Skip to main content Accessibility help

Age, evolution and tectonic history of the Highland Border Complex, Scotland

  • Gordon B. Curry (a1), B. J. Bluck (a1), C. J. Burton (a1), J. K. Ingham (a2), David J. Siveter (a3) and Alwyn Williams (a4)...


I. ABSTRACT: Research interest in the Highland Border Complex has been pursued sporadically during the past 150 years. The results and conclusions have emphasised the problems of dealing with a lithologically disparate association which crops out in isolated, fault-bounded slivers along the line of the Highland Boundary fault. For much of the present century, the debate has centred on whether the rocks of the complex have affinities with the Dalradian Supergroup to the N, or are a discrete group. Recent fossil discoveries in a wide variety of Highland Border rocks have confirmed that many are of Ordovician age, and hence cannot have been involved in at least the early Grampian deformational events (now accurately dated as pre-Ordovician) which affect the Dalradian Supergroup. Such palaeontological discoveries form the basis for a viable biostratigraphical synthesis. On a regional scale, it is apparent that the geological history of the Highland Border rocks must be viewed in the context of plate boundary tectonism along the entire northwestern margin of Iapetus during Palaeozoic times.

II. ABSTRACT: Silicified articulate brachiopods from the Lower Ordovician (Arenig) Dounans Limestone are extremely rare but the stratigraphically diagnostic genera Archaeorthis Schuchert and Cooper, and Orthidium Hall and Clarke, have been identified. In addition, three specimens with characteristic syntrophiid morphology have been recovered. Inarticulate brachiopods are known from Stonehaven and Bofrishlie Burn near Aberfoyle, and have also been previously recorded from Arran.

III. ABSTRACT: Micropalaeontological investigation of the Highland Border Complex has produced a range of microfossils including chitinozoans, coleolids, calcispheres and other more enigmatic objects. The stratigraphical ranges of the species lie almost entirely within the Ordovician and reveal a scatter of ages for different lithologies from the Arenig through to the Caradoc or Ashgill, with a pronounced erosional break between the Llandeilo and the Caradoc.

IV. ABSTRACT: A Lower Ordovician (Arenig Series) silicified ostracode fauna from the Highland Border Dounans Limestone at Lime Craig Quarry, Aberfoyle, Central Scotland, represents the earliest record of this group of Crustacea from the British part of the early Palaeozoic ‘North American’ plate.

V. ABSTRACT: Palaeontological age determinations for a variety of Highland Border rocks are presented. The data are based on the results of recent prospecting which has demonstrated that macro- and microfossils are present in a much greater range of Highland Border lithologies than previously realised. Data from other studies are also incorporated, as are modern taxonomie re-assessments of older palaeontological discoveries, in a comprehensive survey of Highland Border biostratigraphy. These accumulated data demonstrate that all fossiliferous Highland Border rocks so far discovered are of Ordovician age, with the exception of the Lower Cambrian Leny Limestone.

VI. ABSTRACT: The Highland Border Complex consists of at least four rock assemblages: a serpentinite and possibly other ophiolitic rocks of Early or pre-Arenig age; a sequence of limestones and conglomerates of Early Arenig age; a succession of dark shales, cherts, quartz wackes, basic lavas and associated volcanogenic sediments of Llanvirn and ? earlier age; and an assemblage of limestones, breccias, conglomerates and arenites with subordinate shales of Caradoc or Ashgill age. At least three assemblages are divided by unconformities and in theirmost general aspect have similarities with coeval rocks in western Ireland.

The Highland Border Complex probably formed N of the Midland Valley arc massif in a marginal sea comparable with the Sunda shelf adjacent to Sumatra–Java. Strike-slip and thrust emplacement of the whole Complex in at least four episodes followed the probable generation of all or part of its rocks by pull-apart mechanisms.



