GEOLOGY GROUP’S VISIT TO CHESIL BEACH

Members of a geology group have made a study at Chesil Beach, which is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Jurassic Coast. Marine conservationist Marc Kativu-Smith of the Dorset Wildlife Trust gave a presentation to the group, who are part of Crewkerne & District U3A, on how the giant shingle barrier was formed 10,000 years ago at the end of the last Ice Age. 18 miles long, the giant barrier stretches from Portland to West Bay and is 40 metres high at the eastern end, sloping down to sea level in the west. There is also a marked change in the size of the pebbles, from potato-sized pebbles at Portland to pea-sized gravel at West Bay. Trapped behind Chesil Beach is the Fleet, England’s largest saline lagoon.

Geology group leader Val Watson said: “We learned of the vast array of visiting wildlife, attracted there by its unique habitat. We were lucky enough to see some bee orchids in flower and TV cameras allowed us to watch the colony of little terns that nest there, without disturbing them.” After lunch, the group drove west along the coast road through Portesham, Abbotsbury and Burton Bradstock, catching glimpses of Chesil Beach and at West Bay they saw that tons of the smallest pebbles are being moved while new sea defences are being installed.

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