West, Ian M. 2014. Geology of Torquay, Devon; Part of Geology of the Wessex Coast Website, Ian West and Southampton University. With photographic contribution by Nikolett Csorvasi. Internet site: www.southampton.ac.uk/~imw/Torquay.htm. Version: 23rd February 2014.
Torquay, Devon - a geological field guide by Ian West

by Ian West,
Romsey, Hampshire
and Visiting Scientist at:
Faculty of Natural and Environmental Sciences,
Southampton University,

Nikolett Csorvasi
(formerly of Torquay Museum)

Webpage hosted by courtesy of iSolutions, Southampton University
Aerial photographs by courtesy of The Channel Coastal Observatory .

|Home and List of Webpages |Teignmouth to Dawlish, Devon |Dawlish Warren Sand Spit, Devon |Budleigh Salterton and Littleham Cove, with radioactive nodules |Devon - Sidmouth and Ladram Bay |Devon - Dartmoor Granite |Desert Environments and Sabkhas (see for comparison)

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Click on images for large, high resolution versions!
(do not use browser zoom on the low resolution versions)

Thatcher Rock, a small island of Devonian Limestone, English Riviera, Torquay, Devon, southern England, 2011

Headlands looking northwest from the Hope's Nose Promontory, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

Descent over a fault in inverted Daddyhole Limestone at Triangle Point, Torquay, Devon, April 2011

Middle Devonian limestones at Triangle Point, Torquay, Devon

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Maps, Topographic

Go to the:

ORDNANCE SURVEY MAP SHOP for details of Ordnance Survey maps of the Torquay area. Although examples of modern Ordnance Survey maps are not shown for copyright reasons, these maps are recommended and can obtained in digital form or as traditional folded paper maps.

An old and out-of-date map of the Torquay area, Devon, resulting from a 1929 survey with some corrections to 1946

The above map is old and out-of-date, but mainly with regard to buildings and new roads. The coast has changed very little becaause it is mostly a hard rock coast. This particular map results from a 1929 survey and has been produced in 1946, shortly after the Second World War with some corrections. Since then development seems to have been heading in the Hope's Nose direction, but at least at the time of the survey much of the Kilmorie area seems to have remained relatively natural. Property development has fortunately stopped short of Hope's Nose, which is now preserved as a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

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Geological Maps

Old, small-scale geological map of Devon

Shown above is a very old and generalised geological map of Devon. It provides some introductory information and is of historic interest. Real geological detail is provided by the British Geological Survey Sheet referred to below.

A generalised geological map of southwest England and the adjacent English Channel

A simplified and generalised geological map of Torquay, Devon

The simplified geological map above shows that the southeastern part of Torquay is a promontory of relatively resistant Devonian strata. It includes small hilly outcrops of Devonian limestone within or adjacent to areas of Devonian shales and slates. Northeast and southwest of this Devonian area there are outcrops of softer Permian red beds.

Part of old geological map, 1913, of Torquay, Devon

Part of the 1913 edition of the geological map of the Torquay area is shown above. This is the Drift Edition, at one inch to one statute mile, surveyed on the six inch scale by W.A.E. Ussher. It was published with Drift in June 1898 and additions were made in 1912. The underlying topographic, Ordnance Survey Map was surveyed in 1861 to 1889 and revised in 1908-1909. It was reprinted without alteration in 1953. The modern replacement, shown below, has differences with regard to faults, and has more detail and modern nomenclature. The new map is essential for specialist and research work and for specific details with regard to building and property; it should be purchased from the BGS. The old map is still usable for introductory and elementary educational purposes. In general, the new map is more likely to be correct. Some faults and fine details will always be a matter of opinion, though. In the built-up area some exposures in old quarries etc may have been visible in the past but are not now exposed. Thus it is always good to consult both new and old editions when studying an area.

The British Geological Survey, Geological Map, Sheet 350, Solid and Drift, Torquay, Devon, and Explanatory Booklet - Geology of the Torquay District

When considered in more detail, the geology of the Torquay area is quite complicated and not as simple as at Teignmouth and Dawlish to the northeast. The British Geological Survey map shows much faulting and some folding. The complications are to be expected because much of the area consists of strata below the Permian and has thus been involved in the Hercynian Orogeny. The current BGS sheet, as shown above, is Torquay, 350, Solid and Drift, 1:50:000 Series, published 2004, and is available with an explanatory booklet by Leveridge et al. (2003). Purchase of the map and explanatory booklet is recommended and they are necessary items for anyone studying the area.

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Aerial Photograph - Introductory
(Go down for more aerial photographs)

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Safety and Risk Assessment

There is an obvious hazard of falling from the various steep cliffs around the Torquay area. Great care needs to be taken when descending into old quarries or scrambling over rocks near the shore. In places there is some risk of rock fall. There has been a major rock fall at Oddicombe Bay, Babbacombe recently. Further rock falls may occur here and the area should not be considered safe. There is a warning notice. At any cliff locality watch out for evidence of recently fallen rock debris and avoid such places. Take care with regard to tide and check the tide times to avoid risk of being cut off by a rising tide. The shore rocks are often covered or partially covered in seaweed and can be very slippery. Take care with such rocks.

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Thatcher Rock

Thatcher Rock, Torquay, Devon, of Middle Devonian Limestone with deposits of a Quaternary raised beach

Thatcher Rock, a small island of Devonian Limestone, English Riviera, Torquay, Devon, southern England, 2011

Thatcher Rock is a small island of Middle Devonian Limestone. It is shown here with Berry Head, also of Devonian limestone in the distance across the bay. The same raised beach that is present at nearby Hope's Nose also occurs on Thather Rock.

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Meadfoot Group

Environmental Science students from Southampton University discuss their data at Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon, April 2011

Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon, at high tide with Lower Devonian Meadfoot Group, covered by the sea at high tide, 2006

Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon, with Lower Devonian slates and sandstones, 2010

Dip of sandstones at Meadfoot Beach, Torquay and in the cliff behind, March 2007

You can see that you can easily drive straight to Meadfoot Beach. Car parking is easy in the off-season. Sometimes you can park on the left hand side of the road shown here, but if not there is a pay-and-display car park further on, as shown. The cliffs are wooded and rugged but some modern urban development here seems a little strange and out-of-place when observed from beach level. In fact though the area above the cliffs is all much built up, but mostly with older buildings or conventional housing. Some of the natural beauty of the area has long gone, but the general coastline is still very interesting and picturesque; it is very good that it has been preserved in a such a busy town. In addition, as mentioned by Perkins (1971) geologists have actually benefitted from the development of the region because it resulted in extensive quarrying in the coastal areas of Torquay. Dyer's Quarry, Knoll Quarry, Long Quarry Point etc. are good exposures resulting from human activity.

The road and sea wall at Meadfoot Beach has probably covered many natural exposures. At low tide, though, there are good exposures on the beach. There are also fairly low cliffs at the foot of the rugged slopes beneath Kilmorie, further east.

A general view of Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon, with exposures of mudstones and particularly sandstones of the Lower Devonian Meadfoot Group

Meadfoot Bay, shown above, is the type locality for the Lower Devonian Meadfoot Group. The exposure in Torquay is not confined to this bay but continues further east along the coast at the foot of Kilmorie, and beyond Thatcher Rock and on towards Hope's Nose. Meadfoot Bay is a place of easy access with convenient car parking. However there is no cliff section within the main part of the bay because of a road and a sea wall. There exposure on the beach where there are many ledges and projecting rocks, particularly of sandstone. However, this beach section is only visible at low tide. It is variable to some extent with regard to beach sand and pebbles. The lower, more seaward parts are partially obscured by barnacles, seaweed (less in 2010 thin in previous years) and other marine life. It is also somewhat tectonised. Nevertheless, it shows some some good features if thorough and careful examination is made.

The Meadfoot Group ('Meadfoot Beds') is mostly Emsian at Meadfoot according to Leveridge et al. (2003). The stages of the Lower Devonian are from bottom to top - Lochkovian, Pragian, and Emsian. The Emsian, the top of the Lower Devonian, ranged from about 407 million years ago to about 397.5 million years ago. The Emsian strata here are succeeded mainly by the Daddyhole Limestone Member of the Middle Devonian, seen at Triangle Point.

Cleaved mudstones, almost slatey, in the Meadfoot Group at Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon

Shown above is an exposure of Meadfoot Group mudstones seen at low tide within the main part of Meadfoot Beach. They do not resemble typical shale. They are quite hard and seem to have a cleavage that is almost parallel to bedding. Thus they appear slatey and, although not very hard, may just come into the category of slates. Generally they are fairly unfossiliferous and relatively featureless. There is often though a transition into sandstone. At the top of the small sequence shown thin lenticular sandstone bodies appear. In places on this beach there is somewhat gradual change to thick sandstone beds, which form prominant ridges or ledges.

Discontinuous lenses of sandstone in the Meadfoot Group, Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon

The photograph above shows lenses and laminae of sandstone developed within mudstone. Because there are slumped sandstone deposits and because there has also been much tectonism, it is not immediately clear whether the lensing has originated from slumping, channelling or boundinage.

Sandstone laminae in slatey mudstone, Meadfoot Group, Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon

More sandstone laminae, alternating with cleaved mudstone, are shown above. Notice that upper and lower surfaces of the thin sandstone beds usually have wavy surfaces. It is common, of course, for sandstone to show ripple marks. These, however, do not seem to be normal ripple marks. The upward bulge usually seems to coincide with the downward bulge, and this is not usually the case with sand ripple marks.

Part of a thick bed of sandstone, perhaps a channel deposit, projects through Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon

At places along the beach there are rather irregular, large blocky exposures of thick sandstone beds. This may be cross-bedded and of channel origin.

In general terms, then, the lithology of the Meadfoot Group at Meadfoot Beach can be summarised as consisting of grey, slatey, silty mudstone with beds of sandstone. The sandstone occurs both as thick beds and as thin laminae. Thin beds of bioclastic limestone have also been reported. The mudstone is bioturbated with Chondrites and Spirophyton common. The sandstone is cross-bedded and shows scour and slump structures and lenticular channel units of up to 8 metres thick ( Leveridge et al., 2003). The depositional setting was a shallow marine shelf with a southerly palaeoslope. This is indicated by the slumping and direction of main channels. Subordinate east-west channels have suggested a tidal influence ( Leveridge et al., 2003).

The Meadfoot Group under Kilmorie, east of Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon, 2007

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(Eastward from Meadfoot Beach)

East of Meadfoot Beach, Torquay, Devon, Kilmorie to Thatcher Point

The Meadfoot Group is exposed in the relatively low, but rocky cliffs between Meadfoot Beach and Thatcher Point. The Ilsham Marine Drive is along the upper slopes above the active cliff. There are traffic lights at the western end of it, and there is of single vehicle width for a short stretch. This is apparently because of some limited cliff instability downslope. The cliffs of this stretch show many sedimentary structures in the Lower Devonian, Emsian, Meadfoot Group. There are slates, slaty mudstones, siltstone and sandstones present.

Cliffs of Meadfoot Slates at Thatcher House, near Thatcher Point, Torquay, Devon, photograph by Nikolett Csorvasi from a boat in January 2012

The Meadfoot Slates outcrop continues to the east. It includes Thatcher Point and south of Thatcher House. There is a cliff-top coastal footpath here. The slates form a rocky coast that is difficult to traverse, and at high tide the sea is up to the very irregular cliffs.

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Triangle Point and East Shag Rock - Introduction

Triangle Rock and East Shag Rock, both of Devonian Limestone, Torquay, Devon, 2008

Shag Rock and Triangle Point, both of inverted Devonian Limestone, seen from the sea, Torquay, Devon, 2012

East Shag Rock, Torquay, Devon, of overturned Devonian limestone, seen from the sea, 6th January 2012, photographed by Nikolett Csorvasi

Triangle Point, a small promontory of overturned Middle Devonian Limestone, Torquay, Devon, 12th April 2012

A view of Triangle Point, Torquay, from Meadfoot Beach, looking southwest

A break at the cafe at Meadfoot Beach en route to study Triangle Point, Torquay, Devon, 2010

Triangle Rock, Torquay, Devon, seen from up on the cliff above, 2008

Triangle Point is a location at the southwest end of Meadfoot Beach (go for Meadfoot Sea Road, Torquay, on Google Earth or a satnav etc.). It is reached by walking along the promenade and then scrambling over some rocks at the promontory. Care needs to be taken because there is some risk of slipping on the rocks. Blocks can fall from the cliff above but this is not of common occurrence. The exposure at Triangle Point is very good but not large. It reveals a good display of corals and other fauna of a Devonian reef, some details of which are shown further down.

Middle Devonian limestones at Triangle Point, Torquay, Devon


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Triangle Point - Structures

Maps and section of Devonian strata near Daddyhole and Triangle Rock, Torquay, Devon, after Scrutton (1978)

Structures in the overturned limb of the recumbent anticline at Triangle Point, Torquay, Devon, including a fault with slickensides

The structures around Triangle Point and Daddyhole Cove are very interesting. The most notable aspect is the recumbent anticline which is shown in the maps and section of Scrutton (1978). The sequence at Triangle Point is inverted because of this structure. Note that there are many faults at the Point. The one shown in the photograph above is oblique. There are some conspicuous strike-slip faults in the eastern part of the small promontory.

An important fault here is the obvious one with oblique slip that is shown in the photograph. This is the southern marginal fault to the contorted stratal unit that passes westward into a gold-bearing breccia (see below with regard to Knoll Quarry). It warrants closer examination.

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Triangle Point - the Middle Devonian, Torbay Reef

Stromatoporoids and corals in the Daddyhole Limestone, Middle Devonian, Triangle Point, Torquay, Devon

The Tabulate coral Thamnopora in the Middle Devonian limestone at Triangle Point, Torquay, Devon

A network of Thamnopora corals in place, Daddyhole Limestone, Middle Devonian, Triangle Rock, Torquay, Devon

The tabulate coral Thamnopora in the Middle Devonian Reef, Triangle Point, Torquay, Devon

Devonian Reef, Triangle Point, Torquay, Devon, and reconstruction

Gastropods and the coral Thamnastrea in the Devonian Daddyhole Limestone at Triangle Point, Torquay, Devon

At Triangle Point the steep bedding planes show abundant stromatoporoids and corals. Goniatites and gastropods are also present. Note that this is a protected SSSI and no collecting is permitted; in any case the fossils do not separate from their very hard, solid limestone matrix. The stromatoporoids are linked and bound by chain-like growths of the tabulate corals. Some of these networks are preserved in place, as shown above. The dominant and most obvious corals are of the genus Thamnopora.

Goniatites with partial sediment fills and paired brachiopod shells either filled or empty, Middle Devonian limestones, Triangle Point, Torquay, Devon

Goniatites in the Middle Devonian limestones at Triangle Point contain partial sediment fills. These can be geopetal structures which, in favourable circumstances can reveal the way-up. Paired brachiopod shells also show variation in the extent of sediment-fill. Studies of the geopetal structures here have shown that the strata are inverted. They are within part of an overturned anticlinal fold.

West of Triangle Point where the next quarry begins, there is a cleft on the shore where gold has been found. More detail is known about the gold at Hope's Nose. See: Scrivener et al. (1982).

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Daddyhole (Daddy Hole) Cove and Knoll Quarry

A view westward from Triangle Rock across the Knoll Quarry to higher cliffs of Devonian limestone, Torquay, Devon, 2008

The photograph above shows a natural rocky coast of inverted Devonian limestone that has been much modified by quarrying. The small embayment to the west of Triangle Rock is Daddyhole Cove. The cliffs have been quarried out here quite extensively in the Knoll Quarry. There is an easy path down to this quarry from the cliff top; it is not easily accessed directly from Triangle Rock. Notice in the photograph above the small arete with yellow lichen on the west side of Triangle Point. The next photograph shows more detail from the top of this little ridge.

A view from Triangle Rock of Daddyhole Cove and Knoll Quarry, and the location where gold has been found, Torquay, Devon

Cyclicity in inverted Middle Devonian limestone and shaley limestone, east side of Knoll Quarry, Daddyhole Cove, Torquay, Devon, 2008

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Knoll Quarry - the Breccia with Gold

Note that the quantities of gold found here are small and of scientific value and not of commercial value. The gold deposit has been worked out. There is a substantial fine which can be 20,000 pounds, or no upper limit, for removing or damaging valuable specimens at SSIs in this area; see notice at Hope's Nose. Thus look for the location of the gold and examine the faults and structures to try to understand the geology of its occurrence. Do not remove anything of value or significance but enjoy the search for gold and the academic study of its origin! Perhaps then look for new gold occurrences elsewhere in the region.

Aerial photograph of Triangle Rock and Knoll Quarry, Torquay, Devon, where gold has been found

A general view  shows contorted strata leading into a cleft where traces of gold have been found, Knoll Quarry, Daddyhole Cove, Torquay, Devon

Fault and contorted strata leading to the gold-bearing breccia of Knoll Quarry, Daddyhole Cove, Torquay, Devon

The red-stained cleft in Knoll Quarry where the two faults approach each other and where the breccia with traces of gold has been worked, Torquay, Devon

"At the point E (Fig. 8) the two faults almost meet, and the beds in the narrow belt between them are pinched and highly contorted [as shown above]. The northerly fault can be traced along the seaward margin of The Knoll quarry, by a fault breccia 1 - 2 feet wide and filled with earthy matter, broken limestone and calcite: traces of gold have been found in this breccia but an attempt many years ago to exploit the discovery proved unsuccessful."
(Ussher, 1933, page 55).

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London Bridge - Natural Arch in Devonian Limestone

(and Dyers Quarry)

Dyers Quarry and London Bridge in Devonian limestone, Torquay, Devon, photograph by Nikolett Csorvasi, 6th January 2012

London Bridge, Torquay, Devon, a natural arch in folded Devonian limestone

The natural arch of London Bridge in Middle Devonian Limestone, Torquay, Devon, seen from the sea on the west side, photograph by Nicolett Csorvasi

London Bridge, natural arch seen from the sea to the southeast, Torquay, Devon

Middle Devonian, Eifelian limestone is present within and adjacent to the impressive natural arch of London Bridge, Torquay. The stata here strike SE-NW and dip very steeply, at about 80 degrees in a SW direction, within the arch structure. Thinner bedded and less resistant limestones have been eroded away into a cave, with some collapse, and this has formed the natural arch.

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Arrival and General

Cars parked on Ilsham Marine Drive, Torquay, Devon, near the path down to Hope's Nose.

If you park your car in Ilsham Marine Drive above the Hope Cove area, it is easy to walk down to Hope's Nose.

Entering the Hope's Nose area from Ilsham Marine Drive, Torquay, Devon, 2010

On entering the natural area, choose either to go right down to the raised beach and the southeastern side of Hope's Nose peninsula, or proceed straight on down to the end of the promontory (as the anglers seems to do).

Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, - introductory notice

This notice seen in 2010, was not seen to be still present in 2012.

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Introduction, Topographic and Geological Maps

An old, large-scale map of Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, modified after a 1930s map

An old geological map of Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, by Shannon (1928), showing details

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Aerial Photographs

The above is a general aerial photograph of the Hope's Nose area for location purposes. Some much more detailed aerial photographs, courtesy of The Channel Coastal Observatory follow.

Note: The aerial photograph above is of particular interest in that it shows a large plume of pollution being swept southward from the sewage outfall. This outfall has now been stopped. Until recently it was probably responsible for the flourishing of seaweed on Meadfoot Beach. This is much reduced in 2010, as noted by Dr. John Jones, when studying with Southampton University students the marine life of the beach.

An overall aerial view of the Hope's Nose Promontory, Torquay, Devon, 2012

A composite of aerial photographs of Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, courtesy of and copyright of the Channel Coastal Observatory, 2007

Aerial photograph of part of Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, composed of the Middle Devonian Limestone

An aerial view of raised beach deposits at the top of the cliff, Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, 2012

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Shennell Cove (SX 946633)

(West, between the Southwestern Promontory and Thatcher Point)

The embayment west of the southwestern promontory of Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, conists of Meadfoot Group strata

The south side of the Hope's Nose promontory, Torquay, Devon, seen from the sea and showing the location of the fault separating Daddyhole Limestone from Meadfoot Group

Descending to Hope's Nose by the southern footpath, the embayment, Shennell Cove, just west of the southwestern promontory is passed on the cliff top. The strata here are quite different from those at the Hope's Nose cliffs and promontory. They not of Middle Devonian limestone but are probably largely of the Lower Devonian, Meadfoot Group, slatey mudstones and sandstones.

[However, a note of caution must be added. On the 1898, Geological Survey Torquay Sheet 350, a significant, fault-bounded outcrop of Middle Devonian Slates and Shales are shown. In modern terminology these would be Nordon Formation, (Eifelian). If you examine the current 350 map you will notice that Nordon Formation does indeed occupy the upper part of the landward neck of Hope's Nose (i.e. where you would park your car). However, the map seems to show that the cliffs of Shennel Bay are mainly occupied by Meadfoot Group. I have not made adequate study of this and it would be good if you were able to re-examine the strata of Shennell Cove, with this problem in mind. For the present, here the strata are treated as Meadfoot Group (Emsian).]

The Meadfoot Group strata are predominantly dark grey clastics including brownish sandstones. Notice that the beach consists of fallen blocks of sandstone and some areas of pebbles. There is no large quantity of sand and this in contrast to the sandy deposits of the Hope's Nose Raised Beach which is nearby.

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Southwestern Extremity

Aerial photograph of Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, showing the southwestern extremity

The southwestern extremity of Hope's Nose is higher and steeper than the northeastern promontory. It forms the eastern headland of a small bay of Lower Devonian, Meadfoot Group mudstones and sandstones. There is no large shore platform of limestone here. The main reason is that the coast has been recently cut back in this area to the old cliff of the raised beach and beyond (landward). The beach itself is not present just here and therefore does not form a coastal fringe of low ground.

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Gold Occurrence

Introduction and General Location

(the exact location is not given)

The approximate area where traces of gold have been found at the Hope's Nose Promontory, Torquay, Devon in 1922

The site of a gold discovery at Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon

Aerial photograph showing details of part of the eastern side of Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, in an area where gold has been found

Brown, sea-etched rock in the area of gold occurrence on the southeast side of Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, 2010

Hope's Nose is a limestone promontory to the east of Torquay. It is composed of the Daddyhole Limestone Member of the Middle Devonian limestone. Of particular interest is the occurrence of dendritic gold in carbonate veins cutting this limestone in the vicinity of the sewage outfall at the eastern extremity of Hope's Nose. The photographs above show the general area of the gold occurrence, but not the exact locality or the specific veins.

While of considerable interest this gold occurrence is not a spectacular discovery and it is not something that you are likely to even find any trace of in the cliffs. These are merely microscopic traces of academic interest. They not likely to be of interest to collectors and note that there is a very substantial fine (of thousands of pounds) for attempting to remove them. The importance is that they might indicate that more gold occurs elsewhrere in this region. Indeed, other places in the vicinity might be more promising!

The traces of gold were first reported by Gordon (1922). Professor W.T. Gordon of Kings College, London was leading a field trip with students and was studying the faults at Hope's Nose when he discoved the gold. He presented specimens to the Torquay Museum . (The museum is 529 Babbacombe Road, Torquay, Devon.)

Gold occurrence is a relatively unusual occurrence in England, so this is a well-known site. The gold veins occur as a swarm in which individual veins are separated by up to 20 metres of host limestone ( Leveridge et al. (2003). The mineralisation is only in the massive stromatoporoid reef facies of the Daddyhole Member of the Torquay Limestone Formation. The veins trend roughly east-west as pods and lenses within steeply inclined fracture zones. The gold is associated with saccharoidal buff to cream-coloured calcite and dolomite. Cavities in these carbonate veins may contain iron oxides, such as goethite and hematite. High levels of palladium are associated with the veins ( Leveridge et al., 2003). The gold is present only in small quantities and has been best revealed by dilute acid digestion of carbonate from the veins. It is not something that is conspicuous or easy to find and not of great commercial value. See illustration in Leveridge et al. (2003). Its significance is that there may be more gold in the Devonian limestones elsewhere in the region. As mentioned above some has been found in Daddyhole Cove.

