Fascinating Facts

Who knew that one park could have so many fascinating facts!

The Great Glen Fault

Around 400 million years ago, the rocks on the north-west side of the Great Glen slid horizontally more than 100km in a southwesterly direction relative to the rest of Scotland.

Ancient Calderas

Lochaber was the first place in the world where the process of ‘cauldron subsidence’ was recognised in ancient rocks. The best place to see and eroded caldera is Glen Coe.

Collapse of Ben nevis

Around 400 million years ago a huge caldera was created when the Andesite Lavas, now forming the top half of Ben Nevis, collapsed over 600m (2,000ft) into a chamber of molten granite.

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The Parallel Roads

The parallel roads of Lochaber represent the shoreline of ice-damned lakes. It has recently been suggested that the build up of ice that created the lakes was triggered by the impact of a comet.

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Ardgour Island

The sea rose rapidly when the last ice cap melted. For a time, until the Earth's crust readjusted, all of Morvern, Sunart, Ardnamurchan and Ardgour was a separate island.

Compass Upset

Compass hill (139m) at the eastern end of the island of Canna, is built of tuff (volcanic Ash). It has such a high iron content that it deflects nearby ship's compasses.

Raised Beaches

Numerous examples of raised beaches can be seen around the Lochaber coastline. The most recent ones were formed in post-glacial times when the land rose after losing its burden of ice.

Volcanic Eruptions

The extensive basalt lavas seen in the southern part of Morvern were erupted some 55 million years ago when Greenland and Europe started to rift apart.

Fossil Remains

In the mid 19th century the remains of a plesiosaur – a marine reptile – were found in the Jurassic rocks of Eigg by the pioneering Scottish geologist Hugh Miller.

Ardnamurchan Peninsula

The Western end of the Ardnamurchan Peninsula was once the site of a series of spectacular volcanic eruptions. The circular shape of the complex is best seen from the air.

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Pure Quartz Sand

The exceptionally pure quartz sandstone (99.7% silica), which is mined at Lochaline, was originally laid down in the Cretaceous period – the same time as the White Cliffs of Dover.

Links With The Sea

The water from Loch Morar spills down to the sea along the River Morar. At one time it drained further south across the Mointeach Mhor, until that route became blocked by glacial moraine.

Root Of An Old Volcano

The Cuillin of Rum have been shaped from the root of an old volcano. The layered igneous rocks exposed there are of worldwide interest.

A New Element

The mineral strontianite was first identified in the lead mines near strontian in 1790. The element strontium was first isolated from this mineral by Humphrey Davey in 1808.

Mica Mine

A mica mine was worked in Knoydart in the 1940s. Large 'books' of muscovite mica up to 60cm (2ft) across were extracted from a vein of pegmatite on the north side of Loch Nevis.


Scotland's climate turned much wetter some 5,000 years ago. This is when peat started to form. The deposits on Blar Mhor for example are over 13m, (40ft) thick.

A Special Rock

A dark igneous rock found at Kentallen near Ballachulish has been named Kentallenite after the locality where it was first discovered. It is seen here in thin section.

Diverted River

The Abhainn Righ (River Ree) now cascades out of Gleann Righ in a series of Spectacular waterfalls, but at one time it flowed further south along the Dubh-ghlac to Onich.

Extra Baking

The heat given out by large bodies of molten rock (magma) causes changes in the neighboring rocks e.g. a new mineral called tremolite formed in the limestone bordering the Ben Nevis granite.


An Sgurr is a distinctive landmark on the island of Eigg. The pitchstone lava it is built from was originally erupted into a river valley.

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Cross Bedding

Many of the local Metamorphic rocks have been very strongly folded. A feature in the quartzites called cross-bedding is used to work out the 'way up' of the rock layers.

Dam Burst

When the glacier which damned up the mouth of Glen Spean finally started to melt back, 5 cubic km of water escaped beneath the ice along the Spean Gorge.

Chatter Marks

A series of crescent-shaped cracks or indents called 'chatter marks' were created by stones or boulders in the base of a glacier being pushed across a rock surface.

Tiger Rock

A part of the local Appin Limestone which has alternating cream and orange colored layers is known as 'Tiger Rock'. Good examples are seen at Ardsheal and behind Ballachulish.

Meeting Of The Three Waters

In the floor of Glen Coe below Coire Gabhail three streams join together where two dykes intersect. Over time the dykes have proved softer than the neighbouring rocks and so have eroded more deeply.

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Most modern day earthquakes in the Highlands are caused by the Earth's crust still readjusting after the melting of the last ice cap some 11,500 years ago.

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