Stony Ripples from Ancient Seabeds

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 Rock with preserved seabed ripples

There are many strange and interesting shapes and textures in the rocks on the beach at Mewslade Bay on the Gower Peninsula in South Wales. Most of them seem to be the result of weathering and erosion but these photographs show something different, unique, for that location. They appear to be preserved (fossilised if you like) ripple marks from the ancient seabed sediments of which the rocks are composed and date very approximately to about 350 million years ago. They have a distinct patterning which is very familiar from the sand and mud of present day seashores in the same area.

The rock itself is High Tor Limestone from the Carboniferous Period. Actually, It’s a bit old fashioned now to say just Carboniferous Period. Everything has changed. To be more accurate, I should say that the High Tor Limestone Formation is part of the Pembroke Limestone Group, which originated in the Visean division of the Dinantian, which in turn is part of the Mississippian sub-division of the Carboniferous Period.

What were at one time horizontal seabed surfaces have become near vertical over many millions of years of earth movements. The now-exposed surfaces of the old bedding planes are revealed in the entrances to caves at Mewslade Bay. The photographs show them encrusted with recent colonies of living acorn barnacles and occasional limpets.


Howells, M. F. (2007) Wales, British Regional Geology, British Geological Survey, Keysworth, Nottingham, UK, ISBN 978-085272584-9, pp 112 – 125.

Rock with preserved seabed ripples

Rock with preserved seabed ripples

Rock with preserved seabed ripples

Rock with preserved seabed ripples


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