Definition: Cold period that occurred towards the end of the last (Devensian) glacial stage in Scotland, equivalent to the Younger Dryas of NW Europe. The event took place about 11000-10000 radiocarbon years BP. The period is named after the advance of ice from the SW Highlands to the southern shore of Loch Lomond.

Many questions remain about environments on Orkney during this cold interval. In Scotland, the Loch Lomond Stadial is a key interval in shaping of the landscape. In the mountains, glaciers reformed and advanced rapidly. In the lowlands, permafrost returned. Intense frost weathering generated screes and solifluction, the soil flow generated by flow of the active layer in summer, led to sludging of considerable thicknesses of glacial deposits to the base of slopes.

In Orkney, it has long been suspected that small corrie glaciers developed on Hoy. Records of organic sediments in lakes point to one or more periods cooling at around this time, with increased erosion in catchments and sediment supply to lakes. Three incursions of warmer water to at least latitude 56ºN during the Loch Lomond Stadial were detected by Kroon et al. (1997), in the offshore sedimentary sequence near north-west Scotland. It remains possible that a weak maritime influence prevented the development of permafrost over large parts of Orkney at this time. The relatively mild conditions might account for the apparently limited development of scree and solifluction deposits on Orkney.

Orkney Landscapes

  • The rocks of Orkney are dominated by flagstones and sandstones deposited in a huge fresh water lake. They belong in time to the Devonian (Old Red Sandstone) period 416 – 359 million years ago). The sediments of Lake Orcadie are superbly exposed along the many cliffs and shore platforms and so Orkney gives us one of the best examples of a Devonian lake basin in the world. ...

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  • The landforms of Orkney are special not only in terms of the magnificent diversity and quality of the island scenery. This is a sandstone landscape, with features similar to those found in many other parts of the world where sedimentary rocks lie just below the surface. And an Ice Age landscape, where glaciers cut corries and shelly boulder clay was dredged from the bed of the sea by ice sheets. Then there is the magnificent coast, retreating from Atlantic and North Sea storms but slowly building in sheltered firths. Orkney is all the while changing and fascinating.

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