Chalk Quarry, Highstead
|Sheppey Cliffs and Foreshore|
Show Sheppey Cliffs and Foreshore on the Map >>
Grid Reference: TR000731
This classic coastal section is one of the best known Palaeogene sites in Britain having been the focus of scientific study since the eighteenth century. The cliff and foreshore section between Warden and Minster comprises Eocene London Clay, capped by Pleistocene sediments except between East End and Cliff Farm where the cliff intersects an outlier of the Eocene Virginia Water Formation. This is the only extant section of the upper part of the London Clay and is geographically the most extensive section of this Formation in Britain.
Some of the most detailed studies of Palaeogene stratigraphy have been produced for this section. Five informal divisions (A to E) have been recognised for the London Clay of which divisions C, D and E are exposed. The stratigraphical and palaeoenvironmental significance of the site is a reflection of its extremely well preserved fossil fauna and flora.
A considerable invertebrate fauna has been recovered including bivalves, gastropods, brachiopods and nautiloids. Also encountered are the articulated remains of crabs and lobsters and occasionally well preserved insect remains. There is a particularly abundant microfossil fauna which has been used as a basis for defining the stratigraphical divisions A to E of the London Clay.
Fossil vertebrates are equally important and include fish, reptiles and birds.
This site is the richest palaeobotany site in the London Clay.
Present day active processes have also been studied in considerable detail. At Warden Point, and to its west, a series of impressive, deep-seated, rotational landslips (bench shaped in plan) occur in the London Clay.
This is the best locality in Britain to observe the cycle of rotational landslip typical of soft coasts.
For more information on this SSSI site visit the English Nature website.
(Regionally Important Geological Sites)
RIGS are geological sites that are important for historical, scientific research or educational reasons.
(Sites of Special Scientific Interest)
SSSIs give legal protection to the best sites for wildlife and geology in England.