Seatown Beach Boulders

As you walk east along the shore at Seatown in Dorset, you reach Ridge Cliff from which numerous boulders have fallen over the years, and accumulated across the beach and into the water. What is most interesting is the great variety of shapes, colours, textures, and compositions. They represent all the different strata that make up the 80 metre high cliffs.

Seatown Shattered Eype Clay

The 80 metre high cliffs on the east shore at Seatown in Dorset along the Jurassic Coast are subject to land slips and rock falls. Large lumps of shattered blue-grey clay are common on the beach. They come from cascades of Eype Clay Member material that forms the lower part of the cliff exposures.

Seatown Rock Crystals

A large rock that had rolled down from the top of the cliffs at Seatown in Dorset was lying on the pebbles of the beach. It was yellow and rusty coloured. At this point along the shore, called Ridge Cliff, the rocks belong to the Dyrham Formation of the Liassic/Jurassic period. The lower section of the cliff is the Eype Clay Member of pale, blue-grey micaceous silty mudstone and shale. Above that is the Down Cliff Sand Member mostly of silts and fine sands with thin lenticles of hard calcareous sandstone. On top of this is the Thorncombe Sand Member with yellow-weathering, heavily bioturbated sands, with several horizons of large rounded calcareously cemented concretions. This boulder obviously came from one of these upper sandstone layers but I cannot say which one. Its broken edge revealed lovely abstract patterns and beautiful crystals.

Seatown Strandline

The beach at Seatown in Dorset comprises a series of steep pebble banks. You can see how far up the shore the last high tide has been by the line of natural debris extending along the shore parallel to the water’s edge. On this occasion the strandline was almost entirely made up of dried red seaweed which contrasted well with the pebbles. Quite a number of white cuttlefish bones rested on the weed. I am fascinated by their beautiful structure. For some reason, the shape of the more concave surface (as in image 5) always makes me think of angels.

Seatown Sea Thrift

Pink flowers of Thrift (Armeria maritima) growing on cliffs

Pink flowers of Thrift (Armeria maritima) cluster on the cliffs at Seatown in Dorset, England, along the World Heritage designated Jurassic Coast. They form carpets on the cliff top edges and occupy isolated ledges of collapsed material on the cliff face.

Pink flowers of Thrift (Armeria maritima) growing on cliffs

Pink flowers of Thrift (Armeria maritima) growing on cliffs

Pink flowers of Thrift (Armeria maritima) growing on cliffs

Pink flowers of Thrift (Armeria maritima) growing on cliffs

The cliffs of the east side of the beach at Seatown, Dorset, England

The cliffs of the east side of the beach at Seatown, Dorset, England

Flints Embedded in Studland Chalk

Flint nodule embedded in chalk

Flint nodules embedded in the low cliff between two minor faults in Studland Chalk Formation exposures at South Beach on Studland Bay, Dorset, England.  At the top of the cliff face is a layer of ironstone and iron-stained flints that has caused the rusty stain on the chalk below. Elsewhere the rocks are covered with a fine coating of green algae.

A couple of useful references for the geology of the area in which these photographs of the chalk and flints were taken:

Barton, CM, Woods, MA, Bristow, CR, Newell, AJ, Weathead, RK, Evans, DJ, Kirby, GA, Warrington, G, Riding, JB, Freshney, EC, Highley, DE, Lott, GK, Forster, A, and Gibson, A. 2011. Geology of south Dorset and south-east Devon and its World Heritage Coast. Special Memoir of the British Geological Survey. Sheets 328, 341/342, 342/343, and parts of 326/340, 327, 329 and 339 (England and Wales), 9–100.

Cope, JCW, 2012 Geology of the Dorset Coast, Geologists’ Association Guide No. 22, Guide Series Editor SB Marriott, The Geologists’ Association, 191-194. A serious guide for the more dedicated amateur and professional.

Ensom, P and Turnbull, M 2011 Geology of the Jurassic Coast, The Isle of Purbeck, Weymouth to Studland, published for the Jurassic Coast Trust by Coastal Publishing, ISBN 978-1-907701-00-9, pages 96-117. A beautifully illustrated beginner’s guide to the geology of the area – one of a series of excellent publications by the Jurassic Coast Trust.

Swanage Solid and Drift Geology (map), British Geological Survey (Natural Environment Research Council) 1:50,000 Series, England and wales Sheets 342 (East) and part of 343

Flint nodule embedded in chalk

Low chalk cliff with row of embedded flints

Flint nodule embedded in chalk

Line of flint nodules embedded in chalk

Flint nodule embedded in chalk

Line of flint nodules embedded in chalk

Flint nodule embedded in chalk

Line of flint nodules embedded in chalk

Flint nodule embedded in chalk

Flint nodule embedded in chalk

Chalk Cliff Rock Texture & Pattern

Chalk pattern and texture in cliffs at Studland Bay

Textures and patterns in chalk cliffs at Studland Bay – showing white strata and darker flint nodule layers; different degrees of weathering, fracturing and smoothing of the rock surfaces; subtle inherent variations in colouring; greyscale shading brought about by dirt and biological encrustations; and more dramatic green algal coatings on the wave-washed cliff base.

Flints & Ironstones at South Beach Studland

Beach stones derived from the chalk cliffs at South Beach, Studland, Dorset, England.

The upper part of the sandy beach at South Beach, Studland in Dorset is littered with pebbles and stones of many colours and interesting patterns and textures. They are mostly flint and ironstone that has weathered out of the chalk that forms impressive cliffs from here to Old Harry Rocks and the Foreland or Handfast Point in the distance.

Click on any image to enlarge and view in a gallery.

REFERENCES

Barton, CM, Woods, MA, Bristow, CR, Newell, AJ, Weathead, RK, Evans, DJ, Kirby, GA, Warrington, G, Riding, JB, Freshney, EC, Highley, DE, Lott, GK, Forster, A, and Gibson, A. 2011. Geology of south Dorset and south-east Devon and its World Heritage Coast. Special Memoir of the British Geological Survey. Sheets 328, 341/342, 342/343, and parts of 326/340, 327, 329 and 339 (England and Wales), 9–100.

Cope, JCW, 2012 Geology of the Dorset Coast, Geologists’ Association Guide No. 22, Guide Series Editor SB Marriott, The Geologists’ Association, 191-194.

Swanage Solid and Drift Geology (map), British Geological Survey (Natural Environment Research Council) 1:50,000 Series, England and wales Sheets 342 (East) and part of 343