Sunday, September 02, 2007

Seen near Durdle Door, on the Cliffs (unfortunately)

Monday, August 27, 2007

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Stairhole at Lulworth Cove!

Friday, August 10, 2007

Lulworth Cove

At Lulworth Cove, limestone forms a massive barrier against the sea. A perfect horseshoe bay has developed where a stream breached and eroded the limestone allowing the sea to enter the valley and hollow out the softer clays lying behind the limestone barrier. The chalk forms a resistant cliff at the back of the bay. The cove is one of the most famous features within the World Heritage site

Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Lyme Bay

Friday, August 03, 2007

A Child's View of the Dinosaur's

It appears that I'm not the only member of my family with more than a passing interest in the dinosaurs. This is one of the pictures produced by my grandson!

Saturday, July 28, 2007

Brownsea Island

An Island within Poole harbour, Dorset. This is the place where the scouting movement was born out of an idea by Lord Baden-Powell. The scouting movement is just about to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the very first camp held here in 1907!

Wednesday, July 18, 2007


Of all the fossils associated with the Jurassic Coast, the ammonite is probably the most well known. They appeared at the beginning of the Jurassic period around 200 million years ago. They are cephalopod molluscs related to the octopus and squid, although thier closest living relative is the nautilus (seen below).

Ammonites were free swimming creatures, that used the chambers in thier shells as ballast tanks to control bouancy. The soft parts of the animal itself were located in the end chamber. Judging by the number of fossils we now find, they must have been a common sight floating around the Jurassic and Cretatious seas in various shapes and sizes

Despite being common, ammonites are very special fossils, of enormous use to geologists trying to work out the history of ancient times. Ammonites evolved very quickly and so are important in helping to identify rocks as being from a particular age. To understand this, is so important, to remember that the type of rock that forms depends on its geopgraphical location. Different sediments are now forming in the English Channel and North Sea. In millions of years time, after these sediments have compacted to form rocks, they may look totally different. It may be that the skeletal remains of cod, plaice and herrings etc will confirm that they originated at around the same time. However if all these fish survive for millions of years, it may not help the geologists of the future at all

Ammonites are valuable becUAE Individual species did not last long before they evolved into different species. When we find them in two different rocks therefore, they tell us that those rocks are of the same age. For example, the ammonite Titanites, seen in many garden walls on the Isle of Purbeck, lived at the time when the Portland rocks were being deposited. Find an example of Titnates in a rock and you know how old that rock is

What makes ammonites even more fascinating to the amateur geologist is that the evolutionary trends are relatively easy to pick out. It seems that as ammonites evolved they developed more and more ornamentation on the outside of thier shells, so generally speaking the ones with smooth shells are earlier that those with spikes and nobbly bits on. Another trend involved the walls that seperated the chambers in the ammonite shell. These gradually became more and more elaborate and form beautifully intricate patterns on the outside where the shell has worn away

At the end of the Creatateous (around 60 million years ago), the ammonites, like the dinosaurs, mysteriously dissapear. By that time they had gone into evolutionary reverse, with some forms beginning to uncoil, eventually resulting in forms that were almost straight

The Jurassic seas, where much of Dorset originated, must have once swarmed with these beautifull creatures with thier elaborate ornamentation and possibly vibrant colours. They proliferated in rich, tropical seas, and due to thier free-swimming lifestyle have left thier imprint in a variety of rocks


Graphics: Wikipaedia
Text: Fossils and Rocks of the Jurassic Coast by Robert Westwood

Friday, July 13, 2007

Slightly to the West of Durdle Door

To find this particular rock which is from the Cretateos (around 65 million years ago) period, head for Durdle Door, to the East of Lulworth Cove. If you follow the path to Durdle Door, you will see this rock formation from the path

Sunday, July 08, 2007

Longbarrow, Charmouth

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Dinosaurs on the Jurassic Coast

About 225 million years ago, the first dinosaur appeared in the forests of what is now South America. It was a small two-legged animal about the size of a chicken. It was quick and agile on its two strong legs, and probably a very effective hunter. Within about 30 million years its dinosaur relatives had become the dominant creatures on the planet; they were to reign for about 165 million years

Most people know the dinosaur is a reptile, but many erroneously think the term applies to all giant reptiles. In fact dinosaurs came in all shapes and sizes; but certainly some of the larger ones were the biggest, fastest and most ferocious animals that have ever walked the Earth. The main distinguishing feature of a dinosaur is that it is a reptile that developed an upright gait. This gave it an immediate advantage over other reptiles with thier awkward sideways gait

At the beginning of the Triassic period there was a mass extinction of many species. These events have happened a number of times during geological history and have continued to puzzle geologists. Certainly much competion to the emerging dinosaurs was removed by this global catasrophe. The dinosaurs diversified rapidly during the Triassic and, with little competition, got bigger and bigger. Other reptiles also evolved, some taking to the air

During the Jurassic dinosaurs diversified further and became truly dominant. Huge plant eating varieties evolved along with ferocious predators. Other forms of life also flourished and, in the sea, other reptiles grew to immense size. The shallow, tropical seas in which Dorset's rocks were deposited must have been home to a fantastic array of life

The Cretatious period saw dinosaurs continue to dominate. Some of the most well known dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus lived in this period and the shallow lagoons where the Purbeck rock was formed have helped preserve thier bones for us to study. At Durlston Bay and Worbarrow Bay it is possible to sea the footprints of these massive creatures. The most likely example you will find is the three pronged footprint of the Iguanadon (pictured above), a plant eater that was up to 10 metres long and 5 metres high. At the end of the Cretatious period (about 65 million years ago) the dinosaurs died out.

