Abstract

The southeasterly regional dip of England and Wales is usually ascribed to Miocene movements. Loss of up to 2 km of cover from northern England, shown by apatite fission track analysis, has been related to uplift and erosion induced by a mantle hotspot, but its effects were far more widespread than considered hitherto. Outcrop patterns throughout much of England, Wales and eastern Ireland can be related to a hotspot beneath the Irish Sea. Uplift occurred within the late Maastrichtian and erosion continued into the late Palaeogene. After post-Oligocene down-faulting of the Irish sea, the modern drainage was initiated on the eroded surface.

Unconformities provide the best means of dating orogenic movements; in some localities the time interval between the youngest rocks preserved beneath the unconformity and the oldest preserved above may be small enough to enable the dating of fold movements to be determined with some precision. Thus in southeastern Britain the major E-W structures of the Hampshire Basin, the Weald and the London Basin can be dated as Miocene, as rocks of Oligocene age are involved in the folding in the Hampshire Basin and Pliocene sands rest in erosional pockets of the Chalk of SE England. Because fold movements tend to affect large areas of the crust at discrete intervals of time, the southeasterly tilt of Britain, evident from the fact that a NW-SE transect from Anglesey to London crosses outcrops of rocks getting progressively younger from the Precambrian of Anglesey to the Tertiary of the London Basin, has

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