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Geology Site Account

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West Thurrock Cemetery, , Thurrock District, TQ587779, General geological site

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Site category: Interglacial deposit

Site name: West Thurrock Cemetery

Grid reference: TQ 587 779

Brief description of site:

It is thought that West Thurrock Cemetery and the adjacent playing fields sit on 'brickearth' dating from an interglacial period, possibly the same strata that revealed remarkable fossils from the Grays brickpits. The brickearth of Grays has been quarried away which means that this site may contain a rare and scientifically important buried resource for future study.


Summary of geological interest

The famous Ice Age brickearth at West Thurrock is part of the Mucking Formation, which is the downstream equivalent of the Taplow Terrace of the Thames and probably about 200,000 years old. These sandy and silty clays contain large fossil mammals which were collected in abundance during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries when the pits were worked by hand. They are also known to contain fossil molluscs and small vertebrates which are unfortunately not represented in these collections but can shed light on a poorly understood period of the Ice Age.

The brickearth occurs at several locations from Little Thurrock to West Thurrock (see entry for Lion Pit Tramway Cutting). It was also revealed in a nearby cutting for the A126 West Thurrock Way in 1983-84 (TQ 590 780) and it is known to continue west beneath the cemetery and playing fields.

The land at West Thurrock Cemetery in Sandy Lane, and the adjacent playing fields, therefore contain a buried resource for future study.


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Reference: Schreve et al. 2006 (p. 23), Bridgland 1994 (p. 239).

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