Geology of Yorkshire

The Geology of Yorkshire in northern England shows a very close relationship between the major topographical areas and the geological period in which their rocks were formed. The rocks of the Pennine chain of hills in the west are of Carboniferous origin whilst those of the central vale are Permo-Triassic. The North York Moors in the north-east of the county are Jurassic in age while the Yorkshire Wolds to the south east are Cretaceous chalk uplands. The plain of Holderness and the Humberhead levels both owe their present form to the Quaternary ice ages. The strata become gradually younger from west to east.[1][2]

Much of Yorkshire presents heavily glaciated scenery as few places escaped the direct or indirect impact of the great ice sheets as they first advanced and then retreated during the last ice age.

A simplified geology of Yorkshire

The evolution of the landscape


The oldest rocks in Yorkshire are represented by a number of small inliers of Palaeozoic areas along the southern margin of the Askrigg Block to the north of the Craven faults. This Ingletonian group of folded and cleaved mudstones and sandstones is of disputed age but fossils equate them with the Lower Skiddaw Group of the Lake District which are Ordovician.[3] These rocks were laid down when the area was part of the Avalonia land mass and was positioned about 30° south of the equator.[4]

By the end of the Ordovician period the Avalonian land mass had collided with Baltica and this event caused a marine regression which was exacerbated by a worldwide drop in sea level caused by a period of glaciation.[4]

During the Silurian period Avalonia and Baltica moved rapidly towards Laurentia at a position about 20°south of the equator. The Iapetus Ocean which lay between them was closed. Inliers of the Silurian rocks which were formed at this time occur at Cross Fell, adjacent to the Pennine Fault, and at Horton in Ribblesdale and Austwick, north of the Craven Fault System.[4]

In the following Devonian period the land area which is now Yorkshire was in a continental, inland, phase of deposition. There are no proven remaining Devonian deposits in the Yorkshire area and the Carboniferous rocks lie unconformably on the Silurian.[3]


Thornton Force
At Thornton Force the Carboniferous strata lie unconformably on older strata

Carboniferous deposits were laid down on and between large pre-existing land blocks and intervening troughs. The blocks are known as the Askrigg and Alston blocks. These upstanding areas and the troughs between were actively subsiding into shallow seas which were the result of a global rise in sea levels. These seas contained high levels of calcium carbonate and calcium forming fossils. There are areas of reef deposition around the blocks where the seas were temporarily shallower.[3] The land mass was by now astride the equator. The bordering seas began to be periodically invaded by deltas formed by rivers flowing from the adjacent higher ground. The sand of the deltas became the Millstone Grits of the Yorkshire Pennines.[4] The climate then became humid and the delta areas started to support swamps and tropical rain forests. These deltas changed size and shape frequently and were regularly inundated by the sea. They would eventually form the numerous coal seams of the Coal Measures sandstones.[1] The Variscan orogeny occurred towards the end of the Carboniferous period as the former supercontinents of Gondwanaland and Euramerica collided to form the single supercontinent of Pangea. The seas between the land masses were closed up and fold mountain ranges were formed along the closure line in many areas. The area of Britain was uplifted and fault lines developed.[4]


Yorkshire lay in the arid hinterland of Pangea, between 20° and 30° north of the equator. The rocks of this period are dominated by red desert sandstones. The area which is now beneath the North Sea was a dry area of subsidence which was filled with a great thickness of wind-blown sands. Later a marine transgression from the north established a shallow saline sea which produced a thickness of dolomitic limestone and significant evaporite deposits as it dried up.[3] This Zechstein Sea had completely evaporated by the end of the Permian. At the end of the Permian 95 per cent of animals and plants throughout the world became extinct. During the following Triassic period a hot and mainly arid climate continued but with flash floods from the south which deposited pebble beds in the mainly wind-deposited Sherwood sandstones. Another mass extinction at the end of this period saw 80 per cent of species disappear from earth.[4]

At the end of the Triassic the Rhaetic ocean spread its shallow waters over the deserts to start the Jurassic period.[4]


Spaunton Quarry Yorkshire Coralline Oolite Formation
Coralline Oolite Formation (Upper Jurassic, Oxfordian) in Spaunton Quarry, Yorkshire.
Ravenswick Quarry Malton Oolite
Malton Oolite (Upper Jurassic, Oxfordian) in Ravenswick Quarry, Yorkshire.