The Fracture Zone

An area of weakness in the Hope's Nose promontory where the Devonian limestone has been intersected by numerous joints at about 110 degrees, Torquay, Devon, 2010

A conspicuous fracture zone, with joints trending ENE, and near the gold occurrence, Hope'Nose, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

This fracture zone is a useful marker for finding the area where traces of gold were once discovered. The fractures seem to have a similar trend, of about ENE.

A small fault with some iron oxides and other minerals in the fault breccia, from near the gold locality, Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon

This photograph is from near the gold locality, but is north, rather than south of the Fracture Zone. It shows a rather open, small fault with some fault breccia, including iron oxides such as goethite and another mineral. It is not known whether the fault has a strike-slip component.

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Gold Mineralisation - Further Notes


Dendritic gold found at Hope's Nose Peninsula , Torquay, Devon, in 1927

As noted above, veins containing small quantities of gold occur in Devonian Limestone at Daddyhole Cove and at Hope's Nose. For detailed information on these interestng occurrences see particularly: Scrivener (1982) and Leveridge et al. (2003).). Some brief notes on the gold discoveres are given here.

The gold is present in calcite veins associated with the major Variscan tectonic activity, and in Middle Devonian limestone. In World terms the Devonian occurrence is not very unusual. There are important gold reserves in Devonian limestones in the USA, Serbia and elsewhere. Nevertheless, some special circumstances are required for this mineral to be hosted in such limestone. See for example the occurrence of gold in Devonian limestone at the Red Hill Project in Eureka County, Nevada. The occurrences at Torquay are regarded as curiousities of scientific interest, not as of real commercial value. To find important gold deposits in the area, it would not be worth-while undertaking a major search around the well-known localities of Hope's Nose and Daddy Hole. However, if the occurrences there are thoroughly understood, then the pointers might become known so as to guide searchers in the direction of gold-bearing veins in the Devonian limestones somewhere else (under the sea? in the large limestone outcrop of Wall's Hill? or where?).

Regarding the Devonian System, gold also occurs in association with Devonian hot spring mineralisation at Rhynie in Scotland (re the famous Rhynie Chert). See Baron et al. (2003) for details.

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Torquay Gold - Further Notes

Emplacing brines

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Torquay Gold

Further Notes to be added -

[notes to be added]

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Hope's Nose - Raised Beach - Introduction
(and Thatcher Rock Raised Beach)

An aerial view of raised beach deposits at the top of the cliff, Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, 2012

Pleistocene, Ipswichian raised beach deposits at Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, seen from the sea, 6th January 2012, photograph by Nikolett Csorvasi

A sketch of the Hope's Nose Raised Beach, Torquay, Devon, modified after Orme (1960)

A sequence of the Pleistocene raised beach deposits near the southwestern promontory of Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon

The raised beach at Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, and its former continuation at Thatcher Rock, offshore

Pleistocene raised beach over Devonian, Daddyhole Limestone Member of the Torquay Limestone Formation, Torquay, Devon, 2010

Hope's Nose and the nearby Thatcher Rock is notable for the preservation of an interglacial raised beach deposit at 9 metres above sea-level, according to Leveridge et al. 2003b (in the literature various height are give, usually at about 8m above sea-level). This is said to be second raised shore platform of the district (Leveridge et al. 2003b). This pebble, shell and sand accumulation is approximately "Ipswichian" in age, i.e. a deposit of the last interglacial. It is similar to and probably a continuation of the low level raised beach or beaches of Portland Bill also about 8 metres above sea-level. The Portland raised beach has given dates, not necessarily very accurate, of 125,000 and 210,000 years. In very round figures the raised beach is of about 150 thousand years back.

The raised beach at Hope's Nose, Torquay (map ref. SX949637) has been described by Austen (1835; 1842), Pidgeon (1890), Prestwich (1892), Hunt (1888; 1903) and other authors. The exposure is 37 metres long at the southeastern end of the Hope's Nose promontory. It lies at about 7 or 8 metres above the high water mark of spring tides.

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Hope's Nose - Raised Beach - Shell Fauna
(and Thatcher Rock Raised Beach)

Carbonate-cemented raised beach pebbles, sand and oyster shells, Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, 2010

Mr. Arthur Roope Hunt (1888) started studying the raised beach on Thatcher Rock in 1881. When he had collected an assemblage of shell remains on the rock he sent them to a mollusc specialist:

In the spring of 1881, I forwarded a small parcel of shell-fragments, collected on the Raised Beach on the Thatcher Rock in Torbay, to the late Mr. J. Gwyn Jeffreys for identification. In return I received the following letter, dated 1st May, 1881.
"My Dear Sir, - I have examined and will return tomorrow your shell-fragments.
They are in one box,
Cardium echinatum and C. edule;
in the smaller box,
(1) Mytilus modiolus,
(2) Cyprina islandica,
(3) Venus gallina,
(4) Venus faciata,
(5) Tellina balthica,
(6) Solen vagina,
(7) Littorina littorea,
(8) Natica alderi,
(9) Buccinum undatum,
(10) Pleuromya turriculata,
(11) fragment of the bone of a dog or rabbit.

A list of fossil shells from the Thatcher Rock raised beach, Pleistocene, Torquay, Devon, by Arthur Hunt, 1888

Hunt continued with his report on his studies of the Thatcher Rock and Hope's Nose raised beach and included the list of molluscs, shown above. The most notable aspect is the abundance of Cardium edule, not apparently found in Torbay except in the neighbourhood of artificial harbours. The most common cockle of the bay now is Cardium aculeatum. This, remarkably was absent, and so too was the secondmost common cockle - Cardium tuberculatum. The gastropod Turritella terebra, which tends to be an offshore species (3 - 100 fathoms depth, roughly 6 metres to 200 metres) is particularly abundant and Hunt collected 76 fragments from a relatively small exposure of raised beach. In addition the estuarine Mya arenaria occurs. Telina balthica is very abundant but does not occur in Torbay, except in the mud of Paignton Harbour. It also occurs at present in sandy mud at the mouth of the Exe.

The brackish water species were not derived from a landlocked estuary, but rather from some river's mouth in the open sea, according to Hunt. The notable solidarity of the shells of Cardium edule support this, because they are too thick for river cockles. He considered that the presence of the brackish-water shells would be account for by an extension of the mouths of the Teign and the Exe, either separately or combined, to the neighbourhood of Torquay, or to an open coastline, along which shells from the vicinity of such rivers or coasts could be drifted to Torbay. One or other of these conditions must almost certainly have existed in times past.

Arthur Hunt commented, very sensibly, that the only reason that we find raised beaches at Hope's Nose and Portland, and nowhere in between these places, is because the softer intermediate coast-line has been gradually worn back, whilst the headlands have withstood the waves by reason of their hardness. Thus there must have been a time when the coast between Hope's Nose and Portland was much less embayed than it is at present. Somewhere on this ancient coast-line the waters of the Teign and the Exe flowed into the sea many miles to the south of their present exist.

Now, 122 years beyond the date of publication of Hunt's paper there is no reason to disagree with his theory. He seems to have correctly set the scene for a broad embayment at the time of the interglacial raised beach. The next author, a much more famous one, seems to accepted this palaeogeography and expanded on the topic.

The distinguished Professor Joseph Prestwich wrote more about this raised beach, including the molluscan fauna, in 1892. His paper is well-known and very easily accessible, being in the Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society.

"The well-known Beach at Hope's Nose, originally described by Godwin-Austen, caps the headland, a short distance east of Torquay, where in consequence of of its being concreted by a cement of carbonate of lime, it forms a projecting cornice about 31 feet above high water mark. It is overlain by 3 feet of sand and then by a few feet of angular local rubble (Head), in which I found a tooth of a Horse. Many of the shells are entire but they are mixed with a large proportion of comminuted shells. They comprise:

Patella vulgata,
Littorina littorea,
Littorina rudis,
Murex erinaceus,
Purpura lapillus,
Turritella terebra,
Cardium edule,
Cyprina islandica,
Mytilus edulis,
Ostrea edulis,
Pecten varius,

Burrows of Saxicava
Burrows of annelids

The palaeoclimatic conditions implied by the interglacial fauna do not indicate a drastic change from those at present, even though a whole glacial phase has separated the time of deposition from the present-day. A somewhat colder climate is implied by Trophon truncatus and by Pleurotoma turricula, judging from their present range ( (Orme, 1960). However Pinna rubis, Adeorbis subcarinatus and Fusus jeffreysianus which today occur from Aberdeen to the Mediterranean show that there was no intense cold.

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Raised Beach - Sediments

The Hope's Nose raised beach has a basement bed 0.3 to 0.4 metres thick. This is composed of locally derived limestone and slate debris, varying from fairly fine gravel to boulders and angular blocks up to about half a metre long ( Orme, 1960). Above is cross-bedded coarse sand, becoming progressively finer upwards. The sand has a complex composition, including limestone clasts, slate, quartz sand grains, and also skeletal carbonate grains (shell debris). Orme (1960) also mentioned the presence of clasts of flint. The flint could have come from the Eocene gravels of the Haldon Hills and adjacent area, or from the Chalk which lies some distance offshore to the south, as shown on a map above. Another possibility, mentioned by Orme (1960), is that in Pleistocene times when the raised beach was formed there were other flint deposits in the area which have since been destroyed. Dolerite clasts have also been found in the raised beach deposits. Such grains are unlikely to survive long travel amd much weathering, but, of course, there is a dolerite intrusion nearby, at Black Head. This is the most likely source of the dolerite grains.

Lithologically similar, the Thatcher Rock raised beach contains more material derived from the sandstone assemblage around Torbay. Shannon (1927) suggested that from the assemblage of heavy minerals, the Thatcher Rock raised beach might be of later date than the Hope's Nose Raised Beach. The greater amount of epidote and sphene in the Thatcher Rock deposit could indicate a later stage in coastal erosion, when the Black Head dolerite or microgabbro was more exposed. Furthermore while kyanite is largely confined to Hope's Nose, the Thatcher Rock minerals are more like those of the modern beaches ( Orme, 1960). However, dolerite has been recognised in the Hope's Nose deposit.

The raised beach is calcite-cemented and quite well-lithified for the most part. Such cementation of raised beaches is fairly common in carbonate environments in Britain, as at the Gower Peninsula (on Carboniferous Limestone) (West, 1970). The calcareous waters may have come directly from the Devonian Limestone beneath, or from shell or limestone fragments within the raised beach deposits, or from calcareous Head or hillwash deposits.

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Tuffs of the Daddyhole Limestone Member

A map and aerial photograph for locating the tuffs of the Daddyhole Limestone Member, at Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon

At Hope's Nose in the Daddyhole Limestone Member of the Torquay Limestone Formation, there are two bands of calcareous tuffs. These rocks consist of dark lapilli, converted into magnetite, in a recrystallised calcite matrix. There is some yellow decomposed glass resembling palagonite (Lloyd, 1933).

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Local Variscan Deformation near the Raised Beach

Folds and a thrust in Givetian limestone, near the Raised Beach, Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, after Shannon

These structures are in Givetian limestone near the north end of the raised beach. They have figured in various publications, including:
Ussher (1903, Fig. 7, p. 52); - Shannon (1928, Plate 5, opp. p. 136); and - Lloyd (1933, Plate 7, opp. p. 121).

Shannon considered that the limestones above the thrust plane are Middle Devonian, Givetian, S2, and those beneath Givetian, S1. The interesting aspect is that two phases of tectonics are shown with folding taking place first and then the well-lithified limestones are thrust. A significant interval of time might have passed between the folding and thrusting to allow for resistant lithification of the limestone. However, this is not necessarily certain because limestone are capable of early cementation, especially in that tropical climate, with the Equator heading rapidly southward towards Torquay (it passed over Torquay in the Carboniferous and the place has become colder ever since).

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Local Variscan Deformation - More

Shears and deformed goniatites in Devonian limestone at Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon

A close-up view of distorted goniatites in sheared Devonian limestone, Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon

The photographs above shows the effects of intense compression on goniatite-bearing, Devonian limestone at Hope's Nose. This is a point of detail in strata which are well-known to have been subjected to the Variscan (Hercynian) Orogeny in Carboniferous to Permian times.

The detail visible in the field is quite informative, even without any thin-section or laboratory data. It is interesting that there is evidence of both ductile and brittle deformation. Thus it is likely that we observe an early process here, covering the change from a relatively soft black limestone (like Blue Lias or softer) to a very hard, brittle black limestone (as it is now). The general early history of the strata here needs some brief explanation and this is given below. The processes observed in the photograph probably range from late Devonian to early Carboniferous.

During the early, depositional phase of the Middle Devonian here, about 380 million years ago, there was crustal extension in this area, leading to the development of grabens and half-grabens. The Torquay High was on the north, upthrow side of a major fault, which bounded the South Devon Basin (a half-graben) to the south. The Middle Devonian limestone of Torquay, like that at Hope's Nose owe their carbonate reef characteristics to the Torquay High (Leveridge et al., 2003). This was a relatively positive or high area of Devonian sea floor about 400 million years ago. Tropical shallow water favoured the precipitation of carbonates, and in particular, the coral-stromatoporoid reefs.

Remarkably, within only about 50 million years there was a drastic change and the early stages of the Hercynian or Variscan Orogeny commenced. There was major compressive deformation during the early Carboniferous (Dinantian). This produced northward verging folds, cleavage, thrust and also some northwest-trending, dextral strike-slip faulting (Leveridge et al., 2003).

Now the photograph above shows Devonian limestone, with goniatites, which had developed on or near the original structural high (the goniatite beds are vertically quite close to the coral-stromatoporoid beds in the area). It is obvious that there has been compressive brittle fracture, and it seems to have been preceded by earlier ductile compression. There can be little doubt that this is result of the Carboniferous (Dinantian) compressive deformation of round about 350 million years ago.

Brecciation of Devonian limestones at Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon

The photograph above shows a location only about 10 or 20 metres away from the goniatite area where the deformation has become more extreme. Here the black limestone is almost completely brecciated. The process has not taken place in a single phase because there is angular brecciated calcite of vein origin incorporated in the breccia. Small-scale conjugate shears and tension gashes show the brecciation is related to the goniatite deformation structures shown higher above.

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Hope's Nose - Hydrocarbon History - Speculative

As a follow-up from the simple field observations, above, combined with the general known geological history of the area, here is some speculative discussion of the hydrocarbon history. Reefs on highs associated with thick marine sediments are often sites of oil and gas accumulation, provided there was sufficient depth of burial (and there probably was here). The hydrocarbons would be expected to have migrated to the highs and become stored in the originally porous reefs. Now the Torquay reef facies is associated with black limestones which would be expected to have a high organic content (although I have no TOC figures). The unusual aspect for reefs is that the porosity seems to be almost negligible now (but note that the low quantity of pore-filling calcite suggests that it was never very high). Under the high stresses to which the rock has been subjected little porosity could survive. Thus the reefs do not seem to to have porosity or be reservoir rocks now. Yet, their burial and tectonic history suggests that they have been through the oil (and gas?) window at least once and probably twice. In other words oil and/or gas has probably been generated and has been lost in some way. It probably went in the Dinantian. It probably escaped to the surface but some could have been held if suitable Carboniferous reservoir rocks exist or existed in the area. There may be nothing suitable in the area now, but there is at least a remote possibility of a limited sandstone reservoir that has not lost its porosity, or even, perhaps, some indirect transfer of gas into Permian sandstones.

Because there has been a thick Permo-Trias sequence (shown by palaeotemperature data - see discussion of gold veins) the Devonian limestones have probably entered a second phase of deep burial. This was after the Variscan Orogeny. Because of the earlier deformation, though it probably had little effect. See the limestone clasts in the Ness breccias of Permian age (at Shaldon near Teignmouth) to gain some idea of the state of the limestone in Permian times.

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The End of the Promontory (NE)

Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, seen from above Hope's Cove

The northeast end of the Hope's Nose Promontory, Torquay, Devon, with Devonian limestones showing localities of interest, 2010

An SSSI notice at Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon

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The Old Limestone Quarry

Looking down and northeast from the edge of the small quarry at Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, 2010

Old quarry in Devonian Limestone, Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, 2010

A view of the old quarry on Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

Thin-bedded limestone above more massively-bedded limestone, the old quarry, Hope' Nose promontory, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

A diagram of the Devonian limestone cliff in Hope's Nose Quarry, Torquay, Devon, after Lloyd (1933)

At the northern end of the Hope's Nose promontory is an old quarry. On the south side of the headland there is an apparently normal sequence of Eifelian limestone over shales. These limestones at most places largely consist of crinoidal debris (Lloyd, 1933). The exposure at the quarry on the northern side has been a subject of more discussion in the past. The highest beds, consisting of thin-bedded limestone, seemed to be of Eifelian type and they overlying more massively bedded limestone of Givetian type. Ussher (1903) thus, considered that the sucession was inverted. Shannon (1928) believed that the upper, thin-bedded shaly limestones had been thrust over the lower beds, quite possible in view of the thrusting of Devonian limestone that has occurred in the region. Lloyd (1933) pointed out that the irregular junction when viewed closely seemed to be an unconformity. There are small hollows or pockets in the underlying dark, bedded limestone containing unsorted sandy and shaly material. He therefore considered the seqence right-way up but did not rule out the possibility of inversion.

Note that has been a divergence of opinion regarding the identity and age of the limestone of the Hope's Nose Peninsula. This requires brief explanation. The 2004 edition of the 1:50,000 Geology Series, Map, Sheet 350 of the British Geological Survey interprets all the limestone of this promontory as of the Daddyhole Member of the Torquay Limestone Formation, and regards it as Eifelian. The Daddyhole Member is relatively thin-bedded, and contrasts with the Walls Hill Member of the Torquay Limestone Formation which is massively bedded (and seen in the upper part of Walls Hill). The Walls Hill Member is Givetian.

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The Ore Stone

The Ore Stone, a small island off Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, with a reversed fault and asymmetric anticline in Devonian Limestone, as seen from Hope's Nose.

A small reversed fault associated with an asymmetrical anticline in Devonian limestone, the Ore Stone, Torquay, Devon, seen at a distance from Hope's Nose, April 2012

A mesoscopic, asymmetrical anticline with a reversed fault in the Ore Stone, Torquay, Devon, close view taken by Nikolett Csorvasi, 6th January 2012

The far, offshore side of the Ore Stone, near Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devon, showing the reversed fault and the anticline of the hanging wall, 6th January 2012

The Ore Stone is a small rock or island that can be viewed from Hope's Nose, eastern side, or more closely from a boat. It consist of Devonian limestone which has been conspicuously thrust from the south. It shows an interesting Variscan structure, a mesoscopic asymmetrical anticline, broken by a reverse fault. A close view shows that there is some well-developed axial plane cleavage. Much larger Variscan fold and fault structures occur in the Devonian limestones of the Torquay area. Note that at Triangle Point the Devonian limestone is inverted within part of a larger fold structure.

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Black Head Dolerite Intrusion
(north of Hope's Nose)

Black Head, Torquay, Devon, a headland composed of microgabbro or dolerite intruded into Upper Devonian strata

The Black Head microgabbro or dolerite, seen from above Hope Cove, Torquay, Devon, 2010

A small microgabbro or dolerite headland seen to the southeast of Anstey's Cove, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

This is the Black Head microgabbro or dolerite (diabase in very old literature). It is an albite-dolerite carrying small amounts of olivine and with characteristic albite-segregation veins (Shannon, 1924) . It is intruded into the Upper Devonian Saltern Cove Formation Leveridge et al. (2003a) and was dated as post-Culm and pre-Permian by Shannon (1924).

More detail on the Black Head main intrusion has been given by Shannon (1924). It is a rather fine-grained dolerite, partly ophitic in fabric [ophitic implies laths of plagioclase within a pyroxene, i.e. augite]. In the field it weathers to a dark greyish-brown surface, but is dark green when chipped with a hammer. The albite segregation veins, mentioned above, cannot be seen in the field. There are wide areas or veins of red dolerite. The colour results from the alteration of the augite to limonite (goethite). The feldspars are not altered in these red areas, apart from albitization and choritization which affects the whole intrusion. The feldspar in the Black Head dolerite (or microgabbro) is andesine with a tendency to oligoclase. Albite is in the segregations (see Shannon (1924), p. 198, for details of these).

Leveridge et al. (2003a) succinctly explained the setting of intrusive igneous rocks of the area:
"The extrusive and intrusive basic igneous rocks of the district compare with those elsewhere in the passive margin sequences of south Devon and central Cornwall Leveridge et al. (2003b). They are predominantly within-plate alkaline basalts, with subordinate sub-alkaline basalt with geochemistry indicative of a mantle source. The magma is an Ocean Island Basalt type, which in a continental plate setting implies strong extension Merriman et al., 2000."

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The entrance to Kents Cavern, Torquay, Devon, a cave system in the Devonian Torquay Limestone, with important vertebrate fossils of the late Pleistocene

The cave system is now thought to have been initiated about 2 million years ago, according to Leveridge et al. (2003a; 2003b). It is a complex of caverns, rifts along faults and phreatic tubes, multiphase roof breakdown and stalagmite formation and flowstone floors. The Basal Breccia is of special importance with animal remains dating back to more than 340 thousand years (Proctor et al., 2005). It contains remains of the cave bear Ursus deningeri, the lion Felix leo and the voles Arvicola cantiana and Microtus oeconomus indicating a late Cromerian age for the deposit. Neanderthals and Homo sapiens occupied the caves in the Ipswichian Interglacial and the early Devensian Stages (Leveridge et al., 2003a, 2003b).

There is useful online information on Kents Cavern at: English Riviera Geopark - Early Man.

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Anstey's Cove car park, Torquay, is reached by a minor road, an inconspicuous one-way street from Babbacombe. It joins a larger road system again, a short distance south of Kent's Cavern. It is only short walk across a recreation ground, if one decides to walk from the Kent's Cavern area. At least in the off-season, car parking above Anstey's Cove is easy. The adjacent Redgate Beach is officially closed off, because of risk of rock fall. The walk down to Anstey's Cove is easy.

The car park above Anstey's Cove, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

Descending the path to Anstey's Cove, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

Anstey's Cove, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

The Promenade at Anstey's Cove, Torquay, Devon, showing thrust Devonian Limestone, just above it, April 2012

Anstey's Cove, red-stained, sheared limestone above the level of the small promenade at Anstey's Cove, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

The small beach at Anstey's Cove, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

Beach at Anstey's Cove and view to Long Quarry Point, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

Dolerite pebble amongst Devonian limestone pebbles, beach at Anstey's Cove, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

Anstey's Cove is a very small embayment, with a short promenade extending northward (Devil's Point). It is easily reached by a path and steps from a car park on the cliff top. The cove is close to the junction between dolerite or micrograbbo to the south (of the Black Head intrusion) and very faulted and fractured Devonian limestone to the north. It gives, from Devil's Point, a good view of Redgate Beach and the major promontory of Long Quarry Point. Access to Redgate Beach is closed at present because of risk of falling rocks. The small beach at Anstey's Cove consists of pebbles and cobbles of Devonian limestone with a smaller proportion of much darker and very rounded dolerite clasts.

