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Monday, 18 November 2013

The Carlops Meltwater Channels (Scotland)


 View from the eastern end of the channel system at Carlops.

I recently spent a few pleasant days in Scotland, and had the opportunity to visit the Carlops Meltwater Channels on the southern flank of the pentland Hills, not far from Edinburgh.  Very impressive!  In the photo above you can see how the meltwater (probably flowing deep beneath wasting ice) has flowed in many different channels, splitting and bifurcating and leaving isolated "islands" between channels as they have been broadened.  Why subglacial meltwater does this is still a bit of a mystery, because one would have thought that a deep channel, once cut, would continue to be the most attractive route for future meltwater flow.  Maybe this anastamosing / bifurcating behaviour argues for a strong seasonal rhythm, with meltwater flow ceasing every winter, allowing ice to fill channels and block them, forcing meltwater to find a new route in the next melting season......








The meltwater channels were studied by Brian Sissons and discussed in this paper:
Sissons, J.B. (1963) "The glacial drainage system around Carlops, Peeblesshire".
Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers, 32, pp 95–111.

16 comments:

Myris of Alexandria said...

How does someone first recognise these features, from modern high latitude examples?.
It amazes me I once walked in Nenthead with a Pleistocene specialist and where I saw nothing he saw stream height, water flow rate etc etc all from stone size distribution in the stream bank. Always stuck in my memory.
M

BRIAN JOHN said...

The modern high latitude examples are still under the ice! But there are subglacial meltwater channels all over the place -- in Antarctica, Arctic Canada, Scandinavia etc. generally the best diagnistic features are (a) a humped long profile, showing that some of the meltwater flow was uphill; (b) an anastamosing pattern as seen on these maps; (c) sometimes a complete absence of streams (as in some of the channels in the photos) or elase very small streams that are obviously misfits, showing that the channels were cut by much greater volumes of meltwater than we see in comparable river valleys still being formed.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah -- Nenthead in the Wear Valley! When I was in Durham we had a University Field Centre there -- we used to take groups of students there to look at the local geomorphology, the traces of the mining industry etc. Happy days! Very bleak, it was....... I wonder if Tony went on any of those trips?

BRIAN JOHN said...

A reminder -- I am not accepting any more Anonymous posts. I have just deleted one on this topic.

Dave Maynard said...

Was that me? Did my name fail to come through?

BRIAN JOHN said...

I doubt that it was you, Dave. Haven't seen anything from you. So try again and let's see.......

Dave Maynard said...

I've seen lots of steep sided humps like this (even been past Carlops). Do they all, or mostly, relate to this type of origin?

I'm sorry, but it looks as if I'll not be able to get to the Moylegrove talk. I've had to stay on longer in Azerbaijan. Much of the geomorphology is more to do with mud volcanoes and river terraces than periglacial. But still, in the mountains it will be a feature. There was fresh snow on the Little Caucasus yesterday.

Dave

BRIAN JOHN said...

Ah -- enjoy!! There are lots of ways in which humps and bumps can be formed -- one has to look at the context quite carefully...

Alex Gee said...

Oh no not more pay per view!!

If scientists want the public to engage and take an interest in science,and keep up with current ideas, they really need to allow the public to read the latest research for free.

Brian and Myris: I'm afraid that I've lost patience with your view that the general public's route for accessing the latest papers, should be to write fawning e:mails to authors who's training they paid for, whose research facilities they paid for, and more often than not, their research they paid for through taxation.

Do the Authors donate money to the NERC to fund their research or does the funding for the NERC come out of my pocket as a taxpayer??

BRIAN JOHN said...

I sympathise, Alex. But there's no point in getting upset with the authors -- they -- or their universities -- often have to pay to get their own papers published these days. The more prestigious the journal, the greater the cost. I know it's insane -- and we can all have a big debate about research funding and so forth. But blame the government if you will, and vote it out of office......

irate ixer said...

I have contempt for those who assume all research is done using government money.
ALL MY SH RESEARCH HAS BEEN PAID FOR BY MY PERSONAL MONIES SO I DECIDE HOW THE DATA ARE RELEASED AND TO WHOM. The general public and NERC do not appear on that list.
The Constantine Palaeologos Research Fund is my code for saying self-funded.

Dr Rob Ixer.

BRIAN JOHN said...

...... and of course all my research, so faithfully recorded on this blog, has all been paid for by ME -- much to the irritation of my wife, who thinks I should be out there making an honest living.......

A.G. said...

Apologies Myris if you're self taught and funded. In fact I salute your achievement;It was a generalisation!

Unlike yourself,most scientists I know were trained at publicly funded universities and continue to use their facilities for sample analysis.

A.G. said...

Agree about voting.

Unfortunately Cameron wants to get rid of the "green crap" Whilst the rest of us would like to see the back of the " blue,yellow and red crap!"

A.G.

BRIAN JOHN said...

Myris didn't say he was self-taught. All of us who have degrees and higher qualifications (MAs, doctorates) etc have had the pleasure of university educations -- in my case, largely at taxpayer's expense. I assume that successive governments, since the invention of the welfare state, have thought that is money well spent.....

Myris of Alexandria said...


Dr Ixer's Ph.D was paid for by Laporte Chemicals and much of his mineralogical expertise came from consulting for the big mining houses, when there were many big mining houses.
His first degree WAS paid for by the taxpayer with a full grant of £360/year (he is ashamed to say he saved about £50 per year and now realises he owes many people many drinks!)
He would offer to repay the £1000 but fears it would be wasted by the government on.....rant.
He asked NERC for very little and received less. He found begging for research fund unpalatable so did not do it and hence spent 30 years trading skills rather than funds.
Now, one of the last Victorian petrographers, he has great control on the use and dissemination of his acquired skills.
Pay to view, that is being clamped down to protect our little darlings init!
M