Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Shoreline reminiscence

This morning I drove Clare to her study group in Dinas Powis, then drove to Penarth, for a walk on the foreshore from the path at the end of the barrage. It's an unusual beach, interesting due to the geological strata in the cliffs above. In some places marl layers take a grey or green colour due to differences in the minerals leached by water out of deeper rock strata. But red limestone beds of crumbly stone of the Upper Triassic era predominate, shot through with layers of pink alabaster. Said to be one of the largest deposits of its kind in this particular stratum of rock.
This beach is one of the most popular places in South Wales for fossil hunters, with a variety of marine creatures caught long ago as they died and sank to a sandy seabed, which turned to stone thousands of years later. I found a slab of rock with no fossil in it, but containing a perfect imprint of sea bed, as it looked when the sea went out and never returned, leaving the mixture of sediment and mineral rich water to dry out and solidify.
This place evokes lovely memories of time spent here three years ago with granddaughter Jasmine (8 at the time) and Rachel her mother. Jasmine was fascinated by the variety of colours and odd shapes in the pebbles. We found a few partial fossils, but nothing special. We came home with five kilos of stones, and she was most disconsolate that she wasn't allowed to take them back to Arizona in her luggage, so reluctantly she left them behind, and later we returned them to their home on the foreshore.
I understand this pink alabaster, much of which is far paler than the above sample, is a popular feature decorating local gardens. It's soft as alabaster goes, and tends to break up with attempts to carve it. It's a striking feature of this stretch of South Wales' Jurassic coastline.

After lunch, I drove Clare to the Heath hospital for another post operative eye check-up, then I returned home and walked around Pontcanna. Today, I picked up fourteen assorted items of rubbish, just six from the beach, including a five litre plastic 'can' washed up by the tide. I could have collected more, but hadn't taken a bag with me, maybe just as well, as I would have ended up being late, and not having time to enjoy the geology.

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