- 450,000 years ago, Earth was in the grip of a brutal ice age and Britain’s land was connected to Europe
- Ice stretched across the North Sea and a chalk ridge that connected Dover to Calais crossed the channel
- The land joining Britain to France crumbled away when a lake over spilled and sparked powerful waterfalls
- Cascading water drove holes through the rocky strait connecting the land, causing it to collapse completely
- Flooding along with rising sea levels swallowed up the ridge connecting Britain to Europe
A strip of ice-topped land once linked the white cliffs of Dover to Calais, but this land crumbled away when a lake over spilled and sparked powerful waterfalls, researchers have found.
Cascading water triggered a wave of mega floods which, together with rising sea levels, swallowed up the land connecting Britain to Europe.
‘Dover and Calais were once connected by a chalky ridge,’
‘The breaching of this land bridge between Dover and Calais was undeniably one of the most important events in British history.
‘When the ice age ended and sea levels rose, flooding the valley floor for good, Britain lost its physical connection to the mainland.
The separation of Britain from Europe happened in two stages.
Nearly 450,000 years ago, when Earth was in the grip of an ice age, ice stretched right across the North Sea, from Britain to Scandinavia.
The scientists have found that a chalk ridge connected Britain and France and acted as a large dam, holding back water from a large glacial lake.
But it a fault appeared in the chalk ridge, likely to be the result of tremors in the Earth’s crust
Over time, water pressure from the lake wore away at the fault in the rock until one day the ridge crumbled in a matter of hours.
This may have sparked the glacial lake to over spill in giant, powerful waterfalls.
The waterfalls were so powerful that they created deep ridges in the floor of the channel, which are known as plunge pools.
These waterfalls punched holes through the chalky land holding Britain to France, weakening it and eventually causing it to fail.
The land collapsed, causing the release of huge volumes of water onto the valley floor below.
Thousands of years later, another spill over of smaller lakes sparked another megaflood, which caused more water to rush into the English Channel.
The final wave of flooding coincided with a period of global warming, when ice began to thaw into sea water.
The rising water levels swallowed up the chalk ridge completely, causing Britain to become an isolated island