Torquay. Report from the Geology Section

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Author(s): Bennett. Jenny; Year published: 2012; Origin: Section Conference Reports; Pages: 
Topic(s): geology; Location(s): Torquay

The section is delighted that the DA has reached 150 years and we are proud of the fact that geology has been an important part of the Association since the very early days when William Pengelly was a founder member. Articles in the 1994 Transactions tell us a great deal about his character and his very wide ranging geological interests which covered much more than the work at Kents Cavern that he is remembered for now. He was an important scientist of his day, becoming a Fellow of the Royal Society, known to important figures such as Sir Roderick Murchison, Sir Charles Lyell, and a friend of Sir Joseph Prestwich and Sir John Evans.

Today, many university and school groups visit the area to see the varied and well exposed geology here. In addition, since 2007 the area has had Geopark status which gives “international recognition for its rich geological, historical and cultural heritage”. The cliffs of Torbay range in colour from the red brown Permian rocks of Watcombe and Oddicombe to the fossiliferous Devonian grey limestones of Daddyhole and Triangle Point. The structural history of the area has been researched in great detail by Brian Leveridge (BGS) setting out a long history of basins filled with coral reefs separated by structural highs of terrestrial material. There were also volcanoes in the Devonian, evidenced by deposits of tuffs, or volcanic ash, in the Goodrington area. The zone of the Sticklepath Fault passes through Torquay and can be traced off-shore for some considerable distance. Torquay is also important for deposits from the more recent past, such as the caves formed as limestones dissolved, with the most well-known being Kents Cavern. Evidence for the occupation of Britain by early man has been found here, and research continues on dating material found in the caves. There is also a very important raised beach at Hope’s Nose, where fossil shells in sands found some 15m above present sea level record the level of a beach in the past. With the accumulating interest in climate change, evidence of much higher sea-levels in the past is a key piece of evidence of how the area has changed.

Jenny Bennett
(with advice from Richard Scrivener)

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