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Scotland's rocks, landforms and soils

For a small country, Scotland has a remarkable diversity of rocks, fossils, landforms and soils. This geodiversity is the result of a rich and varied geological history, spanning some 3 billion years of the Earth's existence. It forms an Earth heritage asset of national and international importance.

Scotland's geodiversity illustrates a wonderful story of how colliding continents, ancient volcanoes, powerful glaciers and changing climates have shaped the landscape and scenery we value today; how different life-forms have evolved and how rivers, landslides, floods and sea-level changes are continuing to alter the land surface. Scotland's rocks, fossils landforms and soils have played an important part in our understanding of the Earth. They also form the foundation upon which plants, animals and people live and interact.

The Taagan floodplain and Kinlochewe river flowing into Loch Maree seen from the mountain trail, Beinn Eighe NNR.  ŠLorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.snh.gov.uk

What is geodiversity?

Find out what the term 'geodiversity' means.

The Culbin Bar a sand spit on the Moray Firth. ŠP&A Macdonald/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.snh.gov.uk

Geodiversity in your area

Discover your local geodiversity with our 'Landscape Fashioned by Geology' series.

Folded strata at Ardwell Bay, near Wigtown, Dumfries and Galloway Area. ŠLorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.snh.gov.uk

Scotland's rocks and minerals

There are 5 distinct foundation blocks that make up Scotland's rich geological history and incredibly diverse geology.

Fossil of a 'Diplacanthus Crassisumis' which was found on Cromarty beach by Hugh Miller in circa 1839. ŠJohn Paul Photography/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.snh.gov.uk

Fossils in Scotland

Fossils are the remains or traces of an ancient animal or plant preserved in rock.

Raised bog, forestry and eskers near Carstairs. ŠP&A Macdonald/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.snh.gov.uk

Scotland's Ice Age landforms

Over the last 2.6 million years, the Ice Age glaciers carved and moulded many of the landforms that we see today.

Scarista Beach on the Isle of Harris. ŠLorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.snh.gov.uk

Coasts around Scotland

Scotland's spectacular and varied coastline makes up 8% of Europe's coast.

Coire Fee, Glen Clova. ŠLorne Gill/SNH For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.snh.gov.uk

Scottish rivers

Scottish rivers and burns can be truly wild! Even in our cities they are a reminder of the power of nature.

Large debris cone in Glencoe, built by debris flows repeatedly clearing out loose fallen rock and mud that accumulates in a rock gully. ŠLorne Gill/SNH For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.snh.gov.uk

Landslides in Scotland

Landslides range in size from spectacular whole mountain side rock slope failures to small scale 'soil creep'.

Tourists visiting the Bone Caves at Inchnadamph NNR. Š Lorne Gill/SNH. For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.snh.gov.uk

Caves and karst in Scotland

Assynt is the only place in Scotland where karst is a significant feature of the landscape.

Potato furrows and white clouds, Taymount, Stanley, Tayside and Clackmannanshire Area. ŠLorne Gill/SNH .For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Libary on tel. 01738 444177 or www.snh.gov.uk

Scotland's soils

Think of soils as the vital, active interface between biodiversity, geodiversity, the atmosphere, water and the human environment.

Folded rocks, Loch Monar. ŠLorne Gill/SNH For information on reproduction rights contact the Scottish Natural Heritage Image Library on Tel. 01738 444177 or www.snh.gov.uk

Three billion years of Earth history

A brief introduction to the Earth's history and the geological timescale developed to interpret it.



Last updated on Friday 18th March 2011 at 15:42 PM. Click here to comment on this page