Rocks picture: Cliffs at Studland, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast (P1170430aBlog1) 

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.

Rocks photograph: Rocks at Studland Bay, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast. Cross-section of boulder on the shore showing vertical, iron-lined 'pipes' in the rock (P1170320aBlog2) 

Jurassic Coast rocks image: Rocks at Studland Bay, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast. Looking down, end-on, at a trio of natural iron-lined pipes projecting upwards from the rock in which they are embedded (P1170339aBlog3) 

Studland Bay rock: Rocks at Studland Bay, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast. A vertical section through a naturally occurring rainbow-coloured iron-lined 'pipe' in the rock strata (P1170403aBlog4) 

Coloured rocks picture: Detail of iron oxidation colours and patterns in an exposed vertical section of a 'pipe' in the sandstone rock strata at Studland Bay, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast (P1170405aBlog5) 

Studland Bay cliff: Eroded cliff face at Studland Bay, Dorset, UK - part of the Jurassic Coast - showing an exposed vertically-aligned iron-lined 'pipe' naturally embedded in the rock (P1170438aBlog6) 

Revision of a post first published 7 November 2009


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8 Replies to “Studland rocks in autumn (1)”

  1. Some of the rocks remind me of various Tantric carvings..
    which brings me to the other thing..naturists? Did you mean naturists or naturalists….we had a naturist beach here until a bout three months away when they bowed to the erosion issue and accepted that there was insufficient beach remaining to be worth continuing the designation. I am releived as I didn’t like the idea of Pinkies and my dog’s cold wet nose coming into suddent contact….


  2. I think the colours and shapes of these rocks are phenomenal. I took loads more pictures and intend to go back there again soon. There was a whole stretch of shore that I couldn’t explore because of the high tide. Interestingly, though sadly, these soft sandstone rocks have attracted the attention of would-be artists over the decades or centuries. They are almost totally covered with engravings of initials and hearts. From an artistic perspective, however, the combination of colours, textures and carvings is amazing. So there will be a fair few postings of this beach graffiti in the not too distant future.
    I was indeed referring to naturists, that is, nudists. There are quite a number using the designated part of the sandy beach. I have no objection to people sunbathing without clothes on but there are a few problems for a regular beachcomber and photographer like myself. It is difficult when I want to take photographs sometimes as I feel I have to take shots that exclude them. And some men are frankly exhibitionists and I don’t know whether to look or not to look – they can be a bit ‘in your face’.


  3. I hope not literally “In your face”; that would be gross!
    I also wonder why it is that the people you’d rather appreciate seeing without clothes are never the ones (in this country) who appear on the clothing optional beaches, but usually rather fat and wrinkly old men!
    A friend once had the ordeal of trying to retrieve her dog from our beach while a group of such men played leapfrog; ick!


  4. Hi, Viv. Thanks for your comment. I could reply at length on this subject ….but I hope you will excuse me if I resist the urge. I have discovered that people frequently end up on my blog salaciously looking for images and information on this subject – and I’d rather they didn’t.


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