Kimmeridge Bay falls within the ‘Industrial and Economic Importance’ category of our #100geosites list. This might seem strange at first, given that the site is a picturesque coastal location – but there’s much more to it than beautiful scenery.
Kimmeridge Bay is the type locality for the Jurassic age Kimmeridge Clay formation, and provides one of the source rocks for hydrocarbons found in the Wessex and North Sea Basins.
Since the 1960s there has been a nodding donkey extracting oil on the cliff top at the west side of the bay. At its peak, the well was producing 350 barrels a day, though current production is no more than 65 barrels a day.
Bryony Caswell sent us this beautiful image of the bay, which shows its distinctive layers.
“This photo depicts the Kimmeridge Clay Formation at the type section in Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset, facing west: in the distance cliff exposures of Cretaceous Purbeck Formation and Chalk Group are visible.
“The fantastic late Jurassic (148-155 Ma) section at Kimmeridge is 300m thick and is exposed in the cliffs and extensive wave cut platforms and ledges. The Kimmeridge Clay Formation is very organic rich (at some levels up to 50% total organic carbon by weight) and record a period of deoxygenation in the Wessex Basin.
“This photo was taken whilst on field work to investigate the invertebrate communities that inhabited the seafloor during these low oxygen conditions. Many exceptionally preserved fossil specimens have been removed from these cliffs, many of which will soon to be on show at the Museum of Jurassic Marine Life in Kimmeridge village.”
*The 100 Great Geosites calendar is on sale now – order by 14th December (7th December for overseas orders) to receive a copy in time for Christmas!