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(near Babbacombe, and north of Anstey's Cove)

A notice at the end of the Anstey's Cove promenade warns that there is no access to Redgate Beach, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

Fallen Boulders of Devonian Limestone, Redgate Beach, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

The northern part of Redgate Beach, Torquay, Devon, with faulted and fractured Devonian Limestone, April 2012

Overturned Middle Devonian Limestone above Upper Devonian shales, Redgate Beach, Torquay, Devon, based on an old diagram

Long Quarry Point and the associated Devonian Limestone Headland, south side, seen from Anstey's Cove, Torquay, Devon, 12th April 2012

Rock climbers on a cliff beneath Walls Hill, and between Redgate Beach and Long Quarry Point, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

Redgate Beach, Torquay is small embayment north of Anstey's Cove and near Babbacombe. It consists mainly of Devonian Limestone and is crossed by the Ilsham Fault. Above Redgate Beach there are crevasses in the cliff top. Some large blocks tilt seaward. At the base of the cliff there is a short promenade and there are some very large rectangular blocks of limestone which have fallen from the cliff.

The following description of Redgate Beach has been given by Lloyd (1933).

"Couvinian [Eifelian] limestones form the lower part of the cliff on the north side of the beach; their relation to the massive Givetian limestone forming the plateau above is shown [in his Figures 10 and 11 and in a sketch shown here].
The lowest beds are very dark grey shaly limestone in thin irregular beds. Several feet of pale coralline limestone, apparently massive, really somewhat shaly, intervene between these and the higher grey and red (stained) shaly limestones, and there are no means of determining whether the shaly limestones are folded round the massive bed or in normal intercalation with it. From a distance this series of beds appears to dip into the cliff under the Wallis Hill limestone, and only a close examination at the exposure itself reveals the fact that they are cut out by a fault parallel to the cliff face.
The lower dark grey limestones have yielded Atrypa reticularis (Linnaeus), 'Cyathophyllum' cf. roemeri Edwards and Haime and Pachypora ? cervicornis (Blainville).
At the top of the winding cliff path leading to Walls Hill, west of the above exposure, thin-bedded red shaly limestone is exposed in the narrow gap separating two clearly defined faults which traverse the massive limestone. The red shaly limestones are in apparent normal succession with the Couvinian [Eifelian] shales below, already described, although the actual junction in obscured by scree; they are described as Upper Devonian by R.G. Shannon [1928].

[See also the website:
TFF Forum Photo Gallery: The Downs and Redgate Beach, 2012. A brief comment from this follows:

"Moving on around to the right of Walls Hill you look down on Redgate Beach, it was closed around 1998 I believe (that is what it says on the sign) due to rock falls and sadly it has now been left for nature to take its coarse. There once was a footbridge from this beach that went around the cliff to Anstey's Cove, but than was taken down as it was claimed it was dangerous, but I feel it was removed to stop people getting onto Redgate beach. The locals defy orders not to use the beach and even today there was couple down on the beach and during the summer you will find plenty on the beach as it is one not known to our visitors."]

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Long Quarry Point, in Middle Devonian, Torquay Limestone, Torquay, Devon, 2011

Part of Long Quarry Point, Torquay, Devon, seen from Devil's Point, Anstey's Cove, April 2012

The eastern, seaward end of Long Quarry Point, Torquay, Devon, April 2012

Grey and pink Middle Devonian limestone is exposed at Long Quarry and adjacent cliffs, where it dips steeply in a northward direction. The quarry was used during Victorian times, to provide stone for the grandest houses and civic buildings in Torquay. The Victorians not only started the spread of large buildings over beautiful open hills above the sea, but also removed parts of the cliffs. Nowadays the old quarries of Torquay seem relatively natural and seem to have less impact than the housing development. The limestone at Long Quarry is full of white stromatoporoid masses (Actinostroma),some reaching 0.6m. in diameter (Lloyd, 1933).

The following fossils have been identified by Jukes-Browne (in (Lloyd, 1933)) from Long Quarry (listed here in old terminology which has not been updated).

'Cyathophyllum' sp.
Actinostroma clathratum Nicholson
A. stellulatum Nicholson
Stomatopora? concentrica Goldfuss
Alveolites? suborbicularis Lamarck
Pachypora cristata (Blumenbach)
Favosites fibrosus (Goldfuss) (coral)
Stachyodes verticillata (M'Coy)

The quarry includes the type section of the Middle Devonian, Walls Hill Limestone Member of the Torquay Limestone Formation (Givetian according to the BGS map, Sheet 350). See also: Page, K.N. A Review of the Geological Heritage of Torbay. 71p (for full reference go to: Page (200?)). Apart from geology and from conservation, another use of Long Quarry is rock climbing. See UK Climbing - Long Quarry Point. There are also videos online of yet another activity here: "Clips of us guys jumpin at long quarry".

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The Plateau of Babbacombe

The plateau at about 100 metres above sea level in the Babbacombe area, Torquay, Devon

As shown in the diagram above, there is a plateau in the Babbacombe and adjacent areas that is round about 100 metres above sea-level. More specifically, the northern part of this plateau is 330 feet or 100 metres above sea-level but it slopes gradually southward, as discussed by Jukes-Browne (1907). He allowed the possibility of a Cretaceous date but favoured an Eocene age for the planation. A connection with the basal plane of the Eocene in the nearby Haldon Hills was suggested. He thought that there might be a north-west Tertiary flexure on the line of the Bovey Syncline. The possibility of a Pliocene age for the plateau has been considered and rejected by Shannon (1927) following a study of associated heavy mineral residues. See Lloyd (1933), p. 115 et seq. ("The Limestone Plateau") for further discussion of this topic.

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Babbacombe - Oddicombe Beach


A simplified geological map of Oddicombe Beach and adjacent area of Babbacombe etc, Torquay, Devon

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Oddicombe Beach - Introduction

At the northern part of Babbacombe (St Marychurch), within a larger embayment is Oddicombe Beach. This is the main and largest beach here. It should not be confused with the smaller Babbacombe Beach to the southeast of this and separated by Half Tide Rock (igneous exposure).

A sketch of a view of the cliffs at Oddicombe Beach, Babbacombe, Torquay, Devon, after Lloyd, 1933

Looking down the track of the famous cliff railway at Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, 2010

In a carriage of the Babbacombe Cliff Railway, Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, 2011

From the cliff top there is steeply sloping road down which you can walk to Oddicombe North Beach. Alternatively you can use the interesting Babbacombe Cliff Railway, constructed in 1926. This almost exactly marks the position of a major fault between Devonian strata, limestone and shales, to the south and the conspicuous red Permian strata to the north.

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Oddicombe North Beach:
Oddicombe Breccia, Permian
(Red, desert alluvial fan deposit)

Red Permian Breccia and Devonian Limestone at the Gentlemens Bathing Place, Oddicombe North Beach, Torquay, Devon, April 2011

Offshore rock of Permian breccia at Gentlemens Bathing Place, northern Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, seen from the south, 2011

A view southward across Oddicombe Bay from a stack of breccia at Gentlemens Bathing Place, near Petit Tor, Babbacombe, Torquay, Devon, April 2011

Fallen blocks of Oddicombe Breccia at the rock-fall, Oddicombe North Beach, Torquay, Devon, April 2011

Fallen blocks of Oddicombe Breccia, perhaps really a conflomerate, at the northern end end of Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, 7th April 2011

Some unusual pebble clasts with rims, fallen block of Oddicombe Breccia, Oddicombe North Beach, Torquay, Devon, 7th April 2011

Flash-flood deposits in the Permian breccia at the northern end of Oddicombe North Beach, Babbacombe, Torquay, Devon, April 2011

A close view of the Permian Breccia, Oddicombe North Beach, Torquay, Devon, showing details of clasts

The partial rounding of the limestone clasts in the Permian Oddicombe Breccia is interesting. This might be the result of exfoliation rather than of dissolution in the arid Permian environment. There seem to be some curved white flakes of limestone in the general matrix, and these might be the result of exfoliation. Notice the numerous small flakes of slate which have been intensely reddened. These are so abundant that the rock is technically clast-supported, even though, at first sight, it seems matrix-supported.

A red desert deposit in the Permian Oddicombe Breccia, Oddicombe North Beach, Torquay, Devon, 2011

Red breccia or conglomerate (breccio-conglomerate of Ussher (1903) is conspicuous in the large amount of fallen debris and on the shore at the northern end of Oddicombe North Beach, Babbacombe.

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Oddicombe North Beach - the Oddicombe Breccia Member
- The Ancient Permian Desert

A bedding plane reveals an original Permian desert surface, Oddicombe Breccia Formation, Oddicombe North Beach, Torquay, Devon

Within the Hun Graben, Libya, where an almost flat plain is an amalgam of alluvial fans from the fault scarp of the distant graben edge

Uplift, wadis and alluvial vans, southeast Hun Graben, Libya, aerial view

A hot and dry wadi at Wadi Faras, margin of the Hun Graben, Libya, with only a small amount of vegetation, 1985

Reconstruction of a Permo-Triassic stony desert of Devon, southern England, by Ian West

The Permian breccias of Torquay can be compared to modern regs and alluvial fans, as in Libya, Qatar and other Middle Eastern countries, but they are not identical in detail. However, they provide a good impression of the ancient environment. In the reconstruction above, it is assumed that the surface was initially brown and the sediments became redder after burial (comparison with modern California) but there is some uncertainty about this.

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LOCATION - ODDICOMBE BEACH - 2010 and onwards

Oddicombe Beach - Cliff Fall of 2010 (with major collapse on the 3rd April 2013)

(Warning: the beach in the area of the cliff fall is not safe at all; further major rock falls have occurred and any sites of potential rock fall should be avoided)

The Permian Oddicombe Breccia, or at least collovium and loess associated with it, is notorious for subsidence problems. See Catell (2000). The likelyhood of problems on the Oddicombe Breccia is about twenty times the likelyhood on other rock types. Collovium or loess associated with the Oddicombe Breccia is particularly prone to loss of strenth on wetting.

An overview of Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, seen from the southeast and showing early stages of rock-fall collapse, April 1011

[See also the Daily Mail newspaper report of 2010: "No wonder they got it cheap: Clifftop home loses its garden just six days after new owner paid bargain price of £150,000"]

An old postcard of Oddicombe Beach showing the cliffs before the recent rock fall and landslide, Torquay, Devon

Oddicombe Beach, an old colour postcard, showing the cliff and cliff-top house before the rock fall and landslide of 2010, Torquay, Devon

An old postcard from 1959 showing details of Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon

An oblique aerial view of Oddicombe North Beach, Torquay, Devon in 2007

The rock fall of Permian breccia and sandstone at Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, with a house on the cliff top, subsequently damaged by the associated landslide, May 2010

A general view of the northern part of Oddicombe Beach with a cliff fall of Permian strata, Torquay, Devon, 2010

Large fallen blocks, shown with people for scale, northern part of Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, April 2011

The cliff fall at Oddicombe North Beach, Torquay, Devon, seen from the shore in April 2011

Unstable Permian breccia and sandstone in the cliffs of north Oddicombe Bay, Torquay, Devon, 2011

A cliff fall of Permian sandstone and breccia, Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, 2010

Stabilisation work taking place at the back of the beach facilities, Oddicombe north beach, Torquay, Devon, 7th Apirl 2011

An open joint in the Permian Oddicombe Breccia, just north of the cliff railway, Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, 7th April 2011

A view of the unstable cliff with joints looking northward from the roadway, just south of the cliff railway, Torquay, Devon, 7th April 2011

Unstable cliff above the 2010 rock-fall at Oddicombe North Beach, Torquay, Devon, in April 2011

The 2010 rock fall at Oddicombe North Beach, Torquay, Devon, as seen from the promenade in April 2011

This cliff fall of the red, Permian, Oddicombe Breccia took place in February 2010. It apparently occurred only six days after someone purchased the house and garden on the cliff top from which this fell. See: Dail Mail Reporter (2010) for more details. The property is Ridgemont House which lost a substantial piece of its land and is now situated only 50ft or 15 metres from the edge of the 300ft or 91 metre cliff. At night, a large boulder the size of a van first fell off and then the main mass fell. A Torbay Council spokesman said that the 5,000-tonne rock fall was from the unstable sandstone cliffs to the rear of north beach, Oddicombe. The strata involved is the Oddicombe Breccia of Permian age. See the current British Geological Survey Map, 1:50,000 for Torquay. A similar loss of part of a cliff top garden on Permian strata has taken place at Dawlish . Although some steep red sandstone and breccia cliffs seem to survive for a fairly long time, in some cases hundreds of years, now and again they fall, of course.

Renewed movement at the cliff-fall site on northern Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, in February 2013

As shown above, there was further movement in the upper part of the cliff in early 2013. There had already been concern in December 2012 about new landsliding at Babbacombe (above Oddicombe North Beach). There was a press report in the Herald Express of Saturday December 15th 2012. A short extract is given below. See the full article.

"New council fears of landslide above Babbacombe beach."

A geologist has warned a 'major fall is imminent' on the cliffs at Oddicombe. The area was hit by a landslide last week following weeks of rain. A spokesman for Torbay Council has revealed: "Following recent rockfalls in other coastal areas the council has appointed an engineering geologist to carry out a survey of several locations around Torbay's coastline. The location giving him most concern is the high cliffs behind the closed section of Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, and it is his opinion a major rock fall is imminent in this area. As a result we would once again strongly urge members of the public to adhere to the Beach Closed warning signs which are in place for their safety.

The Herald Express coverage of a major fall in 2010 hit international headlines after it emerged the house at the top of Oddicombe Cliffs had been bought shortly before a major fall. In February 2010, 5,000 tonnes of boulders crashed down on to Oddicombe Beach just below nearby Ridgemont House. The week before the property had been sold at auction for £155,000."

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(1) Introduction
(high resolution photographs after the event - by Nikolett Csorvasi)

The collapse of jointed and dipping Oddicombe Breccia, beneath Ridgemont House, northern Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, April 2013, photographed by Nikolett Csorvasi

Ridgemont House seems to be marked on the old maps 1899-1902. The adjacent buildings in the approach road do not seem to have been built at that date.

A view showing details of the collapse of the upper part of the cliff of Oddicombe Breccia, and of Ridgemont House, above northern Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, April 2013, photographed by Nikolett Csorvasi

A view of the 2013 rock-fall site at northern Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, showing the remains of the long run-out lobe near Gentlemens Bathing Place


The St. Oswald's Bay Chalk rockfall as seen from the cliff top further west, near Lulworth Cove, Dorset, 3rd May 2013

A very similar rock fall to that at Oddicombe Beach took place at Dungy Head St. Oswald's Bay, Dorset on the night of the 29-30th April 2013, in other words, within a month of the Oddicombe rock fall. However, the St. Oswald's Bay rock fall was in Chalk and therefore relatively white, in comparison to the red rock fall at Oddicombe Beach. The Dorset fall was from a cliff of similar height (about 120m).

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(2) The Destructive Run-Out Lobe (sturzstrom-like?)

Comparative photographs to shown where the former red stack at Gentlemens Bathing Place was destroyed by a high velocity run-out lobe of the April 2013 rock fall, Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon

A feature of the April 2013 rockfall at Oddicombe Beach was a long run-out, or horizontal stretch of debris in a seaward direction. This was not very large but sufficiently powerful to destroy a prominant small red stack adjacent to Gentlemens Bathing Place at the northern end of the beach. Normally rock falls result in debris cones at about 38 degrees slope, and this is the case for the main rock fall at Oddicombe Beach. However, as in the case of some Chalk Cliffs of southern England ( Williams et al. (2004) there is also a "run-out". This is a nearly horizontal, subaerial debris flow. These can occur where there is high cliff, a large volume of rock fall, and the attainment of a high velocity at beach level. This was probably not large enough to have been a true sturzstrom but it may have had some similarities to such an occurrence, at least within a limited area. Certainly a substantial, horizontal, run-out seems to have occurred and to have completely destroyed the red stack. A run-out into the sea is probably the reason for the extensive red-colouring of the seawater shortly after the event.

It is obvious that this rock fall was a very dangerous one and had anyone been on the beach in front at the time the consequences would have been fatal. At Burton Bradstock in West Dorset a sandstone cliff fell with a low-angle debris cone in 2012. It was not a long run-out but it killed a person on the beach and partially entrapped others. The Oddicombe rock fall was much larger and much more powerful and with a longer run-out. The Oddicombe Breccia is actually in large part a sandstone with clasts, and thus has some similarity to the material of the Bridport Sands of the Burton Bradstock cliffs. As in the case of the sandstone at Burton Bradstock, the Oddicombe Breccia has some large open joints, from which rock falls could take place.

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(3) More Details (and comparison with older rock falls)

The location of the 2013 Oddicombe Beach rock-fall at shore level, seen before and after the cliff collapse, Little Oddicome, Torquay, Devon, 2010 and 2013

An aerial view, courtesy of the Channel Coastal Observatory, of the Oddicombe Northern Beach area that was to be the site of a major landslide in 2013, shown here in 2007, Torquay, Devon

A location image from Google Earth, Street View of Ridcliffe Road, looking towards the future sie of the landslide, Babbacombe, Torquay, Devon, 2007

There follows an extract of a report from the Western Morning News of the 20th February 2013:

Ridgemont House, at the top of Oddicombe Cliffs in Torquay, is now very close to the cliff edge and is expected to collapse at any moment. Council officials have warned the public to steer clear of the dangerous site and beach at Little Oddicombe, which has been closed for years. A spokesman for Torbay council said the house was "in a dangerous condition". "Parts of the boundary wall are now very close to the cliff edge at Little Oddicombe," the spokesman said. “As further rock falls occur, we anticipate that the building will suffer further collapse." The now practically worthless property hit headlines in 2010 when a landslide hit it just a week after it was sold at auction to retired police officer Sue Diamond for £155,000. Legal disputes are still thought to be ongoing and the house is fenced off. Miss Diamond who is disabled, made a telephone bid of £154,500 for the house in February 2010, without viewing it or having a survey done. But just eight days after the auction, a landslide left the 1930s house just 50 yards from a drop into the sea, and signalled the started of a lengthy legal battle. At the time Miss Diamond said the house was uninhabitable and worth only £3,500. Now it is on the verge of total obliteration after the most recent landslide caused a large portion of it to collapse. Since the sale Miss Diamond has been engaged in a legal war. Explaining her decision to buy the house in Torquay at the time, she said her Chiswick home in London had been flooded by burst pipes and she thought the ground floor of the seaside property would be ideal for a disabled person. The large six-bedroom property was sold for the bargain price because of its precarious position. But just days later neighbours heard a "rumbling" noise before the unstable sandstone cliffs crumbled, sending more than 5,000 tonnes of rock at the bottom of the garden down to the beach below. Minor landslips over the Christmas period weakened the structure further but a bigger slide on Sunday left it in a precarious position. A eological survey has been undertaken, indicating that fresh landslides were imminent. The council said the threat of further landslides remains high. "We once again reiterate for members of the public to heed the various warning signs for their own safety," the spokesman added.

On the 3rd March 2013 a rock fall took place, dropping the sandstone cliff into a debris slope of boulders and sand and destroying the house.

In particular go to:

Why you should never buy a house in a blind auction: Sea of red as landslide claims more of Torquay cliff face, taking with it £154,000 home.

By John Stevens and Richard Hartley-Parkinson. Sue Diamond bought Ridgemont House in a telephone auction without carrying out structural survey Three years later and the house has finally fallen into the sea after the land disappeared from under it. Devon Cliff fall is the latest around the coastline after strong winds, high tides and months of heavy rain

Mail Online, 3rd April 2013. This article has superb colour photographs by Apex. It also has some very good videos. The Permian sandstone can be seen to dip seaward. It also seems, that as would be expected, there have been older landslides of similar type in the area. The houses seem to have been built on undisturbed ground. In some cases, and this is worst, there are fairly close to old backscarps of former landslides of this type. Nothing unusual has happened here. It is unfortunate that houses, particularly this one, have been constructed close to former landslides backscarps. The very ridge from which presumably the house takes its name is a relic previously left from older landslides where were adjacent. This does not at all necessarily mean than any other properties are at risk. They are all in different positions and different distances from the present active area. Some may be very well clear of any hazard. In any case the present phase of worst landslide activity may well be finished now. There has been unusually wet weather and now the cliffs are drying out. Some sort of stability may return. Of course, on a geological time scale landslides will happen again, after there has been renewed cliff erosion at foot of the cliff and the normal landward retreat. However, that is a very long term matter. After a while interest in the topic here will fade away.

This was not a unique event but something normal but occasional on the red Devon Permo-Triassic cliffs. More landslides will take place on these sooner later at other localities. One has occurred in 2007 near Dawlish, another locality with some high red cliffs.

[Morris, S. 2007. Millionaire left with even better sea view after cliff landslide. The Guardian Newspaper, Tuesday, 6th February 2007. By Steven Morris. [Short article with a photograph].
A luxurious clifftop home being built for a wealthy businessman now boasts an even better view after a large chunk of land crumbled into the sea. The landslide, in which 25m (82ft) of land and several large pine trees vanished, left the house, which has:a glass spiral staircase and indoor pool, perched close to the clifftop. The landslide was witnessed by carpenter Daniel Julyan and his father, Philip, as they put the finishing touches to the house in Dawlish, south Devon. Daniel, 19, said: "Quite often we'll hear a rumbling when a train goes by on the local railway line. But this just kept going and got four or five times louder. It was like thunder. We looked over the edge and there was a mile of red dirt and branches and stuff floating in the ocean. I suppose the only good thing is it's opened up an even better view." ......Though the landslide brings both Mr Skilton's home and the new house closer to the clifftop he insisted he was not concerned: "I am not a bit worried about my home." Michael Hogg, owner of Character Homes, said: "There is just a sheer drop there now. I went to see it and I am trying to find reasons why this happened. "We really have no reason to be concerned. We have just lost a few trees and snowdrops. But it has put the new house very close to the cliff face indeed."]

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(Some details are in a BBC webpage, April 2013)

The major rock fall at northern Oddicombe Beach which took place on the 3rd April 2013, Torquay, Devon - see BBC webpage

For a summary of the events of the major rock fall at northern Oddicombe Beach go to the BBC Devon webpage at:

Further Rock Falls at Oddicombe 'Expected'

"Cliff faces at a Torbay beach are still unstable and more rock falls are expected, a council says. Thousands of tonnes of earth and stone fell at Oddicombe last week, resulting in a section of beach being closed off. Torbay Council said visitors should observe marked exclusion zones put up after the last landslip. But it added a geologist had advised that existing zones were sufficient and there was no risk to beach huts and a beach cafe, which were still open. The area is famous for its red earth and sandstone. Nearby seawater was turned red as a result of the recent landslip. The entire beach was closed for several days in 2010 after a landslide which brought down about 5,000 tonnes of sandstone. Oddicombe is a "Blue Flag" beach and it has also received a Quality Coast award."

See also:

Landslip at Oddicombe Beach turns Sea Red

This includes a good video, of which the following is an example part:

Example from BBC video on the Red Sea resulting from a cliff fall at northern Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, 3rd April 2013

BBC News Devon, Article online, 4th April 2013.

"Landslip at Oddicombe beach turns sea red

'Red Sea' in Torquay after cliff collapse.
A landslip at a beach in south Devon has turned the sea in the area red and caused an already partially collapsed empty house to be further damaged. Thousands of tonnes of earth and stone were estimated to have fallen at Oddicombe beach on Tuesday night, Torbay Council said. A section of the beach has been closed as a result. The collapse follows a seawall between Torquay and Paignton being breached earlier in the week.
The area is famous for its red earth and sandstone. The collapsed house, in one of the most expensive areas of Torquay, has been uninhabitable for some time. It used to have a large cliff-facing garden, which has eroded away over several years, and part of the house itself went down a neighbouring cliff in December.
Staff at Oddicombe's beach cafe said the business was to remain open. ........

Last December, Torbay Council said a major landslip was "imminent" at Oddicombe, after it got the results of a geological survey. The entire beach was closed for several days in 2010 after a landslide which brought down about 5,000 tonnes of sandstone..."

Note that a comment is made by a local person during the video that an offshore rock has been destroyed by this rock fall. Was this the prominant stack at Gentlemens Bathing Place?

