Wonderful rock features and amazing colours characterise the cliffs near Middle Beach at Studland Bay, Dorset. Studland is best known for its long, unspoilt sandy beach which is popular with families, walkers, naturists and water sports enthusiasts. The incredible geology of the cliffs at the western end of the bay seems to receive less attention than it deserves.
In these posts I can merely draw attention to these fascinating rocks. On the dull autumn day that I photographed them, in the absence of direct sunlight and reflection, the colours seemed to be particularly vivid and intense. Every shade is exhibited from cream, through orange, to deep red and purple. The rocks mostly get their rainbow hues from the iron minerals in the strata. One person who has investigated and written in great detail about the geology of Studland and the rest of the Jurassic Coast is Ian West. For a full account of the geology of this area, I recommend that you visit Ian’s site by clicking here.
The geological features that particularly interested me on this visit, were the vertically aligned iron-lined tubes or ‘pipes’ embedded on the sandstone. These ‘pipes’ can be seen projecting upwards from the rocks beneath your feet on the beach; in vertical half-sections in broken boulders on the seashore; and also in the eroded cliff face. Holes of different sizes leading into ‘pipes’ can be seen all over the place. Sometimes, the pipes are hollow and empty; and other times they are filled with hardened sediment. The range of colours can be most varied around these ‘pipes’ as you will see from the photographs below.
Revision of a post first published 7 November 2009
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