Urban geology: A sunny Sunday in Hoofddorp

The last weekend in September 2013 was sunny after more than two weeks of grey skies, rain and even some fog. Saturday was spent as planned, moving bookcases ahead of Karen’s insatiable paintbrush, the walls changing from lime green to white as she progressed. Sunday morning was spent putting some books back onto bookcases, but I had to get out in the afternoon. It might be six months or more before I could venture out again in only a T-shirt, shorts, training shoes and floppy hat. I had my son, Pelham, as field assistant, but where to go? The answer was obvious to me – this was the day to consummate a project that I’d had in contemplation for some years.

Fig. 1. Outline map of the Beukenhorst area of Hoofddorp, the Netherlands, showing the route to Siriusdreef and the Carboniferous limestone ‘pseudo-dykes’ from the railway and Zuid Tangent express bus stations; other roads are largely omitted for clarity. The railway (trellised-line) is one stop from Amsterdam Schiphol Airport to the east; similarly, the elevated bus lane of the Zuid Tangent (routes 300 and 310) come from Schiphol. Key: + = railway or bus station; B = Beukenhorst Zuid Tangent station; H = Hoofddorp railway and Zuid Tangent station; * * * * * = side of Siriusdreef with limestone ‘pseudo-dykes’.

The Netherlands is not renowned for its pre-Pleistocene geology. There is the type Maastrichtian (uppermost Cretaceous) in the south, some fine Triassic near the German border in the east and odd spots of poorly exposed Tertiaries. Where I live, in Hoofddorp (near Amsterdam Schiphol Airport), we live below sea level on the bed of a drained lake; but what Hoofddorp lacks in surface exposure, it makes up for in building and ornamental stones. To the south and east of the town is a business park in the Beukenhorst district, with a fine range of architectural styles and building materials, both man-made and natural stone.


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