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A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the South Dorset Coast

A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the South Dorset Coast

  • £1899


by Steve Snowball and Craig Chivers

With prehistoric life and scene reconstructions by Andreas Kurpisz

Siri Scientific Press (1 March, 2020) 978-0-9957496-8-9 RRP £18.99
224 pp, 240 x 165 mm, soft cover, 300 colour photographs & illustrations

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Reviews

Everything Dinosaur Blog, March 2020: "Providing a guide to this beautiful part of the world, is a new book written by dedicated fossil collectors Steve Snowball and Craig Chivers.  Entitled A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the South Dorset Coast, this is one book that does exactly what it claims to do in the title and what an excellent read it is too! ... Following a general introduction section, outlining the importance of the “Jurassic Coast”, the reader is provided with information regarding the fossil collecting code and then schooled in the geology of the region.  The brief guide to the geology and landscapes of south Dorset then leads onto a series of chapters that provide details on excursions that can be undertaken to prospect for fossils.  Each location is beautifully illustrated with stunning photographs of the fossils that can be found and the ancient prehistoric landscapes are brought to life by Andreas Kurpisz, from a shallow sea with an oyster reef to a herd of brachiosaurs wandering across what would eventually become part of the Purbeck Formation. A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the South Dorset Coast provides a comprehensive overview on fossil collecting opportunities along the coast of  southern Dorset, it is essential reading for fossil collectors and for those wishing to explore eastwards along the “Jurassic Coast” from Burton Bradstock."


From the back cover

This is the second in a series of guides on the safe and responsible collection of fossils along the coast of Dorset. This sumptuously illustrated book, in full colour throughout, focusses on the central section of the coast, extending from the start of the Fleet lagoon and then eastwards to the Chalk headland of White Nothe at Ringstead Bay.

All information on the geology and fossil exposures is fully up-to-date, with stunning photographs throughout of the beautiful coastal landscape and the fossils to be found there. It makes this a fantastic book for browsing at leisure or for using as an invaluable reference for field trips to the area.

The book’s beautiful format is complimented by superb reconstructions of Jurassic scenes and prehistoric life by paleo-artist, Andreas Kurpisz, who also collaborated with the authors in their previous publication.

Steve Snowball and Craig Chivers are also the authors of ‘A Guide to Fossil Collecting on the West Dorset Coast’ published by Siri Scientific Press. This book again reflects their considerable experience, in both the collection and preservation of fossils, found in the area in which they live.

Contents

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS                        
FOREWORD BY THE AUTHORS
                    
1. INTRODUCING THE SOUTH DORSET COAST
    A World Heritage Site    
    The Eroding & Protected Coast
    
2. FOSSIL COLLECTING CODE OF CONDUCT
                
3. THE SOUTH DORSET SUCCESSION
    Geology & Landscape: An Overview
    Making Sense of the Fossil Record
    The Jurassic Period
    The Cretaceous Period

4. FOSSIL COLLECTING EXCURSIONS IN SOUTH DORSET

    EXCURSIONS ON THE FLEET LAGOON
    West Fleet to Tidmoor Cove
    Fuller’s Earth Formation, Forest Marble Formation
    Cornbrash Formation, Oxford Clay Formation
    
    EXCURSIONS AROUND FERRYBRIDGE & PORTLAND HARBOUR
    Harbour Mouth to Nothe Castle
    Kimmeridge Clay Formation, Corallian Group

    EXCURSIONS AROUND BOWLEAZE COVE, REDCLIFF POINT& BLACK HEAD    
    Oxford Clay Formation, Corallian Group, Gault Formation
        
    EXCURSIONS AROUND OSMINGTON MILLS                    
    Corallian Group, Kimmeridge Clay Formation, Gault Formation
        
    EXCURSIONS AROUND RINGSTEAD BAY        
    Kimmeridge Clay Formation, Gault Formation,
    Upper Greensand Formation, Grey Chalk Subgroup
    White Chalk Subgroup

    EXCURSIONS ON THE ISLE OF PORTLAND
    Kimmeridge Clay Formation, Portland Sand Formation,
    Portland Stone Formation, Purbeck Limestone Group    
        
5. ABOUT THE AUTHORS                                
6. INDEX OF PHOTOGRAPHS
7. BIBLIOGRAPHY

Foreword by the authors

The opportunities for the collection and study of fossils along the coast of Dorset are boundless. The Jurassic Coast, comprised of sedimentary rocks from the Triassic (found just across the border in East Devon), the Jurassic and the Cretaceous periods, is famed for its remarkable fossils and its breath-taking scenery. Thousands of visitors flock to the region annually, to experience fossil collecting (perhaps for the first time) and to take in the splendour of the magnificent coastal scenery. This book focuses entirely on the southern, central section of the coast, where Weymouth is the dominant seaside town, with its glorious sandy beach, bustling Georgian promenade and holiday tourist facilities. The area around Weymouth is no less favourable to the fossil collector but has neither the reputation, nor the popularity of Lyme Regis or Charmouth, to the west of the county. However, it is a fascinating area for the geologist and fossil collector alike, with an astounding variety of rock types present and from which a good range of fossils can be found.

Walking westwards along the Jurassic Coast is a journey back in time. The early Jurassic rocks displayed in the west of Dorset are entirely of marine origin, whereas the rocks towards the east begin to display evidence of changes to the environments and conditions under which they were formed; shallower seas, lakes and lagoons were very much part of late Jurassic Britain.

In keeping with the rest of the Jurassic Coast, the sites in the southern section are protected by SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) status, thus allowing future generations to enjoy and to collect from this remarkable coastline. Responsible collecting is encouraged and the rule of no digging or directly hammering into the bed rock applies here and as equally as it does anywhere along this World Heritage Site. It is essential to follow the fossil collecting code of practice, which emphasises both the safe and responsible collection of fossils. The relentless action of the sea not only shapes the Dorset coastal scenery, it also acts as the means by which fossils are regularly washed out of the rocks. Collection of fossils from loose material is essential and in any case, a good pair of eyes rather than picks, spades and hammers will find the fossils.

This section of coast has no association with Mary Anning or the famed marine reptile skeletons from the county’s western section. However, finds such as Pliosaurus kevani—the Weymouth Bay pliosaur, are neither less spectacular nor less important and such a find certainly bears testimony to the contribution to science made by amateur fossil collectors, who contribute far more to the discovery of new species than they probably realise!

In this second volume, our journey continues eastwards along Dorset’s spectacular coast and attempts to highlight the sheer variety and beauty of the fossils that can be found here.

Steve Snowball & Craig Chivers
2019


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