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Dating marine gravels in Hertfordshire

John Catt leads Quaternary Research Association field meeting

Dating marine gravels in Hertfordshire

On Saturday May 11 2013 Professor John Catt led a field meeting of the Quaternary Research Association at Little Heath, on the Chilterns near Berkhamsted.  Thirty four members attended from various parts of England, some from as far as Dorset and Norfolk.

The purpose was to view an excavation dug in March 2012 funded by Natural England and the National Trust (owners of the site) under Natural England’s recently introduced Conservation and Enhancement Scheme.

The excavation is situated at 170 m OD and exposes marine beach gravels and intertidal sands, thought to have been deposited at approximately the same time (about 2.5 million years ago) as the plio-pleistocene Red Crag of East Anglia.

In collaboration with Professor Tim Atkinson (UCL) and the Scottish Universities Environmental Research Centre (East Kilbride), John is hoping to date the gravels by applying  the cosmogenic radionuclide burial method to the rare quartzite pebbles found throughout the 5m thickness of the gravel.


John Catt (in blue cap) addressing the meeting