A shallow epicontinental sea, normally less than 100m deep, spread over the British area during this period. Britain at this time lay between 30° and 40° north of the equator. However, the Pennines, along with parts of Wales and Scotland were probably above sea level for most of the time. During the early and middle Jurassic an area of uplift around Market Weighton affected the way that sediments were deposited causing thinner bands of Jurassic rocks to be formed immediately north and south of the uplifted block.

The main area of Jurassic deposition in Yorkshire was the North York Moors.

  • Lower Jurassic At the beginning of the Jurassic period shales, clays and thin limestones and sandstones were deposited in a shallow sea. These deposits are many metres thick and include layers of ironstone of various thicknesses and the rocks from which alum is extracted.
  • Middle Jurassic A period of gradual uplift happened when mudstone and sandstone were deposited on a low-lying coastal plain crossed by large rivers. Occasionally this land area was inundated by the sea and at these times calcareous rocks containing marine fossils were deposited. These are the Ravenscar Group of rocks. The Oxford Clay was deposited at the end of this era.
  • Upper Jurassic Towards the end of the Jurassic period the land again sank beneath the sea. At first the sea was shallow and calcareous sandstones and limestones were deposited. These are the Corallian rocks of the Tabular Hills towards the south of the area. Overlying the Corallian rocks is the Kimmeridge Clay which underlies the Vale of Pickering but this is not exposed on the surface.[2][5]

Marine conditions continued into the Cretaceous period in the Yorkshire area.[4]


The Cretaceous period lasted for 80 million years. It was during this time that the North Atlantic was formed as North America and Europe drifted apart. To the north of the Market Weighton block only small amounts of deposit were laid down in the early part of the Cretaceous. These were the Speeton clays which are 100m thick and lie directly on the Jurassic deposits at Filey Bay. Above this clay is a 14m thick layer of red chalk coloured by impurities washing from the land. Later in the Cretaceous seawater covered the whole of southern Britain and deposited a layer of chalk up to 550m thick forming a great swathe from Flamborough Head to the Channel coast. At the end of the Cretaceous period there was another mass extinction of life with 75 per cent of all life becoming extinct, including the dinosaurs.[4]

Paleogene and Neogene

During the Paleogene and Neogene, the British land mass drifted northwards from 40°N to its present latitude. It was also moved eastwards by the widening of the Atlantic Ocean and there was violent volcanic activity over north west Britain. It was in this period that the Cleveland dyke was formed, originating from volcanic activity near the Scottish island of Mull. The highlands and lowlands of Britain assumed their present relative positions by the late Neogene, about 2 million years ago.[2][4]


Towards the end of the Tertiary period there were repeated cycles of warmer and cooler climate.[4] Each cycle had a period of about 10,000 years and they became more pronounced in the last two million years. Seventeen cycles of cold and temperate climate are recognised in Britain with three positive episodes of actual glaciation being confirmed. The latest glacial episode destroyed much of the evidence for former ones but traces do exist. On each occasion ice fields formed on the higher land and sent glaciers down the main valleys.[1] There was scouring of material from the valley sides by the glaciers and this was deposited on lower ground as the ice retreated when the climate became warmer. In Yorkshire the higher land of the North York Moors stood proud of the glaciers, the Pennine valleys show classic glacial features and there was abundant deposition in the Vale of York and Holderness as the ice melted.[2][4]


The topography of Yorkshire

The Pennines

Limestone pavement above Malham Cove
Limestone pavement above Malham Cove

The Pennines form an anticline which extends in a north-south direction, consisting of Millstone Grit and the underlying Carboniferous Limestone. The limestone is exposed at the surface to the north of the range in the North Pennines AONB.[3] In the Yorkshire Dales this limestone exposure has led to the formation of large cave systems and watercourses, known as "gills" and "pots". These potholes are more prevalent on the eastern side and are amongst the largest in England; notable examples are the chasms of Gaping Gill, which is over 350 ft (107 m) deep and Rowten Pot, which is 365 ft (111 m) deep. The presence of limestone has also led to some unusual geological formations in the region, such as the limestone pavements of the Yorkshire Pennines. Between the Northern and Southern areas of exposed limestone, between Skipton and the Peak, lies a narrow belt of gritstone country. Here the shales and sandstones of the Millstone Grit form high hills occupied by moors and peat-mosses with the higher ground being uncultivable and barely fit for pastures.[1]

The landscape of the Pennines is generally upland areas of high moorland indented by the more fertile valleys of the region's various rivers.