Hide All
Adamczak, F. 1976. Middle Devonian Podocopida (Ostracoda) from Poland; their morphology, systematics and occurrence. SENCKENBERG LETHAEA 57, 265–67.
Allan, D. A. 1940. The geology of the Highland Border from Glen Almond to Glen Artney. TRANS R SOC EDINBURGH 60, 171–93.
Anderson, F. W. 1963. Palaeontology; Section III, 1, In SUMMPROG GEOL SURV G B (1962).
Anderson, J. G. C. 1947. The geology of the Highland Border: Stonehaven to Arran. TRANS R SOC EDINBURGH 61, 479515.
Anderson, J. G. C. & Pringle, J. 1944. The Arenig rocks of Arran and their relationship to the Dalradian Series. GEOL MAG 81, 81–7.
Barrow, G. 1901. On the occurrence of Silurian (?) rocks in Forfarshire and Kincardinshire along the eastern border of the Highlands. Q J GEOL SOC LONDON, 57, 328–45.
Bluck, B. J. 1983. Role of the Midland Valley of Scotland in the Caledonian orogeny. TRANS R SOC EDINBURGH EARTH SCI 74, 119–36.
Bluck, B. J. 1984. Pre-Carboniferous history of the Midland Valley of Scotland. TRANS R SOC EDINBURGH EARTH SCI 75, 275–95.
Bluck, B. J., Halliday, A. N., Aftalion, M. & Maclntyre, R. M. 1980. Age and origin of the Ballantrae ophiolite and its significance to the Caledonian orogeny and Ordovician time scale. GEOLOGY 8, 492–5.
Bockelie, J. F. 1984. The Diploporita of the Oslo region, Norway. PALAEONTOLOGY 27, 168.
Brown, P. E., Miller, J. A., Soper, N. J. & York, D. 1965. Potassium-argon age pattern of the British Caledonides. PROC YORKSHIRE GEOL SOC 35, 103–38.
Burton, C. J., Hocken, C., MacCallum, D. & Young, M. E. 1984. Chitinozoa and the age of the Margie Limestone of the North Esk. PROC GEOL SOC GLASGOW 124/125, 2732.
Campbell, R. 1911. Preliminary note on the geology of south-eastern Kincardineshire GEOL MAG 48, 63–9.
Campbell, R. 1913. The geology of south-eastern Kincardineshire. TRANS R SOC EDINBURGH 48, 923–60.
Curry, G. B., Ingham, J. K., Bluck, B. J. & Williams, A. 1982. The significance of a reliable Ordovician age for some Highland Border rocks in Central Scotland. J. GEOL SOC LONDON 139, 451–4.
Dempster, T. J. 1984. Localized uplift in the Scottish Dalradian. NATURE 307, 156–9.
Dewey, J. F. 1982. Plate tectonics and the evolution of the British Isles J GEOL SOC LONDON 139, 371412.
Downie, C., Lister, T. R., Harris, A. L. & Fettes, D. J. 1971. A palynological investigation of the Dalradian of Scotland. REP INST GEOL SCI LONDON 71/9.
Gregory, J. W. 1910. Problems of the South-western Highlands. TRANS GEOL SOC GLASGOW 14, 129.
Harland, W. B., Cox, A. V., Llewellyn, P. G., Pickton, C. A. G., Smith, A. G. & Walters, R. 1982. A geologic timescale. Cambridge University Press.
Harper, C. T. 1967. The geological interpretation of potassium-argon ages of metamorphic rocks from the Scottish Caledonides. SCOTT J GEOL 3, 4666.
Harris, A. L. 1969. The relationship of the Leny Limestone to the Dalradian. SCOTT J GEOL 5, 187–90.
Hedberg, H. D. 1976. International Stratigraphic Guide: A guide to Stratigraphic Classification, Terminology, and Procedure. New York: John Wiley.
Henderson, W. G. & Fortey, N. J. 1982. Highland Border rocks at Loch Lomond and Aberfoyle. SCOTT J GEOL 18, 227–45.
Henderson, W. G. & Robertson, A. H. F. 1982. The Highland Border rocks and their relation to marginal basin development in the Scottish Caledonides. J GEOL SOC LONDON 139, 433–50.
Henningsmoen, G. 1954. Lower Ordovician ostracods from the Oslo Region, Norway. NORSK GEOL TIDSSKR 33, 4168.
Hessland, I. 1949. Investigations of the Lower Ordovician of the Siljan district, Sweden. I. Lower Ordovician ostracods of the Siljan district, Sweden. BULL GEOL INST UNIV UPPSALA 33, 97408.
Jehu, T. J. 1912. Discovery of fossils in the Boundary Fault Series, near Aberfoyle. GEOL MAG 49, 469–70.
Jehu, T. J. & Campbell, R. 1917. The Highland Border rocks of the Aberfoyle district. TRANS R SOC EDINBURGH 52, 175212.
Jenkins, W. A. M. 1967. Ordovician Chitinozoa from Shropshire. PALAEONTOLOGY 10, 436–88.
