BRISTOL, ENGLAND (June 26, 2015) — Tim Palmer has a professional interest in building stones, and a passion for sorting out their characteristics and historical uses. He thus has many contacts in the stone industry, from architects to quarry managers. This morning we visited the Doulting Stone Quarry on the outskirts of Doulting near Shepton Mallet in Somerset. Here a distinctive facies of the Jurassic Inferior Oolite is excavated for a variety of purposes. The rock has a lovely color, is relatively easy to work, and is durable. Above is a quarry saw that cuts out huge blocks from the natural exposure.
Such sawing produces great cross-sections for geologists to examine. We were particularly interested in that light-colored unit above with the irregular top and dark sediment-filled holes. The holes are part of a network of Thalassinoides burrows (tunnels made by Jurassic crustaceans) and reduce the value of the rock as a building stone. There is thus lots of it laying around the quarry yard for study.
The Thalassinoides burrows are filled with a poorly-cemented sediment. It is full of little fossils, so we collected a bag of it for microscopic examination. It may give us clues as to what communities lived on the surface of this burrowed unit when it was part of the Jurassic seafloor.
This rock has been quarried since Roman times, so there is over 2000 years of stone working here. The quarry owner set aside this rock face which shows chisel marks made in Medieval times. Wooden wedges were jammed into chiseled channels and then pulled over days to eventually crack the stone free.
After the quarry visit, Tim Palmer and I tromped through the woods and eventually found (with the help of several locals) an exposure known as Tedbury Camp. It is another Jurassic-on-Carboniferous unconformity like we saw at Ogmore-By-Sea earlier in the week. A century ago quarry workers cleared off this surface of Carboniferous limestone. It is a wave-cut platform on which Jurassic sediments (the Inferior Oolite) were deposited. The surface has many geological delights, including faults, drag folds, differentially-weathered cherts and carbonates, and Jurassic borings and encrusters. Beautiful.
In this view of the surface you may be able to see the odd folding of the dark chert layers in the right middle of the image. These seem to be drag folds along a fault. They clearly predate the Jurassic erosion of the limestone surface. The overlying Jurassic can be seen in the small outcrop on the left near Tim.
Trypanites borings are abundant across this surface, most filled with lighter Jurassic sediment. There are other borings here too that deviate from the straight, cylindrical nature of Trypanites.
There are many possibilities for further study of the Tedbury Camp unconformity. This was a productive site for our last field visit in England this year. Thank you very much to Tim Palmer, seated above, for his expertise, great companionship, and generosity with his time. It was a reminder of how much fun we had together in the field twenty years ago.
My month of geology in the United Kingdom has now come to an end. My next two days will be devoted to packing up and making the long train and then plane flights home. What a wonderful time I had, as did my students on the earlier part of the trip, Mae Kemsley and Meredith Mann. Thank you again to Paul Taylor for his work with us in Scarborough. I am very fortunate with my fine British friends.
For the record, the important locality coordinates from this trip —
GPS 089: Millepore Bed blocks N54.33877°, W00.42339°
GPS 090: Spindle Thorn Member, Hundale Point N54.16167°, W00.23326°
GPS 091: Robin Hood’s Bay N54.41782°, W00.52501°
GPS 092: Northern limit of Speeton Clay N54.16654°, W00.24567°
GPS 093: Northern limit of Red Chalk N54.15887°, W00.22261°
GPS 094: South section Filey Brigg N54.21674°, W00.26922°
GPS 095: North section Filey Brigg N54.21823°, W00.26904°
GPS 096: Filey Brigg N54.21560°, W00.25842°
GPS 097: D6 of Speeton Clay N54.16635°, W00.24520°
GPS 098: C Beds of Speeton Clay N54.16518°, W00.24226°
GPS 099: Lower B Beds of Speeton Clay N54.16167°, W0023326°
GPS 100: Possible A Beds of Speeton Clay N54.16129°, W00.23207°
GPS 101: A/B Beds of Speeton Clay N54.16035°, W00.22910°
GPS 102: C7E layer of Speeton Clay N54.16447°, W00.24043°
GPS 103: Lavernock Point N51.40589°, W03.16947°
GPS 104: Triassic deposits, Ogmore-By-Sea N51.46543°, W03.64094°
GPS 105: Sutton Stone Unconformity N51.45480°, W03.62609°
GPS 106: Sample of lowermost Sutton Stone N51.45455°, W03.62545°
GPS 107: Nash Point N51.40311°, W03.56212°
GPS 108; Devil’s Chimney N51.86402°, W02.07905°
GPS 109: Fiddler’s Elbow N51.82584°, W02.16541°
GPS 110: Doulting Stone Quarry N51.18993°, W02.50245°
GPS 111: Tedbury Camp unconformity N51.23912°, W02.36515°