Midland Valley

(Central Lowlands, Central Belt)

One of the three main physiographic divisions of Scotland, the Midland Valley (also known as the Central Lowlands or Central Belt) lies between the Highlands and the Southern Uplands. The two largest cities (Glasgow and Edinburgh), most of Scotland's large towns, eighty per cent of its population, and much of its industry, is concentrated in the Midland Valley.

Geologically, it is separated from the former by the Highland Boundary Fault and the latter by the Southern Uplands Fault. The Midland Valley represents an immense block of the earth's crust which descended more than 4000m (13,123 feet) between the Late Silurian and Carboniferous periods (410 and 320 million years ago). The valley is filled with sedimentary rocks, primarily Old Red Sandstone which was deposited under desert conditions contemporaneously as the valley descended and Carboniferous sediments and coal measures deposited in coastal or shallow marine conditions. The volcanoes and volcanic intrusions from Carboniferous times have pushed through the sediments, surviving in the form of steep volcanic plugs, such as Abbey Craig northeast of Stirling, Castle Rock in Edinburgh and North Berwick Law.

Fertile soils ensure that the Midland Valley includes much of Scotland's prime agricultural land, for example the Valley of Strathmore, the Mearns, East Lothian, the Forth and Clyde Valleys and Ayrshire. The Scottish Industrial Revolution developed here, taking advantage of the coal, ironstone, limestone, sandstone, whinstone and other raw materials which were the gift of geological happenstance.

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