Museum Expeditions & Field Trips - 2000

Reculver Country Park, Kent

This country park runs from the ruins of St Mary's Church in the east to the village of Bishopstone in the west. It is a classic location for Palaeocene and Eocene fossils from the Thanet and Woolwich bed sand deposits found there.

Shark teeth dating from the Eocene can be found on the foreshore at low tide, but as the Museum has a number of these already in the collection, our visit concentrated on the 10-15 metre high cliffs that run along the shoreline. These are composed of Thanet Sand beds and are of Palaeocene age.

All of the fossil remains observed were of the bivalve Arctica morrisi. 99% of these were incompletely preserved and extremely friable. Layers and lenses of crushed and broken shell were the norm but a few complete and almost complete specimens were recovered from the fallen blocks of sand at the base of the cliffs. These are not sandstone strata, the Thanet Sands being only very loosely compacted.

Arctica morrisi

Warden Point

The northern coast of the island is one of the few places in the south east where London Clay outcrops are accessible. This area is noted for fossil remains of crabs and lobsters and for calcite, barite and pyrite crystals.

Time constraints, because of the local tides (and the amount of time we had spent at Reculver along the coast) meant that only an exploratory examination of the site was possible. No fossil or mineral specimens were observed, but examples of both 'fresh' and 'weathered' London Clay were collected. (London Clay is a dark blue colour when first exposed, weathering to a light to mid-brown).

We will return to this site on another occasion to conduct a full survey.


Le Parc Naturel Régional des Volcans d'Auvergne forms the whole of the western part of the The Massif Central region of France. It consists of three groups of extinct volcanoes - the Monts-Dôme the Monts-Dores and the Monts du Cantal. The park's headquarters are in the town of Château de Montlosier, 20km southwest of Clermont-Ferrand. It is open daily (May to October) from 10am to noon and 2.30-7pm.

The intense geological activity of this area has produced a number of varied and interesting igneous rock formations, both intrusive and extrusive.

Le Puy de Dôme (1465m) last erupted about 8,300 years ago in a strombolian type eruption. The magmas produced much vesicular Basalt and lava that has oxidised to a deep red colour. Specimens obtained included Quartz Porphyry, Granite, Latite, Peperino Tuff, vesicular Basalt and Dolerite.

Puy de Dôme is clearly signposted from place du Jaude in the centre of Clermont and is situated about 15km distant along the D941. The volcano can be climbed on foot in about an hour from Col de Ceyssat.

The nearby Le Puy de Côme (1253m) formed between 16,000 - 11,600 years ago producing lava fields ranging from black to red. A fine specimen of red vesicular Basalt was obtained from this location.

In the Monts-Dore range lies Le Puy de Sancy. At 1886m this is the highest point in the Massif Central and sits at the head of the Dordogne valley some 3km from the town of Le Mont-Dore. Specimens obtained here included Trachyte and Amygaloidal Basalt.

Le Puy de Sancy can be climbed in about four to five hours. A more leisurely way to see this, one of France's busiest tourist spots, is by using the local ski lift or cable car.

LavaAsh Flow Tuff

Stone Museum of Geology would like to extend its grateful thanks to Staff Geologists, Shirley Randall & Rob Freeman for their efforts during this field trip as weather conditions, even though it was high summer, were atrocious.

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