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: Budleigh Salterton
August 4, 2006--We woke up Friday morning at 7:00 a.m., enjoyed our breakfast of Spagetti O's and pork and beans, and were off to burn up some energy walking the beaches at the base of
the red cliffs of Budleigh Salterton. The morning was spent at Budleigh and then we headed to Exmouth and the end of the Jurassic Coast for the afternoon.
Budleigh Salterton is located on a beautiful bay on the western side of the river Otter estuary in East Devon. At one time, the town was known as
Ottermouth and its main industry was salt-panning. Today this area is an attraction for tourists who come to see the beautiful red cliffs, walk the beaches and
enjoy bird watching. It is famous geologically for its fat, round pebbles found on the beach and for the Budleigh Salterton Pebble Beds which can be seen at the
high red cliffs west of town.
Looking West at red cliffs of Budleigh Salterton
Synopsis of Area:
Budleigh Salterton is known for its ancient pebble beds and has one of the oldest stories in the Jurassic World Heritage Site. These pebbles are made of hard quartzite
which are identical to rocks found in Northern France that are 440 million years old. These pebbles were formed and transported in a giant river that flowed approximately
225 million years ago into the Triassic desert. The pebbles have been falling from the cliffs over the last few thousand years, forming the beach we see today
at Budleigh Salterton. These pebbles are unlike other rocks found in Southern England--they are very hard and have an oval shape. Because
of their hardness, they can survive intact and are transported along the coast by the waves. They have been found in the area from Slapton Sands in Devon to
Hastings in Sussex (Jurassic Coast).
The well-exposed pebble beds west of town are approximately 3m thick. The beds contain well-rounded pebbles of quartzite and are a red coarse conglomerate and
poorly cemented together. Over the pebbles lies a red Otter Sandstone. The pebbles on the beach are eroded from the conglomerate in the cliffs. Because there is an absence of marine fossils in the beds, it is presumed that
they were laid down in streams in hot, continental and semi-arid environments. (West)
Class at red cliffs of Budleigh Salterton
Sian explaining the rock formations at Budleigh
The morning at Budleigh Salterton was spent walking the pebble beds and viewing the Triassic rocks and cliffs. Our topic for the day was coastal geomorphology,
stratigraphy and sedimentology. This was our last day on the coast and a memorable one. We had one more site to visit which was Exmouth and
we would then be off for Bath, Oxford and London. It was wonderful to spend time in nature and now we were ready to visit some cities, museums and
absorb the local culture.
Cliffs of Budleigh showing pebble beds and Nels
Links to Related Projects:
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:
Geology of the Wessex Coast, Southern England by Ian West
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.
-- Dorset: Coast and Countryside, Historic Towns and Villages. J. Salmon, Sevenoaks, Kent, 2006.
-- Detail Map: 2006 Multimap.com. September 2, 2006. http://www.multimap.com
-- The Jurassic Coast.September 12, 2006. http://www.jurassiccoast.com/index.jsp?articleid=157779
-- Dorset County Council (2006). Jurassic Coast. September 22, 2006. http://www.jurassiccoast.com/index.jsp
-- West, Ian (2005) Budleigh Salterton, East Devon (Trias) September 9, 2006. http://www.soton.ac.uk/~imw/Budleigh-Salterton.htm