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A very British summer in the late Triassic: torrential rain, the Arden Sandstone and the dawn of the dinosaurs

December 15, 2021 @ 7:30 pm - 9:00 pm


A talk by Emeritus Prof Stuart Burley, Keele University.

The Arden Sandstone Formation is a late Triassic, truly local Warwickshire formation, named from its type section on the Grand Union Canal at Shrewley, first described by the Rev. Peter Bellinger Brodie of Rowington in 1856, and now an SSSI. The upper unit has been widely used as a local building stone in Warwickshire, including in the construction of the fine St Peter’s Church in Wootton Wawen (and many other local churches) as well as the National Trust medieval manor house at Baddesley Clinton. The Arden Sandstone marks a dramatic change in the desert deposition of the Mercia Mudstone Group.

The Rev. Brodie, vicar of Rowington from 1853 to 1897, and president of the Geological Society of London for 1894, found fossil fish and footprints of the reptile Rhynchosaurides from Shrewley and Rowington whilst his son, Douglas Brodie, faithfully following in his fathers’ footsteps, described Chirotherium footprints (the famous ‘hand beast’) from near Preston Bagot (specifically ‘Whitley Green’), which is likely very close to the Blackford Hill exposure at Henley in Arden.

Some of these rare fossil finds are on display in Warwick Museum, whilst examination of the Arden Sandstone around Warwickshire reveals abundant crustacean and worm burrows, desiccation cracks, common clam shrimp fossils of the genus Euestheria, plant remains and small abraded remains of reptile bones.

How was the Arden Sandstone deposited? There was extreme variation in the Triassic climate thought by many geologists to be consequential of volcanic eruptions in western North America. These volcanic eruptions resulted in huge amounts of carbon dioxide being released into the late Triassic atmosphere, leading to increased rainfall, global warming and rapid, ocean acidification, turning a dry world dominated by large deserts in central part of the Pangaea super-continent, into much wetter and humid environments. Flash floods across the Triassic Mercia Mudstone Group created evaporitic lakes which were fed by the rivers of the Arden Sandstone.


December 15, 2021
7:30 pm - 9:00 pm
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Warwickshire Geological Conservation Group
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