The Palaeo Pad field trip to Brighton

Posted By Ian Randall on 2 April 2010

View The Palaeo Pad Field Trip – Peacehaven in a larger map

For a little treat tomorrow, The Palaeo Pad shall be going on a little jaunt to Peacehaven, in East Sussex, on a fossil hunt. Coming with me will be Lizzy Horne (of Incertae Sedis) and Tushna Commissariat (of Void Weaver) – hopefully, we’ll find a good few fossils, and get some nice shots of the hunt in action.1

Peacehaven beach, which is about 6 miles east of Brighton, is Late Cretaceous (83.5-78 million years ago) in age, and comes highly recommended as a fossiliferous location2. When the sediments here were laid down, in the Campanian stage, the region was submerged under a shallow sea, and the UK sat at about 40°N of the equator – the former the product of extreme greenhouse conditions, and the latter of continental drift.

The undercliff at Peacehaven. Photo credit - David Eldridge.

While the cliff-base is protected from the elements by a seventies-style coastal defense, the foreshore is home to many different species of echinoid; the giant ammonite, Parapuzosia; the belemnite Gonioteuthis and a type of bivalve, Neithea.

We plan to travel in to Brighton in the morning, grab some lunch and then head round the coast to Peacehaven: I’m informed that high tide tomorrow is 1.30pm, so hopefully the foreshore will be satisfactorily exposed by about 3 or 4pm. The beach has SSSI status – so no wanton hammering of the cliffs, sadly – but we should be able to find some interesting specimens to photograph on the beach itself; and I’m told the giant ammonites (which range up to 6 feet in diameter) are well worth seeing alone.

  1. I’m seeing energetic filming – racing across the beach, with ‘Challenge Anneka’ style shots of my retreating backside. Or maybe not! []
  2. For more information (and a comprehensive field guide) on Peacehaven, do visit Discovering Fossils. []


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