Patterns in Pyroclastic Breccia near Louisbourg

Angular rock fragments embedded in a volcanic ash matrix from a pyroclastic flow in Cape Breton Island

The entire coastline north and south of Louisbourg on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia, Canada, is composed of Neoproterozoic volcanic rocks dating back 575 million years. A few hundred metres north of the Louisbourg Lighthouse along the Trail to Morning Star Cove and Gun Landing Cove, lies an area of seashore that offers the chance to take a close-up look at the compositions and natural patterns in rock made of pyroclastic breccia.

Pyroclastic literally means ‘fire-broken’ and is used to describe volcanic rocks made up of fragmented pieces that are normally the result of an explosive volcanic event. Clasts are pieces of broken down rock. According to the Oxford Dictionary of Earth Sciences edited by Michael Allaby (ISBN 978-0-19-921194-4) “breccia is a coarse clastic sedimentary rock, the constituent clasts of which are angular. Breccia literally means rubble and implies a rock deposited very close to the source area. The term may also be applied to angular volcanic rocks from a volcanic vent.

Rock of a similar type of origin, although not identical, has been used by the sculptor Emily Young in the creation of the carved heads that were recently on display on Neo Bankside in London. Stillness Born of History II is described as being made of “onyx with volcanic pyroclastic brecchia”.

Stillness Born of History II at Neo Bankside

Carved stone head by Emily Young displayed at Neo Bankside in LondonBeautifully textured and patterned onyx with volcanic pyroclastic breccia has been used by the famous sculptor Emily Young to create this fabulous head called Stillness Born of History II displayed (courtesy of Bowman Sculpture) at Neo Bankside in London, England, just south of the Tate Modern Gallery. Pyroclastic breccia is composed of fine-grained volcanic ash, pumice, and rock fragments larger than 2.5 inches (63.5 mm). When the fragments are smaller than this, the rock is called tuff.

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.


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

Joggins Rock Textures 15

Ripples from water currents over fine sediments deposited in the Carboniferous Period preserved on the lower surface of boulders from a rock fall

Joggins Rock Textures 15a – Ripples from water movement over fine sediments deposited in the Carboniferous Period, preserved in boulders from a rock fall at Coal Mine Point (also known as Hard Scrabble Point) at Joggins Fossil Cliffs, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Ripples preserved from water currents over fine sediments in the Carboniferous Period on the lower surface of boulders from a rock fall

Joggins Rock Textures 15b – Ripples preserved in stone.

Ripples preserved from water currents over fine sediments in the Carboniferous Period on the lower surface of boulders from a rock fall

Joggins Rock Textures 15c – Ripples preserved in stone.


Pictures from Rousse Point

There is nothing I like better than strolling along the seashore and looking not only at the view but in detail at all the rocks, shells, and seaweeds. I love the colours, patterns and textures. I am curious about what they are called and how they came to be there. What happened geologically to form the rocks, when did it happen, what processes have worn the rocks away to leave their present formations? The living organisms like the seaweeds, limpets and periwinkles are connected to the rocks as part of their habitat preferences. Birds live, feed and die around the seashore. Everything is inter-related and I am one with them all. The feeling of being a part of it all is hard to beat. I capture these moments with my camera and relive the experiences by looking at the photographs later. They lift my mood and make me feel happy. The pictures in this post record some of the sights and natural treasures that I discovered walking along the rocky shore at Rousse Point in the Channel Island of Guernsey. Enjoy.