Fossil beetles of Bognor Regis, West Sussex

David Bone (UK) Bognor Regis in West Sussex was wheret I spent my teenage years (a long time ago) and it is still a locality that I regularly visit and to where I also lead fossil hunting expeditions. Having said that, like many foreshore localities with no eroding cliffs, there are times when beach sand hides the underlying geology and a casual visitor can be very disappointed. Alistair describes the London Clay around the sandstone ‘Bognor Rocks’ and their many fossil molluscs, but he also briefly mentions that fossil beetles have been found at this locality. Bognor is one of very few places in Britain where Eocene fossil insects can be found and I have the privilege of being one of only a handful of people that have found them here. I believe that none have been found for at least 30 years due to lack of suitable foreshore exposures or, possibly, sufficiently dedicated collectors. My collections were mainly created in the 1970s and ‘80s, when ideal conditions periodically exposed large tracts of London Clay in the right area of foreshore known as the ‘Beetle Bed’, which is a narrow strip of clay just to the west of the Bognor Rocks (Fig. 1). Here, the London Clay (Division B) is a grey-brown, sticky clay, with occasional claystone nodules known as septaria. Fig. 1. Foreshore exposure of the Beetle Bed, London Clay, Bognor Regis in 1991. (Photo by David Bone.) The London Clay is a fully marine deposit around 55Ma old, … Read More

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Crystals and minerals of the London Clay

Bob Williams (UK) I developed a passion for crystals while collecting fossils. To me, crystals don’t have to be fancy, rare or expensive to be of immense interest. Even a good specimen of the commonly encountered “fools gold” (iron pyrite, more technically referred to as iron sulphide) will be of great interest to me. I live in south-east England, which is perhaps not the best place in the country for collecting interesting crystal specimens. However, I have a special interest in a geological deposit known as “London Clay” that is highly fossiliferous and includes fossils of crabs and lobsters. Many people will not associate this deposit with interesting minerals, but this would be to underestimate its potential. Fig. 1. London Clay, Isle of Sheppey, Kent. Crystal groups display the geometry of the crystal structure that is associated with a particular mineral and their forms can vary a great deal. The atoms, from which a substance is built, combine into structures known as “unit cells”. The atomic structure of a unit cell is then identically repeated, forming assemblies that give rise to the final crystalline form (that is, the mineral itself). Some compounds produce small, crystalline structures while others can produce individual crystals that are massive in size and striking in overall appearance. Amethyst is a good example of this and is, perhaps, the most familiar and most commercially available mineral of this type. A closer look at the crystal structure of any mineral will reveal objects of such incredible, geometric … Read More

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