Storm Beach Boulders & Coral Fossils at Broughton [2]

Close-up detail of coral fossils in Carboniferous Limestone boulder on the Gower Peninsula

This is the second in a series of posts about coral fossils in Carboniferous Limestone at Broughton Bay on the Gower Peninsula.  See the earlier post Fossil Coral at Broughton Bay for more details.

These fossils belong to a group of colonial corals of the lithostrotionid type, probably Lithostrotion junceum.

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Giant Polypore

Giant Polypore fungus - Meripilus giganteus

Preferring to grow at the base of beech trees, these fungi look like the biggest brown open-leaved cabbages you ever saw. They are apparently quite a common British fungus and grow up to almost a metre across. The common name is Giant Polypore; the Latin scientific name is Meripilus giganteus (Pres.) P. Karst (formerly known as Polyporus gigenteus or Grifolia gigantea).

They are described as a massive compound rosette of soft brown, fan-shaped caps with pores on the undersurface, arising from a common base. They grow annually, usually from the extreme base of broad-leaved trees and stumps, and often from shallowly submerged roots running some distance from the trunk, favouring beech (as in this case) but also found with oak. They grow in summer through to late autumn and are inedible.

[There is a similar species, Grifola frondosa, but that does not achieve such a great size as M. giganteus.]

I photographed these specimens last week in the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, London, in the UK.

The information about this fungus  was gleaned from the copiously illustrated and comprehensive The Encyclopedia of Fungi of Britain and Europe by Michael Jordan, first published by David & Charles 1995, and later in a revised edition by Frances Lincoln 2004, Hardback ISBN 0 7112 2378 5, and Paperback ISBN 0 7112 2379 3.

Giant Polypore fungus - Meripilus giganteus

Giant Polypore fungus - Meripilus giganteus

Giant Polypore fungus - Meripilus giganteus

Giant Polypore fungus - Meripilus giganteus

Giant Polypore fungus - Meripilus giganteus

Giant Polypore fungus - Meripilus giganteus

Giant Polypore fungus - Meripilus giganteus

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Wind-sculpted sand & shells at Rhossili

Beach surface textures carved by windblown sand

Strong winds dried the very top layer of the wet sand on Rhossili beach, lifted the grains just above the surface, and drove them with great ferocity across the vast expanse of shore. The gusts of sand-laden wind  scoured the beach  into contour patterns and left buried seashells stripped and exposed to windward. Beautiful, natural patterns were created.

Beach surface textures carved by windblown sand

Beach surface textures carved by windblown sand

Beach surface textures carved by windblown sand

Beach surface textures carved by windblown sand

Beach surface textures carved by windblown sand

Beach surface textures carved by windblown sand

Beach surface textures carved by windblown sand

Beach surface textures carved by windblown sand

 Revision of a post from 24 December 2009

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Sad strandline bird at Oxwich

Dead bird of prey washed up on the beach - the foot and talons.

What this bird is, and how this bird died, I do not know. It was lying high up on the shore on the strandline among the usual debris, both natural and man-made. But it was magnificent despite being sad! Such lovely feathers. Such incredible talons. What a glorious bird of prey it must have been – soaring high above the cliffs. Perhaps someone reading this will help me out with its identification? I have lots of other photographs of it that might be useful.

Dead bird of prey washed up on the beach

Dead bird of prey washed up on the beach - the underside of the wing.

Dead bird of prey washed up on the beach - the head.

Dead bird of prey washed up on the beach

Dead bird of prey washed up on the beach

Dead bird of prey washed up on the beach 

Revised version of a post from 21 March 2009
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Some feathers at Whiteford Point

Two dew-laden white feathers in a heart shape on a sandy beach.

Two dew-covered white feathers lying on the beach at Whiteford Sands, Gower, South Wales. It was a misty June morning when I spotted these feathers which were coincidentally arranged into a heart shape. Maybe it was something to do with the salt in the air, as much as to do with the fineness of the plumules of this downy feather, that so many individual droplets of moisture had formed on one small feather.

