These rocks are not pretty but they are interesting! This is the project I am working on at the moment. I am trying to understand the rocks on the west side of Broughton Bay on the Gower Peninsula. I know that they are Hunts Bay Oolite Subgroup of the Carboniferous Limestone from looking at the geology map – but that is just the beginning of the understanding.
Not all the rock looks the same. There seem to be two main parts. The upper part of the cliff looks a bit of a mess, a bit of a jumble, coarse sediments and lots of fractures, ?faults, and various lenses and bands of material. Sometimes it looks like some sort of breccia. It is mostly examples of the appearance of the rock in the upper part of the cliff that are featured in this post. By comparison, the lower part of the cliff tends to be a different colour, is more solid, massive, and continuous, with fewer fractures, and containing obvious fossils.
In this and subsequent posts I am just putting down my thoughts as I read more about the subject. I have already found a couple of good references to help me. What I really need to do is visit the “type location” for this particular rock type, from which this particular subgroup of the Carboniferous Limestone was first properly identified and described. Perhaps the next time I am in Gower. Maybe it will all become a lot clearer then. Meanwhile, I will continue my attempts to identify the components of the rock and understand their origins.
First of all, it should be noted that in the photographs shown here, the orange, yellow, and black patches are modern lichens living on the surface of the rock and are nothing to do with the rock itself. The white colour on the rock close-ups is usually crystalline calcite. The top picture in this post shows the general location where the following photographs were taken, from just before Twlc Point to Foxhole Point on the west side of Broughton Bay. The boulders on the beach at the foot of the low cliff are covered with living barnacles attached to mussels, and by green seaweed.
The Hunts Bay Oolite Subgroup (HBO) is the most recent nomenclature for this type of rock but it was first named and defined as the Hunts Bay Group by Wilson et al (1990). The type section is the cliffs and foreshore reefs between Bacon Hole and Pwlldu Head, Southgate, Gower, South Wales (SS 5604 8674 – 5728 8632).
This is a work in progress and I will amend and annotate the text and pictures as I learn more, as well as adding new posts on the subject! If you, as a reader and expert geologist, know that I as an amateur have made a mistake in my understanding about these rocks, please do drop me a line and put me right.
I am currently reading:
Waters C N, Waters R A, Barclay, W J, and Davies J R (2009) A lithostratigraphical framework for the Carboniferous successions of southern Great Britain (onshore), British Geological Survey Research Report RR/09/01, NERC, Keyworth, Nottingham.
Willoughby, C (1996) Environments of Deposition in the Carboniferous Limestone of South East Gower, Bsc Geology Thesis, University of Wales, Aberystwyth.
Wilson, D, Davies, J R, Fletcher, C J N, and Smith M. (1990) Geology of the South Wales Coalfield, Part VI, the country around Bridgend. Memoir of the British Geological Survey, Sheets 261 and 262 (England and Wales).
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