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Video of the Oddicombe Rock Fall in 2013

An interesting video of the Oddicombe Rock Fall has been made by Kim Aldis. Go to his website for this and more Torquay matters at:

Kim Aldis - The Weekly Picture

Kim Aldis is a photographer based in the Torbay area of England's S. Devon. Retired from a highly successful career in CGI, animation and VFX for TV and film, he now spends his time photographing the people, landscapes and the seascapes of Devon, Torquay and the Torbay coastline.


Note, particularly that this seems to show some forward, seaward bulk movement before the final rock fall. If this is the case, it might suggest that this is not a simple rock fall but that it might also have a slip-plane or shear plane of the usual curved landslide type. Such a slip-plane would explain the initial subsidence of the garden area of Ridgemont House.


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(Devonian limestone headland north of North Oddicombe Beach, Babbacombe, Torquay, and south of Petit Tor Cove)

Aerial view of Petit Tor Point, Babbacombe, Torquay, Devon, by the Channel Coastal Observatory

Petit Tor Point, Babbacombe, Torquay, Devon, a headland of Devonian Limestone, April 2011

The Devonian,  Torquay Limestone at the Gentlemen's Bathing Place at the north end of Oddicombe North Beach, the first part of the Petit Tor headland, Torquay, Devon

Torquay Limestone Formation at the Gentlemen's Bathing Place, Petit Tor promontory, northern end of Oddicombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, 2011

The Torquay Limestone Formation of Petit Tor is easily accessible at the Gentlemen's Bathing Place, northern end of Oddicombe North Beach.

Fissured Devonian limestone at Gentlemen's Bathing Place, south side of the Petit Tor Point  peninsula, Babbacombe, Torquay, Devon, April 2011

The Torquay Limestone Formation of the Gentlemen's Bathing Place is very fissured. Shown above are cross-fissures which seem to have formerly been open joints. These have since received a partial filling of red sediment, followed by closure by white calcite. The red filling is broadly geopetal and an initial view suggests that the dip has not changed greatly since the introduction of this red material. The photograph above shows this, but in an east-west direction, without indication the orientation in a north-south direction.

In hot, dry desert environments, carbonate bedrock is often shattered by severe daily temperature changes and by very rare water erosion. Exposed dolomite bedrock, shown above in a desert environment at Wadi Faras, at the margin of the Hun Graben, Libya is openly fractured. This is probably quite a good model for the harsh Permian desert environment. In that case the Devonian Torquay Limestone was the bedrock and the northern part of Oddicome Bay, was a location adjacent to desert bedrock slopes similar to those shown here.

The Devonian Torquay Limestone at Petit Tor Quarry, Torquay, Devon, 2010

Shown above is Petit Tor Quarry at the end of the small peninsula. Here the the limestone was quarried for ornamental "marble". Large number of the straight nautiloid Orthoceras were once found in this quarry. However the marble vendors of the past removed rock containing these because it was very ornamental when polished. Ussher (1903) suggested that it was no longer worth-while to search for these.

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Petit Tor Beach

Petit Tor Beach, north of Babbacombe, Torquay, Devon, photograph courtesy and copyright of Philip Wills

A view northwest across Petit Tor Beach, Torquay, Devon

Petit Tor Beach, looking south across the beach to the small quarry on Petit Tor Point, Torquay, photograph by Philip Wills

Petit Tor Beach and quarry in about 1840, Torquay, Devon, copyright of Philip Wills

I am very grateful to Philip Wills who kindly provided the above images. The last of these shows a pointed pillar in about 1840. He has photographed this pillar on the beach and this can be seen in a photograph above. Forty years ago he visited this beach by rowing from Watcombe. He discovered an hexagonal column on the beach which he assumed came from one of the buildings that once existed here.

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SHAG CLIFF (North of Petit Tor Beach)

Shag Cliff north of Petit Tor Beach, Torquay, Devon, 2011

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Babbacombe Beach
(South of Oddicombe Beach, in the same bay)

Babbacombe Cliffs back a broad a scenic bay. The northern part is Oddicombe Beach (not Babbacombe Beach), discussed above and accessed by the Babbacombe Cliff Railway. Babbacombe Beach is much smaller and to the southeast of this and southeast of Half Tide Rock. It can be accessed on foot or by car by Beach Road, Babbacombe.

Babbacombe Beach seen southeastward from Oddicombe Beach, Babbacombe near Torquay, Devon, April 2011

The pier and the Red Rock at the southeast end of Babbacombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, April 2011

Looking northwest from Babbacombe Beach, south of Oddicombe Beach, Babbacombe, near Torquay, Devon, April 2011

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LOCATION - Babbacombe

Red Rock at the Pier - Igneous Intrusion

Pier and Withy Point at the southeastern end of Babbacombe Beach, Torquay, Devon, 2010, with an igneous intrusion

A closer view of Red Rock, an igneous intrusion into Devonian strata, at Babbacombe Pier, Torquay, Devon, 2011

Withy Point, at the southeastern end of Babbacombe Beach has good exposures of Devonian limestone. Walls Hill above the promontory is composed of the Walls Hill Limestone Member, part of the Torquay Limestone Formation (Devonian). A notable feature is the Red Rocks, which is an igneous intrusion into Devonian strata. This has been described by Shannon (1924). It is a dolerite or microgabbro, and is marked as such on the BGS geological map of Torquay (Sheet 350, Solid and Drift). The dolerite has a basalt selvage [margin] with lateritic alteration. Shannon's detailed description of the intrusion of the Red Rocks of Babbacombe are reproduced below:

"3. The Red Rocks, Babbacombe.

The dark green rock below tide level attracts attention from its being rather like a picrite. The upper red rock is very fine grained but no junction can be traced. The dark green rock contains a large amount of augite, some subophitic but mostly euhedral, with some small grains of olivine. The latter is present in small quantity only and the appearance in hand specimen is deceptive. The original felspar is oligoclase with a tendency to andesine but most is chloritized albite; a certain amount of fresh twinned albite also occurs. Chlorite and calcite are decomposition products. Immediately above this the rock is much calcitized with chlorite and a few olivine pseudomorphs. Apatite in all the sections is large and rather abundant. The iron ore is ilmenite. Immediately below the red rock the dolerite becomes finer grained but is much calcitized, the felspars being oligoclase-andesine and albite. Rounded calcite grains in augite plates are considered to be olivine pseudomorphs. The red rock is entirely unlike the rest, consisting of some very small felspar laths in a nearly opaque ground of iron oxides and limonite. It forms the selvage to the intrusion and is entirely comparable to similar selvages described from Anglesey by E. Greenly (9). An isolated section would most probably be diagnosed as a basalt selvage, with lateritic alteration. These rocks are correlated with the Black Head dolerite on the evidence of olivine, albitization, fresh albite and some quartz haematite veins cutting it, but like the Ilsham Manor rock, it is more basic. It is possible that mineral stratification has occurred in the production of the darker rock at the base, but this is uncertain since the large development of calcite in the lighter rock may explain the differences noted in the field."

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LOCATION - Babbacombe

Half Tide Rock - Igneous Sill

Half Tide Rock, Torquay, Devon, an igneous intrusion into Devonian strata

Half Tide Rock between Babbacombe and Oddicombe beaches is an exposure of an irregular intrusion of soda-porphyrite. According to Lloyd (1933) pillow structure is developed. There are numerous inclusions of slate, and thin veins of igneous rock penetrate the slate but contact alteration is confined to slight hardening ( Lloyd, 1933). Note that an augite-lamprophyre sill occurs in Devonian limestone high in the cliff.

Merriman et al. (2000) have investigated geochemically the origin of the Devonian igneous rocks of Torquay and neighbouring regions. They concluded that the altered mafic volcanic rocks have filled in passive margin basins of SW England, and are not related to subduction. They were generated by Devonian (and Dinantian) intracontinental rifting.

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Corbyn's Head Torquay ("Corbons Head")

Aerial Photographs

An small-scale aerial photograph of the Channel Coastal Observatory showing part of the coast of southern Torquay, Devon, from Torquay Harbour to Corbyn's Head to Paignton Pier

A vertical aerial photograph at low tide, 2007, of Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, courtesy of the Channel Coastal Observatory

An oblique aerial view of Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon

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Corbyn's Head ("Corbons Head"), Torquay

Location and General Views (including Tor Sands)

A distant view of Corbyn's Head and Livermead Head, seen from above London Bridge, Torquay, Devon, 2010

Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, a general view of the cliffs, looking northeast and with the town behind, 2013

Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, the location of the cliff section of the Corbyn's Head Member

The northern part of Corbyn's Head, near the end of the esplanade, Torquay, Devon, January 2013

On the ledges of Corbyn's Head Member at Corbyn's Head, looking southwest towards Livermead Head, Torquay, Devon, January 2013

The sea wall at the south side of Cornbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, with sandstone beds and conglomerate

A view from Corbyn's Head across Torre Abbey Sands, Torquay, Devon, 2013

Tor Abbey Sands as shown in a postcard from 1905, Torquay, Devon

A view from Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, towards the natural arch of London Door, with a Little Egret on the seaweed

Corbyn's Head (map ref. SX 908632) is at Torbay, south of the main part of the town of Torquay, not far from Torquay Railway Station (it is shown as "Corbons Head" on old geological and topographic maps and in Plate 6 of the the old memoir - Lloyd, 1933). It is the southern end of the Torquay Esplanade and sea wall. The headland is a small, flat-topped, promontory near the coast road; it has a cliff of medium height which is and accessible at low tide. Occasional rock falls have been recorded here (SCOPAC - Hope's Nose, Torquay to Holcombe).

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Corbyn's Head

Old Photographs

Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, in 1928

An old photograph of Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, after Lloyd (1933)

The photograph above has been modified after Lloyd (1933).

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Corbyn's Head

Cliff and Ledge Exposures of the Corbyn's Head Member (Permian, Torbay Breccia Formation)

A vertical sequence at Corbyn's Cliff, Torquay, Devon, showing alluvial fan deposits of the Corbyn's Cliff Member of the Torbay Breccia Formation, photograph by Nikolett Csorvasi, January 2013

A cliff section through distal fan sediments in the Corbyn's Head Member of the Torbay Breccia Formation, Permian, Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, 2013

Details of Permian alluvial fan sediments at Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, as photographed by Nikolett Csorvasi, January 2013

A vertical section through part of the Corbyn's Head Member at Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, showing foresets with mud rip-up clasts, January 2013

The cliff is of multi-coloured breccia and sandstone, nearly horizontal and just with a very low dip. It is regarded as of Permian age, although a late Carboniferous age has also been considered. For an introduction to Permian geology in this region see the classic work of (Durrance and Laming, 1982).

The cliff section at Corbyn's Head is about 15m thick. The lower part consist of sandstone and the upper part of conglomerate ( Leveridge et al. 2003). The sandstone varies from purplish and reddish brown to buff, pale grey and greenish grey, as can be seen in photographs above. Particle size is medium to coarse. Individual sandstone beds are locally pebbly and show remarkably poor sorting. Pebbles and cobbles form thin breccia or conglomerate beds in places. Clast include sandstone, vein quartz, limestone chert and porphyritic rhyolite [or quartz porphyry] ( Leveridge et al. 2003). As shown in the photographs above there are some desiccation-cracked sheets of red mudstone. Some mudstone layers seem to have been eroded and reworked. Some red clasts are present in dipping foresets of sandstone. Red mud in modern deserts is sometimes referred to as being as hard as adobe, and this may have been true for these rip-up clasts. The thin mud-sheets do not seem thick or extensive and may have been very local rather than deposits of a major lake. Perhaps the mud settled from the final stages of flash floods in local depressions.

The oxidation state here at Corbyn's Head is interesting. It is peculiar that in some cases there are green (i.e. reduced) surrounding halos. Why should there have been reduction around clasts of oxidised material? Although unusual, it is, of course, possible that the Fe oxidation within the mud was actually late. The red colour, rather than brown colour, is probably the result of dehydration of Fe-minerals with burial, temperature and time. Hematite, here is probably post-depositional and the result of early burial diagenesis, as shown occurring in Quaternary times in the Sonoran Desert of Baja California, Mexico (Walker, 1967). Brown goethite-rich sediments can change to a red hematite-rich condition, with burial, a fairly high temperature and with time.

At Corbyn's Head the Corbyn's Head Member, the basal part of the Torbay Breccia Formation, has some other interesting features. This is an area where limestone clasts are often coated with the orbicular coating of chalcedony known as beekite, discussed in more detail elsewhere in this webpage. With regard to beekite see Ussher (1903, p. 110)

Imbrication directions shown by clasts here and at Livermead Head show transport from a westerly direction between a quartzite ridge and a limestone ridge, present at the time. An interesting feature of the cliff section is the presence of some dish structures.

[See also:
Elaine Burt, Richard Scrivener and Sarita McVicar Wright. 2012. Volcaniclastic red beds from the Corbyn's Head Member, Torquay, South Devon. Talk at the Meeting of the Ussher Society, Wednesday 4th January 2012. Probably a paper will be available later.]

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Corbyn's Head, Torquay

Desiccated Mudstone - Comparison with Similar at Holcombe Head, near Dawlish

Mud layers from temporary desert ponds within the Permian Teignmouth Breccia, Hole Head near Dawlish, Devon, photograph by Peter Hawtin

Similar mud layers, but less well-developed are present in the Teignmouth to Dawlish, Devon. Permian Teignouth Breccia at Hole Head, Holcombe, near Dawlish, Devon. This is near the locality named after the adjacent Smuggler's Lane, but the exposure is on seaward rocks and only accessible by boat. See Brookfield (2000) for discussion of similar mud layers in Permian breccias of Scotland as a result of the temporary development of small ponds on pediment breccia and sand deposits. Such an origin in a small and temporary ponds is very likely for the thin mud deposits in the Permian breccias and sands both at Torquay and at Hole Head.

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Corbyn's Head, Torquay

Ledge Exposures of Desiccated Mudstone

Desiccation cracks in red mudstone, Corbyn's Head Member, Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, Jaunary 2012

A close view of desiccation cracks in red mudstone of the Corbyn Head Member, Torbay Breccia Formation, Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, photograph by Nikolett Csorvasi, January 2013

Desiccation-cracked mudstone in the lower part of the Corbyn's Head Member of the Torbay Breccia Formation, Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, photography by Nikolett Csorvasi, January 2013

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Corbyn's Head

Red Mudstone Fractured and Distorted

Sandstone dykes in red mudstone, Corbyn Head, Torquay, Devon, photograph by Nikolett Csorvasi, January 2013

Curled slabs of red clay, lower part of Corbyn's Head Member, Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, photograph by Nikolett Csorvasi, January 2013

Distorted and broken red mudstone in medium to coarse sand, Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, photographed by Nikolett Csorvasi, January 2013

In vertical section near the foot of the cliff at Corbyn's Head, red mudstone can be seen to be distorted and to occur as concave-upward, irregular fragments. These blocks have probably separated by desiccation cracking. Is the displacement the result of slumping or of water injection?

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Corbyn's Head

Early Oxidation of Red Mudstone to Green Mudstone

Reduction of lithified or semi-lithified red mudstone into green lithology, Corbyn's Head, Torquay, Devon, January 2013, photography by Nikolett Csorvasi


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Paignton - Roundham Head, Paignton [SX 896598]

Tor Bay Breccia (with some sandstone beds)

Roundham Head, northeastern part, with cliffs of Torbay Breccia Formation, Permian, Paignton, Devon

Roundham Head, seen from the sea, Paignton, Devon

A sequence of the Torbay Breccia Formation, with cross-bedded sands, at Roundham Head, Paignton, Torbay, Devon, seen from the sea

Torbay Breccia Formation at the southern part of Roundham Head, Paignton, Torbay, Devon, January 2012, photograph by Nikolett Csorvasi

Aeolian sandstone in the Torbay Breccia Formation, Roundham Head, photographed from the sea by Nikolett Csorvasi, Paignton, Devon

Roundham Head, Paignton is briefly described briefly by Laming and Roche (20?? undated). "The easily-accessible south side of the headland shows Tor Bay Breccia of early Permian age, consisting of fragments of limestone, quartzite and some igneous rocks in a sandy matrix, with a layer of wind-blown sand seen best at the eastern end (difficult access) which indicates a northeasterly wind."

At this locality the dip is low and there some local displacement by faulting. Cross bedded sandstone beds occur in the breccia sequence. See: Ussher (1903, p. 110), who included a diagram (his Fig. 16).

In the nearby railway cutting above Roundham Head red sand with buff and grey patches and a clayey band rests on conglomerate with numerous limestone fragments. These clasts contain many examples of the beekite according to Ussher (1903, p. 110). This is a type of chalcedony, reported in old papers on this area. It occurs in the the form of concentric rings, on carbonate material such as fossils or limestone. It was in south Devon that the so-called "orbicular silica" received the name "beekite", after Dr Henry Beek, Dean of Bristol, who first drew attention to the deposits. Later optical has shown that they are aggregates of various fibrous forms of silica with differing optical characters. Separate minerals that may be present include calcedonite, pseudocalcedonite, quartzine, lutecite (the oblique-extinguishing chalcedony associated with evaporites) and lussatite. For some more old information regarding beekite in South Devon see: Hughes (1889).

Ussher (1903, p. 110) further mentioned that a quarry which once existed near Paignton Quay, near Roundham Head, showed purplish grey-mottled loam on thin even-bedded red, grey-mottled sandstones on a breccia or "breccio-conglomerate". He noted that on the south side of Roundham Head there is an occurrence of sandstone in the breccia and "breccio-conglomerate". Sandstone of this type is shown in photographs above taken from the sea. It is shown in the photographs above the breccia beds.

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Berry Head, Brixham

(Photography by Nikolett Csorvasi)

The southeastern side of Berry Head, near Torquay, Devon, photography by Nikolett Csorvasi

Berry Head, seen from a boat, looking towards the southwest, Brixham, Devon, January 2012, photograph by Nikolett Csorvasi

Berry Head, Brixham, Devon, of Devonian Limestone, seen from the sea to the south, January 2012, photograph by Nikolett Csorvasi

An infilled cave in Berry Head Limestone, Brixham, Devon, photograph by Nikolett Csorvasi

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The Head of the School of Ocean and Earth Science, Southampton University, and the staff of the School are particularly thanked for continuing to run this website on the Southampton University system. Although the website is written privately in Romsey and regularly uploaded from there, the computer organisation of Southampton University, iSolutions, have been very helpful in keeping the system running smoothly online from their server.

I am particularly grateful to the Staff of the Centre for Environmental Science, School of Civil Engineering and the Environment at Southampton University, for help and advice and information on many field trips to the Torquay area. I particularly thank Dr. Malmcolm Hudson, Dr. Paul Kemp, Dr. Simon Kemp and Dr. John Jones for help on the various sessions of field work. I am very much obliged to the many students over the years who have attended field trips to the Torquay area. Some of them appear in the photographs. I thank Oleksandra Pedchenko for a photograph of the Thamnopora. My wife Cathy helped me undertake examination of proven and possible raised beach remains at Hope's Nose and Berry Head in the early 1970s and this is very much appreciated. The Torquay Museum has kindly provided helpful information with regard to past student project work in the area. I thank Philip Wills for kindly sending me photographs of Petit Tor beach and allowing me to use them on this website. In particular, I am very much obliged to Nikolett Csorvasi, geologist of Torquay Museum for an excellent series of photographs of the Torquay cliffs taken from a boat and from the shores and cliffs. This is a valuable contribution and a significant part of this webpage. I particularly thank Kim Aldis for video and photographs regarding the Oddicombe landslide and in particular for his observations on the rising of the beach at the northern part of Oddicombe Bay.

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Anniss , L.G. 1927. The geology of the Saltern Cove area, Torquay. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, London, vol. 83, part 3, pp. 492-450.

Austen , R.C.A. 1835. An account of the raised beach, near Hope's Nose in Devonshire and other recent disturbances in the neighbourhood. Proceedings of the Geological Society [note - not Proceedings of the Geologists' Association] vol. 2., pp. 102-103.

Austen, R.C.A. 1842. On the geology of the south-east of Devonshire. Transactions of the Geological Society, London, vol. 6, pp. 433-489.

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Baron, M., Hilier, S., Rice, C.M., Czapnik, K., and Parnell, J. 2003. Fluids and hydrothermal alteration assemblages in a Devonian gold-bearing hot-spring system, Rhynie, Scotland. Transactions of the Royal Society of Edinburgh: Earth Sciences. vol. 94, pp. 309-324. Published online: 26 July 2007.
Hydrothermal alteration at Rhynie, Aberdeenshire, Scotland, is concentrated along a fault zone, which juxtaposes surface deposits and the mineralised feeder zone to the Rhynie hotspring system. Mineralisation consists of breccias and veins filled with quartz, chert, calcite, K-feldspar and pyrite. Associated pervasive alteration comprises a high-temperature K-feldspar quartz-illite facies (formed at 250–350°C), a medium-temperature mixed layered illite/smectite quartz-K-feldspar-chlorite-calcite facies (formed at 150–200°C) and a low-temperature mixed layered illite/smectite-chlorite-calcite facies (formed at 100 to +150°C). The fluids responsible for mineralisation were mainly moderate- to high-temperature (Th = 91–360°C), low-salinity (less than 0·2 to 2·9 wt.% NaCl eq.) H2O-NaCl - heated meteoric fluids comparable to modern and ancient hot-spring systems. The migration of these fluids was mainly restricted to a major fault zone bounding the Devonian basin. Fluids responsible for mineralisation, alteration and cementation elsewhere in the basin were low-temperature (Th 57 to 161°C), low- to high-salinity (less than 0·2 to 18 wt.% NaCl eq.) H2O-NaCl fluids, which resemble basinal brines.
Benton, M.J., Cook, E. and Turner, P. 2000. Permian and Triassic Red Beds and the Penarth Group of Great Britain. GCR (Geological Conservation Review), Series No. 24, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough, 337 pp.
British Geological Survey (BGS) . 2004. Geological Map - Torquay, England and Wales, Sheet 340, 1:50,000 Series, Solid and Drift. British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham. Available from the BGS Bookshop online for £12 and recommended. Sheet explanation booklet is is available for £9. Sheet Description (report) for map E350 is £35. Old Geological Survey memoirs relating to this sheet are those of Ussher (1903) and of Lloyd (1933)(see references below).

British Geological Survey (BGS) -
Leveridge , B.E., Scrivener, R.C, Goode, A.J.J. and Merriman, R.J. 2003a. Geology of the Torquay District: a brief explanation of the geological map, Sheet 350, Torquay. British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, 34 pp. Abridged by A.A. Jackson from the Sheet Description of the British Geological Survey, 1:50,000 Sheet 350, Torquay, England and Wales. Price in 2010 - 9 pounds sterling [This is the short, inexpensive, summary version.]

British Geological Survey (1933). By Lloyd, W. 1933. The Geology of the Country around Torquay. Second Edition, revised of: Ussher, W.A.E. The Geology of the Country around Torquay. With Palaeontology by C.P. Chatwin, M.Sc. and a Chapter on the Petrography of the Igneous Rocks by W.G. Shannon, D.Sc., F.G.S. London, His Majesty's Stationery Office, 169pp. Original price 4 shillings.

British Geological Survey. - Ussher, W.A.E. 1903. The Geology of the Country around Torquay (explanation of [BGS Geological Survey Map] Sheet 350). Memoirs of the Geological Survey of England and Wales [predecessor of the British Geological Survey], 142pp. Published by Order of the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury. London, original price Two Shillings. By William Augustus Edmond Ussher. Reprinted as a facsimile by the Book Depository and available for £19. 38p. and can now be purchased through Amazon.