The Yorkshire Coalfield

The coalfield area is underlain by Coal Measures which consist mainly of mudstone with beds of sandstone and many seams of coal. The sandstones resist erosion so they form a recurring pattern of escarpments that stand out from the shallow mudstone floors of the valleys. The major rivers crossing the area have carved broad valleys which have been glaciated and are floored by fertile alluvial deposits.[3]

The Magnesian Limestone Belt

The Magnesian Limestone belt forms a narrow north-south oriented strip of undulating land on the eastern edge of the Pennines overlooking the Vale of York. The magnesian limestone deposits were laid down in an evaporating inland sea in the Permian period.[3] They are made up of a lower layer of dolomite and dolomitic limestone, which form the dominant landscape feature, overlain by red mudstone with gypsum. The upper layer is made of a similar sequence. There are numerous swallow holes caused by the underground dissolution of limestone and gypsum.[2] The sequence can be seen clearly where it is cut by rivers in the Nidd gorge at Knaresborough, the Wharfe valley at Wetherby and the Don gorge near Doncaster. The York and Escrick glacial moraines swing north and merge north of Wetherby to cover the magnesian limestone with glacial deposits. In the Bedale area and northwards, these deposits are so extensive as to mask the limestone topography. South of Wetherby there is only a thin layer of glacial deposits overlying the limestone. The soils here are from the limestone and clay deposits and are generally very fertile.

The Vales of Mowbray and York

Beneath the drift deposits of the Vale of York lie Triassic sandstone and mudstone, and lower Jurassic mudstone but these are completely masked by the surface deposits. These deposits include glacial till, sand and gravel and both terminal and recessional moraines left by receding ice sheets at the end of the last ice age. The Escrick moraine extends across the vale from west to east and the York moraine, 8 miles further north, forms a similar curving ridge from York eastwards to Sand Hutton. To the north of these ridges are deposits of clay, sand and gravel left by a glacial lake. There are also areas of river alluvium consisting of clay, silt and sand deposited by the main rivers and streams.[3][6]

The North York Moors

Simplified geology of the North York Moors

The geology of the North York Moors is dominated by rocks of the Jurassic period. They were mostly laid down in tropical seas 205 to 142 million years ago. Fluctuations in sea level produced different rock types varying from shales to sandstones and limestones derived from coral. These marine and delta deposited rocks are superbly exposed on the Yorkshire coast from Staithes to Filey.[7]

A cross section of the geology of the North York Moors

Subsequently, about 30 million years ago, the land was uplifted and tilted towards the south by earth movements. The upper layers of rock were eroded away and the older rocks were exposed in places. Because of the tilt the oldest rocks became exposed in the north. These are the bands of shales and ironstones on the northern scarp of the moors and Cleveland Hills. The middle layers form the sandstones of the high moors and the youngest layers of limestone form the tabular hills. In the dales where the rivers have cut through the younger rocks there are also exposures of older shales, ironstone and sandstone. Rosedale is an example of this.[8]

Boulby Cliff - - 136308
The Jurassic strata of Boulby Cliff

During the Quaternary period, the last 2 million years, the area has experienced a sequence of glaciations. The most recent glaciation, the Devensian, ended about 10,000 years ago. The higher parts of the North York Moors were not covered by the ice sheets but glaciers flowed southwards on either side of the higher land mass.

As the climate became warmer at the end of the ice age the snowfields on the moors began to melt. The meltwater was unable to escape northwards, westwards or eastwards because it was blocked by ice. Huge torrents of water were forced southwards. Water from the Esk valley area flowed southwards gouging out the deep Newtondale valley as it went. Water from the moors formed a vast lake in the area of the Vale of Pickering. Eventually this lake filled its basin and then overflowed at the lowest point which was at Kirkham. Here it cut the steep sided Kirkham gorge. When the glacier finally retreated they left deep deposits of boulder clay and glacial alluvium behind. The boulder clay blocked the eastern end of the Vale of Pickering causing a permanent deviation in the course of the River Derwent. Alluvium from the glaciers covers many areas to the north of the moors and in the Esk valley[3]

The Vale of Pickering

The site of the post glacial Lake Pickering, the vale has a predominantly level topography covered by glacial drift deposits, with some rolling low ground on boulder clay and moraines in the far east. The underlying Jurassic sandstones and mudstones have little direct influence upon the landscape. There are minor outliers of Jurassic limestone in places at the foot of the Howardian Hills and the North York Moors, and there is some eroded chalk from the Wolds mixed with sands at the base of the Wolds in the south-east. There are springs associated with calcareous aquifers in places on the periphery of the vale.[2]

