Stromatoporoids 25th October 15

NB–8th November 2015 update from Steve HERE

Yes, Stromatoporoids NOT Stromatolites.

Stacks on the latter on the web, we even brought home samples from the plentiful deposits found on Crete.  Stromatoporoids not so well known but if anyone DOES know about the subject then surely it is Dr Stephen Kershaw (Bio). Stephen has been working for years, gradually building up his research knowledge on the subject and now, towards the end of that jigsaw puzzle he needed to see if any of the missing pieces were to be found in the Much Wenlock formations in Martley. Via our mutual contact and friend Dr David Ray, himself studying the bentonites in the same formations, arrangements were made for a visit to Martley on 25th November.

Three of us (Ingrid, Ian and self) were able to join Stephen, his wife Dr Li Guo (PhD on Quatenary hot spring carbonates (travertines) in Tuscany, from Cardiff University. Li is from Sichuan Province in central China), and Dr Simon Schneider (PhD on Mesozioc Molluscs,  from Erlangen University in Southern Germany).  Both Li and Simon work for CASP (Cambridge Arctic Shelf Programme) based in Cambridge. On hearing this, I mentioned that Hilary (Harland) is our society librarian, news greeted with surprise and joy by Li.  After all it was Hilary’s father WB (Brian) Harland who established the organisation in 1948, known then as the Cambridge Spitsbergen Expeditions, that later in 1975, became CASP .  We hope that Li and Hil will meet up!

Back to the little beasties.  Stephen has created a very readable and quite light-hearted website, its main aims the explanation of ‘Earth surface environments and processes’ to the general public and to ‘provide information to geo-science researchers’.   It is within these fully illustrated pages that you can read how the two stromatos from over 400 million years ago (at Martley sites) can be differentiated.

First stop on 25th, was the main quarry face at Penny Hill, a fossiliferous location with plenty of corals, a sign that there might also be stromatoporoids, and there were!  Not many but they were there.  Patient explanation and demonstration by the three doctors, led Ing, Ian and self to believe that we too could go off and find them on our own but now I am not so sure, hmm. They are layered as are their near namesakes, closer examination revealing what Stephen calls a ‘Kremlin wall’ design, and his site illustrates exactly what he means:




Having used his picture without permission I hope the KGB do not visit Martley soon.



Stromatoporoids showing the brick like segmentation

Stromatoporoids layers showing brick like segmentation


After Penny Hill, a rare visit to one of Martley’s finest exposures (in the Coalbrookdale formation)-that behind Quarry Farm.  The welcome by Val and Peter Wedell-Hall has to be noted and appreciated.  They were both keenly interested in the subject that Stephen and team were researching.  Their quarry face has a coral reef and again provided samples for the team.  An outstanding visit was capped by the offer of a glass of champagne.  Lo and behold, a bottle of Moet was produced, opened and enjoyed, by myself certainly, others too.  I hesitate to tell you that one philistine tipped half his glass away as he was driving, though not at the time.  Never has geology been so enjoyable.

Later visits to the Canyon and to the new face that we have cleared near the canyon did not bear fruit.  We all parted at Callow farm drive, beautiful sunshine, lovely day, a most enjoyable and educational experience–thanks Stephen, Li and Simon, hope to see you again soon.