Museum Expeditions & Field Trips - 2001


Mount Vesuvius Mount Vesuvius Crater

Near the shore of the Bay of Naples and city of Naples in southern Italy, Vesuvius is the only active volcano on the European mainland. Over 4000 feet tall and with a base circumference of almost 30 miles, this peak is infamous for the eruption that occured in AD 79 when the cities of Herculaneum, Pompeii, and Stabiae were buried beneath a rain of ashes and mud that killed 2000 people. Cast moulds in the ejected ash have preserved the shapes of people and animals that died almost 2000 years ago. For further information see the picture captions.


Solfatara Solfatara

The Phlegreaen Fields is an area to the north of Naples made up by approximately 40 ancient volcanoes. Of these the Solfatara of Pozzuoli is without a doubt the most interesting with its bubbling mud pools and steam vent fumaroles. After parking at the entrance, the Solfatara is reached by a winding footpath that passes through well placed information boards about the site and its history. 45 minutes is adequate to see everything.

Various rocks and minerals are formed through volcanic activity and then ejected from the crater or deposited by evaporation from hot springs. A selection of these from Vesuvius and Solfatara are shown below:-

Sulphur Covellite Biotite Mica Lava Pumice

Stone Museum of Geology would like to extend its grateful thanks to Alex and Tasha Glover for the photographs and samples shown above.


This part of Essex is well known for its Pleistocene marine fossils. These cliffs are composed of loosely consolidated Coralline Crag and Red Crag sands. The upper levels of these cliffs are dangerous and the safest exposures are to be found on the beach at low tide. On the day of our visit however, gales and extremely rough seas prevented us from accessing these exposures. A further expedition will be undertaken as resources allow. The specimens shown in the photograph below are typical of those found along this coastline.


Dunwich Cliffs, Suffolk Close Up of Cliffs

The cliffs on this part of the North Sea coast are comprised of one of the few accessible exposures of Pliocene rocks left in Britain. Composed mainly of loose unconsolidated sands similar to the Thanet Beds of North Kent, the cliffs are unstable and - as can be seen in the left hand photograph above - the 100 yard stretch of exposures nearest to the sea front car park at Dunwich has been fenced off by the Local Authority for safety reasons.

Be prepared therefore for a short walk to the nearest accessible sand outcrops. By going along the beach however, you should beware of incoming tides as these can easily cut off your escape back to the car park. With a strong onshore wind, the waves along this stretch of coast can also be quite vicious. You have been warned!.

The strata visible represent the Coralline Crag of the Pliocene and the Red Crag of the Pleistocene.

Few fossils were found on this trip as the tide seems to wash them away fairly soon after the weather has exposed them. Isolated lenses of broken Searlesia costifera gastropods were present in the lower exposures. Geologically, the most interesting feature of these sands were the small rounded black pebbles similar to those found in the Blackheath Beds. The pebbles here, however, are distinctive in that most display black and white stripes.

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