Monthly Archives: June 2013

Excursion Seven: Flamborough Head Revisited










Poem with thermoluminescence


We take a sample from the buried cliff:
raised beach shingle, chalk, the Skipsea Till,
coarse and imbricated gravels. We lift
small cupfuls to the microscope, label
hippopotamus, hyena, straight-tusked
elephant, bison, deer and water vole.
We sort the flints from temperate molluscs,
wild erratics found in kettle holes.
Thermoluminescence dates the blown sand
to a period mid-Ipswichian.
Going further back, we see then how the land
in fact curved west away from Bridlington,
and where we took the rocks, the cliff we walked,
did not exist, was low Cretaceous chalk.


From Fossil Sunshine, forthcoming from Worple Press

Poem with horizontal borehole

Danes Dyke

We are waiting for results from Sheffield
on the sample taken from the horizontal
borehole.  Initially we thought the gravels
could be correlatives of interglacials
found further west – do you follow? –
but now we read in their significance
the movement of the North Sea Lobe
of the last ice sheet in eastern England.
Freeze and thaw has worked the sediments.
On top of these are laminated muds
and rippled sands, suggesting ice was present
to the south, but we’re not wizened Druids
with hazel wands. This is just our impulse.
We’re eagerly awaiting the results.

From Fossil Sunshine, forthcoming from Worple Press

Poem with Milankovitch cycles

Selwicks Bay

Like veins of fat in a hock of ham
fault lines score down heaved chalk cliffs
and across the thick shore platform.
The flints are uniform, and calcite clefts
indicate the brecciated crush zone
occurring to the south of the west-east
latitude of tectonic disturbance.
It’s highly complex, to say the least.
But there’s a rhythm in the chalk –
soft and harder beds, nodules, wispy marls,
alternating flints – regular as clocks
that mark a record of Cretaceous cycles:
the whole Earth’s orbit accurately ranged,
their frequencies a pace-maker for change.

From Fossil Sunshine, forthcoming from Worple Press

Poem with ideal conditions

Bempton Cliffs

Beneath the surface, stretching for a mile,
the huge chalk platform’s grinded into pits
by wave-chucked boulders and the pelted gravels.
Add to this the way the platform fits
with the western end of a major step
in the North Sea, and conditions are ideal:
the forces on the water mean it’s kept
refreshed and rich in nutrients, a field
of algae thrives in wave-cut crevices,
anemones and hybrids court with fists
of sea urchins, piddock’s interstices.
It’s the southern limit of the kelp forest.
And up above, where gannets collect,
a thatch of wild flowers grows, guano-flecked.

From Fossil Sunshine, forthcoming from Worple Press.