Imagine you had a time machine, where and when would you go? Come with me back to Nowhere Wood, about 300 million years ago. That is long before humans, mammals or even dinosaurs existed, but frogs laid their eggs in pools, much as they do today. Today it is hot, humid and very quiet: with no birdsong or animal noise, apart from the distant croaking of frogs. Tomorrow, there will be a raging tropical storm and the mountain will be pounded by its violence.
Nowhere Wood is located just above the equator, and we are looking up at the aftermath of a series of global catastrophes, which has taken hundreds of million years to happen. Two continents collided and sent shockwaves through the land, pushing upwards to form the mountains that we can see ahead of us. We are in a valley, downstream from a range of tall mountain peaks.
Mountains become tiny grains of sand settling at the bottom of the smaller streams running through Nowhere Wood. Layers upon layers of sediment are depositing in the streams, blocking the channels. Over time, the increasing weight of sand squeezes the water out, cementing the grains together to form sandstone. These are the cliffs we can see today at the far end of Nowhere Wood. It is called Pennant sandstone and was quarried to make roof tiles for the people of the town.
- It is easy to think of living organisms having uncertain adventures through time and space. But the same is true of rocks, although on a much larger time scale. Find out where the matter that makes up planet Earth originally came from.
- Think about what has happened to the sandstone in Nowhere Wood since it was formed.