Stratification in a beach boulder

As the soft rocks of the exposed Eype Clay Member mudstones in the cliffs at Eype are eroded, the harder sandstone and limestone rocks (that were laid down at a later date above them) are under-mined. The unsupported rocks then break under their own weight, slide down the cliff and eventually come to rest on the orange gravel and pebbles of the shore. At the western end of Dorset’s Eype beach, part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site, the boulders extend continuously from the base of the cliff out into the sea. Elsewhere along the shore, the boulders are clustered at the cliff foot adjacent to the soft micaceous mudstone layer. Most of the images shown here were photographed in a stretch of shore just a couple of hundred metres long.

The boulders tend to be very large, some about two metres in height and width. Their shapes are endlessly variable and their colours are generally complementary shades of yellow and grey. They can be patterned by layers of contrasting width, colour, and composition; or by scattered fossils and iron nodules. This is the first of several posts showing the fascinating variety of composition and form of these boulders, and the contexts in which they can be found. The boulders in these photographs are the same ones from which I photographed the rock textures in an earlier post. Every boulder seems unique in its appearance.


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2 Replies to “Beach Boulders at Eype 1”

  1. Some fantastic shapes and colour Jessica. Thought provoking – naturally occurring patterns and colour combinations must have had a profound influence on what we as a species appreciate in art.


  2. I guess that is true, that people would first have been inspired to create art by the natural world around them, as in the colours and shapes in these rocks. I also see in the patterns and colours the changes that have taken place to our natural world in the past, with the different layers of sediments that make up the rocks representing the cycles of activity relating to rise and fall of sea level, and the increase and decrease in temperature of our planet – a pattern that is still repeating itself today.


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