Geology at Pett Level, east of Hastings

Hunting for fossils in hard Bone Bed rock from the top of the Ashdown Sandstone

Steve lends scale to 3000 year old trees and root mat exposed at low tide

Pett Level is low lying grazing land, artificially drained and protected from the sea by a sea wall. Over the past several thousand years the sea has come and gone from this area several times, an old cliff line forms the inland edge of the Levels. At one time the sea was further away and a forest grew on what is now covered by sea twice a day. But at low tide you can walk out and stand beside fallen trees that grew here about 3000 years ago.
At lunchtime I had cheesy chips and a pint of Rother Valley ‘Level Best’, a very appropriately named local beer, at the Smugglers Inn, Pett Level.
During the morning we explored the older geology of the 130m year old Ashdown Beds which form the cliffs immediately west of the submerged forest.
The main and obvious rock is a massive sandstone which was adding to a delta being formed by a river or rivers flowing from land located somewhere in the London area (and north of there). At the top of this sandstone there are a few thin and hard coarse sand beds, maybe just 10 to 20cm thick, and separated by similar thicknesses of silty clays. These represent big flood events in which masses of materials were washed down from the mainland and the surface of the delta further inland, and deposited in the building area of the delta. They are important to geologists because they contain many fossils which appear black in the white qurtz sandstone. We found the piece shown here, and much was taken for later careful examination, but we extracted fish scales (big ones from heavily armoured fish), sharks teeth and lots of woody stuff too delicate to take away.

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