The Extraordinary Story of Ben Nevis

Many of us Americans have no idea of what (not who) Ben Nevis is, and Brits, perhaps, can’t see it featuring on a Sunday Morning Volcano post.

Well, here’s geologist Noel Williams describing how the top part of Ben Nevis formed:

This was posted in 2012 by Friends of Nevis, who say:

Geologist Noel Williams describes the unusual geology of Ben Nevis. The mountain was formed when the roof of a huge volcanic caldera collapsed. One of the interviews from the Glen Nevis Walks podcast series presented by Dave MacLeod and made by Friends of Nevis. You can subscribe to the podcasts at or search Glen Nevis on iTunes.

I don’t know too much about the event, but have learned that Ben Nevis is in Scotland and is the highest mountain in Britain. The cataclysmic event described above happened some 400 million years ago, long before the Atlantic Ocean began to open up and at around the time the Appalachians began to rise (if I’ve got it right). Per Dr. Wikipedia:

Ben Nevis is all that remains of a Devonian volcano that met a cataclysmic end in the Carboniferous period around 350 million years ago. Evidence near the summit shows light coloured granite (which had cooled in subterranean chambers several kilometres beneath the surface) lies among dark basaltic lavas (that only form on the surface). The two lying side-by-side is evidence the huge volcano collapsed in on itself creating an explosion comparative to Thera (2nd millennium BC) or Krakatoa (1883). The mountain is now all that remains of the imploded inner dome of the volcano.[12] Its form has been extensively shaped by glaciation.

Image by Kitty Terwolbeck.

Now imagine that 2,000 feet taller. Then…BOOM! (Image by Kitty Terwolbeck)

Categories: Sunday morning volcano

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