The Yorkshire Wolds

Flamborough Head - - 53865
The Cretaceous chalk cliffs at Flamborough Head

The hills are formed from Cretaceous chalk, and make an arc from the Humber estuary west of Kingston upon Hull up to the North Sea coast between Bridlington and Scarborough. Here they rise up to form cliffs, most notably at Flamborough, Bempton Cliffs and Filey; Flamborough Headland is designated a Heritage Coast. On the other side of the Humber, the chalk formations continue as the Lincolnshire Wolds.[2]

Most of the area takes the form of an elevated, gently rolling plateau, cut by numerous deep, steep-sided, flat-bottomed valleys of glacial origin. The chalk formation of the hills provides exceptionally good drainage, with the result that most of these valleys are dry; indeed, surface water is quite scarce throughout the Wolds. Typically the valleys are hard to see from above, creating the visual impression that the landscape is much flatter than is actually the case.[3]


Aldbrough (Mount Pleasant) No Parking! - - 239850
Aldbrough, Holderness. Coastal erosion.

Geologically, Holderness is underlain by Cretaceous Chalk but in most places it is so deeply buried beneath glacial deposits that it has no influence on the landscape. The landscape is dominated by deposits of till, boulder clays and glacial lake clays. These were deposited during the Devensian glaciation. The glacial deposits form a more or less continuous lowland plain which has some peat filled depressions (known locally as meres) which mark the presence of former lake beds. There are other glacial landscape features such as drumlin mounds, ridges and kettle holes scattered throughout the area.[2]

The well-drained glacial deposits provide fertile soils that can support intensive arable cultivation. Fields are generally large and bounded by drainage ditches. There is very little woodland in the area and this leads to a landscape that is essentially rural but very flat and exposed. The coast is subject to rapid marine erosion.[9]

The Humberhead Levels

Footpath Through the Humberhead Peatlands - - 645204
A footpath through the Humberhead nature reserve

During the last ice age, a glacier extended across this area almost to where Doncaster now is. The main glacial front was at Escrick where the Escrick moraine marks its position. This formed the northern limit of an extensive lake, Glacial Lake Humber, which was impounded by the blocking of the Humber Gap by another ice front. Later the lake was filled with clay sediments which are up to 20 metres thick in some places. These clay sediments are locally overlain by peat deposits forming raised mires. At the base of the peat layers can be found the remains of a buried forest.[2][10]

Geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest in Yorkshire

Site name Grid ref Geological feature[11]
Millington Wood and Pastures SE850545 Dry chalk valleys
Rifle Butts Quarry SE898426 Cretaceous red chalk
Withow Gap, Skipsea TA183546 Glacial lake deposits
Flamborough Head TA170570 Upper Cretaceous chalk cliffs
Malham – Arncliffe SD920672 Carboniferous limestone weathering
Robin Hood's Bay NZ941082 Jurassic strata
Newtondale SE820915 Glacial overflow channel
Micklefield Quarry SE446325 Magnesian limestone
South Elmsall Quarry SE484116 Magnesian limestone


  1. ^ a b c d Edwards, W.; Trotter, F.M. (1954). "The Pennines and Adjacent Areas". British Regional Geology (3rd ed.). London: HMSO. Natural Environment Research Council.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Kent, Sir Peter; Gaunt, G.D. (1980). Eastern England from the Tees to the Wash. British Regional Geology (2nd ed.). London: HMSO. Natural Environment Research Council. ISBN 0-11-884121-1.
  3. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Rayner, D.H.; Hemingway, J.E., eds. (1974). "The Geology and Mineral Resources Of Yorkshire". Leeds: Yorkshire Geological Society.
  4. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l Toghill, Peter (2000). The Geology of Britain: An Introduction. Shrewsbury: Swan Hill Press. ISBN 1-85310-890-1.
  5. ^ Staniforth, Alan (1993). Geology of the North York Moors. Helmsley: North York Moors National Park Information Service. ISBN 0-907480-21-7.
  6. ^ "The Vale of York" (pdf). Natural England. Retrieved 8 February 2008.
  7. ^ Osborn, Roger; Bowden, Alistair (2005). The Dinosaur Coast. Helmsley: North York Moors National Park. ISBN 0-907480-88-8.
  8. ^ Spratt, D.A.; Harrison (1989). The North York Moors Landscape Heritage. Helmsley, Yorkshire: North York Moors National Park. ISBN 0-907480-58-6.
  9. ^ "The Plain of Holderness Natural Area Profile" (PDF). 1977. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  10. ^ "Humberhead Levels Character Area". Natural England. Retrieved 29 January 2008.
  11. ^ "Nature on the Map". Natural England. Retrieved 11 January 2017.
  • Rodgers, Peter R. (1978). Geology of the Yorkshire Dales. Clapham, N. Yorkshire: Dalesman Books. 88. ISBN 0852064829.

