and so to the present day…..
The landscape has continued to develop during the last 10,000 years of the post-glacial or Holocene period. There has been a gradual colonisation by vegetation co-eval with the development of soils – there is a classic chicken & egg situation here, did the soil control the plants that grew or did the plants alter the soil to suit themselves? In reality, a bit of both!
Melting ice across the northern hemisphere led to progressively drowning of the land as sea level rose, constantly changing the shape of Anglesey. At the height of the Ice Age, the Irish Sea basin was completely dry, glacial deposits spread out across the sea floor. This video shows the results of studying the North Sea floor -an area known as Doggerland. Plants colonised this area forming dense forests, traversed by meandering rivers. Rising seas drowned these lands and eroded the glacial deposits, winnowing out sand to be driven landwards by the waves to form extensive sandy beaches from which prevailing winds blew the sand into impressive sand dunes. This video shows the rising sea-level from to the present day [and scarily shows future changes if all the worlds ice melts.
Although the broad outline of Anglesey can traced back to Permo-Triassic times [i.e. the rocky outline], the soft sedimentary features we see today are largely developed during this time, and are continuing to change to the present day.
Evidence of rising sea levels can be seen on several beaches, here at Trearddur, sometimes at Lligwy and also at Lleiniog. These submerged forests are reputed to be 6-8,000 years old.
GeoMon scientists have produced a leaflet explaining some of the soil types to be seen around the coastline, whilst not a typical way to study the soils of an area, it provides a very ‘easy to see’ account of some of our soils without the trouble of digging soil pits.
Soil is formed when environmental factors, climate and vegetation get to work altering the surface geological material according to its position in the landscape; over time they bring about changes in the chemical and physical make up of the material to form soil.
As we have seen, Anglesey has a very diverse geology and an extensive range of soft sediments, glacial boulder clay, fluvioglacial sands and gravels, river silts, wind blown sand and marine alluvium. The climate hardly varies, although the prevailing wind has influenced the sediment cover, blowing sand off the exposed beaches on shore. The diverse geology does affect the type of plants able to grow which in turn begin to alter the soil. Landscape is fairly subdued, with only a few small hills and very few, small rivers, but the hydrology is very varied due to varying permeability of solid rock, boulder clay and sand. Hence there is a very diverse range of soil types – leading to a diverse range of plant habitats.
The pages linked here are taken from a field guide written for schools and colleges on the soils of North Wales. Some examples are shown below
Anglesey has a wide range of habitats and many conservation designations.