New Perspectives on the Old Red Sandstone



The Old Red Sandstone is amongst the most distinctive and well-known stratigraphic units in the British Isles. It is mainly of Devonian age; in fact, its lower boundary was used to define the base of the Devonian until relatively recently and it was called “Old” back in the nineteenth century to distinguish it from a superficially similar succession of Triassic age named the New Red Sandstone. The Old Red Sandstone has long been known to be a non-marine syntectonic to post-tectonic deposit associated with the Caledonian Orogeny One of the most famous outcrops of the red sandstone is at Siccar Point in northeast England at one of several outcrops named “Hutton's unconformity” where it lies, with marked angularity on Silurian lithic sandstones and shales. It was at these outcrops, toward the end of the eigthteenth century that James Hutton first came to understand the meaning of angular unconformities as structures representing vast amounts of missing time during which major upheavals of the Earth's crust occurred.