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Proceedings 12

Summary of papers

Donato, J. (2007). A Geophysical Ramble across Southern Shropshire – Speculations based upon an East-West Cross-Section, 4pp.

Using data based largely on published papers and BGS mapping in the public domain, a 100 km long East-West section through Church Stretton and Bridgnorth has been constructed. By developing gravity and magnetic models, it has been possible to postulate feasible crustal configurations for the deep geology.

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Rosenbaum, M.S. (2007). The building stones of Ludlow: a walk through the town. 38pp.

The buildings in the centre of Ludlow reveal the geology of south Shropshire, reflecting both the availability of suitable stone and the changing fashions and technologies of using it. This ranges from the local, somewhat friable, grey calcareous siltstone of Whitcliffe, through the stronger yellow, red and purple sandstones of late Silurian age, to the Carboniferous dolerite intrusions of the Clee Hills to the east. A number of glaciers almost met in late Quaternary times, bringing with them a wide variety of sand and gravel, some of which has been employed in the town. Improved bulk transport from Georgian times onwards (canals, then railways and latterly roads) has enabled use to be made of better quality stone sourced from more distant quarries.

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Rayner, C., Rayner, M. & Rosenbaum, M.S. (2007). A Geological Trail through the landslides of Ironbridge Gorge. 14pp.

The spectacular nature of the Gorge has led to many studies of the landslides at Ironbridge, the earliest written record being the sermon of John Fletcher concerning Buildwas (1773), followed by the 1853 account of Rookery Wood that disrupted construction of the Severn Valley Railway between Ironbridge and Bridgnorth. The 1952 Jackfield landslide was particularly important, leading to an international revolution in the understanding of clay behaviour. Slope instability continues, and remains a topic of concern as local people strive to mitigate the consequences of landsliding to their properties and usage of the land. However, other geomorphological processes are active within this steep-sided valley, producing a blanket cover of colluvium, added to which are anthropogenic deposits built up notably during the Industrial Revolution. These cover some landslide deposits; others are disrupted by more recent landslide events, evidence of the on-going slope instability of the Gorge.

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Torrens, H.S. (2007). The Earliest Geological Essay from Shropshire? Thoughts on the Formation of the Earth by a Farmer. 3pp.

Based on a scanned copy of the review of a book published in Shrewsbury in 1802, which first appeared in the British Critic of 1804, volume 23, pages 447 to 448. The original book has yet to be located but, if found, may well prove to be the first geological essay to be published in, or written about, Shropshire.

The identity of  ‘a Farmer’ is unknown, and a challenge is to identify who he/she was. It is interesting to speculate to what extent this book might have influenced other pioneer geologists, in particular Arthur Aikin who published his first paper on the geology of Shropshire in the Transactions of the fledgling Geological Society of London in 1811, and was one of its founder members (in 1807), and later the likes of the Reverend Thomas Lewis who came to live in the area in 1827 and subsequently greatly influenced the studies made famous by Roderick Murchison leading to defining the Silurian System, and the young Charles Darwin who was born in Shrewsbury in 1809, just a few years after the book’s publication. But can it have influenced anyone if no copy survived?

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Rosenbaum, M.S. (2007). A Geological Trail in front of the last glacier in South Shropshire. 14pp.

A complex suite of sediments were deposited around Ludlow during the late Pleistocene, created by the melting of glaciers. One glacier came from Wales, eastwards over Clun Forest, with a glacial lobe flowing eastwards through the col by Downton Castle. Another lobe reached Craven Arms and probably then turned southwards towards Onibury.

This landscape has also been modified by erosion as the River Teme, diverted eastwards from Aymestry by another major glacier, coming from the Wye Valley to the south, rejuvenated erosion and transportation of weathered material from the Silurian mudstones that underlie the lower ground.

These alluvial processes were significantly assisted by periglacial weathering, especially solifluction, leaving behind an intricate pattern of small curved steep-sided valleys.

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Rayner, C. (2007). A Geological Trail around Hawkstone Park. 9pp.

Hawkstone Park lies at the south-east edge of a shallow elongated basin extending through the North Shropshire and Cheshire Plains. The sandstones, being stronger than the intervening mudstones, stand up from the general low-lying landscape as prominent ridges faced by escarpments. These escarpments were displaced in the Jurassic Period, some 60 million years later, by a series of important faults.

Copper mineralisation is present, dating from the Tertiary Period, some 100 million years after the faulting, when there was igneous activity associated with the opening up of the North Atlantic. The effect of this locally was to produce hot fluids, rich in copper and barytes, which moved within the groundwater and crystallised out in the sandstones, particularly along fault planes.

A geological trail is presented, enabling the visitor to the Park to better appreciate the influence of this geology on the landscape and the features enhanced over the last two hundred years by the Hill family.

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Rayner, C. (2007). Be a Rock Detective around Hawkstone Park. 5pp.

A geological trail is presented, enabling the visitor to the Park to better appreciate the influence of this geology on the landscape and the features enhanced over the last two hundred years by the Hill family.

Be a Rock Detective – follow this trail! Look for clues to unravel the story of Hawkstone’s wonderful rock formations. Keep your eyes open. What can you discover?

A geotrail for children (Key Stage 3/4), helped by an adult.

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Complete volume, p.1-83

All papers
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Annual compilations of the Proceedings are printed and distributed to the major geological libraries and resource centres where they may be accessed. Click here for contact details.

To cite an article from this publication:

Rayner, C., Rayner, M. & Rosenbaum, M.S. (2007). A Geological Trail through the landslides of Ironbridge Gorge. Proceedings of the Shropshire Geological Society12, 39-52. ISSN 1750-855X (Print), ISSN 1750-8568 (Online)

© 2007 Shropshire Geological Society

Proceedings No 12 2007