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Dorset and East Devon Coast
Site number:
Type of site: Natural
Date: Mesozoic Era
Date of Inscription: 2001
Location: Europe, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, England, Dorset and East Devon
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Description: The cliff exposures that stretch the length of the Dorset and East Devon coast offer a more or less uninterrupted series of rock formations from the Mesozoic Era, or some 185 million years of the earth's history. For over 300 years, the area's notable fossil sites and characteristic coastal geomorphologic features have played a role in the study of earth sciences. --WHMNet paraphrase from the description at WHC Site, where additional information is available.
  The Jurassic Coast is a World Heritage Site on the English Channel coast of southern England. The site stretches from Orcombe Point near Exmouth in East Devon to Old Harry Rocks near Swanage in East Dorset, a distance of 95 miles (153 km). Chartered in 2001, the Jurassic coast was the second natural World Heritage Site to be designated in United Kingdom. Its entire length can be walked on the South West Coast Path. The Jurassic Coast consists of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous cliffs, spanning the Mesozoic Era, documenting 180 million years of geological history. The site contains a number of unique geological features and shows excellent examples of different landforms, including the natural arch at Durdle Door, the cove and limestone folding at Lulworth Cove and an island, the Isle of Portland. Chesil Beach is a fine example of both a tombolo and a storm beach. The site has stretches of both concordant and discordant coastlines. Due to the quality of the varied geology, the site is the subject of international field studies. This area was home to Mary Anning, a palaeontologist who studied the fossils of the coastline around Lyme Regis and discovered the first complete Ichthyosaur fossil. The highest point on the Jurassic Coast, at 191 metres (627 ft), is Golden Cap. The site was featured on the television programme Seven Natural Wonders as one of the wonders of the South West (of the UK), and in a 2005 poll of Radio Times readers, the Jurassic Coast was named as the 5th greatest natural wonder in Britain. During World War II several sections of the Jurassic Coast became property of the then Ministry of War. One of the Royal Navy's largest bases was at Portland Harbour, though it has since closed. A major army base at Bovington remains in use today, and large areas of land, including the coast between Lulworth Cove and Kimmeridge, including Tyneham ghost village, is still only partially accessible. Areas of the coast near Exmouth, The Fleet at Weymouth and the beaches at Studland were also used for training during the war, but have since been returned to civilian use. Parts of the coast, especially around Portland, can be very dangerous, and frequent shipwrecks have been a feature of the coast throughout recorded history. In January 2007 the coast experienced its most environmentally damaging wreck when the MSC Napoli, a 2,400 capacity container ship, was beached at Branscombe near Sidmouth, losing oil and cargo. --Wikipedia. Text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License.
Reference: 1. UNESCO World Heritage Center, Site Page.
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