Monday, 17 January 2011

The Final Sunset at Quarry 4

Over the weekend, I received the news that I had been expecting for some time now – namely that Quarry 4 was finally closed and that we were now not permitted to access the site with immediate effect.

This has been done primarily for safety concerns since, although the quarry is private and strictly off limits to the general public, access to the site is relatively easy and, in the current conditions, an accident could easily occur.

Since we were last there in December the quarry was slowly filling up with water and, without new trenches and pumps to keep the water level under control, it was getting harder to prospect for fossils and the areas free from water ingress were becoming extremely limited.

Another bad winter of snow, ice and, just recently, considerable amounts of rain have now completely flooded the back section of Quarry 4 and the waters continue to rise. This is particularly frustrating since there seemed to be a good chance of some Liopleurodon remains coming to light since a few big teeth had been recovered in a very tight area – a very unusual occurrence since these rare teeth are usually only found singularly.

We all wondered at the time if we would get the chance to return because of the flood waters and we were all keeping our fingers crossed we might get the chance. Time it seems was not on our side and it appears that this chance will be lost forever, although, to be fair, it was half expected.

What now for Quarry 4? Well we’ve know for almost two years now that the quarry was to be flooded and turned into a nature reserve and, now that nature has now taken a hand with some flooding of her own, contractors will move in at the end of this week and commence landscaping so that the main flooding of the quarry can take place. When the main flooding event occurs I hope to be there to take some video footage and stills.

When a site such as this is lost it inevitably brings with it a tinge of sadness. Quarry 4 has produced some wonderful specimens over the years and there is obviously more material to uncover. It’s weird to think that the ancient Jurassic sea bed is once again being covered over by water and any more fossils from this quarry will be lost forever.

But of course time moves on and Quarry 5 is well advanced now and is being excavated regularly and I am extremely lucky to know that we have at last gained access to the new quarry in spring although we hope to have an exploratory trip sooner than that. However, access will be heavily regulated and impossible for most. Like I said, I take nothing for granted and consider myself extremely fortunate.

There are a few more posts in the works about Quarry 4 still to come and these will include the discovery of the Liopleurodon teeth that I mentioned earlier, as well as some other interesting specimens.


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