Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Isle of Wight for 10,000 years

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On the subject of ephemeral landscapes, the above image comes from a children's encyclopedia, The World of Wonder: 10,000 Things Every Child Should Know (Amalgamated Press, Ed. Charles Ray, 1932), which looks a rich lode of interesting and sometimes off-the-wall illustrations.

This one, The Story of the Isle of Wight for 10,000 Years, doesn't seem well-informed geomorphologically, even for the time it was written. The south coast of the island is an entirely erosional coastline, so the new land at bottom right isn't going to form. Nor is the trend on the northern side of the western Wight depositional. The western promontory tipped by the Needles is essentially being eroded from both sides, like a pencil being sharpened.  It'll certainly retreat with continued erosion, but while it exists, it'll continue to be  a promontory because its Chalk erodes less easily than the softer Tertiary rocks that form the northern half of the island.

Note the persistence of the road patterns 5000 years into the future. Probably the artist put them there just there for geographical orientation, but I guess it's not unfeasible; in the UK, we're still using many Roman roads, many of whose routes pre-dated the Roman occupation.

- Ray

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