After the beach boulders and scattered rusty metal debris, there is sequence of flat rock platforms exposed by the retreating water. They are riddled with holes made by the boring bivalves known as piddocks, some burrows just have empty shells in them but others are still occupied by the living molluscs that squirt water a foot or more into the air at frequent intervals. A velvet swimming crab mooches around the edges of the platforms, and sand tube and mud tube dwelling worms abound on all the surfaces.
I discovered an interesting stretch of shoreline when I visited Lyme Regis yesterday. The cliff location is known as The Spittles and it is situated immediately east of the new sea wall. The tide was going out but not as far as in March 2010. Enough to disclose an array of boulders with scattered fossils, broken coloured glass, and rusting metal. The man-made junk resulted from a major landslide in 2008 when the contents of an old town rubbish tip (which had been in existence from 1920 to 1973) cascaded shore-wards with the rocks and mud. The junk continues to wear out of the cliff face to the present time.
There are some interesting items to be found. The rusting metal components, often with remnants of paint, provide intriguing contrasts with the natural environment in which they are lodged. There is a striking similarity between the metal colours and textures and those of the dead and dying autumnal colours of seaweed. As the water receded, it left intricate patterns in the sand around the rocks and even in fine sediments of smoother rock surfaces.
The corroding ironwork on the now defunct breakwaters at Church Cliff in Lyme Regis revealed fascinating patterns and textures when viewed in close-up. These macro photographs show some of the wonderful details and colours. I only have seen similar rusting seaside ironwork before on the pier structure at Weymouth.
These pictures were taken in 2010. None of them are edited or altered. They show details from breakwaters at Church Cliff in Lyme Regis, Dorset, that jutted out at right angles to the old sea wall. In combination, the structures were designed as coastal defences to protect the base of the soft crumbling cliffs from erosion by the sea. It was clear that the breakwaters, or groynes, had seen better days and were in need of repair. The iron that was supporting and holding the timbers together was very rusty. A lot of the woodwork was missing. In fact, they were very dilapidated but full of interesting colours and textures. The images in this post focus mainly on the corroding ironwork and include context shots to set the scene. Much has changed since these photographs were taken.
I noted an interesting phenomenon at Weymouth in Dorset recently. The rusty iron panels of the pier structure exhibited tide-marks or tide-lines of dried sea foam from a previous high water. I have never seen that before. The contrasting colours, patterns, and textures of the creamy lines against the multi-coloured oxidising metal made interesting compositions.
Wikipedia says about sea foam:
Sea foam, ocean foam, beach foam, or spume is a type of foam created by the agitation of seawater, particularly when it contains higher concentrations of dissolved organic matter (including proteins, lignins, and lipids) derived from sources such as the offshore breakdown of algal blooms. These compounds can act as surfactants or foaming agents. As the seawater is churned by breaking waves in the surf zone adjacent to the shore, the presence of these surfactants under these turbulent conditions traps air, forming persistent bubbles that stick to each other through surface tension. Due to its low density and persistence, foam can be blown by strong on-shore winds from the beachface inland.
Beautiful green-blue stained rocks are frequently found in stone walls at Bunmahon in southern Ireland. The small village was at one time home to a successful copper mining industry. The copper is thought to have formed 354 million years ago at the beginning of the Carboniferous Period but possibly even earlier. The village is now the centre of the Copper Coast GeoPark and has a lovely roadside rock garden illustrating the geological history of the area. The copper mineral chalcopyrite (copper-iron sulphide) occurs as veins in white crystalline quartz and alters to copper carbonate forms such as green malachite and blue azurite. Weathered stones show these colourful blue-green variants of the mineral, with the rusty patches representing the iron component. Stones of this composition are found in walls all around the area.