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South Coast Minerals


Introduction

The South Coast of England has an international reputation for its geological and palaeontological resources hence the recognition of The Jurassic Coast as a World Heritage Site in 2001. This area covers 155 km (96 miles) and 180 million years of geological history, spanning the Mesozoic Era, from Orcombe Point near Exmouth in Devon to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in Dorset.

The remainder of the South Coast round to Kent including the Isle of Wight also has a geological and palaeontological significance but apart from the odd classic site there is little recognition given to the minerals of the South Coast.

Here we present some of the more unusual minerals to be found along the South Coast from Orcombe Point at the western end of the Jurassic Coast, marked by the Geoneedle, to Warden Point on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. We hope that you will agree that the South Coast of England is also mineralogically significant and thus deserves greater recognition.

South Coast counties Geoneedle

The Geoneedle at Orcombe Point near Exmouth marks the western end of the Jurassic Coast (left red spot on map) and the oldest Triassic rocks and the eastern end is at Old Harry Rocks, near Swanage (right red spot on map), 96 miles away in the younger Cretaceous rocks. A geological span of some 180 million years.


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Devon

Devon.
Radioactive nodule.

Radioactive uraniferous nodule from the Littleham Mudstone, Littleham Cove, Devon. These nodules contain some very rare and unusual uranium and vanadium minerals. G. Morse specimen collected 2014.

Baryte.

Pale blue, transparent baryte crystals to 30 mm from Peak Hill, Sidmouth, Devon. G. Morse specimen GM0228 purchased 2009.

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Dorset

Dorset.
Alum-K.

A clear 1.5 mm Alum-K crystal on shale from cliffs at Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset. G. Morse specimen GM0418 collected 2017. These are incredibly rare as alum is water soluble and they soon wash away in the rain.

Calcite.

Iron oxide coated stack of rhombohedral, 'nailhead' calcite crystals from Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset. B. Pitt specimen collected 2017.

Sulphur.

Sulphur, Rope Lake Head, Kimmeridge, Dorset. J. W. Thomas specimen collected June 1974 on a Society field trip to Dorset to see the rare occurrence of the cliff burning. The cliffs around Kimmeridge are oil bearing shales that are prone to spontaneous combustion at times. On the cliff top was a large cavity with sulphur forming around the edge from which this specimen was collected. Width of specimen = 140 mm.

Felsőbányaite.

Earthy, white felsőbányaite (was basaluminite) on gypsum from Crookhill brick pit, Chickerell, Dorset. G. Morse specimen GM0829 collected by J. W. Thomas in 1972. The name basaluminite was discredited by the IMA in 2006 in favour of felsőbányaite after the original location at Felsőbánya mine, Romania.

Sphalerite.

Metallic black plate of sphalerite to 7 mm in a calcite lined cavity in a limestone nodule from Ringstead Bay, Osmington, Dorset. G. Morse specimen GM0824 collected 1994.

Halite pseudomorph.

Gypsum pseudomorph after halite from Dorset. Cubic crystal with hopper faces and some adherent brown sandstone. G. Morse specimen GM0802 from a box of Dorset fossils that had been given to an SMFS member by a former collector 2011.

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Isle of Wight

Isle of Wight.
Vivianite.

Vivianite in fossil cast, Whale Chine, Atherfield, Isle of Wight. Width = 7 mm. G. Morse specimen GM0835 from J. W. Thomas 2009.

Quartz.

Druse of small, clear quartz crystals within a flint echinoid (sea urchin, Micraster cortestudinarium) fossil from Grange Chine, Isle of Wight. B. Pitt specimen collected 2017.

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Hampshire

Hampshire.
Halotrichite.

Halotrichite from cliff exposure, Barton on Sea, New Milton, Hampshire. G. Morse specimen GM0137 collected by P. Bampton 1994. These iron aluminium sulphate minerals grow on the cliff faces in warm dry weather as a result of pyrite decomposition.

Butlerite.

Butlerite, Hordle Cliff, Milford-on-Sea, Hampshire. These small orange-red growths are the comparatively rare hydrated iron sulphate butlerite. This was originally thought to have been copiapite but samples have been analysed and confirmed as butlerite. Field of view = 50 mm. P. Bampton specimen.

Gypsum.

Gypsum in pyrite nodule found in a field near Winchester, Hampshire in 1972. When broken in half a small cavity inside was found to contain this perfectly clear gypsum crystal. Decomposition of the pyrite releases sulphuric acid which reacts with the chalk host rock forming insoluble gypsum. J. W. Thomas specimen.

Vivianite.

Vivianite, Chewton Bunny, Barton-on-Sea, Hampshire. This was discoverd after a cliff fall in September 1997 and a few good speceimens were recovered. G. Morse specimen GM0834 purchased from R. Bowell in 2013.

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West Sussex

West Sussex.
Goethite.

Goethite, Washington Sand Pit, Sullington, West Sussex. Friable, ferruginous, cemented sand with black 'ironstone' covered with minor stalactitic goethite. G. Morse specimen GM0508 purchased from J. W. Thomas 2018.

Pyrite

Pyrite from Climping Beach, Nr. Littlehampton, West Sussex. Large spherical nodule, brassy yellow good crystal form approximately 11 cm in diameter. Collected on SMFS field trip 1994. The specimen was donated to Oxford University Museum of Natural History in 1996. G. Morse original specimen GM0071.

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East Sussex

East Sussex.
Aluminite.

Aluminite, West Beach Cliff, Newhaven, East Sussex. These are only found in one small area where they fall from the cliff face where they form in a narrow band. Collected on SMFS field trip 2017. G. Morse specimens GM0419 & GM0420.

Pyrite

Calcite from Plumpton Plain, Plumpton, East Sussex. Large crystalline masses of columnar calcite can be found in the field margins on Plumpton Plain. It is thought that these form in solution cavities in the chalk downs and are ploughed up to the surface. Collected on SMFS field trip 2016. G. Morse specimen GM0271.

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Kent

Kent.
Baryte.

Baryte, Warden Point, Isle of Sheppey, Kent. Specimen about 18 mm in diameter photographed in situ on SMFS field trip 2015. Unfortunately the baryte became detached but was preserved whole. G. Morse specimen GM0742.

Gypsum.

Gypsum from Warden Point, Isle of Sheppey, Kent. Large twinned columnar crystal of gypsum with some clay inclusions. Collected on SMFS field trip 2015. G. Morse specimen GM0807.

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