Out in the field

Earth Science Week geowalks: Gower journey

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Gower was the UK’s first Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and is a popular destination for geological field excursions because of the wide range of interesting and instructive geological and related geomorphological phenomena displayed there, and all within a relatively compact area.

Sitting at the southern edge of the South Wales Coalfield, Gower’s rocks (mainly of Devonian and Carboniferous sediments with (possible) Triassic and extensive Quaternary cover) are folded and faulted in a regionally consistent way. What’s more, its rocks and structures bear a distinctive and consistent relationship to topography, allowing students to establish for themselves through observation a clear sequence of events.  There is nowhere better in theUK for demonstrating how geology affects geography.

The wild cliffs of south west Gower, from Port Eynon to Rhosili.

The wild cliffs of south west Gower, from Port Eynon to Rhosili.

Gower is my native soil – I grew up, and still live part of the time, in Swansea.  Some years ago, when working on a previous incarnation of the Society’s website (number two, in fact, established in 2000) I felt that we should produce more in the way of student fieldworkmaterials. To ‘populate’ – as the expression was – the ‘Education’ section I decided to transcribe a set of excursions which I had developed over many years of leading field excursions for numerous groups.

Each chapter (after the Introduction) consists of a single self-guided tour, written on the assumption that the reader is driving a car or minibus, and will need somewhere to have lunch.  Each tour is self-contained, and explores one of the structural elements of the peninsula.  It all culminates at Rhosili where the whole picture (I hope!) comes together, amid spectacular scenery.

The final section lists a few individual localities, some good for fossil hunting, though many of these (particularly quarries) have nowadays become rather degraded through lack of attention.

Visit http://www.geolsoc.org.uk/Gower to view the guides. And if you do go on a Gower geowalk, send us some pictures! You can get in touch via twitter @geolsoc, or email ESWUK@geolsoc.org.uk.

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