British Geological Survey. - Ussher, W.A.E. 1913. The Geology of the Country around Newton Abbot. By W.A.E. Ussher, F.G.S., with contributions by Clement Reid, F.R.S.; J.S. Flett, M.A., D.Sc.; and D.A. MacAlister, A.R.S.M. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of England and Wales, Explanation of Sheet 339, Newton Abbot. Published by order of the Lords Commissioner of His Majesty's Treasury, H.M. Stationery Office. 149pp. with two plates of photomicrographs and with an Appendix - List of Principal Works on the Geology of the District.

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Braithwaite, C.J.R. 1964. Middle Devonian Sedimentation in South Devon. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of London, 375pp, 243 illustrations.

Braithwaite, C.J.R. The petrology of Middle Devonian Limestones in South Devon, England. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, vol. 36, part 1, pp 176-192.

Braithwaite, C.J.R. 1967. Carbonate environments in the middle Devonian of South Devon, England. Sedimentary Geology, vol. 1, pp. 283-320. By C.J.R. Braithwaite of the Department of Geology, The University of Dundee, Dundee Great Britain.
Evidence of depositional processes in the sedimentation of Middle Devonian carbonate rocks in south Devon is presented. It can be resolved into two groups.
1. (1) Palaeontological evidence suggests that (a) there were a number of restricted environments, and (b) rates of sedimentation were slow, to allow both for the normal growth of corals and stromatoporoids and to allow the growth of other organisms, corals, stromatoporoids, algae, or debris derived from these.
2. (2) Much of the physical evidence suggests a rapid mode of deposition, thick muddy beds packed with large disoriented fossils, and other coarse, poorly sorted, clastic beds with current influenced structures. One way of reconciling these opposing views is to suggest that during the bulk of time depositional rates were low, allowing the growth of organisms, but that periodically disturbances occurred which detached organisms from growth sites, sometimes transporting them and depositing debris elsewhere. These produced sudden influxes of mud in some areas, killing off corals, whereas adjacent sites could have been subject to emergence and/or erosion. The carbonates occupied a linear belt of shallow water, perhaps to the north of a low-lying land mass. Sedimentary structures within the limestones, and the apparent relationship of these rocks to enclosing sediments, indicate that the organisms concerned did not at any time form a continuous wave resistant structure comparable with a modern reef.

Brookfield, M.E. 2000. Temporary Desert Lake Deposits, Lower Permian (Rotliegendes) Southern Scotland, U.K. Chapter 4, pp. 67-73 in: Gierlowski-Kordesch, E.H. and Kelts, F.R. 2000. Lake Basins Through Space and Time. AAPG Studies in Geology. No. 46. The American Association of Petroleum Geologists. Edited by: Elizabeth H. Gierlowski-Kordesch and Kerry R. Kelts. Paper by M.E. Brookfield, Land Resource Science, Guelph University, Guelph, Ontario, Canada.
[The descriptions of the alluvial fan and pediment ponds relates well to the examples of such pond deposits in the Permian breccias at Corbyn's Head, Torquay (this Torquay webpage) and one present at Hole Head, near the Parson and Clerk rocks, Holcombe, near Dawlish ( Teignmouth to Dawlish - webpage)]
Relevant extracts from the Introduction etc:
During the Late Carboniferous to Early Permian, a large lowland desert developed over the whole of southern Scotland.
Several desert basins were eroded into softer Carboniferous sediments preserved in postdepositional grabens within the lower Palaeozoic Southerh Uplands massif (Figure 1) (Brookfield, 1978, 1980; Glennie, 1982)......
Northwesterly directed faulting then formed the isolated graben of the Moffat, Lochmaben, and Dumfries basins to the south and east. In these grabens marginal alluvial fan sequences are dominated by immature streamflood and sheetflood breccias and sandstones with interbedded aeolian sandstones that pass basinward into into massive dune sandstones. Depositional facies are those of very arid intermontane basins summarised in Figure 2 (Brookfield, 1980; Nielsen, 1982). The fan deposits have anguular, poorly sorted clasts and often contain abundant well-rounded, reworked, coarse aeolian sand and reworked ventifacts derived from the fan surfaces. Silt and clay are rare and probably were mostly removed by the wind; nevertheless rare silt and clay beds are occasionally interbedded with the pediment, alluvial fan, and aeolian deposits.
These fine-grained sediments were deposits in ephemeral ponds and lakes and provide additional data on palaeoenvironments. Such deposits are rarely described from sections of ancient and desert deposits because the most impressive units are the alluvial and eolian deposits (cf. Brookfield, 1984).
The purpose of this paper is to record the facies and paleoenvironments of the rare lake and pond deposits of an ancient arid intermontane desert, compare them with modern examples, and note their significance for paleoenvironmental interpretation. Detailed descriptions of the associated facies and justification of the assigned processes and environments are in Brookfield (1978, 1979, 1980, 1989).
Section - Alluvial Fan and Pediment Ponds
After floods, silts and clays can be seen settling out of suspension in small ponds on pediments and alluvial fans. Due to the slope of pediments and the slope and porosity of fans in very arid environments, such pond deposits are exceedingly small, short-lived and likely to be removed during later flash floods; nevertheless such pond deposits can occasionally be preserved beneath overlyin deposits.
In the Thornhill basin, thin pond deposits occur between basalt eruptions on the incised pediments. Figure 3A shows fine-grained sediments deposited in a depression between two successive lava flows. the seidments consist of of two fining-upward cycles, each of which starts with an erosion surface on which rests cross-bedded, graded pebbly sandstone. This is overlain by alternating thin beds of graded sandstones passing up into planar laminated micaceous siltstones overlain by mud-cracked silty mudstone. Each fining-upward sandstone-siltstone bed is between 20 and 50cm thick and probably marks the waning stages of successive sheetfloods across the pediment due to overflows from incised pediment channels. Successive mudcracked surfaces within the overlying mudstone unit indicates sporadic rainfall and redistribution of fine sediment before the next major flood. The end of this particular pond is marked by a thin eolian lag, covered by the next basalt eruption.
.... continues

Busz, K. 1893. Note on igneous rocks, Babbacombe Bay. Sitz. d. Niederrheinische Gesellsch. Bonn., Germany. p. 95. By Dr. K. Busz.

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Camm, G.S. 1995. Gold in the Counties of Cornwall and Devon. First published 1995 by Cornish Hillside Publications, St. Austell. By G. Simon Camm. Printed and bound by the Short Run Press Ltd., Exeter, Devon. ISBN 0 9519419 7 6. Price £35 plus shipping (in 2012).

The cover of a book on natural gold occurrences in Devon and Cornwall, England

[type of book: this is both geological and historical and very interesting in type. It gives the names of obscure and rare minerals and explains their chemical composition. It has useful diagrams showing concentrations and fluid migration directions. It is basically easy and informative reading for anyone with a basic geological background and does not require specialist knowledge of ore mineralogy or orefield fluids. It is very well and clearly illustrated with colour pictures of gold. It contains a section on gold panning. It has a good reference list. I think that the reader will be sorry to finish it, but it remains a source of reference. It would be even better if it was twice as long. The book is recommended for purchase.]
Carozzi, A.V. 1961. Reef petrography in the Beaverhill Lake Formation, Upper Devonian, Swan Hills area, Alberta, Canada. Journal? Vol,31, pp. 497-513.

Cattell, A.C. 1997 The development of loess-bearing soil profiles on Permian breccias in Torbay. Proceedings of the Ussher Society, vol. 9, pp. 168-172

Cattell, A. C. 2000. Shallow foundation problems and ground conditions in Torbay. Geoscience in South-West England, [Proceedings of the Ussher Society], vol. 10, pp.068-071
Problems with shallow foundations are unusually common in Torbay. Subsidence cases run at perhaps twice the rate (per head of population) of other urban areas in South West England. The distribution of cases in Torbay is controlled by the underlying geology. Dramatic problems are associated with solution features in the Devonian limestones, but although these can be severe, they are not common, and the firm silty clays developed on the limestones do not normally give rise to problems. Ground conditions on the Devonian slates, sandstones and igneous rocks are generally good, although movement due to shrink-swell of residual highly plastic silty clay soils is known locally. Problems associated with soils developed on Permian breccias are both very common and often severe: these are sometimes associated with loess horizons within the soil profile. Amongst the breccias, problems are much more common on the Oddicombe Breccia than on the Watcombe Breccia. The worst ground conditions occur where thick colluvial deposits are developed on lower hillslopes on the Oddicombe Breccia; the colluvial soils are unconsolidated sandy silts which are very susceptible to loss of strength on wetting. [end of abstract]

[brief extract regarding the Oddicombe Breccia, the strata involved in the major rock fall at northern Oddicombe Beach.
The frequency of subsidence problems in shallowly founded buildings correlates strongly with bedrock in Torbay, the likelihood of problems on Oddicombe Breccia being roughly twenty times the likelihood on other rock types. On Devonian slates and tuffs, the most common problem is seasonal movements caused by shrink-swell of silty clay residual soils, but such cases are uncommon. On limestones, problems are caused by karstic features: the problems can be severe, but are rare.
On the Oddicombe Breccia, problems are caused by leaking services wetting the soils. Colluvial soils developed on the Oddicombe Breccia are extremely prone to loss of strength on wetting. Problems are most common and most severe at the base of slopes, where the colluvial soils are thickest."]

Clayden, A.W. 1906. The History of Devonshire Scenery; an Essay in Geographical Evolution. Book by Arthur William Clayden. 202 pp. Available in paperback from Amazon, 14 pounds, 31p. Digitised by Google and available online. Includes: Introduction; The Devonian Rocks of North Devon ; The South Devon Rocks; The Culm of Devon; etc.
Cowper-Reed, F.R. 1920. Notes on the Lower Devonian Beds of Torquay. Geological Magazine, pp. 129, 341.

Cowper-Reed, F.R. 1921. Fauna of the Lower Devonian Beds of Torquay, Geological Magazine, p. 313.
Daily Mail Reporter. 2010. No wonder they got it cheap: Clifftop home loses its garden just six days after new owner paid bargain price of 150,000 pounds. 24th February 2010. [re Oddicombe Beach, Torquay]. ........
Brief extracts: Ridgemont House now sits just 50ft from the edge of the 300ft cliff. The home was deserted by its last owners who feared it was too unsafe
........ A homeowner who splashed out 150,000 pounds on a clifftop house suffered a property crash just days later - when the bottom of the garden collapsed in a massive rock fall. The large six-bedroom property was sold for the bargain price because of its precarious position overlooking Oddicombe Beach in Torquay, Devon. It was bought for 150,000 pounds last week, but just six days later more than 5,000 tonnes of rock at the bottom of the garden collapsed into the beach below.
......... Luckily no-one was hurt but Ridgemont House lost a 'substantial' chunk of its land and now sits just 50ft from the edge of the 300ft cliff. One neighbour said: 'Apparently the cliff collapse was sparked when a large boulder the size of a Transit Van fell off and the whole lot went. 'It happened in the middle of the night so no-one saw how bad it was until daylight. It was a huge cliff fall. 'Ridgemont House lost a large chunk of its land - it was only sold last week. Whoever bought it took a big risk - the timing was pretty terrible.' ........ A Torbay Council spokesman said the beach below has now been closed for fear of further rock falls. He said: 'The 5,000-tonne rock fall was from the unstable sandstone cliffs to the rear of north beach. Secondary rock falls are still occurring and the whole of Oddicombe Beach will now be closed for several days.' ..... [continues]
[see full report, which includes an aerial photograph]

Devon County Council. 20??. undated. Devon's Rocks - A Geological Guide.
"Welcome to our guide to the rocks of Devon. This webpage contains guides to 13 different rock types found in Devon. We hope you find the information provided is appropriate for your requirement, either for leisure or study. Different levels of information is provided, which is designed for those with a general interest in rocks, along with more advanced technical descriptions.
Click on either the map or the rock name in the key below to open a PDF which contains:
a basic description of the rock type
a more technical explanation of the geology
photographs of the rock type
how the rock type has been used
recommendations of where the rock type can be visited
Also, at the bottom of this page there are links to an 'Introduction to the Geology of Devon' and a document called 'Devon's Rocks - A Geological Guide' which is a compilation of all 13 rock type guides.
Dinely, D.L. 1961. The Devonian System in South Devonshire. Field Studies, vol. 1, part 3, 20pp.
Drummond, M.E. 1982. The geology of the Devonian limestones of the Brixham-Dartington area, South Devon. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of Newcastle.
Durrance, E.M. and Laming, D.J.C. (Eds) 1982. The Geology of Devon. University of Exeter Press. 346 pp. ISBN 0 85989 247 6. This is a key publication on the area. (reprinted in 1985 as a paperback, and in 1993)
"Preface: Geological Field Work: It has often been remarked that geology is a subject best studied by actually looking at rocks, minerals and fossils, and their structures and relationships, in the field. Therefore, although this book mainly deals with descriptions from an interpretative viewpoint, at the end of each appropriate chapter a number of localities are listed which will serve to illustrate the main points dealt with in the text. The localities are mainly arranged in subject groupings, although some geographical subdivision is also present.... :
Elliott, G.F. 1961. A new British Devonian alga, Palaeoporella lummmatonensis, and the brachiopod evidence of the age of the Lummaton Shell Bed. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, London, vol. 72, part 2, pp. 251-260.
English Riviera Geopark. English Riviera Geopark - Homepage.
Example extract from website:
"In September 2007 the English Riviera received international recognition for its rich geological, historical and cultural heritage, it became one of just 57 areas around the world to endorsed by UNESCO and welcomed into both the European and Global Geopark Networks. Situated within the stunning, rolling hills of South Devon, Torbay's geology has created the beautiful coastline of today, which fundamentally links the rich diversity of landscape with wildlife, people and culture. Undeniably, the geological tale behind the English Riviera Geopark is quite spectacular and one of extremes. From a seascape bathed in the warm and beautiful tropical seas of the Marine Devonian to a landscape of arid, barren Permian desert and from our earliest relatives, living in caves, to modern civilization. The Geopark's outstanding historical contribution, both in terms of the development of geological and archaeological sciences is astounding, from the Huttonian Theory, to the naming of the Devonian Period by Sedgwick and Murchison and even Pengelly's discoveries influencing world wide public opinion as to the antiquity of man. .. "[continues].

English Riviera Geopark. 200? Section on Early Man. Kents Cavern details etc.
See online details at: English Riviera Geopark - Early Man.
Fenton, M.A. 1930-1931. A Devonian stromatoporoid reef. American Midland Naturalist, vol. 12, part 7, pp. 195-202.
Gordon , W.T. 1922. Native gold at Torquay, Devonshire. Nature, 109, p. 583.
[Go to the Torquay Museum to see specimens of Torquay gold. This is dendritic gold from the Devonian limestone of Hope’s Nose, Torquay, a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). The specimens were presented by Professor W.T. Gordon, of Kings College, London, in 1922. He discovered the gold while taking a party of students to Hope's Nose to study the faults in the limestone. See: Torquay Museum Website. The museum is 529 Babbacombe Road, Torquay, Devon.]

Graham, J.R. and Pollard, J.E. 1982. Occurrence of the trace fossil Beaconites antarcticus in the Lower Carboniferous fluviatile rocks of County Mayo. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology, vol. 38, Issues 3-4, July 1982, pp, 257-268. By John R. Graham and John E. Pollard.
Large, straight, curved or sinuous endichnial burrows with a meniscus pattern of infilling are described from Lower Carboniferous red beds of County Mayo, Ireland. The burrows have been identified as Beaconites antarcticus. The burrows show a strong facies association, being concentrated in the upper parts of sandstones deposited during floods in shallow, possibly ephemeral stream channels. They appear to be absent from the overlying non-red fluvial sandstones which show evidence for deeper, more sinuous and more permanent channels. It is suggested that burrowing was related to varying moisture content of the sediment. The burrows were probably formed by locomotory back-packing of arthropods or vertebrates but the precise nature of the producer remains unknown.

Hart, M. B. 2012. The Geodiversity of Torbay. The Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and the Arts, volume 144, pp..
On 6 January 1912, Alfred Wegener presented his new ideas on the ‘origins of continents and oceans’ at the Senckenberg in Frankfurt-am-Main. A century later, his views on continental drift have been overtaken by our understanding of global Earth processes and plate tectonics, but there is no doubt that his views were the inspiration behind our modern science. We now accept that Torbay’s geological history is, therefore, a function of the migration of the area over the surface of the planet from 10°S of the Equator to the present position at 52°N. Superimposed on this northward migration are the global changes in climate over the last 400 million years of Earth history from ice-house to green-house and back to our present ice-house conditions. The coral-rich limestones, red-coloured continental pebble beds and other geodiversity features of Torbay all document this fascinating history, leading to the eventual colonisation of the area by the early hominins. The geological history of Torbay often appears disjointed, with many gaps in the record. Geologists can, however, read these ‘gaps’ as well as the rock record, piecing together a story of shallow-water tropical seas, volcanic eruptions, uplift of mountains and their near-complete erosion, a warm continental desert interlude and the regular appearance and disappearance of the ‘Cornubian Island’. Throughout this history the climate, both locally and globally, has been in constant change and understanding this process is vital if we are to predict our future.
Henson, M.R. 1971. The Permo-Triassic Rocks of South Devon. Unpublished PhD thesis, University of Exeter.

Henson, M.R. 1974. Clay minerals from the Lower New Red Sandstone of South Devon. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, vol. 84, pp 429-445.
The clay mineral composition of 41 samples from localities within the South Devon Lower New Red Sandstone succession was determined using X-ray diffraction. The clay mineralogy of the succession is dominated by illite with subordinate amounts of kaolinite and chlorite, except in the Budleigh Salterton Pebble Beds where kaolinite is predominant. Swelling chlorite and a mixed-layer illite are restricted to the Exmouth Sandstones and Mudstones and Littleham Mudstones. Interpretation of depositional environments based on the clay mineral assemblages are consistent with the sedimentological interpretation of the succession as piedmont fan and fluviolacustrine complexes.
[Note: Teignmouth Breccias have some kaolinite, higher than in the Exmouth Sandstone and Mudstones, but not as high as in the Budleigh Salterton Pebble Bed, the main kaolinite-rich unit. The sequence studied does not extend down to the Watcombe Formation with the Petit Tor Member etc.]
Hobson, B. 1906. The origin and mode of formation of the Permian breccias of the south Devon coast. Geological Magazine, p. 310.
House, M.R. 1963. Devonian ammonoid successions and facies in Devon and Cornwall. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, London. Vol. 199, pp. 1-27. By the late Professor Michael House.

House, M.R. 1964. A new goniatite locality at Babbacombe and its problems. Proceedings of the Ussher Society, Vol. 1, pp. 125-126. A short note, given below, by the late Professor Michael House. ---
On the foreshore and cliff at Babbacombe Beach, Torquay, (SW 929655) grey slates with thin mudstones are exposed intruded by a dolerite which forms Half Tide Rock. Just north-west of the Rock a footpath passes over a small bridge and from the mass of slate beyond, which rises vertically from the shingle of the shore, Mr. A. M. Honeyman of Nottingham University made a collection of small pyritised goniatites and the writer has collected others on later visits. These slates are marked as Eifelian on the Geological Survey maps and are so regarded in the Memoirs (Ussher 1903, p.54 ; Lloyd 1933, p.47). It was with some surprise, therefore, that the fauna proved to be Frasnian. Commonest in the fauna are Pyobelocevas forcipifeyum (G. and F. Sandberger) and Toynoceyas (Tovnoceyas) sp., but Bactrites cf. gracilis (G. and F. Sand.) and “Pleurotomavia” also occur. P. forcipifeyum is a typical Lower Frasnian fossil, and the only other place where it has been recorded in England is at Staverton where it is found with Koenenites, another guide to the Lower Frasnian Lunulicosta Zone (Middleton 1960, p.194, House 1963, p.7). The set of fossils noted here has been presented to the Oxford University Museum (D290-D305). Above the slates exposed near Half Tide Rock, limestones form Babbacombe Cliff, and these are usually supposed to be Middle Devonian in age. There are many outcrops along the maize of paths in the undercliff. If the Middle Devonian age of these can be confirmed, then the sequence here is inverted. The occurrence of Lower Frasnian slates at Torquay is interesting in itself, for hitherto the oldest Frasnian fossils known have been the Cordatum Zone Beloceras and Manticoceras from Petit Tor Combe (House op. cit. p.8), and from this it has been inferred that part at least of the top of the massive limestones were Lower Frasnian. This may still be the case, and the new Babbacombe locality may represent a shale development rather higher in the Lower Frasnian. This find serves to demonstrate the danger of identifying Eifelian shales on lithology alone.
(References : House, M. R., 1963. Devonian ammonoid successions and facies in Devon and Cornwall. Quart. Jour. Geol. Soc., Vol. 119, p.1-27. Lloyd, W., 1933. The geology of the country around Torquay (2nd Ed.). Mem. Geol. Surv. Middleton, G. V., 1960. Spilitic rocks in south-east Devonshire. Geol. Mag., Vol. 97, p.192-207.) Usser, W. A. E., 1903. The geology of the country around Torquay. Mem. Geol. Surv.)

House, M.R. and Selwood, E.B. 1964. Palaeozoic palaeontology in Devon and Cornwall. In: Hosking, K.F.G. and Shrimpton, G.T. (Editors). Present Views of Some Aspects of the Geology of Devon and Cornwall. Publication of the Royal Geological Society of Cornwall, Penzance, pp. 44-86.

Howard, A.D. and Selby, M.J. 2009. Rock Slopes. In: Parsons, A.J. and Abrahams, A. D. Geomorphology of Desert Environments, 2009, Part 3, pp. 189-232. [Concerned with sheeting etc on sloping rock faces. It may or may not be relevant to generation of clasts in Permo-Triassic breccias of Devon]
Hughes, T.M.M. [T.M. McKenny Hughes] 1889. On the manner of occurrence of Beekite and its bearing upon the origin of Siliceous Beds of Palaeozoic Age. By T. M. McKenny Hughes, M.A., F.R.S., Woodwardian Professor of Geology, Cambridge. Read May 7th, 1889. Mineralogical Magazine, vol. 8. pp. 265-271. Mineralogical Society. [paper available online: Hughes, 1889. On the manner of occurrence of beekite.. etc.]
"In the New Red breeciated conglomerate of the coast of South Devon there are numerous fragments of Devonian limestone, on the weathered exterior of some of which botryoidal and concentric chalcedony is commonly found. There does not seem to be anything in the nature of the material to call for a new name from a mineralogical point of view; but, as the ettalcedonic shells to be described are peculiar in their mode of occurrence and form and are locally called Beekites, and the mineral is commonly spoken of as Beekite, after Dr. Beek, Dean of Bristol, who first called attention to it, I will use the word where convenient. The subject is not new; but I approach it from a different point of view from that of previous writers, and offer what seem to me to be some important corrections as to matters of fact." [continues...]

Hunt , A.R. 1888. The Raised Beach on the Thatcher Rock: Its shells and their teaching. Reports and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol. 20, 225-253. By Arthur Roope Hunt. Published by the Devonshire Association. Book digitised by Google from the library of Princeton University. Reports and Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol. 20, 1888.
In the spring of 1881, I forwarded a small parcel of shell-fragments, collected on the Raised Beach on the Thatcher Rock in Torbay, to the late Mr. J. Gwyn Jeffreys for identification. In return I received the following letter, dated 1st May, 1881.
"My Dear Sir, - I have examined and will return tomorrow your shell-fragments. They are in one box, Cardium echinatum and C. edule; in the smaller box, (1) Mytilus modiolus, (2) Cyprina islandica, (3) Venus gallina, (4) Venus faciata, (5) Tellina balthica, (6) Solen vagina, (7) Littorina littorea, (8) Natica alderi, (9) Buccinum undatum, (10) Pleuromya turriculata, (11) fragment of the bone of a dog or rabbit.
Yours very truly,
J. Gwyn Jeffreys
The fragments of cockle were in separate parcels, and on counting them I found that out 142 pieces forwarded 106 represented C. echinatum, and 36 C. edule.

