The Bedrock Geology of West Cork

Underlying everything in West Cork is the bedrock, the foundation of the area, upon which the region is built. It’s fundamental to the relief and topography, soil, drainage patterns, vegetation, and animal and human life. It’s fundamental to the ecology of now, and the ecology of the past, the palaeoecology. Geology is the study of the rocks, and the rocks tell us about the environment of then. Hidden away in the rocks are fossils and features that allow us to piece together the ecology of those far distant times.

The shape of the coastline is related intimately to the geology, as are the lakes and rivers, hills, ridges and mountains. The geology of West Cork dates back to an origin 400 million years ago, and over the intervening time has been added to, distorted and dismembered, buried, flooded, frozen, dried out and eroded away. It’s a long and complex story, but an exciting one. Understanding this history will change the way you see West Cork today.

Above: a 'sketch'map of the geology of West Cork, showing the generalised ages, by geological period, of the bedrock.

A more complete and detailed interactive geological map can be seen here (opens in a new tab)

NEXT - Desert Sands and Sinking Sediments - how West Cork came to be set upon one of the deepest sedimentary basins in Europe and why there is as much as 7 kilometres of sediment underneath Beara.