NW Scotland Circa 2,000 million years old

PRECAMBRIAN Torridonian Sandstone
PRECAMBRIAN Torridonian Sandstone

NW Scotland Circa 1000 million years old About 800 million years ago, oxygen levels reached about 21 percent and began to breathe life into more complex organisms. The red Torridon Sandstone appears to be river and lake deposits and the sediments suggest an arid climate close to the Equator, with a latitude of around 15° North (similar to the latitude today of Sudan and Niger).

PRECAMBRIAN Coedana granite
PRECAMBRIAN Coedana granite

Circa 600 million years old Original location: close to the Antarctic Circle

CAMBRIAN Heather slate
CAMBRIAN Heather slate

Bethesda, Gwynedd, Wales Circa 520 million years old Originally located: 60° S (just above the Antarctic Circle)

ORDOVICIAN Avochie granite
ORDOVICIAN Avochie granite

Rothiemay, Moray, NE Scotland Circa 470 million years old Originally located: 10 – 20° S (similar to latitude today of Angola, Zambia, Mozambique).

SILURIAN Peterhead granite
SILURIAN Peterhead granite

Aberdeenshire, NE Scotland Circa 425 million years old Originally located: 20 – 30°South (similar to latitude today of Namibia, Botswana, Zimbabwe).

DEVONIAN Lower Old Red Sandstone
DEVONIAN Lower Old Red Sandstone

Herefordshire, England Circa 410 million years old Originally located: between Equator and 10° S (similar to latitude today of Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Burundi).

CARBONIFEROUS Limestone
CARBONIFEROUS Limestone

Derbyshire, England Circa 330 million years ago Original location: the Equator (similar to latitude today of Gabon, DRC, Uganda, Kenya).

CARBONIFEROUS Yorkstone
CARBONIFEROUS Yorkstone

West Yorkshire, England Circa 320 million years old Original location: the Equator (similar to latitude today of Gabon, DRC, Uganda, Kenya).

PERMIAN Silver Grey granite
PERMIAN Silver Grey granite

St Breward, Cornwall, England Circa 290 million years old Original location: between 20° N and 30° N (similar to latitude today of Western Sahara, Algeria, Libya, Egypt).

TRIASSIC Aeolian sandstone
TRIASSIC Aeolian sandstone

Spynie, Moray, NE Scotland Circa 230 million years old Original location: between 20° N and 30° N (similar to latitude today of Western Sahara, Algeria, Libya, Egypt).

JURASSIC Portland limestone
JURASSIC Portland limestone

Dorset, England Circa 150 million years old Originally located: 30° N and 40° North (similar to the latitude today of Morocco, Algeria, Tunisia).

CRETACEOUS Purbeck stone
CRETACEOUS Purbeck stone

Dorset, England Circa 140 million years old Originally located: 40° North (similar to the latitude today of Spain, Italy, Greece).

TERTIARY Basalt column
TERTIARY Basalt column

Central Scotland Circa 60 million years old Originally located: 40° N to current latitude of the British Isles, 55° N

QUATERNARY Glacial boulder
QUATERNARY Glacial boulder

Found near Inverness, Scotland Age unknown, deposited during a glacial deposit between 2.6m and 10,500 years ago Original location: unknown.

ANTHROPOCENE
ANTHROPOCENE

Mirror polished steel, England, 2015 The work is intended to reflect the Anthropocene, the new geological period soon to officially supersede the current Holocene, to reflect man’s dominance as a geological force on the planet. These include changes in the atmosphere through man-made gases such as ocean acidification, melting glaciers and rising sea levels, and the effects of widespread deforestation and land use changes.