Jack, M., 2007. 'Ancient Forests of the South Devon Coast: 8,000 years of changing vegetation determined by pollen analysis', Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and the Arts, volume 139, pp. 293-331.
Along the South Hams coast, peat remains are the only trace of the formerly abundant woodland. Close to, and on the coastal shelf, sediments have been eroded, re-created and exposed many times during the Quaternary, but most have not been recorded. This paper focuses on lowland peat formed during the last 8,000 years within the coastal lithology of several near-shore south Devon valleys now impounded by coastal barriers. As the outcome of a research project that spanned twelve years, the paper reports findings from nine sites located in Tor Bay, Start Bay, Lannacombe Bay, the Salcombe estuary, Bigbury Bay, and Wembury Bay. In all, some 44 sediment cores were taken and subjected to pollen and macrofossil analysis. Fifteen radiocarbon dates were obtained, thereby establishing a woodland chronology for the region. The previously unrecorded Holocene valley sediments focused upon in this study reveal the changing woodland species communities that existed in settings close to the English Channel in the past. Moreover, it has been possible to identify responses in the woodland communities to environmental changes such as episodes of flooding and the increasing interference in the landscape by early human settlers such as tree clearance and farming. The findings for the South Hams are related to those published by other authors for sites elsewhere in southern England.

Jukes-Browne, A.J. 1907. The age and origin of the Plateaux around Torquay. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, London, vol. 63, p. 106.

Jukes-Browne, A.J. 1907. The age of the Torquay Plateau. Geological Magazine, p. 179.

Jukes-Browne, A.J. 1907. Hills and Valleys of Torquay. Private publication.

Jukes-Browne, A.J. 1913. Devonian limestones of Dartington and their equivalents at Torquay. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, London, vol. 24, p. 14.

Jukes-Browne, A.J. 1913. The making of Torbay. Journal of the Torquay Natural History Society, vol. 4. Jukes-Brown, A.J. 1913. The lost land of Torbay. Journal of the Torquay Natural History Society, vol. 5.
Laming, D.J.C. (Deryck Laming) 1966. Imbrications, paleocurrents and other sedimentary features in the Lower New Red Sandstone, Devonshire, England. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, vol. 17, pp. 23-28.

Laming, D.J.C. 1969. A guide to the New Red Sandstone of Tor Bay, Petit Tor and Shaldon. Report and Transaction of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, vol. 101, pp. 207-218. By Deryck Laming.

Laming, D.J.C. and Roche, D. 20?? undated [seen online - 26th January 2013] Permian Breccias, Sandstones and Volcanics. 6pp. with colour illustrations. Devon Geology Guide, Devon County Council. By Deryck Laming and David Roche.
A short pdf file that downloads quickly. [This is a brief account that is presumably to give introductory information to the public. See other Laming publications for more technical detail.]
Contents: Brief Description, p.1, Geological Detail, p.2, Uses, p. 3, Places to Visit, p. 4, Photographs, p. 6 (last page).
[Example extract from the start:]
"Brief Description.
Breccias and sandstones are types of rocks which are found in Devon dating from a geological time named the Permian period. Both these types of rocks are generally known as sedimentary rocks. Sedimentary rocks form when material or sediment is deposited and compacted to form a rock. Breccias get their name from the definition of the word 'breccia' which means rubble. The rock of this type found in Devon is formed of angular gravels. Sandstone is a rock which is formed of sand grains which are compacted and cemented together. Both the breccias and sandstones seen in Dorset were formed in tropical desert conditions about 250 and 300 million years ago.
The Permian red rocks were deposited as gravels and sands, formed by erosion of high mountains to the west, which had been created by earth movements following the continental collision in the preceding Carboniferous time period.
Deep canyons led eastward from the mountain flanks down to a large desert plain over east Devon and beyond. Occasional storms in the uplands sent flash floods down the canyons, carrying large amounts of loose rock, sand and mud, and large fans of gravelly sediment were laid down. Sand grains were picked up by the wind from these deposits and were blown into sand dunes." ....... [continues].

Leake, R.C., Bland, D.J., Styles, M.T. and Cameron, D.G. 1991. Internal structure of south Devon Au-Pd-Pt grains in relation to low temperature transport and deposition. Transactions of the Institution of Mining and Metallurgy, Section B. (Applied Earth Science), vol. 100, pp. 159-178.

Leake, R.C., Cameron, D.G., Bland, D.J., Styles, M.T. and Rollin, K.E. 1992. Exploration for Gold in the South Hams District of Devon. British Geological Survey Technical Report, WF/92/2. BGS Mineral Reconnaisance Programme Report 121.

Leake, R.C., Cameron, D.G., Bland, D.J., Styles, M.T. and Fortey, N.J. 1997. The Potential for Gold Mineralisation in the British Permian and Triassic Red Beds and Their Contacts with Underlying Rocks. British Geological Survey, Mineral Reconnaisance Programme Report 144.
Includes [small extract from the Introduction, p.1] :
"Gold solution chemistry indicates that the precipitation of gold could occur within the stability field of hematite, where sulphate is the dominant sulphur species. This can result in the separation of gold from most other metallic elements, which remain in solution under these conditions. In Devon the Permian sequence includes alkali basalts and unusual alkali lamprophyric lavas, and these igneous rocks may represent the ultimate source of much of the gold and, more particularly, palladium and platinum. The present study was designed to look for evidence of gold in environments considered to be geologically favourable and to establish whether the presence of alkali basalt, which apart from Devon, occurs within the Permian sequence only in Southern Scotland, is important for the occurrence of gold and/or platinum group minerals."

Leake, R.C. 2001. Gold in Britain and Ireland. Summary of lecture presented to the Society on Saturday 8th December 2001 by Dr Bob Leake, of B.G.S. Mercian Geologist, 2002, vol. 15, part 3. p. 180. Available online:
Gold in Britain and Ireland - Lecture. One page only with three literature references.
Example extract:
"Finding gold by panning alluvial sediment has often been the first step in exploration that eventually led to the discovery of gold-bearing mineralisation. Systematic study of alluvial gold grains began at BGS in the mid-80s after the acquisition of an automated electron microprobe machine capable of mapping the distribution of elements within individual grains. Initial work on alluvial gold from South Devon showed a great deal of internal compositional heterogeneity to be present, particularly in palladium and silver contents, which often revealed how the grain had grown over time. In addition, microscopic inclusions of different varieties of selenide mineral were observed to be associated with some of the types of gold. The interpretation of the chemical characteristics of the South Devon alluvial gold provided the crucial clues that show that oxidising solutions circulating within Permian red beds were responsible for transporting gold, palladium, platinum and other elements. Deposition then occurred when these fluids penetrated into more reducing rocks below the Permian unconformity, or where they became mixed with more reduced fluids. On the basis of this model, exploration was switched from South Devon, where the Permian cover had largely been removed by erosion, further north to the Crediton Trough, filled with a thick sequence of Permian red beds. Alluvial gold similar to that in South Devon was found at many localities, and gold mineralisation was found subsequently in situ in association with alkali basalt within the Permian red bed sequence. Further application of the model also led to similar gold being found in association with the Mauchline and other Permian red bed basins in Southern Scotland." [continues]

Leveridge , B.E., Scrivener, R.C, Goode, A.J.J. and Merriman, R.J. 2003a. [British Geological Survey - BGS] Geology of the Torquay District: a brief explanation of the geological map, Sheet 350, Torquay. British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham, 34 pp. Abridged by A.A. Jackson from the Sheet Description of the British Geological Survey, 1:50,000 Sheet 350, Torquay, England and Wales. Price in 2010 - 9 pounds sterling [This is the short, inexpensive, summary version.]

Leveridge et al - BGS Sheet Description, Torquay, Devon, 2003

Leveridge, B.E., Scrivener, R.C, Goode, A.J.J. and Merriman, R.J. 2003b. [British Geological Survey - BGS] Geology of the Torquay District. Sheet Description of British Geological Survey, 1:50,000 Sheet 350, Torquay . 41pp. Price in 2010 - 35 pounds sterling. [This is a full version sheet description, with good photographs, and quite large pages of text, but not a substantial, hard cover, book like the old traditional Geological Survey memoirs].
This Sheet Description is an account of the geological map Sheet 350 Torquay, which lies within the county of Devon. The district has had a long association with geology as a science, and in the 19th century fossils from the limestones played a key part in establishment of the Devonian system. Today it has a high concentration of geological Sites of Special Scientific Interest.
The Upper Palaeozoic Devonian and Permian systems form the bedrock of the district. Sedimentary associations similar to those of the Torquay district occur across northwest Europe, formed in basins on the northern margin of the Rhenohercynian oceanic basin. Crustal extension and faulting during the Late Silurian and Devonian resulted in the formation of graben and half-graben. Continental rifting developed sequentially in a northerly direction; the southern basins filled with sediment while those to the north were still in progress of formation. Thus sedimentation varied from basin to basin, and there is no single regional succession. In the Torquay district the sediments were deposited in the Looe Basin and the adjacent South Devon Basin to the north.
A change from terrestrial to marine sedimentation occurred in the early Devonian in the Looe Basin, and marine conditions persisted throughout the remainder of the Devonian. Strata of the Mid and Late Devonian are characterised by grey and purplish red mudstones in the basins and by reef limestones and volcanic rocks on the intervening highs.
The Rhenohercynian basin closed during the Devonian, and deformation migrated northwards during the early Carboniferous and with successive basin inversions, folding, cleavage and thrust development. The successions within the basins of the district were pushed out northward onto the adjacent highs, and the deposits of the highs were thrust onto adjacent basin sequences. When all the basins of the province had closed late in the Carboniferous, continuing stress produced the second regional deformation. This was a synchronous event in the province, producing new structures in the Devonian rocks and in Dinantian rocks elsewhere in the region, and deforming the Silesian rocks to the north of the district. In Britain this deformation has commonly been regarded as the Variscan Orogeny. Regional north-south extension and emplacement of the granite followed at the end of the Carboniferous and in the early Permian. Permian depositional basins of the district were formed in this early postorogenic phase. Rapid erosion produced torrential deposits, red breccias and sandstones, which filled the basins during the Permian.
There is little direct evidence of Mesozoic events in the distict, but marine retreat features record a falling sea level from early Cainozoic times as a 'staircase' of wave-cut platforms; those platforms below 40m OD are related to Quaternary events. Cave systems, such as Kent's Cavern, were formed in Devonian limestones at levels that can be related to still-stands during marine regression; animal remains and artefacts found within the caves are of national importance. Periglacial head deposits of late Pleistocene (Devensian) age commonly infill the smaller valley bottoms or have been exposed on the cliffs by marine erosion. Low sea level during the Pleistocene glaciations caused the river systems to cut down to nearly 40m below OD just offshore. Erosion and deposition of during the Quaternary has produced head, fluvial and marine alluvium, which locally conceals the bedrock.
The Torquay district lies at the eastern end of the southwest England metalliferous province, but beyond the zone of tin and base metal deposits associated with the Dartmoor Granite so that the range of mineral deposits is restricted. Iron ore has been worked in the past and gold has been recorded. Other mineral products include building stone, roadstone and aggregate, brick-making material, pottery clay and mineral pigments. These operations are now closed with the exception of the limestone quarry at Yalberton, which still produces a small quantity of stone.
Geologial factors that have a bearing on land use and development are reviewed briefly in the Applied geology section. Attention is drawn to potential engineering hazards that have a bearing on the future development in the district, for example concealed peat within alluvium and cavities within the limestone. Landslips are recorded in all of the major lithofacies that crop out along the coast and are a significant hazard in this popular holiday area. Additional sources of geological data are listed in the Information sources section and a Reference section is also included.
[end of summary]

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[Lloyd - Link insert and image of memoir added here]
. Memoir of the Geological Survey - Geology of the Country around Torquay, Ussher, revised by Lloyd, 1933]
Lloyd, W. 1933. The Geology of the Country around Torquay [British Geological Survey - BGS] . Second Edition, revised of: Ussher, W.A.E. The Geology of the Country around Torquay. With Palaeontology by C.P. Chatwin, M.Sc. and a Chapter on the Petrography of the Igneous Rocks by W.G. Shannon, D.Sc., F.G.S. London, His Majesty's Stationery Office, 169pp. Original price 4 shillings.
[example extract, p. 1-3, although simpler and less detailed than in the main chapters which follow:]
The present memoir is an account of the geology of the country bordering the lower reaches of the River Dart in south-east Devon. The limits of the area are shown in Fig. 1, which also shows the chief towns and extent of coast line. About one hundred square miles of land are involved, bordering on the east and south-east by some 20 miles of diversified coast revealing excellent exposures of all the formations represented within the map (Sheet 350).
It will be seen that the Torquay district, lying in the extreme northeast, forms but a small part of the area, and for an account of the geology of the Watcombe, Lummaton and Barton districts, north of Torquay, reference should be made to the New Abbot Memoir (Sheet 339).
The area is interesting from an archaeological and historical, as well as from the geological, point of view and is famous for its typical Devon scenery. The River Dart enters the area near Staverton and takes a sinouous course of 14 miles to the sea, affording fine views on either bank; along half of this course, between Totnes and Dittisham, the river trenches the lavas, tuffs, and sills consituting the Ashprington Volcanic Series, the irregular variation of hard and soft beds in the latter determining to a large extent the meandering course of the river. Bold wooded headlands, having a core of hard igneous rock, alternate with picturesque shallow and wide creeks marking the entry of small tributary streams. The large embayment opposite Dittisham, giving a lake-like appearance to the river at this point is due to the erosion of comparitively soft slatey shales which replace the volcanic rocks. Below Dittisham the estuary is dominated on both banks by slopes of hard grits and slates belonging to the Lower Devonian; the continuity of the west bank is broken, however, by the wide inlet of Old Mill Creek, cut out of the softer slates, and by the steep and narrow combe at the foot of which Dartmouth lies.
Alluvial deposits occupy the bed of the estuary about Dartmouth harbour to a proved depth of 110 ft. below low-water mark, which indicates the erosive action exercised by the river at a time when the land hereabouts stood at a much higher level relatively to the sea.
The coastline includes many features closely related to the geological structure. The promontories of Torquay and Berry Head, consisting of hard resistant cores of Devonian rocks, form salients to the square shaped Tor Bay, the erosion of which has been effected largely in the softer Permo-Triassic deposits. The floor of the bay slopes gently and regularly eastward to a depth of 50 ft. along the seaward margin. The shore of the bay presents on a broad scale a fairly regular outline, which may be explained by the fact that marine erosion is now being checked owing to the relative calmness of the partially land-locked waters; and as a consequence of minor prominances being worn away and inlets in softer rock silted up or protected by an accumulation of beach material. In this manner the headlands north and south of Livermead Sands, Roundham Head and the horns of Saltern Cove are being smoothed away by off-shore scour and subaerial denudation; while the low-lying portions of the coast at Torquay, Tor Abbety, Paignton, Goodrington and Broad Sands have been in process of consolidation by the accumulation of recent deposits aided in one or two cases by the construction of sea-walls.
A study of coastal features resulting from differential erosion is afforded by the Torquay promontory; this forms in itself a geologically complex, and its coast yields examples of the varying resistance offered by rocks of different composition, and the consequent formation of bays, headlands, and diverse types of cliff. ...."

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Lowe, D.R. and LoPiccolo, R.D. 1974. The Characteristics and Origins of Dish and Pillar Structures. Journal of Sedimentary Petrology, vol. 44, no. 2, June, pp. 484-501. By Donald R. Lowe and Robert D. LoPiccolo.
Dish structure is defined by the presence of thin, subhorizontal, flat to concave-upward, argillaceous laminations in siltstone and sandstone units. It is commonly associated with vertical or nearly vertical cross-cutting columns and sheets of massive sand termed pillars. Both form commonly in sediment ranging in grain size from coarse-grained siltstone to coarse-grained, conglomeratic sandstone. In sedimentation units greater than about 0.5 m thick, dish structure is faint and neither cuts across nor is cross-cut by other sedimentary structures. In thinner units dish structures commonly cut across primary flat laminations, climbing-ripple cross-laminations, and convolute laminations.
Dish and pillar structures form during the consolidation of rapidly deposited, underconsolidated or quick beds. During gradual compaction and dewatering, semi-permeable laminations act as partial barriers to upward-moving fluidized sediment-water slurries, forcing horizontal flow beneath the laminations to points where continued vertical escape is possible. As water seeps upward through the confining laminations, fine sediment, planar, and low-density grains are filtered out and concentrated in the sediment pore spaces. The resulting clay- and organic-enriched laminations are flat dishes that may be later deformed by the upward pressure of flow around their margins and central subsidence as underlying sediment and water escape. Pillars form during forceful, explosive water escape. It s suggested that the shapes of dishes and pillars within an individual bed can be related to its original water content, thickness, and grain size; to the rate and magnitude of dewatering including consideration of water entering the bed from underlying consolidating sediments; and to the types and distribution of earlier-formed sedimentary structures.
Dish structures cannot be used directly to infer transport or depositional processes. Where dishes are associated with or cut across primary sedimentary structures, the latter indicate deposition from currents. The study, indicates that coarse-grained terrigenous sediments often have pronounced and complex consolidation histories. Many rapidly deposited beds undergo partial liquefaction and fluidization during consolidation but retain sufficient strength to resist wholesale downslope flowage in response to gravity.

Lundberg, J. and McFarlane, D.A. 2013? Kents Cavern - A Field Guide to the Natural History. By Joyce Lundberg and Donald A McFarlane. Go to:
Kents Cavern - A Field Guide to the Natural History.
For more than 150 years researchers at Kents Cavern in Torquay have discovered a sequence of deposits that are now known to cover a half-million year history. This makes this cave unique in Europe and one of the most important cave sites in the world. In this very readable and extremely well illustrated Field Guide, Joyce Lundberg and Donald McFarlane show how the cave first formed and the climatic and geological changes that have determined each stage in its subsequent development. They describe the excavations that revealed its secrets to William Pengelly in the 19th century and to others who have built on his work.
The Guide then takes you on a tour of the cave. At each stop the authors describe the evidence on which our understanding of its development is built. They provide clear and authoritative information, backed by clear diagrams and photographs, so that, using the Guide, you can see for yourself how the complex story of Kents Cavern has been unravelled.
Published by the William Pengelly Cave Studies Trust. £5. See details online.

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Merriman , R.J., Evans, J.A., and Leveridge, B.E. 2000. Devonian and Carboniferous volcanic rocks associated with the passive margin sequence of south-west England; some geochemical perspectives. Geoscience in south-west England; Proceedings of the Ussher Society, vol. 10, 77-85. Read at the Annual Conference of the Ussher Society, January 2000.
Altered mafic volcanic rocks form a major component of the Palaeozoic sequences filling passive margin basins in SW England. They were generated by Devonian and Dinantian intracontinental rifting and form submarine lava flows and pyroclastic deposits as well as minor intrusions. Trace element and Sm-Nd isotope data indicate that three types of mafic magma were erupted. Lower Devonian basalts represent both subalkaline magmas and within-plate alkaline magmas. Middle Devonian through to Lower Carboniferous basalts are mostly derived from within-plate alkaline magmas. Metabasic schists of uncertain protolith age from Start Point appear to represent depleted N-type MORB. The subalkaline magmas were generated during initial extension of the rift system, and are probably alkaline magmas contaminated by crustal material. However, they might also represent magmas derived from subcontinental lithosphere modified by an earlier subduction event. With establishment of the rifting process, OIB-type alkaline magmas sourced in asthenospheric mantle dominated the volcanism. The lack of crustal contamination shown by these magmas probably reflects high rates of extension in the rift system. Contraction of the rift system inverted the passive margin basins and emplaced a family of southerly-derived nappes over the sublithospheric source of the magmas. MORB-type metabasic schists derived from Rhenohercynian oceanic lithosphere were emplaced as part of the rift closure.
Middleton, G.V. 1954. The Middle and Upper Devonian of Selected Areas of South Devon. Unpublished Ph.D. Thesis, University of London, 299pp.

Middleton, G. V., 1960. Spilitic rocks in south-east Devonshire. Geological Magazine, Vol. 97, p.192-207.

Morrisey, L.B. and Braddy, S.J. 2004. Terrestrial trace fossils from the Lower Old Red Sandstone,southwest Wales, Geological Journal, Wiley Interscience, vol. 39, pp. 315-336. By Lance, B. Morrisey and Simon J. Braddy. [This is particularly relevant to Torquay because of a good description, details and reconstruction of origin of the Beaconites trace fossil, which is present and well-exposed in the at Corbyn's Head Member of the Torbay Breccia Formation]
The paper is available in full online at:
Terrestrial trace fossils from the Lower Old Red Sandstone,southwest Wales.
An assemblage of terrestrial trace fossils is described from the Lower Old Red Sandstone of Pembrokeshire, southwest Wales,preserved in mainly fine-grained alluvial facies (channel and overbank sediments, deposited by predominantly ephemeral flowswithin a semi-arid environment), and thin tuffaceous horizons. The ichnofauna is dominated by an extensive, but low diversity Beaconites ichnocoenosis, comprising the meniscate backfilled burrow Beaconites barretti. Concentrations of these burrows(up to 30 per square metre) show normal size distributions, representing periodic colonization events (inferred as a responset o seasonal desiccation) of subaerially exposed (partly indurated) sediments, probably by a population of eoarthropleurid myriapods [Myriapoda is a subphylum of arthropods containing millipedes, centipedes, and others. The group contains 13,000 species, all of which are terrestrial.] penetrating the substrate to the level of the water table in order to aestivate and/or moult. Arthropod trackways also characterize an active arthropod epifauna of arachnids (Paleohelcura; first Welsh record) and myriapods (two forms of Diplichnites up to 160mm wide) and Diplopodichnus. Additional ichnotaxa include arthropod foraging and resting traces(bilobed trails, Tumblagoodichnus and Selenichnites), 'scratch arrays' and worm burrows (Cochlichnus, and Palaeophycus)and faecal pellets all representative of the Scoyenia ichnofacies.

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Open University Geological Society, South West Branch Website. By Chris Popham. Goodrington and Saltern Cove. Permian desert and volcanics exposed on the shore at Paignton.
"This walk begins on Goodrington Beach and takes the shoreline to Saltern Cove, consequently it is only possible at low tide with calm sea conditions, but the ground is flat and a very easy walk. The return is along the footpath that runs beside the railway track and this can be exited to at the half way point at Waterside Cove and in 2 places at Saltern Cove by steps in the low cliff. Goodrington beach is composed of red Devonian sand. The beach only owes its existence to the sea wall put up to protect the railway as prior to that the whole area between the shore and the slopes ½ km inland behind the sports centre was a salt water marsh. The sand is unremarkable but when it is washed flat by the tide many grey pebbles appear. If these are inspected closely some show lattice surface patterns, like fishing net, which are fossil Devonian corals eroded from the limestone headlands. One common type is Alveolites, which appears as a fine net and grew as a mat; the slightly larger net pattern is the coral Thamnophora, a branching coral. Sometimes circular starburst patterns are seen, this is the rugose coral Mesophyllum, which seen in section looks like a funnel with strands running lengthways..." [continues, with a very good photograph of the unusual burrow structure, Beaconites, described from here by Ridgway (1974). See also: Morrisey and Braddy (2004) for a detailed explanation of this trace fossil, made by eoarthropleurid myriapods.(Myriapoda is a subphylum of arthropods containing millipedes, centipedes, and others. The group contains 13,000 species, all of which are terrestrial.)]
Orme, A.R. 1960. The Raised Beaches and Strandlines of South Devon. By A.R. Orme, Department of Geography, University of Birmingham. Field Studies, vol. 1, part 2, 109-130. pp. 109-130. Available online as a pdf file.
Remnants of raised wave-cut benches, often partially covered by old beach deposits and lying beyond the normal reach of marine processes, occur at several places along the South Devon Coast between Plymouth Hoe and Hope's Nose. These raised beaches, strandlines, and old seacliffs are evidence of the effect of marine erosion and subaerial deposition at a time when the sea stood at a higher level relative to the land, and during its subsequent fall. They reflect the complex interrelation of geomorphic process, climatic change and movement of sea-level during late Pleistocene times... [continues].
Page , K.N. 200? (post 2003). A Review of the Geological Heritage of Torbay with Guidance for its Management and a Strategy for Sustainable Use. Torbay Heritage Forum. By Dr. Kevin Page, one of the most well-known, British geological conservationists. A Review of the Geological Heritage.. etc.

