Saturday, 26 September 2015

We learn geology at Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door

I have listened to several of our friends discussing the popular tourist
Lulworth Cove 
destinations and now World Heritage sites of Lulworth Cove and Durdle Door and on Wednesday I finally got to see both for myself! There is a huge Pay and Display car park, testament to how many visitors must walk these cliffs every year, and otherwise everywhere is free. We started by walking on the shingle around Lulworth Cove itself before heading steeply upwards on the far side. The water here is a beautiful blue colour and I appreciated the sign boards explaining the geology around us as well as the examples of the different rock types - Portland, Purbeck, Greensand and Chalk - huge chunks of which are set out for examination.

Stair Hole, shown to the right, is in the process of becoming another cove. We were fortunate to temporarily be standing by a lectured school group for a few minutes so learned that the Cove was eroded by four occurrences - hydraulic action and solution being two of them. We moved on before their teacher got to the others! All the ground here has been tilted way back in the past so the layers of its creation are clearly visible as vertical stripes. The oldest rocks here are apparently as much as two hundred and fifty million years old and the youngest 'only' about sixty five million years old. I have reposted that great graphic from the Museum post yesterday to show that this huge period is just a small section of the whole timescale - only the right hand side of the outer circle (indicated by the red line). It's absolutely incredible!

Graphic from Dorset County Museum 
Dave had read online that it is possible to see the fossilised remains of an ancient Cypress forest that once covered the landmass. Unfortunately we didn't realise that it would need to be low tide and also not on a day when the army were shooting at each other on the Ranges as the forest is within their wire fences. This meant that we would have needed to have visited on a Sunday, a Bank Holiday or during August. Judging by how busy the car park was on a Wednesday in late September, I'd say we would be lucky to even get near Lulworth Cove on those days! Instead, we walked back to the Visitor Centre, enjoyed an ice cream - the
Durdle Door 
Blackcurrant And Clotted Cream flavour is excellent - before girding our loins against a second steep uphill towards Durdle Door. Dave said when he was here in the late 1990s he took one look at the hill and turned away. He was so much older then but fortunately is younger than that now or certainly fitter and we plodded our way up. There's a big holiday camp marking the top and a interesting scree descent - my favourite! It's certainly worth the effort for the view though. We now knew that the arch is formed of Portland Stone, the oldest of the rock types here, and that its name is probably from the Anglo Saxon 'thirl' meaning bore or drill.

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Having blogged our Government's response to an anti-whaling petition a couple of days ago, I have another for signing today. I am protesting the possible removal of renewable energy subsidies in favour of nuclear power investment. (I would also like to protest their language which is one of my pet hates, but there isn't a petition for that! Subsidy implies special help whereas investment gives the impression of future returns and what I want to see always seems to fall in the subsidy bracket - rail subsidy versus road investment being the most common example - even though both are essentially the spending of taxpayers' money on services that should be publicly owned anyway. Grrr!) Now, where was I?

"The Government is currently consulting on plans to cut subsidies for
solar and wind power by up to 87%, whilst giving billions of taxpayers' money to privately owned nuclear power projects." I believe Britain should be leading the way in the creation of new sustainable technologies, not harking back to the past. We used to be known for our engineers and our fabulous inventions!

"Currently, solar panels are more affordable because extra energy you don't use is 'sold back' to the grid, to be used by others. This 'feed-in-tariff' (FiT) income pays for the initial installation costs over time. The FiT is what the Government want to cut, by 87%! This will make solar panels unaffordable to many people and will have serious impacts on this industry which is just beginning to get going. The fewer people that buy solar panels, the more expensive they become to manufacture."

"I've just signed this petition to demand that the subsidies for renewables are not cut. Will you do the same?"

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