Erosion

In some places, such as Crummackdale, scouring was so intense that the limestone was removed altogether and the dale is floored by the underlying grits and shales.

Erosion involves the movement of small fragments of rock and also results in the rock being broken up further. Rock is eroded by ice (glaciers, etc.), wind, rain, rivers, sea and even by humans or other animals.

Types of erosion in limestone areas

Sand and pebbles are found in streams and rivers as well as in many limestone caves. These cause erosion by scouring, particularly when the river system is in spate, such as after exceptional storms or during very wet winters.

There is evidence of considerable erosion in karst areas of Britain, but erosion that took place in the geological past.

Click on the photo icons on the map below to show some examples of glacial or coastal erosion in limestone areas.

Example locations of limestone erosion features in the UK

Example locations of erosion in the UK Crummackdale Gordale Scar Flamborough Head Kingsdale Long Scar and Moughton Scar Gower Coast The Needles Limpet Beachy Head

red camera Glacial erosion

Much of the scenery of the Yorkshire Dales, for example, is the result of erosion by thick ice fields and glaciers during the last ice ages.

As glaciers moved over the landscape, they scoured away enormous quantities of rock. Evidence of glaciation is everywhere: U-shaped valleys, scars, erratics, till, etc.

During times of retreating glaciers, meltwater cuts deep gorges. However, these erosional features are not restricted to limestone areas like solution features such as dolines, which are caused by chemical weathering.

A glacier in Iceland

blue camera Coastal erosion

In some areas of Britain, limestone is found along the coastal zone and erosional features are present. Both thinly bedded limestones, such as the Chalk of southern and eastern England, and massive limestones can form coastal features. However, harder, massive Carboniferous limestone withstands marine erosion better than chalk.

In some cases the activity of animals can lead to erosion.

The Needles, Isle of Wight