Cosmogenic Cl-36 dating of postglacial landsliding at The Storr, Isle of Skye, Scotland

Colin Kerr Ballantyne, JO Stone, LK Fifield

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    69 Citations (Scopus)


    Major postglacial rock slope failures are a common feature of the Scottish Highlands and other mountainous areas that were deglaciated at the end of the Pleistocene, but evaluation of the causes and triggers of failure has been hindered by a lack of reliable dating evidence. We report the result of a pilot study designed to establish the absolute age of a large postglacial rotational rockslide at The Storr on the Isle of Skye, Scotland, using Cl-36 surface exposure dating. Exposure ages of 6.3 +/- 0.7 cal. ka BP and 6.6 +/- 0.8 cal. ka BP were obtained for rock samples from two separate landslide blocks, giving an overall age estimate of 6.5 +/- 0.5 cal. ka BP for rack slope failure at this site. This dale is consistent with AMS radiocarbon dating of windblown sand derived from the failure scarp, and with previous inferences (based bn relative dating evidence) concerning an early-Holocene age for most rock slope failures in the Scottish Highlands. The long time lag (> 7 ka) between deglaciation and failure suggests that progressive joint extension and shearing of rock bridges and asperities were of critical importance in conditioning failure, though a seismic trigger cannot be ruled out The methodology of surface exposure dating in this context is described and its future potential assessed.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)347-351
    Number of pages5
    JournalThe Holocene
    Publication statusPublished - May 1998


    • cosmogenic isotope dating
    • chlorine-36
    • rock slope failure
    • rotational landslide
    • joint network
    • Holocene
    • Scotland
    • OF-SKYE


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