Jurassic Coast

The Jurassic Coast is Great Britain's only natural World Heritage Site and spans from Exmouth and ends at Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in Dorset. It represents an internationally important and unique continuous span of 180 million years of geological time from Permian (oldest) through Triassic, Jurassic and ending with Cretaceous (youngest).  The coastline for this part of south east Devon represents the late-Permian to early-Jurassic eras. As you walk westwards, each step you take roughly equates to 500 years of time.

The beauty and awe of this coastline is really impressive and is one of the true natural treasures of Europe, and also it makes living here in south east Devon so special.

Ladram Bay Triassic stacks
The missus (she's a professional geologist!) examining a band of oxidised iron above a layer of Otter Pebble Bed. These cliff formations can be seen if you walk westwards for about mile along the cobble beach at Budleigh Salterton.
Branscombe folding
Gypsum veins. These veins of gypsum crystals formed when the mudstone was heated by being much deeper in the earth, causing it to dry and crack as it shrank. Sea water then seeped in to the cracks but due to the heat it evaporated rapidly (probably by boiling) which caused the gypsum to crystallise.
A close-up view of the gypsum crystals. These are found all along the base of the cliffs from east of Sidmouth to Branscombe.
The cliffs near Salcombe Regis showing the different coloured banding which represents millions of years varying climatic and surface conditions that existed when the sediments creating these sandstone cliffs were laid down. The cliffs in the distance are made of greensand and chalk and represent a much younger (early Jurassic) part of our geological past.
The cliffs along this part of the Jurassic Coast are very unstable. Wind, rain and waves combine to undermine and erode the cliffs causing landslips. Here the younger greensand which has been laid down over the sandstone has slipped during a winter storm. After these events fossil hunters usually move in quickly but this part of the coast is always quiet as it is rather hidden away.