A new research indicates that Great Britain suffered a geological Brexit during which it separated from the rest of the European continent. Researchers also explained why this ancient event holds so much importance in the geological history of our continent.
The theory suggests that Great Britain separated from the continent after a massive flood which took place in two stages and destroyed the piece of land which connected Great Britain and France. Firstly, a huge lake overflowed around 450,000 years ago. Then, 290,000 years later, the flood occurred. This created the Dover Strait, which represents the boundary between Great Britain and the rest of the continent.
How did the geological Brexit take place?
Researchers say that, initially, the Dover Strait was a chalk crest which hosted a glacial lake behind it. These surroundings looked really similar to the frozen tundra from Siberia. This lake was the one that overflooded at first, and this caused the erosion of the rock. In the end, the rock turned into a breach which caused the permanent separation of the two pieces of land.
However, scientists doubt that it was mere erosion which caused the separation. They suspect that an earthquake must have shaken the lake so hard that it caused it to overflow and create waterfalls. The author of the study, professor Jenny Collier from the Imperial College, London, explained the situation.
“The waterfalls were so huge they left behind the plunge pools, some several kilometers in diameter and 100 meters deep in solid rock, running in a line from Calais to Dover.”
The importance of the Dover Strait
If this initial event had not happened, we could have had today’s Britain hanging from the continent just like Denmark does. Researchers are pretty sure about this hypothesis, but they want to take more samples to establish the exact moment when everything happened.
However, it might be difficult to investigate the area, since the Dover Strait is nowadays one of the main naval transport areas which connects the English Channel with the North Sea, as well as the Atlantic Ocean. It can host more than 500 ships every day, so it has a huge commercial importance.
Besides this, the area has a rich history, being a key strategic location during the Napoleonic War and World War II. It hosts many defense towers and fortifications which helped in the protection of the country during attacks.
The geological Brexit is an important event with great significance for the geography and biological evolution of the area. Also, it has a social importance, too, as it had an impact on the early colonization of Great Britain.
Image Source: Flickr