Famous Landmarks on the Island of Skye
June 19, 2013
Photographer: Jeanette Stafford
Summary Author: Jeanette Stafford
The Old Man of Storr is a famous landmark on the island of Skye, off Scotland’s west coast. It’s an impressive basalt pinnacle, formed about 6,500 years ago. The Storr itself is a craggy hillside that took shape when an upwelling of magma created a nearly 1,000 ft (305 m) thick layer of basalt, which now overlies softer sedimentary rocks beneath. The weight of the basalt has caused these rocks to subside, forcing the basalt layer to tip slightly and sections of the cliff face to sheer off and slide downhill. Several impressive slabs and pinnacles have resulted, including The Old Man. The Storr is part of the largest continuous area of landslides in Britain. This area stretches for about 17 mi (28 km) along the Trotternish peninsula and includes another well-known landmark, the Quiraing.
The lower slopes of the Storr show evidence of much earlier subsidence that’s since been smoothed by glaciation. The area around the Old Man (inset photo) is above the level of the most recent period of glaciations, ending over 10,000 years ago, and the valley between the pinnacle and its neighbors and the cliff face is littered with angular boulders from periodic cliff falls. These give the impression that the cliff is retreating at a fair pace and that the Old Man’s days may be numbered. In fact the cliff face is now eroding much more slowly than in the past, at only around one half inch (1 cm) every 100 years. Although his situation looks precarious, The Old Man should be around for a good few centuries yet. On the top photo, note the hikers at the base of the pinnacle for scale purposes. Photograph taken 31 March 21, 2012.
Photo details: Top - Camera Model: PENTAX K-5; Focal Length: 18.0mm (35mm equivalent: 27mm); Aperture: f/13.0; Exposure Time: 0.0080 s (1/125); ISO equiv: 100. Landscape: Same except Focal Length: 55.0mm (35mm equivalent: 82mm); Exposure Time: 0.0050 s (1/200).