West Midlands Geodiversity Partnership
The Geomorphology of the West Midlands
The West Midlands is a region of surprising landscape diversity, ranging from the rugged and wild uplands of the Staffordshire Moorlands and the Shropshire Hills to the broad, low-lying valleys of the River Trent and the River Severn. This diverse geomorphology has been generated by a combination of variations in the region’s geological foundations and by the varied earth-surface processes that have acted upon it over the millennia.
As in many other parts of northern England, Wales, Scotland and Ireland, the landscape bears witness to dramatic climatic changes, which have been particularly pronounced during the last 1.6 million years of Earth history (commonly referred to as the "Ice Ages" or more accurately the Quaternary Era). During the bitter glacial periods, ice that accumulated in the uplands of Britain flowed south into the the West Midlands, resulting in the scouring of bedrock outcrops, the erosion of now dry meltwater channels, the reversal of existing drainage networks and the deposition of huge quantities of sediment. Areas that remained free of ice were subjected to intense periglacial conditions associated with freeze/thaw weathering and the development of permafrost.
More recently, human activity associated with area’s rich industrial and mining heritage has had an additional impact on the region’s landscape, particularly around the major urban centres of Birmingham and Stoke-on-Trent. In spite of this, many areas remain relatively unspoilt and contain distinctive landforms that serve to illustrate how physical landscapes are created and how they evolve through time. These pages provide an introduction to some of these geomorphological highlights.
|© West Midlands Geodiversity Partnership, 2013|
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