A bunch of white and grey plucked feathers on a sandy beach

They were just a couple from a whole bunch of feathers scattered on the sand. It looked as if all the  grey and white plumes had been freshly plucked from a bird. There were no bones or meat. I wondered if a bird of prey had been roughly preparing the dead bird before taking it to the nest to feed young.

A group of white, grey and black feathers on wet sand.

Several larger, blunt-ended, black-tipped feathers amongst the small soft, downy ones look as if they might be from the tail of the bird. I will have to defer to any expert ornithologist reading this to identify the bird from which the feathers have been plucked and possible perpetrator. 

Dew drops covering a downy white feather on a sandy beach

Revised version of a post from 12 July 2009

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Rocks on the west side of Broughton Bay – Part 3

Rock textures and fracture patterns in Gower Carboniferous Limestone

Some more images showing the mixed-up nature of the upper rocks in the exposure of Hunts Bay Oolite Subgroup of the Carboniferous Limestone in the cliffs at the west end of Broughton Bay on the Gower Peninsula – illustrating the irregular fracture patterns, rough textures and combinations of rock type within the formation. I am considering whether these messed up rocks represent a storm event way back at the time they were forming?

According to Willoughby, C (1996) Environments of Deposition in the Carboniferous Limestone of South  East Gower:

In the sequence of the Hunts Bay Oolite there is also further evidence of storm events with the appearance of bends and lenses of coarse laminated packstones*. These are associated with breccias* comprised of angular fragments of coarse oolites in the packstone matrix, indicating hardground formation before these have been ripped up in storm events and rapidly redeposited within reworked packstones. In places the junctions between these two lithologies are gradational, probably indicating that the sea floor at this time was uncemented and soft allowing mixing to occur.

I visualise that scenario as resulting in something that looks like pack ice,  where a solid sheet of ice has been broken up by some force of nature into many angular fragments that then refreeze into a solid form with the pieces ‘cemented’ together by newly formed sea ice.

Definitions

* Breccia is 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.

* Clasts are particles of broken-down rock. These fragments may vary in size from boulders to silt-sized grains, and are invariably the products of erosion followed by deposition in a new setting.

Packstone is defined by the Dunham Classification as a limestone characterised by a grain-supported texture, together with a lime-mud matrix.

Rock textures and fracture patterns in Gower Carboniferous Limestone

Rock textures and fracture patterns in Gower Carboniferous Limestone

Rock textures and fracture patterns in Gower Carboniferous Limestone

Rock textures and fracture patterns in Gower Carboniferous Limestone

Rock textures and fracture patterns in Gower Carboniferous Limestone

Rock textures and fracture patterns in Gower Carboniferous Limestone

Rock textures and fracture patterns in Gower Carboniferous Limestone

Rock textures and fracture patterns in Gower Carboniferous Limestone

Rock textures and fracture patterns in Gower Carboniferous Limestone

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Seashells at Cairns 5

Inside of a bivalve seashell tentatively identified as Anadara inaequivalvis (Brugiere)

I seem to remember picking up this shell from the strand-line at Trinity Beach – which is just north along the coast from Cairns in Queensland. I photographed it against an improvised background of my black trousers – first showing the inside and then the outside of the shell. I think it is a shell of Anadara inaequivalvis (Bruguière) (see CIESM The Mediterranean Science Commission Atlas). This species is found along the coast from Northern Territory to central Queensland as well as being an accidentally introduced species in other parts of the world.

Apparently, when the mollusc is younger, the two hinged valves of the shell are different sizes (inequivalve) but as the mollusc matures the shells become equal in size (equivalve). The number of ribs is important for distinguishing between the different species of Anadara. A. inaequivalvis has between 31 and 34 radial ribs (I can count 31 in this particular specimen. A similar species, A. polii (Lamark) has only 26 – 28 radial ribs. The length  of  A. inaequivalvis ranges from 70 – 80 mm in mature specimens with a height of upto 61 mm. Unfortunately, I had no ruler to photograph with the shell to indicate scale but it was a fairly large shell.

Outside of a bivalve seashell tentatively identified as Anadara inaequivalvis (Brugiere)

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