External links

Bradford Dale (Yorkshire)

Bradford Dale (or Bradfordale), is a side valley of Airedale that feeds water from Bradford Beck across the City of Bradford into the River Aire at Shipley in West Yorkshire, England. Whilst it is in Yorkshire and a dale, it is not part of the Yorkshire Dales and has more in common with Lower Nidderdale and Lower Airedale for its industrialisation.

Before the expansion of Bradford, the dale was a collection of settlements surrounded by woods. When the wool and worsted industries in the dale were mechanized in the Industrial Revolution, the increasing population resulted in an urban sprawl that meant these individual communities largely disappeared as Bradford grew, and in 1897, the town of Bradford became a city. Since most settlements became suburbs of the City of Bradford, the term Bradford Dale has become archaic and has fallen into disuse, though it is sometimes used to refer to the flat section of land northwards from Bradford City Centre towards Shipley.

The woollen and worsted industries had a profound effect on the dale, the later City of Bradford and the wider region. The geological conditions in the valley also allowed some coal mining to take place, but a greater emphasis was upon the noted stone found on the valley floor (Elland Flags and Gaisby Rock), which as a hard sandstone, was found to be good for buildings and in use as a harbour stone due to its natural resistance to water.

The dale is notable for the lack of a main river (Bradford Beck being only a small watercourse in comparison to the rivers Wharfe, Aire, Calder and Don) and necesitated the importation of clean water into the dale form as afar afield as Nidderdale. Most of the becks in the city centre have now been culverted and have suffered with pollution from the heavy woollen industry in the dale.

Cleveland Dyke

The Cleveland Dyke (or Armathwaite Dyke, Cleveland-Armathwaite Dyke or Armathwaite-Cleveland Dyke) is an igneous intrusion which extends from Galloway in southern Scotland through Cumbria and County Durham in northern England to the North York Moors in North Yorkshire.

The dyke is associated with volcanism which took place at the Isle of Mull igneous centre in western Scotland during the early Palaeogene Period at a time of regional crustal tension associated with the opening of the north Atlantic Ocean and which resulted in the intrusion of innumerable dykes. The Cleveland Dyke has been dated to 55.8+/- 0.9 Ma. Though generally from 22-28 m wide, in places it is up to 30 m wide and has been mapped over a distance of 430 km. It is the most significant of a swarm of such intrusions associated with the Mull centre which extend southeastwards through this region, the others being the Acklington Dyke and the Blyth and Sunderland subswarms of Northumberland and Tyne and Wear.

It was thought traditionally that the entire dyke comprising some 85 km3 of rock was emplaced as a single pulse of magma over a few days, moving southeastwards from Mull but also rising vertically through the country rock, this mechanism leading in places to the development of en echelon segments of dyke. However, more recent work suggests that vertical emplacement as a series of thin blades of magma from a series of high level chambers within the crust is more likely. Offsets of the alignment occur within Scotland where the dyke crosses Caledonide fault systems. The dyke is composed of basaltic andesite which is amygdaloidal in places.The dyke has been worked for roadstone at numerous localities including Barrock Fell near Armathwaite in Cumbria and at both Cockfield Fell and Bolam in County Durham. Setts for road construction were made from the dyke at Langbaurgh.


Cyclida (formerly Cycloidea, and so sometimes known as cycloids) is an order of fossil arthropods that lived from the Carboniferous to the Cretaceous. Their classification is uncertain, but they are generally treated as a group of maxillopod crustaceans.

Egypt, Bradford

Egypt is a hamlet near Thornton in the City of Bradford. West Yorkshire, England.

