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The Albian-Cenomanian boundary at Eggardon Hill, Dorset (England) : an anomaly resolved?

By M.A. Woods, C.J. Wood, I.P. Wilkinson and G.K. Lott

Abstract

Re-examination of the classic exposures of the Eggardon Grit (topmost Upper Greensand Formation) at Eggardon Hill, Dorset shows that the upper part of this unit has a more complex stratigraphy than has been previously recognised. The Eggardon Grit Member, as described herein, is capped by a hardground and associated conglomerate, and is entirely of Late Albian age. The hardground is probably the lateral equivalent of the Small Cove Hardground, which marks the top of the Upper Greensand succession in southeast Devon. The conglomerate is overlain by a thin sandy limestone containing Early Cenomanian ammonites. This limestone is almost certainly the horizon of the Early Cenomanian ammonite fauna that has previously been attributed to the top of the Eggardon Grit. The limestone is regarded as a thin lateral equivalent of the Beer Head Limestone Formation (formerly Cenomanian Limestone) exposed on the southeast Devon coast. The fauna of the limestone at Eggardon suggests that it is probably the age equivalent to the two lowest subdivisions of the Beer Head Limestone in southeast Devon, with a remanié fauna of the Pounds Pool Sandy Limestone Member combined with indigenous macrofossils of the Hooken Nodular Limestone Member. The next highest subdivision of the Beer Head Limestone in southeast Devon (Little Beach Bioclastic Limestone Member), equates with the ammonite-rich phosphatic conglomerate of the ‘Chalk Basement Bed’, which caps the Beer Head Limestone at Eggardon, and which was previously regarded as the base of the Chalk Group on Eggardon Hill.\ud \ud Petrographic analysis of the Eggardon Grit shows that lithologically it should more correctly be described as a sandy limestone rather than sandstone. The original stratigraphical definition of the unit should probably be modified to exclude the softer, nodular calcareous sandstones that have traditionally been included in the lower part of the member.\ud \ud Without the apparently clear evidence of unbroken sedimentation across the Albian–Cenomanian boundary, suggested by the previous interpretation of the Eggardon succession, it is harder to argue for this being a prevalent feature of Upper Greensand stratigraphy in southwest England. Correlation of the Eggardon succession with successions in Dorset and southeast Devon reveals a widespread regional break in sedimentation at the Albian–Cenomanian boundary. The sand-rich facies above this unconformity represent the true base of the Chalk Group, rather than the ‘Chalk Basement Bed’ of previous interpretations.\ud \ud Selected elements of regionally important Upper Greensand ammonite faunas previously reported from Shapwick Quarry, near Lyme Regis, and Babcombe Copse, near Newton Abbot, are newly figured herein

Topics: Earth Sciences
Publisher: Elsevier
Year: 2009
DOI identifier: 10.1016/j.pgeola.2009.06.003
OAI identifier: oai:nora.nerc.ac.uk:8715

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