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Highland Boundary Fault: Map

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The Highland Boundary Fault is a geologic fault that traverses Scotlandmarker from Arranmarker and Helensburghmarker on the west coast to Stonehavenmarker in the east. It separates two distinctly different physiographic regions: the Highlands from the Lowlands, but in most places it is only recognisable as a change in topography.
Geological map of central Scotland.
The fault divides the Old Red Sandstone and Devonian deposits (brownish, no. 23, at centre) from the Metamorphic and Archaean deposits (pinkish, no. 27, above the brownish).
Topological map of central Scotland.
Lower elevations (greenish) are separated from higher elevations (brownish) by the fault line.


Aligned southwest to northeast, from Lochranzamarker on Arran it bisects the Isle of Butemarker, and crosses the south eastern parts of the Cowalmarker and Rosneathmarker Peninsulas as it passes up the Firth of Clydemarker. It comes ashore near Helensburghmarker then continues through Loch Lomondmarker. The loch islands of Inchmurrinmarker, Creinchmarker, Torrinchmarker, and Inchcaillochmarker all form part of the Highland Boundary Fault.

From Loch Lomond it continues to Aberfoyle, then Callandermarker, Comriemarker and Crieffmarker. It then forms the northern boundary of Strathmore and reaches the North Seamarker immediately north of Stonehavenmarker near the ruined Chapel of St. Mary and St. Nathalanmarker. To the north and west lie hard Precambrian and Cambrian metamorphic rocks: marine deposits metamorphosed to schists, phyllites and slates. To the south and east are Old Red Sandstone conglomerates and sandstones: softer, sedimentary rocks of the Devonian and Carboniferous periods.

The Highland Boundary Fault was active during the Caledonian Orogeny, a plate tectonic collision which took place from Mid Ordovician to Mid Devonian periods (520 to 400 million years ago), during the closure of the Iapetus Ocean. The fault allowed the Midland Valley to descend as a major rift by up to 4000 metres and there was subsequently vertical movement. This earlier vertical movement was later replaced by a horizontal shear. A complementary fault, the Southern Upland Fault, forms the southern boundary for the Central Lowlandsmarker.

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