Geology of Lancashire

This article covers the modern ceremonial county of Lancashire which includes the boroughs of Blackpool and Blackburn with Darwen but not those southern parts of the historic county of Lancashire which have since 1974 formed a part of the counties of Merseyside and Greater Manchester nor the northernmost part which now forms a part of Cumbria.The geology of Lancashire in northwest England consists in the main of Carboniferous age rocks but with Triassic sandstones and mudstones at or near the surface of the lowlands bordering the Irish Sea though these are largely obscured by Quaternary deposits.

Howsham railway station (North Yorkshire)

Howsham railway station was a short-lived railway station between the villages of Howsham and Crambe in North Yorkshire, England. Located on the York to Scarborough Line (where the level-crossing now is). It was opened on 5 July 1845 by the York and North Midland Railway and closed in 1849.

It is shown as "Crambe station" on Moule's 1850s maps of North and East Yorkshire, and as Crambe Beck Station in John Philips's Geology of Yorkshire.

John Phillips (geologist)

John Phillips FRS (25 December 1800 – 24 April 1874) was an English geologist. During 1841 he published the first global geologic time scale based on the correlation of fossils in rock strata, thereby helping to standardize terminology including the term Mesozoic, which he invented.

Joseph Wilson Lowry

Joseph Wilson Lowry (1803–1879) was an English engraver.

He was the son of Wilson Lowry and his second wife Rebecca Delvalle and was born on 7 October 1803. He was trained by his father and from both parents inherited a taste for science and mathematics; in his work he specialised in scientific subjects. He died, unmarried, at his residence, Robert Street, Hampstead Road, London, on 15 June 1879.

He engraved plates for the Encyclopædia Metropolitana and for Sir John Rennie a series of drawings for London Bridge. Other work included John Phillips's Geology of Yorkshire, 1835 and Scott Russell's Naval Architecture, 1865, John Weale's 'Scientific Series' and the journals of the Institution of Naval Architects and the Royal Geographical Society. He later was appointed engraver to the Geological Survey of Great Britain and Ireland, as can be seen on their Horizontal [1] and Vertical [2] Sections.


Leeds is a city in West Yorkshire, England. Leeds has one of the most diverse economies of all the UK's main employment centres and has seen the fastest rate of private-sector jobs growth of any UK city. It also has the highest ratio of private to public sector jobs of all the UK's Core Cities, with 77% of its workforce working in the private sector. Leeds has the third-largest jobs total by local authority area, with 480,000 in employment and self-employment at the beginning of 2015. Leeds is ranked as a gamma world city by the Globalization and World Cities Research Network. Leeds is the cultural, financial and commercial heart of the West Yorkshire Urban Area. Leeds is served by four universities, and has the fourth largest student population in the country and the country's fourth largest urban economy.Leeds was a small manorial borough in the 13th century, and in the 17th and 18th centuries it became a major centre for the production and trading of wool, and in the Industrial Revolution a major mill town; wool was still the dominant industry, but flax, engineering, iron foundries, printing, and other industries were also important. From being a market town in the valley of the River Aire in the 16th century, Leeds expanded and absorbed the surrounding villages to become a populous urban centre by the mid-20th century. It now lies within the West Yorkshire Urban Area, the United Kingdom's fourth-most populous urban area, with a population of 2.6 million.Today, Leeds has become the largest legal and financial centre, outside London with the financial and insurance services industry worth £13 billion to the city's economy. The finance and business service sector account for 38% of total output with more than 30 national and international banks located in the city, including an office of the Bank of England. Leeds is also the UK's third-largest manufacturing centre with around 1,800 firms and 39,000 employees, Leeds manufacturing firms account for 8.8% of total employment in the city and is worth over £7 billion to the local economy. The largest sub-sectors are engineering, printing and publishing, food and drink, chemicals and medical technology. Other key sectors include retail, leisure and the visitor economy, construction, and the creative and digital industries. The city saw several firsts, including the oldest-surviving film in existence, Roundhay Garden Scene (1888), and the 1767 invention of soda water.Public transport, rail and road communications networks in the region are focused on Leeds, and the second phase of High Speed 2 will connect it to London via East Midlands Hub and Sheffield Meadowhall. Leeds currently has the third busiest railway station and the tenth busiest airport outside London.

Market Weighton Axis

The Market Weighton Axis is a geological feature which forms the south-eastern part of Yorkshire, England. The feature goes under a number of names such as 'block' or 'area' while the name of the town, Market Weighton is retained. 'Block' seems to be the most modern version but the most distinctive and widely known is 'axis'.

