East Lothian’s geological journey: see it for yourself

Scheduled Events Excursions
Whitesands ELC Car Park Map

A follow-on from January Zoom talk by Dr Fiona McGibbon.

Coastal geology field visit led by Fiona McGibbon, Open University Associate Lecturer and Teaching Fellow at the Centre for Open Learning, Edinburgh University.

Saturday 9 July 2022, 2 PM, Whitesands car park, East Lothian. c 2 miles down coast from Dunbar, off A1087.

See map above, turn off at the first car park – Whitesands (not Barn’s Ness.)

Nota Bene: to catch the tides no later than 2 PM please.

This excursion offers a chance to examine the coastal rock outcrops at Whitesands and Barn’s Ness. These rocks are fossil-rich and diverse, but also offer an opportunity to look at how rock type changes through time in rhythm with the Earth system, as the sequence fluctuates between marine and terrestrial conditions, multiple times. Although some of the rocks are marine, they do not relate to the current coastal environment, predating it by over 300 million years !

The coastal rock exposures at Whitesands and Barn’s Ness, east of Dunbar are protected as a special site of scientific interest (SSSI) for their exquisite geology. This is because the rocks are fossil-rich and record a fascinating sequence of events in Earth history that took place over 300 million years ago in the Carboniferous Period when they were originally deposited near the Equator. The sequence of rock types and the diverse fossils they contain, suggest repeated sea-level fluctuations affecting a long gone tropical coastal landscape. Reading these rocks teaches us a lesson in Earth system science.

Risk assessment

Main hazard is slippery rocks in the intertidal zone and rough ground, so slipping and tripping are the things to worry about. The visit leader will mitigate hazards by giving a safety briefing in the car park and advising how to take the safest route on the rocks. There are possibilities for some to look down from the grassy tops, but best if everyone can join in the exploration down on the rocks.
However if you have mobility problems this visit is not for you.

Event meeting details

We will meet at Whitesands car park and walk over the rocks of the wave-cut platform which will be rough and, in places, slippery. Walking boots with ankle support are necessary and if you use walking poles, do bring them. The total distance travelled will not be large (less than 1km), going as far as the Barn’s Ness car park and looping back.

If you do not have a coastal car park pass, please bring £2.50 or you can pay using the car parking app Ringgo.

Understandably numbers will be limited. Members should book early with Elaine Whewell by email: elaine.whewell@icloud.com

By eastlothianantiquarians

The East Lothian Antiquarian and Field Naturalists’ Society, established in 1924, is a membership organisation and a charity. Member events include outings and a copy of the Transactions for just £15/annum. We also welcome short contributions from members for the website.