The Burren in County Clare, Ireland, is a famous upland site for studying Karst scenery which results from natural erosion by acid rain on bare surfaces of limestone. The coastal areas around the Burren share these characteristic limestone features. The seaside village of Doolin is one of the locations in that region where the special weathering effects can be observed.

At Doolin the Carboniferous Limestone strata slope gently southwards and disappear beneath the Clare Shales of which the Cliffs of Moher are comprised. The Doolin foreshore has a most interesting topography with natural patterns created by the dissolution of the rock. The effects of millennia of acid rainfall are most noticeable along the vertical joints or cracks in the limestone which have been widened by percolating water dissolving the rock. These fissures are called grikes. The blocks of stone that remain between the grikes are known as clints. The outcome is a limestone pavement.

On the flat surfaces of the exposed bedding planes in the rock, the tops of individual layers that make up the rock strata, where the limestone’s low porosity does not allow rainwater to soak in, pools of standing water have dissolved small solution hollows or pans called kamenitzas. They can start off as minute pittings on the rocks which gradually enlarge and coalesce into bigger hollows depending on slope and run-off. High on the shore where these features occur there is little colonisation of the bare surfaces by either seaweeds or seashore creatures but somehow barnacles maintain a presence in an atmosphere of mere sea spray and occasional high tides, while limpets with a few periwinkles manage to survive in the shallow water-filled pools and clinging to damp vertical surfaces.

REFERENCES

Simms. M. (2001 revised 2006) Exploring the limestone landscapes of the Burren and Gort Lowlands – a guide for walkers, cyclists & motorists. The Universities Press (Belfast) Ltd. ISBN 0-9540892-1-9.

8 Replies to “Solution Hollows in Rocks at Doolin”

  1. I think there might be many shores like it from Galway southwards – the Flaggy Shore near Ballyvaughan and Fanore Beach both have eroded limestone. In those locations it is referred to as biokarst – meaning that organisms are the main cause of the erosion. At Doolin there is definite biokarst low down the shore on the Point where sea urchins are a more significant factor in the erosion process rather than limpets. I have called the solution hollows on the top of the shore at Doolin acid erosion because that seems to be the main factor at that location.

  2. I really enjoy your blog Jessica. I’m very interested to see the geology of the places you visit & have the structures etc explained. Years ago I took my A Level in Geology and I have quite a collection of rocks & pebbles at home!!! Your photography is also spot on,thanks

  3. Thank you very much, Hilary. I did study geology during my first year at university but went on to concentrate just on zoology. Later, I curated rock, mineral, and fossil collections in a small museum. However, it is only recently that I have truly become intrigued by rocks and their formation, and enjoy trying to understand what I see on the coast. Like you, I have a fair number of rocks and pebbles at home – but I’m thinking about repatriating them all as part of a down-sizing project!

  4. How amazing! I remember clints and dykes from school geography but I had never heard of kamenitzas! Little rock pools in miniature, in fact. Love this – thank you! 🙂

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