It takes the form of a ridge of tectonic uplift which has progressed during the period of deposition of the newer rocks from the at least the end of the Triassic (205 million years ago) onwards. Its rise has more or less kept pace with the deposition so that on the north and south sides of it, each stratum thins to nothing and in most cases, picks up again on the other side.

During the Carboniferous, the relationship between the Market Weighton Axis and the London-Brabant Massif affected the weaker rocks between them so influencing the geography at the surface. Features in the intervening district were the Widmerpool Gulf and the equatorial swamps which led to the deposition of the Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire coalfields.


The Pennines (), also known as the Pennine Chain or Pennine Hills, are a range of mountains and hills in England separating North West England from Yorkshire and North East England.

Often described as the "backbone of England", the Pennine Hills form a more-or-less continuous range in most of Northern England. The range stretches northwards from the Peak District in the northern Midlands, through the South Pennines, Yorkshire Dales and North Pennines up to the Tyne Gap, which separates the range from the Cheviot Hills. Some definitions of the Pennines also include the Cheviot Hills across the Anglo-Scottish border while excluding the southern Peak District. South of the Aire Gap is a western spur into east Lancashire, comprising the Rossendale Fells, West Pennine Moors and the Bowland Fells in North Lancashire. The Howgill Fells and Orton Fells in Cumbria are sometimes considered to be Pennine spurs to the west of the range. The Pennines are an important water catchment area with numerous reservoirs in the head streams of the river valleys.

The region is widely considered to be one of the most scenic areas of the United Kingdom. The North Pennines and Nidderdale are designated Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) within the range, as are Bowland and Pendle Hill. Parts of the Pennines are incorporated into the Peak District National Park and the Yorkshire Dales National Park. Britain's oldest long-distance footpath, the Pennine Way, runs along most of the Pennine Chain and is 268 miles (429 km) long.

Regional geology

Regional geology is the geological study of large-scale regions. Usually, it encompasses multiple geological disciplines to piece together the history of an area. It is the geologic equivalent of regional geography. The size and the borders of each region are defined by geologically significant boundaries and by the occurrence of geologic processes. Examples of geologically significant boundaries are the interfingering facies change in sedimentary deposits when discussing a sedimentary basin system, or the leading or boundary thrust of an orogen.

River Derwent, Yorkshire

The Derwent is a river in Yorkshire in the north of England.

It flows from Fylingdales Moor in the North York Moors National Park, then southwards as far as its confluence with the River Hertford then westwards through the Vale of Pickering, south through Kirkham Gorge and the Vale of York, joining the River Ouse at Barmby on the Marsh. The confluence is unusual in that the Derwent converges on the Ouse at a shallow angle in an upstream direction.

The old course of the river used to flow further east, entering the Ouse east of Howden.

The River Derwent catchment area includes the Upper Derwent, River Rye, River Hertford, Bielby Beck and Pocklington canal and their tributaries. It covers an area of 2,057 square kilometres and includes the towns of Stamford Bridge, Malton, Pickering, Helmsley, Filey and Scarborough. The area is bounded by the Cleveland Hills, North York Moors and Hambleton Hills to the north, the Yorkshire Wolds and the coast to the east, the Vale of York to the west and the River Ouse and Humber Estuary to the south. The area around the river is primarily rural in nature with grazing moorland in the upland areas and a variety of agricultural uses at lower levels. There are large areas of designated conservation sites throughout the area. There are two titles named after the River Derwent in the British peerage, Viscount FitzAlan of Derwent which is extinct and Baron Derwent.

Thomas Archer Hirst

Thomas Archer Hirst FRS (22 April 1830 – 16 February 1892) was a 19th-century mathematician, specialising in geometry. He was awarded the Royal Society's Royal Medal in 1883.

Topographical areas of Yorkshire

In Yorkshire there is a very close relationship between the major topographical areas and the geological period in which they were formed. The Pennine chain of Hills in the west is of Carboniferous origin. The central vale is Permo-Triassic. The North York Moors in the north-east of the county are Jurassic in age while the Yorkshire Wolds to the south east are Cretaceous chalk uplands. The plain of Holderness and the Humberhead levels both owe their present form to the Quaternary ice ages.

Much of Yorkshire presents heavily glaciated scenery as few places escaped the great ice sheets as they advanced during the last ice age.

