Monday 3 March 2014

Seeing the Wessex Formation afresh.

The week before last saw my first trip into the field as part of my PhD, down to the Isle of Wight where I have been so many times before as a tourist, amateur collector and research associate. My main focus on this trip was to meet local collectors to assess what might available for study, and also to spend some time at the National Oceanography Centre Southampton (NOCS) to give a workshop, talk with my supervisor and make sure I have what I need to get on with my research. It was a busy week, and also an eventful one as my wife and I crossed the Solent in a force 10 gale and spent one night lying awake listening to a huge Atlantic storm make landfall at the cliffs 500 yards away.

Beach conditions were variable; on one hand there was a lot of sand on the beach and there wasn't much to be seen, although I did pick up a couple of bits of rolled bone and a baryonychid tooth from the shingle. I visited a couple of locations looking for dinosaur footcasts and discovered one or two examples in locations that have not been recorded in any detail, the best of which I photographed and is shown below. The highlight of time spent on the field was the Wessex Formation itself, as the storms had washed many cliff sections clean of the slumps and mud runoffs that normally obscure the stratigraphy and with these gone it was possible to inspect clean sections along the coast, enabling one to see the complex bedding before the cliffs are covered again in the coming weeks.

Here's a couple of pictures from the trip:

A clean section of the Wessex Formation, normally hidden under slumps and mudflows.

You wait for one, then three come along at once. Three tridactyl footprints in a single block,
all orientated in the same direction and all different sizes.