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Geography as a science: Dartmoor Tors

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In many ways Geography can be categorized as a scientific subject rather than a humanities subject. This is because it tests various hypotheses by gathering data and testing theories, exactly as a practical would be carried out during a scientific experiment. This annotated bibliography explores various sources relating to the conflicting theories of the Dartmoor Tors formation. Monograph – Linton D. L, (Dec 1955), The Problem of Tors, The Geographical Society Vol. 121, No. 4, pp. 470-481+487 In Linton’s monograph he explains that tors could not possibly be formed by weathering processes but, in fact, were destroyed by them. He states that Dartmoor must have been a tropical climate during the interglacial periods of England as only warm, acidic rainwater percolating into the cracks of tors would cause severe rock rotting. Some rocks would completely rot away to leave joints between groups of rocks which would eventually form a tor when the ground level was eroded away above it. Therefore, Linton defines a tor as a “residual mass of bedrock produced below the surface level by a phase of profound rock rotting effected by groundwater and guided by joint systems, followed by a phase of mechanical stripping of the incoherent products of chemical action”.

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For this reason, Linton’s monograph is a useful source of information as it is extremely detailed and expands on factual points using explicit diagrams of tor formation. In addition, his monograph was published by The Royal Geographical Society, hence, it is evident that it has been recognized as a valuable geographic resource. The RGS is also the leading professional body for Geography across the UK and is the leading centre for all geographical learners, regardless of level. Notably, this shows that Linton’s theory has been credited and valued by geographers all over the country which proves his work is suitable to be included in all academic pieces of work. However, Linton formulated this theory in 1955 which is over 63 years old, since then there have been more updated theories challenging that tors have formed more recently. An example of this is alternative theory developed by J. Palmer and R. A Nielson in 1962 which suggests that the granite in tors is broken down by the action of hot magmatic gases rather than the process of deep weathering. Furthermore, new technologies have been developed since which means new theories can be proven more accurately and will be more readily accepted by today’s present geographers.

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