Local information for the village of Malham, Yorkshire Dales, UKBack buttonContents page


Geology, Field Studies & Archeology in Malham

Limestone pavement rock formations above Malham Cove.

Malham is the subject of much research in geology, with Malham Tarn Field Centre also being well known.

Limestone: this is the key to understanding much of what goes on at Malham and the Yorkshire Dales in general. The spectacular landscape created by the presence of limestone is known as KARST. Underground drainage is one of the main features of karst. Due to the chemical properties of limestone (calcium carbonate), rainwater readily dissolves the rock. Sinkholes mark the areas where the surface water disappears underground leaving valleys dry and streamless. As soils do not form easily on soluble limestone, bare rock, scree slopes (see photo above), crags and pavements are typical of such an area.

Malham Cove Information and images

Gordale Scar Information and images

Malham Tarn Information and images

Info from Craven & Pendle Geological Society. 



Links to sites re geology, field studies & archeology in Malham

Gordale Limestone View, Malham, Yorkshire Dales.

Glaciers: About 15 000 years ago the area was covered with ice sheets and glaciers. The ice swept down from the north scouring and modifying the karst landscape. In fact Malham is perhaps better described as a GLACIOKARST landscape. One of the most distinctive features of the glaciation is the formation of limestone pavements. Once the ice had scoured away all the soil thus exposing the limestone pavement to the elements, rainwater seeped into the fractures. These fractures were opened them up by the dissolving the rock walls to produce the ubiquitous GRYKES and CLINTS. The top of Malham Cove is capped by a classic limestone pavement.


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