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17 September 2014
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UK rock's greatest hits (Wales & Northern Ireland)
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England | Scotland | Wales | Northern Ireland

Black Mountain © Paul Ashton


Black Mountain
Powys, Wales and Herefordshire, England

The Black Mountain straddles the English and Welsh border, forming the eastern rampart to the Brecon Beacons, the first National Park in the United Kingdom to achieve Geopark status. This is a landscape scoured by ice and pockmarked by glacial lakes, like the enchanting Llyn y Fan Fach shown here.

But the rocks underfoot tell a very different story, for the layercake of strata that make these forbidding north-facing cliffs are a legacy of the old red sandstone continent, desert sandstones dating back to the Devonian period when the northern and southern landmasses of Britain were sutured together in the arid interior of the supercontinent Pangea.

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Giant's Causeway © Maura McGinley


Giant's Causeway
Antrim, Northern Ireland

The famous Giant's Causeway is a legacy left behind from a huge outburst of lava flows. Between 50 and 60 million years ago, a vast hotspot ripped open the sea floor in the North Atlantic and a line of volcanoes burst out as Britain and Ireland slowly broke away from Greenland and North America.

Vast floods of molten lava spewed from these fiery centres and as the enormous basalt flows cooled, contracted and solidified, they developed the distinctive column-like appearance that characterises both the Causeway and its Scottish equivalent, Fingal's Cave on the island of Staffa. This extraordinary volcanic episode marked the violent birthing process of the northern Atlantic Ocean, one of the last great geological events to have affected our islands.

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 Also in Earth:
 The Power of the Planet
Earth: Power of the Planet homepage

 On TV: BBC Four
Sunday 6 January 10pm

Sunday 13 January 10pm

Sunday 20 January 10pm

Sunday 10 February 10pm

Rare Earth
Sunday 17 February 10pm

 Also on Science & Nature

Planet Earth Explorer
Explore the wild and beautiful in our interactive Flash video player (for UK users only).

Hot Topics: Volcano
The science behind the awesome power.

Walks Through Time
Choose from 57 specially devised geological walks around the UK.

 Elsewhere on the web

Earth: The Power of the Planet
The University of Plymouth's website about the series.

Earth Man
Biography of Iain Stewart.'s Geology Toolkit
What are the Pennines really made of? Where can you see limestone pavements? Find out here.

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