Page, K. 200? Babbacombe Cliffs, Torbay; Education Register of Geological Sites. [A report by Dr. Kevin Page on the geology, conservation and education value of the site etc., available online. Prints as 8 pages, and includes photographs of polished Petit Tor marble.]
Locality Description: The site is located in the Babbacombe area of Torquay and includes coastal cliff and foreshore exposures. Nature and Status of Site: The site is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and lies within the English Riviera Geopark.
Summary of Geological / Geomorphological Interest: In the northern part of the site, the Oddicombe Breccias of Permain age (Exeter Group) are faulted against the Devonian limestones of the Petit Tor. The breccias are poorly sorted sediments and are arranged in crude sheet-like spreads of sediments (in fining-upwards units), which were deposited by ephemeral floods. The shape and arrangement of clasts in some finer units indicate fluvial transport towards the east. The site also includes a cavity and fissure system cut into the limestone below and filled by Permian sandstones and siltstones. ... [continues - see full article.]
Pengelly, W. 1866. Report of the exploration of Kent's cavern. Proceedings of the Royal Institute, vol. 7, 309.

Pengelly, W. 1868. The Literature of Kent's Cavern, Torquay, Prior to 1859. Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and the Arts, volume 2, part 2, pp. 469-522.
See also: Pengelly, W. 1869. The Literature of Kent's Cavern, Including the whole of the Rev.J. MacEnery's Manuscript. Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and the Arts, vol. 3, part 2, pp. 191-482.
See also: Pengelly, W. 1871. The Literature of Kent's Cavern, Part 3, Transactions of the Devonshire Association for the Advancement of Science, Literature and the Arts, volume 4, part 2, pp. 467-490.
(The Devonshire Association (DA) is a learned society founded in 1862 by William Pengelly and modelled on the British Association, but concentrating on research subjects linked to Devon in the fields of science, literature and the arts. From Wikipedia)

New computer scanned reproduction:
Pengelly, W. The Literature of Kent's Cavern. By William Pengelly. [A computer scanned and reprinted version of this originally 53 page paper is available as a paperback book of 144 pages, computer scanned with text recognition and republished by General Books Ltd., Memphis, USA. It can be purchased quite cheaply from Amazon. The scanned version is very useful but the unbroken, fairly small print is not easy reading. There are occasional computer errors but these can be intuitively corrected. The difficulty is that, although it has some capital letters and some italics in places and with paragraphs, it generally seems to run almost continuously in three columns without subheadings or major breaks. Furthermore, Pengelly tended to write in a continous, rather than in a specifically sectioned, manner. Note that the original page numbers are not retained, and the pages are renumbered. There are no illustations. However, the book is at very low cost and it is good to have it readily available.]

[start of Pengelly's text]
"Devonshire is famous for the numerous caverns which occur in its limestone rocks in various localities, such as Torquay, Brixham, Yealmpton, Orestone, Buckfastleigh, Ogwell and Chudleigh. Several of these, and especially the first four have secured honorable mention in scientific literature, and some have become famous, chiefly on account of their connection with great question of the Antiquity of Man, which during the last ten years has so engaged the attention of the scientific world. It is, perhaps, not too much to say that the belief which prevails on this topic - namely that man is of much higher antiquity than our fathers supposed - was suggested by the discoveries made in Kent's Cavern, Torquay, in 1825, and confirmed by those disclosed in Windmill Hill Cavern, Brixham, in 1858.
In 1864, the British Association for the Advancement of Science appointed a large Committee to make a thorough and systematic exploration of Kent's Cavern, and to bring up Annual Reports on the results of their labours. The explorations were commenced in March 1865, and have been uninterruptedly continued to the present time. There is reason to hope that the Association will be willing to cary on this important investigation until the Cavern is completely emptied of its contents. Several years, however, will be required for this consummation. The Committee have already published three Annual Reports, and a fourth may be shortly expected. ... [continues]

Paul, C.R.C. 1974. Regulaecystis devonica, a new Devonian pleurocystitid cystoid from Devon. Geological Magazine, (1974), vol. 111, pp. 349-352. Cambridge University Press.
Regulaecystis devonica, which is probably from the Meadfoot Beds (Siegeman—Emsian) near Torquay, Devon, is characterized by smooth thick thecal plates and a deeply sunken pectinirhomb. Coopericystis Parsley from the Middle Ordovician of Tennessee is considered a junior synonym of Regulaecystis from the Lower Devonian of Europe.
Perkins , J.W. 1971. Geology Explained in South and East Devon. David and Charles, Newton Abbot, 192pp. By John W. Perkins. Clearly written with very good, well-labelled, sketch illustrations by the author.
Extract from the Introduction:
"The basic ingredients of the county's rolling landscape are the high moorland centre, the surrounding low lands bevelled to various heights and deeply trenched by rivers, and the sinuous coastline with its penetrating estuaries and grand cliffs. Written for all who love South Devon, either as a tourist area or a place to live in, this book aims to deepen their understanding and enjoyment. It may also help to popularise geology in a wider sense, and should remind us that we are tenants of a heritage millions of years old, and one that we must do our best to conserve... "
Pidgeon , D. 1890. On certain peculiarities exhibited by the so-called "Raised Beach" of Hope's Nose and the Thatcher Rock, Devon. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, London, vol. 46, pp. 438-443.
Prestwich , J. 1892. The raised beach and "head" or rubble drift of the south of England: their relation to the valley drifts and to the Glacial period: and on a late post-Glacial submergence. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, London, vol. 48, pp.263-343. By Joseph Prestwich.
Proctor, C.J., Berridge, P.J., Bishop, M.J., Richards, D.A. and Smart, P.L. 2005. Age of Middle Pleistocene fauna and Lower Palaeolithic industries from Kent's Cavern, Devon. Quaternary Science Reviews, vol. 24, Issues 10-11, May-June 2005.
Kent's Cavern has long been known as potentially among the oldest Palaeolithic sites in the country, with the basal Breccia deposit containing a sparse Lower Palaeolithic industry. The sediment consists of a chaotic clayey conglomerate emplaced as a series of debris flows, which entered the cave via blocked entrances at its southwest end. The Breccia contains a fauna dominated by the bear Ursus deningeri, with lion Felis leo and the voles Arvicola cantiana and Microtus oeconomus, establishing a late Cromerian age for the deposit. The artefacts comprise an industry of crudely manufactured handaxes and flakes, and show damage suggesting that they were brought into the cave by the debris flows, and may thus predate the sediment and fauna. We demonstrate an age of >340 ka for the Breccia using two independant dating methods, consistent with existing models of the age of the British Middle Pleistocene sequence.

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Reynolds, S.R. 1904. "London Bridge" natural arch, Torquay. Geological Magazine, p. 613.
Ridgway, J.M. 1974. A problematical trace fossil from the New Red sandstone of south Devon. Proceedings of the Geologist’s Association, vol. 85: part 4, pp. 511-517. By Jacqueline M. Ridgway. Department of Geology, Chelsea College, London W6 9LZ.
Vertical, oblique and horizontal concentrically filled tunnels are described from continental Stephanian sediments of South Devon. The fill of these burrows consists of sandy breccia containing clasts up to 50 mm. in size. Possible origins for the structures are discussed and a primitive reptilean origin is postulated.

[Example extract:] A few of the basal pebbly sandstone horizons within the basal Tor Bay breccias of the New Red Sandstone in the Paignton area of Devon contain large trace fossils. The age of these sediments is probably Stephanian since the interbedded Exeter Traps give a radiometric age of 280± 8 million years (Fitch and Miller, 1964; Laming, 1965). The best preserved trace fossils are found at Waterside Cove (SX 894588) in a unit of irregularly interbedded sands and sandy breccias with a maximum clast diameter of 150 rom. The large clasts are randomly orientated whereas the smaller ones, especially the platy fragments of slate and shale, exhibit a pronounced anisotropic fabric, parallel to the bedding. The matrix within which the clasts are embedded is medium grained sand cemented by sparry calcite. The grain size, texture and structures of these sediments indicate that they were deposited by the fast flowing braided streams of a wadi (Glennie, 1970, 42). Almost the whole sequence consists of laterally accreted channel deposits; overbank material is scarce.
[continues] [See also: Open University Geological Society, South West Branch Website. Goodrington and Saltern Cove. Permian desert and volcanics exposed on the shore at Paignton. This includes a good photograph of the unusual stucture.]

[See Saltern Cove, Torbay - Devon County Council - Register of Educational Sites.
Fossil burrows known as "Beaconites" have been found within the breccias at Waterside Cove, which have been suggested by Ridgeway (1974) to have formed by primitive reptiles or amphibians. It is more likely, however, that they were produced by giant arthropleurid millipedes.]

Ridgway, J.M. 1975. A problematic trace fossil from the Tor bay breccias of south Devon: Written discussion of a paper taken as read – Reply by the author. Proceedings of the Geologist’s Association, vol. 86, 108-109.
Russell, A. 1929. On the occurrence of native gold at Hope's Nose, Torquay, Devonshire.
Mineralogical Magazine, September 1929, vol. 22, no. 126, pp. 159-162. With Figs. 1 and 2 showing native gold from Torquay, Devonshire (Fig. 1 - a handspecimen with dendritic gold; Fig.2 details of gold dendrites). Article is available online as a pdf file. Search "gold occurrence Torquay", or go to:
On the occurrence of native gold at Hope's Nose, Torquay.

(the full text, retyped with some notes, follows:)

Some thirty-five years or so ago small quantities of free gold were found in calcite in or near a crush-breccia filling an east and west fault, in the patch of Middle Devonian Limestone which forms that portion of the coast known as Daddy Hole Plain directly south-east of Torquay. The name of the actual discoverer I have been unable to ascertain, neither do any specimens appear to have been preserved; but the late Mr. T. Harrison, the then propriator of the Queen's Hotel, Torquay, and several other persons subscribed about £100 and a small amount of prospecting work was carried out, apparently with little result. The only reference to this discovery which I know of is a brief one in 'The geology of the country around Torquay' (Mem. Geol. Survey, 1903, p. 48). To Mr. B.W. Stedham of Torquay I am indepted for the additional particulars given and also for pointing out to me the exact spot, which is on the side of a fissure formed by a large pinacle of rock standing away from the cliff below the old quarry.

The occurrence which forms the subject of the present note was discovered in a curious way. In April 1922, Professor W.T. Gordon of King's College, London, with a party of students, was pointing out the geological features of Hope's Nose, a small headland two miles east of Torquay, and in examining small calcite vein, of which many traverse the Middle Devonian limestone on the foreshore at this spot, the chance blow of a hammer revealed the calcite to be tenaceous owing to the presence of many sprigs of gold. A brief record of this find was published by Professor Gordon in 'Nature' (London, 1922, vol. 109, p. 583, 1 fig.). Stress of other work, however, prevented him from more carefully examining the spot. In 1927, with Professor Gordon's concurrence and in company with my brother Sir Charles Russel and Captain G.M. Puckle, a careful examination of Hope's Nose was made and specimens of arborescent gold were obtained from five distinct calcite veins within a distance of about forty yards. In 1928, permission having been most courteously given by Major H.A. Garrett, the Borough Engineer of Torquay, a couple of shot holes were put in on the most promising looking of the veins, and a number of very remarkable specimens of arborescent gold were obtained. The exact spot at which the gold occurs on the flat rocky shore just above high-water mark, east of and adjoining the old limestone quarry, and at a point where the first small indent above the Torquay sewage outfall is marked on the old, 1906, six-inch Map.
The geological structure of Hope's Nose has often been described, and it is sufficient to say that its eastern seaboard is formed of thick-bedded pale grey to pinkish compact Middle Devonian Limestone containing corals. About the sewage outfall and south of it the limestone becomes thin-bedded and slatey. On the flat rocky shore the thick-bedded limestone is traversed by a number of calcite veins and strings, which from the presence of slickensided faces appear to be of the nature of minor fault fissures. They have a direction of about 20 degrees north of west (magnetic) and vary in width from less than an inch to a foot or more, the width of the veins increasing as they run seawards, where for the most part the sea has completely eroded the vein-filling, leaving open sea-swept chasms. The strike of the veins can be traced for roughly only about 30 yards, from low-water mark to the low cliff dividing the foreshore from the quarry at which latter point they are cut off by a fault. Of these veins five have yielded specimens of free gold, in each case within a few yards of the base of the low cliff where the vein filling has not been removed by the sea. Many very similar calcite veins are to be seen in the adjacent quarry, but although careful search was made no trace of gold has been seen. Very close scrutiny is necessary to detect the gold, which stands out from the eroded calcite on the outcrops, since it is masked by a coating of lichen or sea-slime, while some of the richest specimens were obtained from remnants of the vein-filling adhering to the limestone walls, the whole central portion having been eroded away by the sea.
The calcite which fills the veins has a mottled appearance and is of two varieties, coarse cleavage pinkish-brown, and fine-grained cream-buff, the gold being invariably confined to the latter. The predominantly pinkish-brown calcite was apparently the first to crystallise out and it forms the outer portion of the veins. Where cavities exist it assumes drusy surfaced scalenohedra surmounted by curved-face primary rhombohedra. The colour is due to included red haematite [i.e. the fluid precipitating the calciet was necessarily in an oxidising state].
[Note: If these curved face rhombohedra are indeed of calcite and they seem to be so, since dolomite is also recognised in the report, they consist of saddle calcite, a mineral much less common than baroque dolomite or saddle dolomite.]
The fine-grained cream-buff calcite usually occupies the central part of the veins [i.e. it was later] and also fills the interstices between the coarse pinkish-brown crystals; it is developed, however, much more sparingly and is rarely continuous for any distance. Here and there are small cavities filled with yellowish or brownish highly ferruginous dolomite, which forms distinct rhombohedra, or has altered to a friable ochre which in one case carries minute crystals of gold. Aragonite also occurs in some parts of the veins, forming snow-white silky radiating masses; and as flos-ferri, one cavity having yielded small worm-like stalactites of grotesque form. Some of the veins, particularly where narrow, are partially filled with calcite very heavily charged with minute scales of haematite forming a dense dull-red iron-ore, and one specimen of this shows dendritic crystallised gold. The only other mineral observed in these veins is muscovite, which occurs as minute scaly rosettes.
The gold is nearly always present as delicate dendritic or arborescent forms, which are extremely beautiful when partly freed from the enclosing calcite by immersion in dilute hydrochloric (Plate VI, fig. 1). Many of these growths are sometimes contained in quite a small piece of vein-stuff, and in one or two cases attain a length of 5 cm. In general they consist of fern-like structures formed of a central rod with graduated branches and sub-branches all at 60 degrees; each branch and sub-branch being usually terminated by a more or less distinct crystal (fig. 2). Twinning on the octahedron (111) is responsible for this arrangement. Examination under the microscope shows the individual crystals to much elongated and misshapen, and in most cases they fail to give even moderately good measurements on the goniometer. The following forms have been noted with certainty: (100), (111), (110), (210), and perhaps (311). On two of the specimens of the silver-white gold are some minute simple cubes grouped in parallel position, one of the crystals showing a single face (110).
In colour the gold varies from a bright rich gold to a dull yellow; while in one vein it is almost silver-white, in this case being thickly distributed in dendritic form through a nearly white calcite.
The following assays were most carefully made for me by Mr. A.W. Dannatt of the Royal School of Mines, are interesting in that they show the gold to be of exceptional fineness, and that even the silver-white gold (nos 2 and 3), which from it appearance led one to suspect a high silver content, contains only a comparitively small amount of silver. Metals of the platinum group are absent.

No.1. Bright rich gold. Au 98.11; Ag 1.89
No.2. Silver-white gold. Au 91.59; Ag 8.41
No.3. Silver-white gold. Au 92.53; Ag 7.47.

Although the occurrence is an interesting one, as, apart from the exceptional beauty of the arborescent forms in which the gold occurs, the fact of it being present in calcite veins in Middle Devonian limestone is I believe unique. Conjectures as to the origin of the gold would be futile. The finding of a mineral such as gold in so unexpected a quarter is moreover an object lessor to the mineralogist in the field and impels one to look for similar occurrences in the Middle Devonian limestone tracts of the West of England.

Explanation of Plate VI.
Native gold from Hope's Nose. Torquay, Devonshire.
Fig. 1 Fern-like growths partly freed from the enclosing calcite by the action of dilute acid. X 1 and a quarter. (For this photograph I an indepted to Mr. Gilbert Adams, who took considerable pains with this difficult subject.)
Fig. 2. Isolated sprays X 20. In the smaller spray, the branches consist of elongated spike-like cubes. (For this photomicrograph I am indebted to Mr. A.F. Hallimond.)
[Plate VI, Figs 1 and 2 now follow and together occupy the whole page.]

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SCOPAC. Hope's Nose, Torquay to Holcombe (re coastal processes). SCOPAC report online. Go to: Hope's Nose, Torquay to Holcombe. SCOPAC is the: Standing Conference on Problems Associated with the Coastline.
SCOPAC is an influential network of local authorities and other key organisations that share an interest in the management of the shoreline of central southern England. The SCOPAC area of interest extends from Lyme Bay in the west to Shoreham-by-Sea in the east and includes the Isle of Wight. Established in 1986 SCOPAC's role has been to assist members in developing a co-ordinated and sustainable approach to coastal risk management by commissioning research and sharing information.

Scrivener , R.C., Cooper, B.V., George, M.C. and Shepherd, T.J. 1982. Gold-bearing carbonate veins in the Middle Devonian Limestone of Hope's Nose, Torquay. Abstract. Proceedings of the Ussher Society, vol. 5, 186-188. (Geoscience in southwest England)
Abstract: The occurrence of gold in carbonate veins cutting the Middle Devonian Limestone in the vicinity of the sewage outfall at the eastern extremity of Hope's Nose, was first reported by Gordon (1922). A later and fuller account was given by Russell (1929). This work is based on the study of specimens held by Torquay Natural History Museum and also upon observations made in the field. The opportunity has been taken to make a detailed mineralogical and petrological examination of the auriferous veins involving optical and SEM microscopy, X-ray diffraction analysis, chemical analysis and the microthermometric analysis oF fluid inclusions. The individual veins are developed as narrow irregular pods and lenses along vertical or subvertical fractures which strike roughly east-west. The enclosing limestone beds demonstrate normal and reverse movements of the fractures up to a maximum of 0.75m. Fourteen gold-bearing structures have been identified: these form a swarm in which the components are separated by up to 20m or so of apparently barren limestone. At least three stages of deposition can be recognised in the veins. The earliest is coarse, euhedral, purple and yellowish-cream, ferroan calcite which commonly includes angular breccia clasts of the host limestone. This early calcite yields rather abundant fine red hematite on dissolution in acetic acid. The second stage, with which the gold is intergrown, is of biscuit-coloured, fine-grained, anhedral calcite and dolomite of saccharoidal texture, or, less commonly, coarser cream-coloured anhedral calcite. Both varieties contain cavities filled with yellow-brown hydroxides of iron. Dissolution of the second stage carbonate in acetic acid yields the native gold and also small, up to 3mm, water-clear, bipyramidal quartz crystals which may include small hematite flakes or, more rarely, filaments of native gold. The later and barren carbonate stages may be of carious, buff-coloured calcite or massive, white aragonite; the latter is sometimes associated with chalcedonic quartz. Native gold occurs as branching filaments, which may be sparsely distributed throughout the host, or which may form dense and complex dendritic aggregates up to 20mm across. Growth of the dendrites is apparently controlled by micro-fractures in the host and also by rhombohedral crystalline cleavage traces in the carbonate gangue. Most of the gold is of a rich yellow colour, but there are local variations from deep brownish yellow to pale silvery yellow. XRD analysis, together with SEM-EDA analysis has revealed that much of the gold is of high purity but that the silver- and deep-coloured varieties may contain up to 16% of palladium. In certain specimens, the palladium-bearing gold bears euhedral microcrystals of a low-arsenic variety of the rare mineral mertieite, Pd5 (Sb,As)2. Traces of silver were present in some of the gold specimens at the extreme limit detectable by EDA analysis (1%). Traces of pyrite and marcasite together with a little goethite were the only other species found in the gold concentrates. Fluid inclusions were examined in the calcite gangue and also in the associated bipyramidal quartz crystals. In many cases these were monophase (liquid only) at room temperature, while others contained liquid and vapour. The latter, on heating, homogenised into the liquid phase over the temperature range 65 degrees C to 120 degrees C. Freezing measurements demonstrated consistently low first melting temperatures around -55 degrees C. At -30 degrees C there was about 50 percent ice and 50 percent liquid; hydrohalite was not observed. Final ice melting occurred at 20 degrees;C. The freezing data suggests that the fluids are rich in CaCl2 with total gross salinities in the range 20 to 23 equiv wt % NaCl. Based on the ice/liquid ratio at -30 degrees C the CaCl2/ NaCl ratio probably has a minimum value of 3. References: Gordon, W.T. 1922. Native gold at Torquay, Devonshire. Nature, 109, 583. [Only the abstract of the Scrivener et al. work is published. There is no full paper available.]

Scrivener, R.C., Derbyshire, D.P.F. and Shepherd, T.J. 1994. Timing and significance of crosscourse mineralization in SW England. Journal of the Geological Society, London, vol. 151, issue 4, pp. 587-590.
Abstract: Rb-Sr isotope analyses of inclusion fluids from quartz have demonstrated a Triassic age (236 plus or minus 3 Ma) for N–S-trending Pb–Zn–F vein mineralization in the Tamar Valley district of the Cornubian orefield. Consideration of the stratigaphy and structure of the Permo-Triassic basins both onshore and in the English Channel suggest that this mineralization results from the formation of fractures during regional extension-driven subsidence, and the subsequent ingress of basinal brines to the Variscan basement.

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Scrutton , C.T. 1965. The ages of some coral faunas in the Torquay area. Proceedings of the Ussher Society. vol. 1, pp. 186-188. By Colin T. Scrutton. [Professor at: Department of Geology, The University, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 7RU]

Scrutton, C.T. 1968. Colonial Phillipsastraeidae from the Devonian of south-east England. Bulletin of the British Museum, Natural History (Geology), 15, 181-281.

Scrutton, C.T. 1977a. Reef facies in the Devonian of eastern South Devon, England. Memoire de la Bureau de Recherche Geologique et Miniere, vol. 89, pp. 125-135.

Scrutton, C.T. 1977b. Facies variations in the Devonian limestones of eastern South Devon. Geological Magazine, vol. 114, 165-193.
The Middle and Upper Devonian limestone successions at Torquay and in the Lemon Valley SW of Newton Abbot are described. Lithostratigraphic units are proposed for the Torquay succession. The compositions of the coral faunas in both successions are outlined and contribute, together with the other available faunal evidence, towards a broad internal dating of these limestone sequences. Successions elsewhere in the limestones of eastern South Devon are briefly outlined. On the basis of this evidence facies variations from the margin towards the centre of the carbonate platform in eastern South Devon are demonstrated and interpreted as reflecting the development of barrier reefs along parts at least of the platform margin in Givetian times. The character of the reef-complex, named the Tor Bay Reef-Complex, is briefly compared with Devonian reefs elsewhere.

Scrutton, C.T. 1977a. Reef facies in the Devonian of eastern South Devon, England. Memoir de la Bureau de Recherche Geologique et Minière, vol. 89. pp. 125-135.