Whether or not it was the impact of a huge meteorite as has been suggested is still open to debate. The evidence is strong, but it should be remembered that mass extinctions have taken place at other times


Text: Fossils and Rocks of the Jurrasic Coast by Robert Westwood
Graphic: Wikipaedia

Friday, June 29, 2007

Fossils at Charmouth

I was on holiday in Charmouth a few weeks ago, its a beautifull little gateway town to the Jurassic Coast which I reccomend. Its beauty lies in the fact that it makes many towns, beaches and cliffs on the Jurassic Coast very accessable

While I was there, I went fosiiling on Charmouth beach with my son, so we duly rented a fossil hammer, and we were off. Fossils are the remains of animals and plants that have been preserved in stone. they are the raw material for the science of paleantology, providing direct evidence of past life on Earth and the way it has changed over millions of years. The rocks that make up the cliffs at Charmouth are rich in the fossils of animals that swam in the Jurassic seas. The coast erodes rapidly resulting in thousands of fossils being fed onto the beaches from the landslides in surrounding cliffs, especially after the winter storms. The remains that have been found here since the eighteenth century represent one of the richest slices of life in Jurassic times anywhere in the world

It had been raining the night before, so that should have given the cliffs the ideal conditions to offer up a few fossils. We were total novices, never having been fossiling before, so we were learning as we went along. As you can see, we found some ammonites, some better than others, so if we can do it, so can you! If the cliffs arent offering up fossils, there is a local shop that sells them!

There is a code of conduct relating to the collection of fossils, which operates between Lyme regis and Burton Bradstock:

  • the best and safest place to look for fossils is on the beach where the sea has washed away soft clay and mud
  • do not collect or hammer into the cliffs, fossil features or rocky ledges
  • keep collecting to a minimum - avoiding the removal of in-situ fossils, rocks or minerals
  • the collection of actual specimens should be restricted to those places where there is a plentifull supply
  • only collect what you need, leaving some for others
  • never collect from walls or buildings
  • take care not to undermine fences, bridges or other structures
  • be considerate and dont leave a site in an unsightly or dangerous condition
  • some landowners do not wish people to collect, please observe notices
  • report any important fossil finds at the Charmouth Heritage Coast centre

Source: some text from 'The Official Guide to the Jurassic Coast'

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Coastal Erosion at Westbay

Friday, June 08, 2007


Following the eyeline to the east of Weymouth provides interesting walking and beaches with unusual features. The coast is made up of complex sequences of rocks, which have been jumbled up by geological folds and faults

The cliffs here are formed from Upper Jurassic clays, limestones and sandstones


Text: The Official Guide to the Jurassic Coast

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Through the Trees to Charmouth

Charmouth is a Gateway Town, but is located very close to the shoreline

The rocks at Charmouth are 195 million years old and from the Jurassic geological period. Charmouth covers the area from Black Venn in the West to Stonebarrow in the East. Black Venn was the scene of the largest mudslide in Europe during the winter of 1958 / 59 and Stonebarrow is the scene of occasional cliff falls

Settlement of Charmouth began in the early Iron Age by a Celtic tribe known as the Durotriges. Evidence of thier impressive hill-forts survive today in the surrounding area. the most notable being Maiden Castle, sacked by the Romans in around AD47

Charmouths first claim to fame came in the years 833 and 840 when the Wessex kings Ethelred and Ethelwolf unsuccessfully tried to repel Viking invaders. Eventually the Vikings settled peacefully among the local population. The community living on the bank of the River Cerne. The village 'Cernmunde' was recorded in the Doomsday book of 1088

In 1501 catherine of Aragon stayed in the village on her way to marry Arthur, brother of Henry VIII. Charles II is reputed to have sheltered here after his escape from the Battle of Worcester in 1651

Currently it has a population of about 1200

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Westbay - East Cliffs

The West Dorset coast frome Lyme Regis to Burton Bradstock is a beautifull landscape of cliffs and landslides - sudden landslides cause the the pathways to be diverted slightly inland in the name of safety. The above picture is of the East Cliffs of Westbay

The cliffs are formed by erosion acting over time and by landslides that occur during wet years. Global warming and a rising sea-level will ensure that these processes will continue

Thursday, January 11, 2007

The Cliffs between Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door

This photograph clearly shows the chalk of the Certatious era and is one of the youngest rock types to be seen on the Jurassic Coast. Chalk is a soft, very finely grained limestone formed from a 'mud' of calcium carbonate, often made up of the shells of tiny marine organisms

These cliffs, Durdle Door and Lulworth Cove can be seen to thier best advantage from the sea, on boat trips from Lulworth and Weymouth

For information there is a Heritage Centre at Lulworth Cove

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

Lyme Bay