West Yorkshire

West Yorkshire is a metropolitan county in England. It is an inland and in relative terms upland county having eastward-draining valleys while taking in moors of the Pennines and has a population of 2.2 million. West Yorkshire came into existence as a metropolitan county in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972.West Yorkshire consists of five metropolitan boroughs (City of Bradford, Calderdale, Kirklees, City of Leeds and City of Wakefield) and is bordered by the counties of Derbyshire to the south, Greater Manchester to the south-west, Lancashire to the north-west, North Yorkshire to the north and east, and South Yorkshire to the south and south-east.

Remnants of strong coal, wool and iron ore industries remain in the county, having attracted people over the centuries, and this can be seen in the buildings and architecture. Major railways and two major motorways traverse the county, which also contains Leeds Bradford International Airport.

West Yorkshire County Council was abolished in 1986, so its five districts became effectively unitary authorities. However, the metropolitan county, which covers an area of 2,029 square kilometres (783 sq mi), continues to exist in law, and as a geographic frame of reference. Since 1 April 2014 West Yorkshire has been a combined authority area, with the local authorities pooling together some functions over transport and regeneration as the West Yorkshire Combined Authority.

West Yorkshire includes the West Yorkshire Urban Area, which is the biggest and most built-up urban area within the historic county boundaries of Yorkshire.

Whin Sill

The Whin Sill or Great Whin Sill is a tabular layer of the igneous rock dolerite in County Durham, Northumberland and Cumbria in the northeast of England. It lies partly in the North Pennines Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and partly in Northumberland National Park and stretches from Teesdale northwards towards Berwick.

It is one of the key natural features of the North Pennines. A major outcrop is at the High Force waterfall in Teesdale. Bamburgh Castle, Dunstanburgh Castle, Lindisfarne Castle and stretches of Hadrian's Wall all strategically take advantage of high, rocky cliff lines formed by the sill.

The Whin Sill complex is usually divided into three components: Holy Island Sill, Alnwick Sill and the Hadrian's Wall-Pennines Sill, which were created by separate magma flows but about the same time.The Little Whin Sill is an associated formation to the south in Weardale.


Yorkshire (; abbreviated Yorks), formally known as the County of York, is a historic county of Northern England and the largest in the United Kingdom. Due to its great size in comparison to other English counties, functions have been undertaken over time by its subdivisions, which have also been subject to periodic reform. Throughout these changes, Yorkshire has continued to be recognised as a geographical territory and cultural region. The name is familiar and well understood across the United Kingdom and is in common use in the media and the military, and also features in the titles of current areas of civil administration such as North Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, West Yorkshire and East Riding of Yorkshire.

Within the borders of the historic county of Yorkshire are vast stretches of unspoiled countryside. This can be found in the Yorkshire Dales and North York Moors and with the open aspect of some of the major cities. Yorkshire has also been nicknamed "God's Own Country".The emblem of Yorkshire is the White Rose of the English royal House of York, and the most commonly used flag representative of Yorkshire is the White Rose on a blue background, which after nearly fifty years of use, was recognised by the Flag Institute on 29 July 2008. Yorkshire Day, held annually on 1 August, is a celebration of the general culture of Yorkshire, ranging from its history to its own dialect.Yorkshire is covered by different Government Office Regions. Most of the county falls within Yorkshire and the Humber while the extreme northern part of the county, such as Middlesbrough, Redcar, Holwick and Startforth, falls within North East England. Small areas in the west of the county are covered by the North West England region.

Yorkshire Geological Society

The Yorkshire Geological Society is a learned, professional and educational charity devoted to the earth sciences, founded in 1837. Its work is centred on the geology of Yorkshire, and northern England more generally, ranging from Northumbria and Cumbria in the north to Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Leicestershire in the south. The Society has around 600 members, the majority living within this region but with significant proportions of UK national and overseas members. It also has working relationships with around two dozen Corresponding Societies and other affiliated local geological and conservation societies and organisations, and with many of the universities of the region, as well as with the British Geological Survey, particularly its headquarters at Keyworth, Nottinghamshire. The Society runs a wide-ranging programme of both indoor and field meetings for members, public lectures and conferences in various locations across its region, and coordinates and promotes with the Corresponding Societies a "Yorkshire Geology Month" every May. The Society also publishes on the earth sciences, notably in its biannual Proceedings, published continuously since 1839, and its Circular, published seven times a year. The Society also publishes field guides, conference reports and books from time to time.

Ceremonial counties
Historic divisions
Culture and heritage

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