The Original Brexit: Britain First Separated From Europe Thousands Of Years Ago

Posted: Apr 5 2017, 3:37am CDT | by , Updated: Apr 5 2017, 3:44am CDT, in News | Latest Science News

The Original Brexit: Britain First Separated from Europe Thousands of Years Ago
An illustration of what the land bridge connecting Britain to Europe may have looked like. Credit: Imperial College London

Scientists find evidence of Britain's geological separation from Europe

Britain has now formally decided to leave European Union, but researchers say that this is not the first withdrawal from EU. The original Brexit happened thousands of years ago. And it was more cataclysmic than today’s event.

Ancient Britain was geologically connected to Europe through a massive land bridge stretching right across the ice sheet of North Sea, from Britain to France. About 450,000 years ago, Britain separated from rest of Europe by a lake that over spilled and triggered giant waterfalls. The idea that enormous waterfalls separated Britain from mainland Europe was first proposed almost three decades ago but this has remained unproven until now.

Using seafloor data from UK and geophysical data from Belgium and France, researchers from Imperial College London have found the evidence of a megaflood splitting a rock ridge at the Dover Strait, joining Britain to France.

Researchers believe that huge holes and valleys located on the UK seafloor are plunge pools, created when water persistently fell on them.

The plunge pools in the Dover Strait are massive - up to several kilometers in diameter and around 100 meters deep. Around seven plunge pools have been found in a line from Calais to Dover, suggesting an overflow of water from the lake behind the dam-like ridge in the southern North Sea.

The aligned plunge pools also suggest that they were cascading off one single rock ridge between Europe and the UK. But the Dover Strait was not fully opened until the spillover of other, smaller lakes in front of the ice sheets in the North Sea. The process is evident through a valley system on the bottom of English Channel. The system was carved by megaflood that crossed the Dover Strait.

“Based on the evidence that we've seen, we believe the Dover Strait 450,000 years ago would have been a huge rock ridge made of chalk joining Britain to France, looking more like the frozen tundra in Siberia than the green environment we know today. It would have been a cold world dotted with waterfalls plunging over the iconic white chalk escarpment that we see today in the White Cliffs of Dover,” said study co-author Dr Jenny Collier from Imperial College London.

"We still don't know for sure why the Proglacial Lake spilt over. Perhaps part of the ice sheet broke off, collapsing into the lake, causing a surge that carved a path for the water to cascade off the chalk ridge.”

Researchers acknowledge that they still need to conduct more research. So, they can provide more precise timeline of events and details of how this chalk ridge in the Dover Strait, between Dover and Calais, was breached. To do so, they intend to drill more sediment samples from the plunge pools in the near future.

"The breaching of this land bridge between Dover and Calais was undeniably one of the most important events in British history, helping to shape our island nation's identity even today,” said Professor Sanjeev Gupta, a co-author of the study. “When the ice age ended and sea levels rose, flooding the valley floor for good, Britain lost its physical connection to the mainland. Without this dramatic breaching Britain would still be a part of Europe. This is Brexit 1.0 - the Brexit nobody voted for."

This story may contain affiliate links.


Find rare products online! Get the free Tracker App now.

Download the free Tracker app now to get in-stock alerts on Pomsies, Oculus Go, SNES Classic and more.

Latest News


The Author

<a href="/latest_stories/all/all/47" rel="author">Hira Bashir</a>
The latest discoveries in science are the passion of Hira Bashir (). With years of experience, she is able to spot the most interesting new achievements of scientists around the world and cover them in easy to understand reporting.




comments powered by Disqus