Dating Anglesey's birth as an island and formation of the Menai Strait

Mar 01, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Research has revealed when Anglesey became a permanent island through the formation of the Menai Strait.

Mike Roberts, a mature student from Amlwch, conducted the research as part of his PhD at Bangor University’s School of Ocean Sciences, supported by the Cemlyn Jones Trust and the Countryside Council for Wales.

His research, just published in an academic journal, reveals that the Strait became a permanent feature between 5,800 and 4,600 years ago around the time when hunter-gatherers were replaced by the first farmers in North Wales.

“About 14,000 years ago the entire region of the Menai Strait was dry land and both humans and animals could easily cross from one side to the other,” explains Mike.

“Over the next few thousand years the climate warmed and melting ice caused sea levels to rise which in turn, caused the coastline of Wales to take on its familiar shape and flooded the Menai Strait from either end. Then one day sometime between 8,800 and 8,400 years ago, a high spring tide actually separated Ynys Môn or Anglesey, from the mainland for the first time.”

“Sea levels kept on rising and for some 4,000 years only a tidal causeway, in the vicinity of Ynys Gored Goch in the Swellies, linked Anglesey with the mainland at low tides. Then at some time between 5,800 and 4,600 years ago there came a moment when even the lowest of the low spring tides failed to reveal any dry land and the tidal strait as we know it today was first formed,” he said.

This newly-discovered history of how sea level changed in North Wales has also revealed information about the size of the ancient ice sheets that used to cover Snowdonia, when and how fast they disappeared and provided important information on the properties of the molten Earth beneath Britain.

Professor James Scourse, one of Mike’s Ph.D. supervisors, said “Mike’s study not only unlocks the recent geological history of the region in which we work, it also demonstrates that the NE Menai Strait is one of the most important localities for sea-level reconstructions in the whole of Europe. The amount of data from this single locality is unprecedented”.

Mike’s career demonstrates that it’s never too late to go to university and is also a testament to the effectiveness of Bangor University in training mature students. After leaving school with a few basic qualifications Mike spent the next 15 years seeking employment wherever it was available, working as a general labourer, driver, plasterer and commercial fisherman locally and in England and Germany. In his early thirties he decided to embark on a degree course at Bangor University via an Access to Higher Education Course at Coleg Menai and his exceptional abilities were rewarded with a first class Honours Degree in Ocean Sciences and a Ph.D. scholarship from the Cemlyn Jones Trust. He now works as a geological consultant within the SEACAMS project in the School of .

Explore further: Clean air: Fewer sources for self-cleaning

More information: Mike Roberts’s paper in the Journal of Quaternary Science is available here: onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/jqs.1443/abstract

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Hidden communities revealed by new DNA sequencing

Oct 20, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- Half a bucket full of sand from an unassuming beach in Scotland has revealed a far richer and more complex web of microscopic animals living within the tiny ‘ecosystem’ than have previously been ...

Impact of sea-level rise on atmospheric CO2 concentrations

Jan 13, 2009

(PhysOrg.com) -- The rise in sea level since the last ice age has prevented us from feeling the full impact of man-made global warming. The sea level rise has resulted in more harmful greenhouse gases being absorbed by the ...

Southwest headed for permanent drought

Jan 31, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- The American Southwest has seen naturally induced dry spells throughout the past, but now human-induced global warming could push the region into a permanent drought in the coming decades, ...

Drilling for insights under the salty dead sea

Jan 31, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- Scientists are drilling deep into the bed of the fast-shrinking Dead Sea, searching for clues to past climate changes and other events that may have affected human history even earlier than ...

Recommended for you

Six Nepalese dead, six missing in Everest avalanche

6 hours ago

At least six Nepalese climbing guides have been killed and six others are missing after an avalanche struck Mount Everest early Friday in one of the deadliest accidents on the world's highest peak, officials ...

User comments : 1

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

Nik_2213
not rated yet Mar 01, 2011
Well, that puts paid to the legend that the Menai Straights formed in 'historical' times !!

More news stories

New research on Earth's carbon budget

(Phys.org) —Results from a research project involving scientists from the Desert Research Institute have generated new findings surrounding some of the unknowns of changes in climate and the degree to which ...

LADEE mission ends with planned lunar impact

(Phys.org) —Ground controllers at NASA's Ames Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., have confirmed that NASA's Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft impacted the surface ...