The Archaean Controversy in Britain: Part III—The rocks of Anglesey and Caernarvonshire

Annals of Science 50 (6):23-584 (1993)
  Copy   BIBTEX


A detailed account is given of the development of the Archaean Controversy in Caernarvonshire and Anglesey. Sedgwick had found no base for his Cambrian in North Wales, but had intimated that some of the unfossiliferous rocks of the Lleyn Peninsula and Anglesey might be older than his Cambrian. He also described two ‘ribs’ of igneous rock: one running from Caernarvon to Bangor; the other inland, parallel to the first and crossing the Llanberis Pass at Llyn Padarn. The early Surveyors supposed that these ‘ribs’ had altered the surrounding rocks, and the resulting ‘Altered Cambrian’ could be traced across the Menai Strait to Anglesey, where it formed the various metamorphic rocks of that island. This view was challenged by the usual coalition of ‘amateurs’ with attempts being made to recognize a sequence of Archaean rocks in North Wales similar to that in Pembrokeshire. However, vigorous debate occurred amongst the ‘Archaean’ geologists themselves, especially about a rock at Twt Hill, Caernarvon, and about a claimed unconformity at the base of the Cambrian in the Llanberis Pass, perhaps adjacent to the Llyn Padarn ‘rib’. Vigorous debate took place about the location of the claimed Llanberis unconformity, but the ‘Archaeans’ were united in regarding the metamorphic rocks of Anglesey as Precambrian. Eventually, the greywackes of Anglesey, and around Bangor and Caernarvon, were identified as Ordovician, not Cambrian. Very detailed map-work in Anglesey was carried out privately by Edward Greenly, and his results were published by the Survey in the form of a map and a high-quality Memoir. Greenly utilized for Anglesey tectonic ideas derived from his earlier fieldwork in the Scottish Highlands, so that although his mapping and stratigraphical divisions have proved to be of permanent value it is believed that his structures for Anglesey were mistaken and his stratigraphic sequence inverted. The Survey eventually abandoned its earlier model of Anglesey without too much difficulty; and the igneous ‘rib’ of Llyn Padarn is now construed as an ignimbrite. However, a definite base for the Cambrian has still not been found in Caernarvonshire, and the stratigraphical evidence for the Precambrian age of the Anglesey rocks remains incomplete. The study reveals the great difficulty experienced by early geologists when working in unfossiliferous rocks, the evidence from included fragments proving particularly uncertain. The paper also examines further the community of nineteenth-century British geologists, with their various factions and competing interests.



    Upload a copy of this work     Papers currently archived: 94,517

External links

Setup an account with your affiliations in order to access resources via your University's proxy server

Through your library

Similar books and articles

Two Centuries of Anglesey Schools.D. A. Pretty - 1979 - British Journal of Educational Studies 27 (3):273-274.


Added to PP

11 (#1,170,289)

6 months
2 (#1,486,244)

Historical graph of downloads
How can I increase my downloads?

Citations of this work

No citations found.

Add more citations