Summer Field Programme - 29 September 2018

Scalby Ness – Middle Jurassic fluvial meanders

Dr Steve Livera

Saturday 29th September, 10:30 AM - rescheduled Burniston Bay

Leader: Steve Livera

Purpose: To visit continuous exposures of the fossilised meander belt in the Long Nab Members of the Scalby Formation.

Access: The trip is suitable for participants in good health and with good mobility. Some moderately difficult terrain including descending and ascending steep but well-maintained steps, (with a handrail), traversing the cobbles, boulders and large rocks on the wave cut platform. The latter are for a short distance (400m each way) Total distance: 4 kms return. 50m ascent/descent.

Logistics: Meet at 10:00 am at the free car park at the end of Rocks Lane, Burniston, YO13 0HX (TA 02659365). Car-pooling may be required if the car park is full – excess cars can be left in Burniston. We will be walking south and north from the cars during the day. A packed lunch will be required, and we will eat on the rocks in Burniston Bay. There are no toilet facilities except at the pubs in Burniston, 1.5 km from the car park. SIGN IN. Toilets available at the car park. Mobile phone signal is poor through most of the trip.

Health and Safety: Hard hat essential. Please do not come without one. The chief hazards are those normally associated with excursions along the scar beneath cliffs.

  • Rock falls: Cliff sections are unstable, particularly after heavy rain or during high winds. Even minor cascades of small stones may cause very serious injury or death. Approaching the cliff face must be avoided at all times.
  • Rough and Slippery Terrain: Small fields of large boulders fields on the foreshore and wave cut platform which may cause stumbles and falls. Wave cut platform may be coated in seaweed and algal film which may well be slippery. Care must be taken traversing both. Wear appropriate footwear with good grip.
  • Tides: To be confirmed.
  • Weather: Consult weather forecast and bring appropriate clothing. Recommend bringing waterproof clothing, sun hat and sun block, and plenty of water (no access during the excursion). The location is often cold.

Itinerary: From the car park we will walk southwards to Cromer Point to overview the cliff and foreshore features as they emerge on the falling tide. This allows us to introduce the stratigraphic setting and look at the complex of large scale features exposed in the foreshore. The latter will be inspected in more detail during the course of the trip. We will then return to the path and the steps down to the beach and walk along the foreshore to study the rocks in more detail, identifying the environments of deposition. Afterwards we will return to the steps and look northward at the dinosaur footprint bearing crevasse splay deposits in the cliff, mainly in falling blocks. After climbing back up the steps we will walk north to the former coastguard lookout point at Long Nab and outline the stratigraphy towards Hundale Point whilst seeing more features in the foreshore as the tide comes in. We have an option for a visit to Hundale Point along the coastal path if members are keen.

The Scalby Formation is thought to be of Bathonian age and the outcrops here have been heavily studied in the past. The section from Scalby Ness to Long Nab is a very unique example of a ‘fossilised’ river meander belt, one of the few in the world that are so well exposed as to allow quantitative comparison with modern rivers and their valley deposits. We will examine a variety of sub-environments related to meandering river and floodplain sediments and observe key diagnostic features that exist in this superb section.

Return up steps from about 2:30pm. Car park by 3:00pm.

The section is an SSSI, and we ask participants not to take specimens from the cliffs or out of the wave cut platform - specimens may be found in the loose scree and boulder on the foreshore. These are out of stratigraphic position so of lower scientific value.

If you want to go on the field trip please contact Tim Burnhill at

Participants should wear stout footwear and clothing suitable for wet weather conditions and rucksacks to keep hands free when walking. Hard hats are required for quarry and cliff base visits where advised. Please Note: RGG will not be able to provide hard hats – please bring your own.