The Portland Dinosaur Footprints

Sunday, February 6, 2011

The best of the dinosaur footprint slabs have recently been lifted out of the pile of blocks to be placed in a safe and secure site. In due course it is hoped that they will be on public display, but this will take time. The study of the slabs and arrangements for their future is in the hands of Richard Edmonds from the Dorset-Devon World Heritage Coast (Jurassic Coast) section of Dorset County Council. Richard is shown in the above photographs. The moving of the slabs is by courtesy of Hanson Quarries, who are the owners of the fossils.

A typical slab from the Hard Slatt is shown here, together with enthusiastic amateur geologists, including the Tabner family who have helped by searching the smaller blocks of laminated limestone associated with the dinosaur slabs. Their help is much appreciated. Stuart Tabner discovered the strange markings on a thin limestone, probably from above the dinosaur footprint bed, and discussed below.

These images provide information on the Hard Slatt Bed on the west coast of the Isle of Portland, not far from the site at which the dinosaur footprints were discovered.

Left: The Hard Slatt Bed in situ in the cliffs south of Mutton Cove. Underneath the Hard Slatt is the Shingle, rather crumbly, ripple-bedded, argillaceous and sandy limestone. This is probably the equivalent of the Linsen Shale, beneath the hard limestone of the Hard Cockle Member and a conspicuous bed in the Lulworth Cove and Worbarrow area. This contain sand linsen or lenses of ripple origin and within shale. The sand is mostly carbonate sand.

Centre: The succession in the cliffs from Mutton Cove to Wallsend to show the stratigraphical position of the Hard Slatt in relation to associated strata. The succession ranges from mildly hypersaline strata to evaporites including gypsum.

Right: Cliff-top exposure of the Hard Slatt at Mutton Cove. There are well-developed ripple marks on the top surface of the bed. A dinosaur footprint is visible within the Hard Slatt.

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