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Sunday, 6 November 2011


"Limestone Landscapes" is a project, currently being run by Durham County Council and they put on an education day. The morning was spent in the classroom being taught all about the Magnesian Limestone unique to Durham and its place in the geological history of the world. There was a lovely power-point display, free map posters and lots of rock samples to covet.
Then we all trooped off to Coldknuckles Quarry for some fieldwork.
At the bottom of this quarry is a deep layer of sand known as The Yellow Sand. It is the remains of Permian sand dunes formed about 250 million years ago when England's climate was dry and tropical. It is mined and used as building sand. It can be seen in its dune layers, cross-bedded from the changing winds of the desert. At the top of the sand is a thin grey line of Marl Slate which forms the boundary between the sand and the Magnesian limestones. It is about halfway up the picture and above it are the layers of limestone.
It's the Marl Slate that has the fossils in it and the quarrymen dig it up and pile it out of the way as they go down for the sand. Lots of folks come round and fossick in the dumped slate, including me.

The aim is to find a fossil fish. People do, and so did I. Well a good bit of one. I'm not sure if it's the tail or some fins. I shall have to do more research.

At the top right is a piece of plant, then something unidentified, then some sand balls and then some calcite but on the left is the big trophy. I knocked the edge of the block of slate with the hammer and it split open to show the fishy tail.
We then went down to Blackhall Rocks to study more of the limestone in the cliffs, but the tide hadn't gone out far enough to see the best bits.

A bloke in the carpark was exercising his Harris Hawks and held them for me to photograph. He has a couple and takes them along the cliff top each day training them to return for their food. He said it is all done by making sure that the bird is hungry enough to return and he ensures that by weighing them between flights and feeds. Then we decided to drive down the coast a short distance to Seaton Carew to catch the fireworks display. We arrived in time to get a seat at "The Almighty Cod" for a fish and chip supper. When we went in there was a queue outside the take-away section, about twenty people long and when we came out it was well over twenty yards long and more. All three fish and chip shops had enormous queues and there were thousands of people milling around waiting for it to start.

It was short but grand.

Today is a well earned rest and newspaper day before we head off to the Comedy club at the Gala Theatre in Durham.

Cheers Gillian

1 comment:

carol said...

Wonderful photos, wonderful names - Coldknuckle! Almighty Cod! Brilliant. What an exciting day. I love knowing the geology of an area and better still to get down and dirty with it. Lucky you.