Geology of the Dorset Coast (2nd edition)


By John C W Cope

The is a second edition of Prof John Cope’s excellent geological guide to the Dorset coast for the Geologists’ Association. Geology of the Dorset Coast (2nd edition) is slightly shorter than the first edition, with some minor corrections and some of the figures revised, together with new photographs.

However, while the first edition was generally well received, there was some criticism that it did not include the huge quantity of data amassed over last few decades during the hydrocarbon exploration work in the county.

Indeed, there was a chance that this data would simply be lost. Therefore, a major change to the revised guide is that it now includes a new chapter by Malcolm Butler (the Chairman of the UK Onshore Geophysical Library) on six, north-south seismic profiles, which have been generated by compiling seismic data recorded between 1973 and 1998.

As is always the case for GA guides, this one has excellent full colour diagrams and photographs, and is both readable and informative. It is broadly divided into five sections, including:

  1. A brief summary of the geology through geological time;
  2. Descriptions of the succession of rocks from the Late Triassic (Rhaetian), through a range of Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks, to Quaternary river gravels;
  3. Detailed discussions of various localities;
  4. The seismic profiles referred to above; and
  5. An exhaustive list of references. It also contains advice on access and transport, and local fossil hunting codes.

As such, it remains the guide to use when visiting this famous bit of coast. It actually covers slightly less of the coast that is included in the World Heritage Site (aka the ‘Jurassic Coast’, see Geology of south Dorset and south-east Devon and its World Heritage Coast), because that goes into Devon to the west. However, it does cover most of the best sites, including for fossil collecting, in sufficient detail for the geology student and above. It is also of use for the interested amateur, to learn about why this stretch of coast is such a resource for the geologist.

Professor John Cope retired in 2003 after a career teaching and writing at Swansea and Cardiff Universities. Since then, he has been an Honorary Research Fellow at the National Museum of Wales in Cardiff and is still researching.

Geology of the Dorset Coast (2nd edition), by John C W Cope, The Geologists Association, London (2016), 222 pages (paperback), ISBN: 978-09-00717-86-4

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