The study of volcanic rocks and igneous centres has long been a classic part of geological research. Despite the lack of active volcanism, the British Isles have been a key centre for the study of igneous rocks ever since ancient lava flows and excavated igneous centres were recognized there in the 18th century (Hutton, 1788). This led to some of the earliest detailed studies of petrology. The starting point for many of these studies was the British Palaeogene Igneous Province (BPIP; formerly known as the ‘British Tertiary’ (Judd, 1889), and still recognized by this name by many geologists around the globe). This collection of lavas, volcanic centres and sill/dyke swarms covers much of the west of Scotland and the Antrim plateau of Northern Ireland, and together with similar rocks in the Faroe Islands, Iceland and Greenland forms a world-class Large Igneous Province. This North Atlantic Igneous Province (NAIP) began to form through continental rifting above a mantle plume at c. 60 Ma, and subsequently evolved as North America separated from Europe, creating the North Atlantic Ocean.

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