BSRG 2018 fieldtrip to the Permian Zechstein of Northeast England

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The first BSRG postgraduate field trip of 2018 visited Permian Zechstein outcrops of Northeast England. The trip was led by Professor Maurice Tucker and Michael Mawson of the University of Bristol and Durham University, organised by Arne Fuhrmann and Dan Tek from the universities of Manchester and Leeds and sponsored by the International Association of Sedimentologists (IAS). A diverse group of researchers from universities in Europe and North America made discussions stimulating and wide-ranging.

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Our group beside the famous Lot’s Wife sea stack at Marsden Bay

 

After an evening of introductions, we started the action packed, two-day trip on Saturday morning at Claxheugh Rock, where the basal contact of the Zechstein Raisby formation crops out. The stunning exposure shows a slide palne separating aeolian Yellow Sands from overlaying Marl Slate. Working our way up through the stratigraphy, we visited Trow Point where the uppermost Raisby Fm. is overlain by Trow Point Bed.  It consists of a 10 cm thick microbial unit equivalent to 100 m of reef carbonate just 5 km to the west, and a thin layer of residue from the dissolution of the Hartlepool Anhydrite. Above the Trow Point Bed, the concretionary Roker Formation is present as a collapse breccia.

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Maurice explaining how the succession at Trow Point was formed

 

After a nice lunch at Marsden Bay, we continued to look at the Rocker Fm. which exposes a number of primary and resedimented carbonate facies, including cross bedded, shelf-margin bioclastic oolites, and calc turbidites. The Roker Fm. also shows some spectacular secondary carbonate features such as the bizarre ‘cannonball limestones’ and oomoldic porosity. Day one ended with a look at the dolomitised reef facies of the Ford Fm. with some impressive fossil assemblages.

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Amazed looks on the faces of the participants at the wonderful cannonball limestones

In the evening, after a hearty evening meal, the group received a private tour of Durham Castle courtesy of Maurice, the former Master of Castle.

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Maurice showing the group around the great hall in Durham Castle

Day two started at Blackhall Rocks, with a jump into the weird and wonderful world of microbial carbonates. Microbial dolomites and stromatolites exposed in exceptional sections along the coast of County Durham, the most notable of which was the distinctive ‘Crinkly Bed’. Walking through the caves and past the cliffs, reefal and slope carbonates, some of them brecciated, were visible alongside these enigmatic microbialites. We finished the two fantastic days at Seaham Harbour, looking at the youngest outcropping Zechstein strata in Durham, the contact between to Rocker Fm. and the Fordon evaporates.

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Michael explaining, to the group, the geology along the coast of NE England

We would like to thank the trip leaders, Maurice Tucker and Michael Mawson for taking us to these amazing outcrops and everyone attending the trip for their valuable contribution!

Dan Tek, Postgraduate Representative

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BSRG postgraduate fieldtrip 2017: Devon and North Cornwall

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The 2017 BSRG postgraduate field trip was held in North Cornwall and Devon from the 20th to the 22nd of October. The trip was led by Dr Matthew Watkinson from the University of Plymouth and EPI Geoscience and organized by Kévin Boulesteix from the University of Manchester. We were happy to be joined by 30 young researchers (PhD students, post-docs and young professionals from industry) from all over the UK and the world (including Malaysia!).

After a short introduction about the geology of the area on Friday evening, we focused on the Late Pleistocene to Devonian age strata of the North Devon Basin at Saunton Sands on Saturday morning. It was a very good opportunity to look at the impressive angular unconformity between the Late Pleistocene and the uppermost Devonian (350 Myr are missing) as well as to compare modern beach processes with the non-deltaic shelf to supratidal siliclastic facies.

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Angular unconformity between the uppermost Devonian Pilton Shales Formation and the Late Pleistocene Sandrock Formation.

 

We then spent the afternoon in Westward Ho! to study the uppermost Namurian pro-deltaic facies of the Culm Basin which are beautifully exposed along the wave cut platform. During the afternoon, the group successfully braved storm Brian while listening to Matthew’s explanations and discussing the depositional processes responsible for the deposition of this slope succession.

 

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On Sunday morning, we focused on the Culm Basin deep-water succession in Widemouth Bay near Bude in Cornwall. We mainly discussed some controversies related to this basin, such as the depositional environment of this succession (marine vs lacustrine). We also applied and discussed the recent classification of sediment gravity flow deposits.

 

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The group discussing the depositional environment of the deep-water succession exposed in Widemouth Bay.

 

We ended the trip in front of a beautifully exposed chevron fold formed during the Variscan Orogeny.

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The group in front of the chevron fold exposed in Widemouth Bay.

 

This field trip was a great success, and we would like to thank Matthew Watkinson for volunteering to lead this successful trip.

See you all next year for new events!

The BSRG postgraduate representative team