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Essex Field Club
Essex Field Club
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Essex Field Club

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EFC Centre at Wat Tyler Country ParkWe are closed due to the Covid-19 situation, but we are otherwise normally open to the public at our centre at Wat Tyler Country Park every Saturday, Sunday and bank holiday 11am-4pm, check. We are also normally open on Wednesdays 10am-4pm.

Geology Site Account

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West Silvertown Channel, SILVERTOWN, London Borough of Newham, TQ401805, Historical site only

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Site category: Periglacial deposits and features

Buried geological feature. Revealed only by boreholes.


Site description

Ice sheets and glaciers disappeared from the British Isles about 15,000 years ago and for over two thousand years temperatures rose until they were probably even higher than today. However, sometime after 13,000 years ago the Earth was plunged into a cold period which allowed arctic conditions to return to Britain. This abrupt change in climate, thought to be due to a sudden change in ocean currents, led to an ice cap reforming over the Western Highlands of Scotland and must have been an unpleasant shock to humans in Europe at the time.

Evidence of this cold snap, called the ‘Younger Dryas’ or ‘Loch Lomond’ stadial is present beneath West Silvertown Urban Village. Seven boreholes south of Royal Victoria Dock have encountered a buried river channel with layers of sediment containing fossil pollen. The species of plants represented confirm that the vegetation successions at this time were thrown into reverse and the London area once again became a tundra-like landscape.

The Younger Dryas Stadial, named after an arctic flower, lasted little more than a thousand years and, according to the study of Greenland ice cores, it ended as abruptly as it had begun. Evidence from Silvertown and elsewhere shows that from about 11,000 years ago the tundra was replaced by pine forest as the Earth’s climate warmed again and settled into the relative stability of our present interglacial, the Holocene.


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Reference: Wilkinson 2004, Ellison 2004 (p.72 and 76)

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