The Archaean controversy in Britain: Part II—The Malverns and Shropshire

Annals of Science 49 (5):401-460 (1992)
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Abstract

An account is given of early geological researches in the Malverns, the Church Stretton area, and the Wrekin. The reconnaissance work of Murchison suggested that each of these areas had Silurian sediments, intruded by igneous rocks . The early Survey maps were compiled on this theoretical basis, with the result that the Silurian sediments were regarded as the oldest rocks in Shropshire and the Malverns. Local geologists, working in the three areas, and with sufficient time to study the exposures in detail, began to develop the idea of ‘islands’ of Precambrian rock , having younger sediments deposited thereon. This Archaean model was taken up and actively developed, and the stratigraphical details worked out, with the island model being gradually modified. Debates were stronger between members of the ‘Archaean’ fraternity than with the Survey. Traces of trilobite remains were found by Callaway at Comley, near Caer Caradoc, and were identified by Lapworth as Olenellus, enabling the underlying Wrekin Quartzite to be established as the base of the Cambrian, in agreement with ideas developed in North America and Scandinavia. Arguments are detailed concerning the relative ages of the ‘Uriconian’ and ‘Longmyndian’ rocks, and their constituent units. Both were agreed to be Precambrian, but the evidence in terms of field mapping, in relation to the Wrekin Quartzite, is not complete. The problems of stratigraphical work in unfossiliferous rocks are displayed, and also the efforts to achieve correlations with areas such as Pembrokeshire and Anglesey are described. Though consensus has been reached on the Precambrian status of the Malvernian, Uriconian and Longmyndian rocks, radiometric age determinations and other evidence throw doubt on some aspects of the consensus, and research continues

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