Book - International Symposium on the Devonian by Scrutton

Scrutton, C.T. 1978 (editor). Palaeontological Association, International Symposium on the Devonian System (P.A.D.S. 78): A Field Guide to Selected Areas of the Devonian of South-West England. Edited by Colin T. Scrutton (University of Newcastle upon Tyne). The Palaeontological Association. 73pp, blue ring-bound paper-back booklet. See Section 3. Eastern South Devon. Figs, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, and 15 are detailed geological maps in shaded monochrome.
"1. Introduction [to the booklet in general]:
Colin T. Scrutton.
In SW England Devonian rocks crop out in two broad E-W belts separated by a core of Carboniferous rocks some 50-60km wide in the Cornubian 'synclinorium' (Fig. 1). To the W the outcrop belts are terminated by the coast of the peninsula and to the E by an unconformable cover of Permo-Triassic and younger rocks along an irregular N-S line near the longitude of Exeter.
Devonian rocks of the northern belt are an alternating sequence of shallow marine and continental, almost wholly clastic, sediments cropping out in N. Devon and W. Somerset. The area was marginal to the Old Red Sandstone land mass to the N and N-S migrations of the strand line introduced two wedges of intertidal and fluviatile sediments into the succession in the Eifelian and the Famennian. Localities illustrating the N. Devon succession are described in section 2 of this guide.
Three broadly different successions are known in the southern outcrop belt. In S. Devon, from the Plymouth area to the Devon coast at Tor Bay, the sequences are largely shallow marine in character but with a basal unit of continental facies, the Dartmouth Slates of Gedinnian-Siegenian age, and deeper water argillites in the Upper Devonian. Important carbonate platforms are developed in the Middle and Upper Devonian of the Tor Bay area and at Plymouth. Localities in eastern S. Devon, covering i particular facies of the Tor Bay Reef-Complex, are described in section 3. In section 4, the clastic Lower Devonian succession S. of Plymouth and some important localities in the Plymouth Limestone are described...."

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Shannon, W.G. 1921. Some additions to the palaeontology of S.E. Devon. Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol. 53, p. 246.

Shannon, W.G. 1922. A composite sill at Newton Abbot. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, London, vol. 68, p. 261.

Shannon, W.G. 1923. Erosion in the Torquay Promontory. Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol. 40, p. 148.

Shannon, W.G. 1924. The Petrography and Correlation of the Igneous Rocks of the Torquay Promontory. Geological Magazine, vol. 61, pp. 193-210.
The Middle and Upper Devonian rocks of the Torquay Promontory give evidence of a volcanic phase in Middle Devonian times, recurring in the Upper Devonian, and completed by a hypabyssal phase, which was post-Culm and pre-Permian. The tuffs are basic in nature, of glass and lava fragments, cemented by calcite. The only lava recognized is a spilite, probably Upper Devonian. Complementary rocks: a soda-porphyrite and an augite-lamp-rophyre, have been recognized at Babbacombe. An albite-dolerite is described from Black Head, carrying small amounts of olivine and with the characteristic albite-segregation veins. This mass has been shown to include the Ilsham Manor and the Red Rocks outcrop at Babbacombe. Metasomatic change due to silicification is characteristic of its flanks: this is especially developed at Anstey's Cove, where quartz-hæmatite veins are later than the cleavage of the slates. It has been shown that there is strong evidence for the post Culm date of this intrusion and hence for the tectonic movements of the area. The latter have been in the sequence: — tilting, intrusion, folding, thrusting, cleavage, and faulting, Some strike faults may be anterior to all these, but were repeated after the cleavage movements.

Shannon, W.G. 1924. The petrography of the surface deposits of the Torquay Promontory. Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol. 56, p. 297.

Shannon, W.G. 1928. The geology of the Torquay district. Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, London, vol. 39, part 2, 1928, pp. 103-136, 6 Plates. By W. G. Shannon, D.Sc., F.G.S. [also as reprint]
This paper forms a generalised survey of recent geological work on the sedimentary and igneous rocks of S.E. Devon, and has been prepared to furnish a summary of the geology of the district visited by the Geologists' Association during Easter, 1928. It is remarkable that such a readily accessible region was not examined in detail much earlier; it may be presumed that the complexity of the geology and the comparative rarity of determinable fossils has deterred many from attempting this detailed work. On the other hand, there is a considerable literature of more or less superficial discussions and theories which lack decisive evidence. The results herein submitted are dependent on petrographical examination. The area to be described extends from the Haldon Hills in the north to Torcross in the south, and is mainlv confined to the coast, Newton Abbot being the westward limit. [continues]

Shannon, W.G. 1928. Appendix on the petrography of the Devonian Sedimentary Rocks. Proceedings of the Geologists's Association, vol. 39, pp. 137-153. By W.G. Shannon, D.Sc., F.G.S.
1. Introduction:
Rock specimens were obtained from several localities other than Torquay in order to institute a comparison with that area. The complete Devonian succession in North Devon was examined. Specimens from all the established horizons of the Lower Devonian of Belgium, more particularly from the Dinant synclinal have furnished concentrates. Other areas of Devonian rocks which have been examined are: - North of the Start, Stoke Fleming, the Kingswear Promontory, south of Brixham and Mansands, the Paignton district, Newton Abbot and West Cornwall in the neighbourhood of Newquay and Padstow. The complete succession is not to be found at these localities, but they have furnished comparisons for particular horizons. The Culm rocks have been obtained from outside the granite aureole between Ilsington and Newton Abbot. The rocks have been sampled by taking specimens at vertical changes in lithological facies, also horizontally with due regard to the rocks which appear similar in hand specimen, but are often some distance apart owing to faulting and folding. The samples were crushed, panned and sieved, an 80-mesh sieve passing all the heavy minerals. The material was then separated by using bromoform which had been redistilled. Numerous samples have been sliced, both along and across the cleavage, to determine the degree of rounding of the quartz grains and the type of slaty cleavage. The limestones have been treated with dilute hydrochloric acid and the insoluble residues investigated for mineral content.
[continues with Petrography of the Sediments]

Shannon, W.G. 1928. The visit to Torquay, Easter 1927; report by the Director, W.G. Shannon, D.Sc., F.G.S. [visit of the Geologists' Association at Easter 1927], Proceedings of the Geologists' Association, vol. 39, part 2, issued 25th June 1928, pp. 154-156.
Fifty members, including Sir John Flett [Sir John Smith Flett KBE FRS, Director of the Geological Survey and Geological Museum], assembled at headquarters [presumably an hotel at Torquay] for an evening lecture on Thursday, April 5th [1927]. A general account of the district was given and rock specimens, fossils and detailed maps were displayed. [continues: Friday by bus to Wall's Hill, Babbacombe, then Redgate Beach and Anstey's Cove, North Horn of Black Head (base of the lacolite), Smugglers' Cove, then Babbacombe to examine the reddened dolerite, then porphyrite and lamprophyre sills, tea at Oddicombe, then Petit Tor and the Petit Tor marble quarry and return by tram; Saturday - Dartmouth; Sunday - Kent's Cavern and then Lummaton Quarry for fossils and tea at Watcombe; Monday - Pig Tor and London Bridge, then Kilmorie and Hope's Nose, after fossil-collecting at Hope's Nose, tea at Ilsham and returned by tram; Tuesday - Saltern Cove, Elbury Cove etc; Wednesday - Aller Vale, clays of Bovey Basin at Decoy, Newton Abbott, igneous and spotted slates at Knowle's Hill, Culm of Ugbrooke park where lunch was taken, then Dunscombe Farm, Great and Little Haldon Hills, Smallcombe Goyle, tea at Teignmouth, Permian at Shaldon. This was obviously an energetic field trip, but buses and trams were used in addition to walking, and there was always afternoon tea! Weather was favourable, throughout the excursion.]

Shepherd, T.J., Bouch, J.E., Gunn, A.G., McKervey, J.A., Naden, J., Scrivener, R.C., Styles, M.T. and Large, D.E. 2005. Permo-Triassic unconformity-related Au-Pd mineralisation, South Devon, UK: new insights and the European perspective. Mineralium Deposita, vol. 40, pp. 24-44. Publisher: Springer-Verlag. By: Tom J. Shepherd, Jon E. Bouch, Andrew G. Gunn, John A. McKervey, Jonathan Naden, Richard C. Scrivener, Michael T. Styles, Duncan E. Large. Published online 14th May 2005.
Abstract [initially not easy for the non-specialist so it has been slightly expanded and explained for clarity]:
An integrated mineralogical-geochemical study of unconformity-related Au-Pd occurrences within and around the Permo-Triassic basins of southwest England, UK, has confirmed the importance of low temperature (86 degrees C, plus or minus 13 degrees C.), hydrothermal carbonate veins as hosts for the mineralisation.
The Brines
Fluid inclusion data for the carbonate gangue [i.e associated carbonate minerals such as calcite], supported by stable isotope (13-C and 18-O) and radiogenic (87-Sr/86-Sr) data, have identified three principal fluids:
(1) A reducing calcium-rich brine (unusual). This had 25 wt% salinity [very salty - seven times more saline than seawater, which is 3.5 wt%]. This had less than 0.5 NaCl/(NaCl+CaCl2). In other words, unlike seawater, the brine was more calcium chloride rich than sodium chloride rich - an unusual brine, not common at the surface, today.
(2) An oxidising sodium rich brine (normal for modern salt lakes). This had about 16 wt% salinity It was quite salty and about 4.6 times the salinity of seawater, compared to 8.6 times for the Dead Sea saline water today. In simple terms - half saturation, Dead Sea type brine. This originated in the post-unconformity Permo-Triassic red beds of Devon, which contain much salt and the remains of salt lakes.
(3) An oxygenated low-salinity groundwater. This had less than 3 wt% salinity and was not far off ordinary seawater.
The important brine is No. 2, the oxigenated salt-lake type of water, or sodic brine. This is believed to have been the parent metalliferous fluid. It acquired its gold and palladium content by passing through post-unconformity, Permo-Trias red beds [above the Devonian and Carbonferous]. It leached immature sediments and intra-rift volcanic rocks with the local Permo-Triassic basins of South Devon (and offshore). Thus very salty and warm Triassic brine passed through Permian volcanic ashes etc. Thus the gold and palladium did not come from deep down but came from the red beds of the type seen in the cliffs of the Teignmouth, Dawlish and Exmouth region.
Metal Precipitation
Metal precipitation is linked to the destabilisation of Au and Pd chloride complexes by either mixing with calcic brines, dilution by groundwaters or interaction with reduced lithologies. This explains the diversity of mineralised settings below and above the unconformity and their affinity with red bed brines. The paucity of sulphide minerals, the development of selenides (as ore minerals and as mineral inclusion in gold grains), the presence of rhodochrosite and manganoan calcites (up to 2.5 wt% Mn in calcite) and the co-precipitation of hematite and manganese oxides are consistent with the overall high oxidation state of the ore fluids.
Genetic Model
A genetic model is proposed linking Permo-Triassic red beds, the mixing of oxidising and reducing brines, and the development of unconformity-related precious metal mineralisation. Comparison with other European Permo-Triassic basins reveals striking similarities in geological setting, mineralogy and geochemistry with Au, Au-Pd and selenide occurrences in Germany (Tilkerode, Korbach-Goldhausen), Poland (Lubin) and the Czech Republic (Svoboda nad Upou and Stupna). Though the known Au-Pd occurrences are sub-economic, several predictive criteria are proposed for further exploration.
[end of modified abstract]

Somervail, A. 1886. The physiography of Torquay. Transactions of the Devonshire Association, vol. 18, p. 171.
Torquay Museum
Torquay Museum webpage. Torquay Museum, 529 Babbacombe Road, Torquay, Devon TQ1 1HG.
[extracts from the webpage]
"Torquay Museum is Devon’s oldest established Museum still operating. Founded in 1844 by the Torquay Natural History Society, which was renamed Torquay Museum Society in 2003, the Society celebrated its 160th birthday in 2004.The current Museum building was begun in 1874 and within two years the building was in use. The Museum has been extended and revamped many times in its history. In 1894 the Pengelly Lecture Hall was constructed and this is still used today when it plays host to both the popular lecture series and temporary exhibitions." [-- continues]
"The Museum holds collections that are exceptional for a Museum of this size with over 300,000 specimens held in the stores of which only about one percent are on display. The collections include objects and artifacts relating to natural history, palaeontology, archaeology, social history, ethnography, Torquay pottery and pictorial records and archives relating to the Torbay area as well as from across the world."

Torquay Natural History Society. (about 1949?). A Guide to the Society's Museum wiht Plans and Notes on Kents Cavern. Sixteenth Edition, Price 4d (four pennies).
"This museum owes its origin to the desire of the Torquay Natural History Society which was founded in 1844, to collect and preserve objects of special interest and scientific value that came within their notice and possession. It has consequently grown with the Society and consists of collections of specimens which illustrate all branches of Natural Science, including the more specially the far-famed objects obtained from the noted Kents Cavern, which are associated in discovery with the name of William Pengelly, F.R.S. As a local museum it is fully representative of the Natural History of the County of Devon, while the unrivalled Kents Cavern Collection is of great value historically in both Geological and Anthropological Science in have proved the antiquity of pre-historic man.
It comprises collections of the native Mammals, including the seal; Fishes, some of which are very rare; an excellent collection of Birds, with specially interesting rarities [all shot, I assume!]; Eggs, Marine Shells, Butterflies, Moths, Bees, Wasps, etc. Rocks, Fossils, Minerals; Flowering Plants; Seaweeds, Mosses; Lichens; Microscopic objects, organic and inorganic; and numerous miscellaneous objects of local antiquarian and archaeological interest." ... [continues]
[The booklet continues with a brief description of Kents Cavern, including a labelled map and section of the stratal profile.]

Tucker, M.E. 1977. The Marginal Triassic deposits of South Wales: Continental facies and palaeogeography. Geological Journal, vol. 12, Issue 2, pp. 169-188. October 1977. By Professor Maurice Tucker.
Marginal Triassic deposits in Glamorgan, South Wales, occur beneath and laterally equivalent to the Keuper Marl. They consist of coarse elastics, locally interbedded with finer sediments, limestones and replaced evaporites. Fluviatile sediments are chiefly sorted conglomerates and cross-bedded sandstones of stream-flood origin. Other conglomerates and sandstones, associated with siltstone and calcrete, are interpreted as the deposits of semi-permanent streams with well-developed floodplains. Ill-sorted breccias accumulated as screes against former cliffs. Matrix-supported conglomerates of mudflow origin are a minor facies. Thin graded beds were deposited from sheet floods and other finer clastic sediments formed on floodplains and playas. Lacustrine shore-zone elastics, limestones and evaporites are also present.
The distribution of the various facies is related to the Trassic geomorphology, which was controlled by the structure of the underlying Palaeozoic. The South Wales Coalfield formed an upland area bounded to the south by an escarpment. Stream-flood conglomerates of the Radyr-Llandaff area were part of an alluvial fan which formed at the foot of this escarpment, perhaps at the mouth of a canyon on the site of the present-day Taff gorge. South of the escarpment semi-permanent streams with well-developed floodplains occupied a broad valley, draining eastwards and cut into the axial region of the plunging Cowbridge anticline. South of the anticline, stream-flood and sheet-flood deposits interdigitated with wave-rippled and desiccated siltstones deposited on playas. The latter, together with the shore-zone sediments, were marginal to the lake in which the Keuper Marl accumulated. With rising base-level during the Norian, the Keuper Marl facies spread north and west into the Vale of Glamorgan, covering the Marginal Triassic and inliers of Carboniferous Limestone.
[Analogies to Permo-Triassic, red-bed, alluvial deposits of Devon]

William Augustus Edmond Ussher, whose life's work was on the geology of southwest England. He was an officer of the Geological Survey (and distantly related to Archbishop Ussher whose geological views were not so readily accepted!). The Ussher Society takes its name from him. For a photograph of Ussher see The Ussher Society - History.

Ussher, W.A.E. 1890. The Devonian of South Devon. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, vol. 46, pp. 487-516.

Ussher, W.A.E. 1903. The Geology of the Country around Torquay (explanation of [BGS Geological Survey Map] Sheet 350). Memoirs of the Geological Survey of England and Wales [predecessor of the British Geological Survey], 142pp. Published by Order of the Lords Commissioners of His Majesty's Treasury. London, original price Two Shillings. By William Augustus Edmond Ussher. Reprinted as a facsimile by the Book Depository and available for £19. 38p. and can now be purchased through Amazon.

Ussher, W.A.E. 1913. The Geology of the Country around Newton Abbot. By W.A.E. Ussher, F.G.S., with contributions by Clement Reid, F.R.S.; J.S. Flett, M.A., D.Sc.; and D.A. MacAlister, A.R.S.M. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of England and Wales, Explanation of Sheet 339, Newton Abbot. Published by order of the Lords Commissioner of His Majesty's Treasury, H.M. Stationery Office. 149pp. with two plates of photomicrographs and with an Appendix - List of Principal Works on the Geology of the District.

Ussher, W.A.E. [see Lloyd](Second Edition revised by Lloyd, W.) 1933. The Geology of the Country around Torquay. Explanation of Sheet 350. By W.A.E. Ussher, F.G.S., Second Edition (revised). By W. Lloyd, with palaeontology by C.P. Chatwin, and a chapter on the petrography of the igneous rocks by W.G. Shannon. Memoirs of the Geological Survey of England and Wales. Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. Published by His Majesty's Stationery Office. Price 4s 0d.

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Walker, T. H. 1967. Formation of Red Beds in Modern and Ancient Deserts. Bulletin of the Geological Society of America, vol. 78, no. 3, pp. 353-368. By Theodore R. Walker, University of Colorado, Boulder, Colorado.
New evidence supports the theory that the hematite pigment in many red beds, particularly those associated with evaporites and aeolian sandstones, formed after deposition in hot arid or semiarid climates. The evidence includes field, petro-graphic, and chemical data collected from studies of two stratigraphic sequences that contain red beds: (1) Recent, Pleistocene, and Pliocene deposits in the Sonoran desert of northeastern Baja California, Mexico, and (2) late Paleozoic deposits in Colorado.
The sequence in the Sonoran desert contains examples of red beds forming today in a hot dry climate. They are associated with bedded evaporites and occur where regional faunal, floral, and pedological evidence indicates rainfall has been low throughout the postdepositional history of the sediments. The facies associations reflect deposition in fluvial and fluvial-marine transitional environments. Red arkose fanglomerates occur on the flanks of the highland source areas, and red muds, probably of intertidal and shallow subtidal origin, occur in the transition sediments. Both of these red-stained facies show progressive stages of in situ alteration of nonred sediments to hematite-stained red beds, and in each, the iron in the stain is derived from intra-stratal alteration of iron-bearing detrital grains, particularly iron silicates such as hornblende and biotite.
The late Paleozoic red beds of Colorado contain rock types and facies associations similar to those of the Sonoran desert; they are interpreted as ancient counterparts of those red beds. Numerous lines of field and petrographic evidence indicate that the hematite pigment in the late Paleozoic red beds formed in place after the sediments were deposited in desert basins.
Warrington, G. and Scrivener, R.C. 1990. The Permian of Devon, England. Review of Palaeobotany and Palynology, vol. 66, pp. 263-272.
The presence of Permian rocks in Devon is confirmed biostratigraphically. Late Permian palynomorphs from the Whipton Formation, the lowest formation in the "New Red Sandstone" succession at Exeter, provide the first palaeontological evidence for the age of those beds. Vertebrate trace fossils from younger beds, the Dawlish Sandstone Formation, are also indicative of a Late Permian age. The Permian-Triassic boundary is placed within the sequence which separates the Dawlish Sandstone Formation from the Middle Triassic Otter Sandstone Formation. The palaeontological evidence demonstrates that the base of the "New Red Sandstone" at Exeter is younger than previously envisaged and that a longer time interval existed between Variscan folding and the onset there of post-orogenic sedimentation. This extended interval is geochrometrically compatible with current dating of successive major events in the late Palaeozoic evolution of south-west England.
West , I.M. 1970. Carbonate Cementation of Some Raised Beaches and Blown Sands of Great Britain. Unpublished M.Sc. Thesis, Liverpool University, 257pp. Includes brief notes re the Hope's Nose Raised Beach. By Ian West.
Williams, R.B.G., Robinson, D.A., Dornbusch, U., Foote, Y.L.M., Moses, C.A. and Saddleton, P.R. 2004. A Sturzstrom-like cliff fall on the Chalk Coast of Sussex, UK. Pp. 89-97. In Mortimore, R.N. and Duperret, A. (Eds) 2004. Coastal Chalk Cliff Instability. Geological Society of London, Engineering Geology Special Publication, No. 20.
Abstract: In 1914 a notable cliff fall occurred on the chalk coast of the Seven Sisters in Sussex. Debris from the fall travelled outwards across the shore platform in front of the cliff for a distance of about 75m. forming a narrow tongue-like projection. The reason why the debris exhibited such mobility is uncertain but it may have flowed in a similar fashion to a sturzstrom, despite its modest volume (c. 12500 cubic metres) and the equally modest height of the cliff (44-45m). If this suggestion is correct, the minimum volume of detached rock required to triggers sturzstrom-type flow is 1 - 2 orders of magnitude less than is commonly claimed.
Wilson, P. (Pat). 2013. The Torbay Geopark around Babbacombe. OUGS Newsletter, January, 2013, pp. 8-10.
Woodward, H. Note on a new English Homalonotus from the Devonian, Torquay, S. Devon. Geological Magazine, December 2, vol. 8, p. 487. (Homalonotus is an extinct genus of trilobite in the order Phacopida)
Worth, R.N. 1890. The igneous constituents of the Triassic breccias and conglomerates of south Devon. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society, London, vol. 46, p. 71. (R.N. Worth was the founder of the Worth Prize of the Geological Society of London, a prize gratefully received by Ian West for this website in 2008.)

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Copyright © 2013. Ian West, Catherine West, Tonya Loades and Joanna Bentley. All rights reserved. This is a purely academic website and images and text may not be copied for publication or for use on other webpages or for any commercial activity. A reasonable number of images and some text may be used for non-commercial academic purposes, including field trip handouts, lectures, student projects, dissertations etc, providing source is acknowledged.

Disclaimer: Geological fieldwork involves some level of risk, which can be reduced by knowledge, experience and appropriate safety precautions. Persons undertaking field work should assess the risk, as far as possible, in accordance with weather, conditions on the day and the type of persons involved. In providing field guides on the Internet no person is advised here to undertake geological field work in any way that might involve them in unreasonable risk from cliffs, ledges, rocks, sea or other causes. Not all places need be visited and the descriptions and photographs here can be used as an alternative to visiting. Individuals and leaders should take appropriate safety precautions, and in bad conditions be prepared to cancell part or all of the field trip if necessary. Permission should be sought for entry into private land and no damage should take place. Attention should be paid to weather warnings, local warnings and danger signs. No liability for death, injury, damage to, or loss of property in connection with a field trip is accepted by providing these websites of geological information. Discussion of geological and geomorphological features, coast erosion, coastal retreat, storm surges etc are given here for academic and educational purposes only. They are not intended for assessment of risk to property or to life. No liability is accepted if this website is used beyond its academic purposes in attempting to determine measures of risk to life or property.

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Dr Ian West, author of these webpages

Webpage - written and produced by:

Ian West, M.Sc. Ph.D. F.G.S.


at his private address, Romsey, Hampshire, kindly supported by Southampton University,and web-hosted by courtesy of iSolutions of Southampton University. The website does not necessarily represent the views of Southampton University. The website is written privately from home in Romsey, unfunded and with no staff other than the author, but generously and freely published by Southampton University. Field trips shown in photographs do not necessarily have any connection with Southampton University and may have been private or have been run by various organisations.