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Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
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no 1113963
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EFC Centre at Wat Tyler Country ParkIn January we are only open to the public at our centre at Wat Tyler Country Park on Wednesdays 10am-4pm.
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Geology Site Account

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Wouldham Cliff (Solution Pipes), CHAFFORD HUNDRED, Thurrock District, TQ60057870, Potential Local Geological Site

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Site of geological interest with potential for promoting geology. Part of Chafford Gorges Nature Park.


Site description

The east-facing chalk cliff adjacent to Devonshire Road has a steeply sloping path leading all the way up to Warren Lane. The cliff face here displays a superb series of chalk ‘pipes’ filled with Thanet Sand. Although pipes like this were once a common sight in many chalk quarries there are now very few left which makes these examples of great importance. Chalk pipes are a real geological curiosity and they are all the more interesting because there is no scientific agreement on their exact origin. In places the sides of the pipes are almost vertical and the Bullhead Bed (see box) is con-tinuous around each one.

The best explanation for the formation of these pipes is groundwater percolating down through the sand, probably in a hot climate many millions of years ago, that has very slowly dissolved the chalk along joints. As the chalk has been removed millimetre by millimetre the sand has sagged down into each pipe but so slowly that the bedding is retained.

This cliff section forms part of Chafford Gorges Nature Park and is managed by the Essex Wildlife Trust.

Solution pipes, infilled with Thanet Sand, in the east-facing section of Wouldham Cliff. Photo © G.Lucy


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Reference: Lucy 2009

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