The Real Jurassic Park: Geological Explorations in Southwest England
University of Washington, Tacoma
TESC 417: Summer 2006
The Real Jurassic Park: Geology field course along the south coast of England (TESC 417)
Location: Kimmeridge Bay
July 29, 2006--Kimmeridge Bay was our destination for the afternoon of day two in the field. Headed for the bay with anticipation, we were not disappointed. Kimmeridge offered some
wonderful examples of well-exposed cliffs of Kimmeridge clay and shale formations and wonderful views.
Kimmeridge Bay is part of the Jurassic Coast and its geology is world-renowned. Rocky limestone reefs make the area a key habitat and the bay is a designated
Marine Nature Reserve. (Rocks and Fossils; Geology - Kimmeridge Bay.) Located on the Isle of Purbeck on the southwestern coast, it lies
west of Durlston Head and east of Lulworth Cove. It is part of the Purbeck Marine Wildlife Reserve and has some of the best variety of marine wildlife in the
UK. The rocks at Kimmeridge Bay are embedded with important fossils. However, since hammering is not allowed, we had to be satisfied to search for fossils
that were exposed. (Brunsden, 52)
Synopsis of Area:
The cliffs of Kimmeridge Bay are very remarkable with their distinctive bands of shales, claystone, dolomite and mudstones.
The rock layers provide an excellent record of the sequence of events that took place during the Jurassic period. They are a mix of bituminous shale which repeat at a
38 thousand year cycle, separated by non-bituminous mudstones. These cycles are easy to recognize--the hard bituminous shales project out while the
softer, more crumbly beds of mudstone are recessed. The Kimmeridge clay formations are from the Upper Jurassic age and are the source rocks for oil
in the North Sea. (West, 9/2/06) Kimmeridge Bay rocks were formed approximately 150 million years ago and at one time were part of the floor of a deep, tropical sea.
This sea was very rich in pre-historic life. (Brunsden, 52-53)
Raquel, Brieanna, Liz, Jeanine and Sian--examining Kimmeridge clays and shales. Kimmeridge Bay looking westward.
We arrived at Kimmeridge Bay to an overcast sky. Parking above the beach in the car park, we prepared ourselves for the possibility of a drizzly day of rain.
Gear in hand, we headed for the beach and were treated to some very striking views of the well-exposed cliffs of Kimmeridge rocks. Bands of dolomite were
separated by mudstones and went on for as far as the eye could see. We broke up into study groups in search of fractures, faults, dips and anticlines--the cliffs were a geological gold mine.
We put our pre-trip class work to use and measured and calculated the tilts and folds of the rock formations, proudly
sharing our findings with each other. These structures formed as a result of tilting and folding.
After a few hours of beach exploration, we headed up the cliff in search of oil. It wasn't long before we came upon a lone oil well pumping Kimmeridge oil created during the
Jurassic age, some 150 million years ago. Congregating around our professors for a mini-lecture on the geology of oil in the area, we did our best to focus on the
talk while protecting ourselves from the rain and cold. By lecture end, we were all more than ready for a well-deserved snack. We gathered our belongings and
trudged back to the van for food and shelter.
Gus discovers a fault line
Links to Related Projects:
Fossil Collecting on the Jurassic Coast. By Nels Parvi
Geology and Tourism on the South England Coast. By Jenny Ripatti
Holy Architecture!: Cathedrals, Abbeys, and Parish Churches of Southwest England. By Lisa Green
World Heritage: Conservation Efforts in the United Kingdom and Ireland. By Jeanine Riss
Geology, Landscapes, and Land Use of Dorset and East Devon. By Angus Leger
Other Related Links:
Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset: Geology of the Wessex Coast of Southern England - by Ian West
Swanage Town Council
References and Acknowledgements:
-- Brunsden, Denys. The Official Guide to the Jurassic Coast, Dorset and East Devon Cost World Heritage Site. Coastal Publishing. Wareham, England, 2003.
-- Detail Map: 2006 Multimap.com. September 2, 2006. http://www.multimap.com
-- Turnbull, Malcolm. Rocks and Fossils; Geology - Kimmeridge Bay. September 2, 2006. http://www.coastlink.org/kimmeridge/rocks4.htm
-- Dorset County Council (2006). Jurassic Coast. September 22, 2006. http://www.jurassiccoast.com/index.jsp
-- West, Ian (2005) Kimmeridge - Introduction. Geology of the Wessex Coast of Southern England. September 9, 2006. http://www.soton.ac.uk/~imw/kim.htm