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Last updated date: 04th Mar 2024
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Tor Meaning

Tors are typically the exposed rock mass of the jointed and broken blocks. These tors are known as either castle koppie or kopje by geomorphologists. Also, these tors large, free-standing outcrops of rocks that rise abruptly from the surrounding slopes that are smooth and gentle as they are a part of the rounded hill summit or the crest of a ridge. It is also a term that is commonly used in the southwest of England for hills especially the hills and the high points located in Dartmoor in Devon and Bodmin Moor of Cornwall. Tor meaning is from the English language which defines it as a bare mass of rock that is surmounted and surrounded by groups of blocks and boulders which is further derived from the old English word ‘torr’.

How Tors are Formed?

As per the Tor meaning, it is clear that they are exposed forms of rocks. Hence, it is clear that the rots are the landforms which are the landforms created due to the erosion and weathering of the rock that surrounds it. The surrounding rocks are mostly composed of granites but also contain shists, dolerites, dacites and ignimbrites and also coarse sandstones and others. The tor geography depicts its height as less than 5 meters. Many of the hypotheses that are laid down to understand how tors are formed have tried to propose and explain their origin but yet this topic remains a part of discussion amongst geologista, geomorphologists and physical geographers. An agreed-upon hypothesis states that the tor geography was formed by the geomorphic processes that differ widely in type and duration. These differences are said to be the attributes of the regional and local differences that occur in the climate and the different rock types. 

An example of tor geography explaining how tors are formed is the Dartmoor granite which was emplaced almost around approximately 300 million years ago. This happened along with the erosion of the cover rocks. Due to this erosion, the Dartmoor granite rock lay exposed to the chemical and physical weathering processes. Wherever the joints are found to be closely spaced, the large crystals present in the granite stone readily disintegrated which resulted in the formation of a sandy regolith which was locally known as growan. This is found to be readily stripped off by using the solifluction process or also by the surface wash when it was not protected by vegetation. This process significantly continued during the prolonged phases of cold climate during the Quaternary Ice ages which are known as periglaciation. 

Wherever the joints are found to be unusually widely spaced, the cores blocks are known to survive and escape the above-mentioned weathering processes. As a result, they formed the tors. These tors can be monolithic like the ones at Haytor and Blackingstone Rock or subdivided into stacks as more usually found and often arranged in the form of avenues. Each of the stacks is known to comprise several layers or tiers or pillows, which may have become separated. In this case, the rocking pillows are known as logan stones. Furthermore, these stacks are found to be vulnerable to frost action and are often collapsing which is understood from the trails of blocks present down the slopes known as clitter or clatter. Weathering also gives rise to the circular ‘rock basins’ formed by the accumulation of the water and the repeated freezing and thawing as found in the case of Kes Tor on Dartmoor. 

In the region of Dartmoor, when 28 tors were subjected to the process of dating, it showed that most of them are still young. This is determined as most of them are less than 1,00,000 years old and none of them is over 2,00,000 years old. They must have probably emerged at the start of the last major ice age - the Devensian. In contrast to this, the Scottish Cairngorms are other classic granite tor concentrations found in Britain with the oldest tors amongst them being between 200 and 6,75,000 years old and also the glacially modified regions having dates in-between 100 to 1,50,000 years. These tors reflect a more dry and more arctic climate. 

An image of the Tor is shown below: 

[Image will be uploaded soon]

FAQs on Tors

1. How are Tors Formed?

Ans: The tors usually lie over the unaltered bedrock and are known to be formed either by the freeze-thaw weathering or because of the weathering before the exposure. Often there is significant evidence of the squared weathering of the squared joint blocks.

2. What are Tors in Geography?

Ans: A tor is an exposed mass of rock. It is also known as either castle koppie or kopje by geomorphologists. It is usually and typically a large free-standing rock that is laid exposed as it rises above the surrounding smooth and gentle slopes of the rounded hill summits or crests of ridge abruptly.

3. What is the Difference Between a Tor and a Hill?

Ans: A hill is a protrusion coming from inside the surface of the earth. It is an elevated location above the normal surrounding flatland which is usually smaller than a mountain while a tor is just an exposed portion of rock usually present on the summit of a hill. Thus, a tor can be a part of the hill but a hill can never be a part of the tor.

4. Are Tors Man-Made?

Ans: Tors are usually outcrops of rocks that are found at the summit of a hill. When viewed from afar it may seem that such features are deliberately crafted and are made by man. Some of the early theories regarding these features also supported this idea. But scientific investigations of these features have stated that they are naturally made and are naturally occurring rock formations, especially granite rocks. The shape they acquire is through years of processes of erosion and weathering. 

5. What Do the Tors Look Like?

Ans: The tors can be considered to be as hidden rock masses that rise above the surrounding regolith-covered surfaces and are the common features of the elevated granite terrains. They are geologically important as their preservation provides strong evidence of ice age and cold-bottomed ice.