BSRG PG Fieldtrip: SW Wales (2010)

On Friday the 26th of November, a total of 12 attendees braved treacherous snowy road conditions and delayed public transport to reach the south of Wales for the eighth annual BSRG postgraduate field trip. By 9pm, most people had arrived at the Mexican themed hostel near Llansteffan where curry, pasta and other cooking commenced. After everyone was well fed we joined the hostel owner in the bar downstairs for some unofficial ice-breaking.  It didn’t take long for everyone to get talking and to gain a few unofficial add-ons.  A bit more sleep might have been wise given the early start on Saturday but spirits remained high throughout the weekend.

After a chilly night we set off early Saturday morning towards Marloes Sands in Pembrokeshire, where we met Rob Hillier who very enthusiastically showed us the ins and outs of this classic geological locality.

We started the day with a close look at the lithofacies of the terrestrial deposits of the Old Red Sandstone. We discussed and debated many things including the occurrence of channels, palaeosol profiles, debris flows, synsedimentary tectonic activity and evidence for infaunal colonisation of the tuff layers. After an al-fresco lunch on the beach we moved along the shore passing from  terrestrial into  shallow marine environments where we looked at wave and tidal dominated regimes, sequence boundaries, evidence for the occurance of algal mats and syneresis cracks, volcanic mass flow deposits and Gilbert type deltas. The day was concluded with a stop at the famous Three Chimneys and a search for the arrow-head chiselled by Cantrill et al. in 1916 which points to the supposed Silurian-Devonian boundary. The weather was stunning all day despite the cold and cracking blue skies resulted in breathtaking views over the bay.

Saturday evening we gathered in the bar of the hostel for a well-deserved Mexican meal. The rest of the evening was spent in the cosy living room upstairs where two electrical heaters kept most of the cold out. We discussed the day’s findings, got competitive with a quiz and eventually intrigued by the ways to determine the exact number of peas in a bag without having to count all of them (2100 in an 800g bag if you are interested).

After a night of staggering low temperatures (-17˚C!) the sun came out again and we were in for another day of sunshine. We left the hostel bright and early and set off to Pendine for a day filled with recent sedimentological processes led by Jaco Baas.

The first stop of the day, on top of a hill in Pendine, provided us with stunning views over a barrier island complex formed by long shore currents. On the beach we discussed processes of beach and dune formation, examined recent sedimentary structures and were all fascinated by the presence of sea ice. Following a quick stop at the edge of the now cultivated lagoon, that used to be present behind the barrier island, we stopped in Laugharne for a warm lunch. Having restored our core temperatures we prepared for our visit into the Tâf Estuary. A short walk uphill provided stunning views over the estuary, its channels and the saltmarshes on the west bank. The day was concluded with an up-close and personal encounter with the saltmarsh’s channels and mudflats behind them, where we studied recent sedimentary structures until the retreating light forced us to conclude a very successful trip.

Many thanks to Rob Hillier and Jaco Baas who generously volunteered to give up some of their valuable time to lead this year’s trip and to the BSRG who kindly agreed to sponsor us.

Hope to see you all again next year,

Iris Verhagen & Jo Venus (trip organisers)