Unravelling the geological history on the UK

 

Two new volumes of the Geological Conservation Review (GCR) series have been published by JNCC, describing the conservation value of over a hundred sites that have yielded fossil and mineral specimens.

 

These sites that have helped us to unravel the geological history of the UK, and to understand the evolutionary path of its prehistorical cargo of animals, are protected and conserved as SSSIs under British law. Many of the sites are world-famous for the clues that they have given us to the ‘deep time’ history of the Earth. Despite over 300 years of scientific investigation, however, many geological questions remain about evolution, ancient ecosystems, and the processes that form minerals and metal ores.  The sites described in the publications will continue to play a part in our endeavours to understand the geological history of our islands, and in the history of life on Earth.

 

About 130 million years old, this exceptionally preserved fossil dragonfly (Valdaeshna surreyensis) is from the Auclaye Brickworks GCR site. © Jack Beaumont

Fossil Arthropods of Great Britain shows that the group has been – and still is – the most abundant and diverse group of animals in the history of life on Earth.  While the earliest arthropods diversified and proliferated in ocean waters, some strands evolved to play a vital role in the colonization of fresh waters and terrestrial environments.  The non-marine arthropods, in the form of the insects, were the first animals to conquer the airways and co-evolved with plants.  Even from an anthropocentric point of view, they still are one of the most important groups today because of their role in the pollination of flowering plants and as vectors of diseases.  The study of their fossil record, as summarised in the GCR book and evidenced from the fossil record of the sites described, will enhance our understanding of the importance and place of the group in thinking about contemporary ecosystems.

 

Mineralization of England and Wales descibes sites reflecting some 700 million years of Earth history through the wide spectrum of mineral deposit types in those two countries. The rocks host a vast range of mineralization styles, many of which provided deposits of economic significance in the past and which were exploited over many centuries.  Tin and copper ores were being smelted here perhaps as much as 4000 years ago at the start of the British Bronze Age. The availability of iron ore was an important factor at the outset of the ‘Industrial Revolution’ that began in Britain in the 18th Century.  Collectively the GCR sites demonstrate a wide variety of mineralization styles and form an important scientific resource for future study.

 

 

Contact File

 

Neil Ellis

GCR Publications Manager

Tel: +44 (0) 1733 866906

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