A level Geology field course, Jurassic Coast, Dorset, UK
Over four days in April 2018, Dr Alexander Mitlehner took students from Greene’s to visit geological exposures spanning some 180 million years of the Earth’s history; going back in time from the Tertiary clays and sands around Barton-on-Sea back to the earliest Jurassic strata exposed in cliffs around Lyme Regis, in the far west of Dorset.
From Jurassic and Cretaceous strata exposed in the coastal cliffs and inland quarries of Dorset, students experienced geological features and processes already covered in tutorials. They sketched, logged and interpreted sequences of strata deposited in different environments identifying fossils that give information on the age and environment of the surrounding rocks.
Important structural features were also observed, such as the famous “Lulworth Crumple” of intensely folded strata at Stair Hole, Lulworth Cove and the fossilised forest in a disused quarry on the Isle of Portland. We also visited a working quarry to see rock sections which span the Jurassic/Cretaceous boundary when worldwide environmental change occurred.
In the evenings, field notes were written up and further teaching given to reinforce and deepen knowledge and understanding of what had been observed in the field.
In the words of May, one of the students: “The trip greatly improved my understanding of geological processes, it was amazing to see a fossilised forest as well as visiting a working quarry, and to collect and identify fossils and recognise different rock types. The facilities at Swanage youth hostel were also very good, including the classroom.”
The experiences gained here help our Geology students to recognise and understand geological processes and sequences in more depth; important for A level and university studies alike, as well as helping enrich their understanding of the natural environment.