Tuesday, 14 July 2009

Quarry Closure

I was saddened to hear this week that another brick works closed its doors for the last time in June, another victim of the recession. From a humanitarian point of view, it is again distressing that 61 people have lost their jobs and now find themselves competing for too few or non-existent jobs. Being in the manufacturing industry myself, I can totally relate to the situation and can say that we too are struggling to get through this tough period and I know I can speak for all my work colleagues in being apprehensive about the future. Certainly there are continuing hard times to come.

This particular works got its clay from the Cuckoo's Hole quarry, one of the most important Wealden sites in the south. This quarry shows beds in the lower part of the Weald Clay Group including beds B.G.S 3 and 3a (the Oakhurst Sand) and is from the Lower Cretaceous, Hauterivian, about 135 million years old. There has been some excellent material recovered over the years including insects, fish, crocodile and dinosaur remains.

I was only able to start prospecting there last year so this has come as real blow, not only from a personal point of view, but also in the bigger scheme of all things palaeo. The site itself is at the centre of many heated discussions just now as to what to use it for. Most controversial is the possibility of siting a waste incinerator there although this has come under the most fierce criticism.

But as for the quarry itself I have, as yet, no detail. It does have some protection since it is a designated SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest) which has it registered as "...an outstanding site with great potential for palaeontological and sedimentological research". As soon as I get some more detail as to the future of the quarry I'll let you know.

Incidentally, in the not too distant future, I'll publish my account of that first field trip at the Cuckoo's Hole and I'll also provide more in-depth palaeontological and geological data. I pray that it can be saved because, although only I've been there just the once, it's one of those places that feels right and it obviously has some impressive fossils to reveal.

Footnote

Cuckoo's Hole is a pseudonym. For most of the quarries that I work in, I never reveal its true name unless it is the public domain. This is to protect them since they are all vulnerable to illegal collecting which, regrettably, is becoming more and more prevalent. There have been many fossils, important to science, which have been removed this way and I will never knowingly give thieves (for this is what they are) any help in locating prime sites.

I will highlight any name changes as I go along. There are some of you who will know where I am referring to - most of you will not but I am adamant that I will do all I can to stop the unauthorised pillaging of these quarries, and I know that most of you will agree with these sentiments.

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