Johnson, M. R. W. & Harris, A. L. 1967. Dalradian-? Arenig relations in part of the Highland Border, Scotland, and their significance in the chronology of the Caledonian orogeny. SCOTT J GEOL 3, 116.
Jones, D. L., Cox, A., Coney, P. & Beck, M. 1982. The growth of eastern North America. SCI AM 247, 5064.
Jones, T. R. 1879. In Nicholson, A. A. & Etheridge, R.A Monograph of the Silurian fossils of Girvan in Ayrshire with special reference to those contained in the ‘Gray Collection’, Vol. 1 (2), 136236Edinburgh.
Kelling, G. 1962. The petrology and sedimentation of Upper Ordovician rocks in the Rhinns of Galloway, south-west Scotland. TRANS R SOC EDINBURGH 65, 107–37.
Leake, B. E., Tanner, P. W. G., Macintyre, R. M. & Elias, E. 1984. Tectonic position of the Dalradian rocks of Connemara and its bearing on the evolution of the Midland Valley of Scotland, TRANS R SOC EDINBURGH: EARTH SCI 75, 165–71.
Longman, C. D., Bluck, B. J. & van Breemen, O. 1979. Ordovician conglomerates and the evolution of the Midland Valley. NATURE 280, 578–81.
Lyell, C. 1825. On a dike of serpentine, cutting through sandstone, in the County of Forfar. EDINBURGH J SCI 1, 112–8.
MacCulloch, J. 1824. On the limestone of Clunie, in Perthshire, with remarks on Trap and Serpentine. EDINBURGH J SCI 1, 115.
Nicol, J. 1850. Observations on the Silurian strata of the south-east of Scotland. Q J GEOL SOC LONDON 6, 5365.
Odin, G. S. 1982. The Phanerozoic timescale revisited. EPISODES 1982, 39.
Pankhurst, R. J. 1970. The geochronology of the basic igneous complexes. SCOTT J GEOL 6, 83107.
Pringle, J. 1939. The discovery of Cambrian trilobites in the Highland Border rocks near Callander, Perthshire. REPT BR ASS ADVMT SCI, p. 252.
Pringle, K. 1942. On the relationship of the green conglomerate to the Margie Series in the North Esk, near Edzell; and on the probable age of the Margie limestone. TRANS GEOL SOC GLASGOW 20, 136–40.
Rushton, A. W. A. 1978. Fossils from the Middle-Upper Cambrian Transition in the Nuneaton district. PALAEONTOLOGY 21, 245–83.
Rushton, A. W. A. & Tripp, R. P. 1979. A fossiliferous lower Canadian (Tremadoc) boulder from the Benan Conglomerate of the Girvan district. SCOTT J GEOL 15, 321–27.
Sarv, L. 1959. Ordovician ostracods of the Estonian SSR. EESTI NSV TEAD AKAD.
Shackleton, R. M. 1958. Downward facing structures of the Highland Border. Q J GEOL SOC LONDON 113, 361–78.
Siveter, D. J. 1978. The Ordovician. In Bates, R. & Robinson, E. (eds) A Stratigraphie Index of British Ostracodes, 4156. GEOL J SPEC ISSUE 8.
Tappan, H. 1980. The paleobiology of plant protists. San Francisco: Freeman.
Taugourdeau, P. 1961. Chitinozoaires du Silurien d'Aquitaine. REV MICROPALEONTOL 4, 135–54.
Ulrich, E. O. & Cooper, G. A. 1938. Ozarkian and Canadian Brachiopoda. GEOL SOC SPEC PAPER 13.
van Breemen, O. & Bluck, B. J. 1981. Episodic granite plutonism in the Scottish Caledonides. NATURE 291, 113–7.
Williams, A. 1969. Ordovician faunal provinces with reference to brachiopod distribution. In Wood, A. (ed.) The Pre-Cambrian and Lower Palaeozoic Rocks of Wales, 117–54. Cardiff University of Wales Press.
Williams, A. & Curry, G. B. 1984. Lower Ordovician Brachiopods from the Tourmakeady Limestone, Co. Mayo, Eire. BULL BR MUS (NAT HIST) GEOL, 38, 5.
Williams, A., Strachan, I., Bassett, D. A., Dean, W. T., Ingham, J. K., Wright, A. D. & Whittington, H. B. 1972. A correlation of Ordovician rocks in the British Isles. GEOL SOC LONDON SPEC REP 3.
Yardley, B. W. D., Vine, F. J. & Baldwin, C. T. 1982. The plate tectonic setting of NW Britain and Ireland in late Cambrian and early Ordovician times. J GEOL SOC LONDON 139, 455–63.


Age, evolution and tectonic history of the Highland Border Complex, Scotland

  • Gordon B. Curry (a1), B. J. Bluck (a1), C. J. Burton (a1), J. K. Ingham (a2), David J. Siveter (a3) and Alwyn Williams (a4)...


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed