The Dorset and East Devon coast is one of the most important earth science sites in the world, presenting an amazing combination of internationally renowned characteristics. The coast contains a virtually complete sequence through some 185 million years of geological time, all situated within an unspoilt and accessible coastline of great beauty, protected and managed for conservation, public enjoyment and education. UNESCO has declared this coastline a World Heritage Site.
Location: on the Dorset and East Devon coast in the South of England.
Size: The coast stretches 95 miles, running from the low tide mark to the cliff top, excluding the developed frontages of the 'Gateway Towns'.
Manager & owner: There are multiple owners. Devon County Council, Dorset County Council and Dorset Coast Forum are the main authorities.
Nature & Landscape
The Dorset and Devon coastline features an attractive and rural countryside with beautiful cliffs and foreshores. The coastline provides ample opportunity for expeditions in search for fossils, exploring the geology and coastal processes
Flora & Fauna
Old quarry sites on Portland Island have turned into nature areas with diverse wildlife, such as reptiles, butterflies and vegetation including the Ivy Broomrape and Pyramidal Orchids. The exposed nature of the cliffs and their rocky ledges provide a home for sea birds and the impressive Peregrine Falcon. One of Portland's rare plants, the Portland Sea Lavender is found nowhere else in the world apart from the cliffs around the southern part of the Island.
Restoration takes place among others on the Portland Island where quarry firms have begun to look at the final restorations and possibilities for wildlife on former quarries. The Dorset Wildlife Trust currently runs a Quarry Wildlife project looking at the management of important sites. The seaward slopes on Lyme Rigis have been subject to marine erosion that has only been slowed by generations of coastal defences and drainage schemes. The maintenance of these schemes and the threat of failure are the subject of major investigation by West Dorset District Council Engineering Division.
The cliff exposures along the coast provide an almost continuous sequence of rock formations spanning some 185 million years of the earth's history, representing an extraordinary range of past environments. The structure of the coast displays its geological interest wonderfully. In general, the strata dip to the east and the oldest rocks are therefore found in the west of the Site with increasingly younger strata outcropping to the east.
The site contains a range of important fossil areas, which have produced excellent preserved evidence, such as dinosaur footprints, a fossil forest and huge ammonites. On the West Dorset coast you will find the oldest Jurassic rocks, the Lias, which are very rich in fossils. The beach below the Black Ven Landslide, between Charmouth and Lyme Regis also provides an excellent platform for fossil search. Important discoveries are still being made; over the last year a local expert fossil collector discovered a perfect baby ichthyosaur on the rocky ledges near Lyme Regis, a number of dinosaur footprints in one of the working quarries on Portland were discovered and a spectacular specimen of Scelidosaurus, the 'Charmouth Dinosaur' has been discovered near Charmouth, which is one of five individuals discovered during the last five years.
The coastal landforms along the Dorset and East Devon coast are regarded as world-class examples of a variety of processes working at the land/sea boundary. The coast displays an outstanding range of active coastal processes, such as active landslides, the Chesil beach that runs from West Bay to Portland, and bays and headlands. The latter is especially well demonstrated around the coast of Lulworth, which is famous for showcasing every stage in the development of bays and headlands. At Budleigh Salterton you will find pebble beds with the oldest rocks on the site. The Hooken Landslide at Beer Head occurred in 1789-90 and provides a magnificent view and the Black Ven Landslide of 1958-9 is the largest coastal mudslide recorded in Europe. These are just a few examples of the variety of processes that can be found along the coast.
The Jurassic coast has been subject to research for the last three hundred years and still provides an enormous volume of high quality scientific study. The fossil wealth of Lyme Regis was first pointed out by John Ray in 1673. In 1770 the area drew a visit to Weymouth from James Hutton (1726-1797) of Edinburgh, often cited as 'the father of modern geology'. The World Heritage Site has since inspired a large number of other significant geologists, who were either born, have worked or lived here.
ZDROJ:Coastal Guide to Europe, kráceno