Beautiful – for science and the public alike

Efforts Begin for Jurassic Coast Studies Centre

AAPG members are being asked to be part of the effort to help create an educational-research facility to study a part of the earth in England that is a geologic magnet for scientists and the public alike.

The site focuses on the earth’s Mesozoic history that is spectacularly laid bare in the cliffs of England’s “Jurassic Coast” UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The site runs for 95 miles along the south coast of England and is the only place on Earth exhibiting a near-complete sequence of Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks.

Immediately to the east lies Wytch Farm, Europe’s largest known onshore oil field (500 million barrels).

The field’s potential source rocks, reservoirs, seals and migration story are all there to be studied – as is a great wealth of geology, palaeontology and geomorphology that has generated interest since the earliest days of the development of the earth sciences.

Hence, the plans for a creation of a Studies Centre for the Jurassic Coast.

The Centre is intended to be an exemplary educational and research facility for professionals, amateurs and the public. Developed in partnership with the Natural History Museum in London, the U.K. Field Studies Council and a wide partnership of universities and science organizations, the aim is to inspire the next generation of earth scientists.

Inscribed to the World Heritage List in 2001, the Jurassic Coast is one of only 82 World Heritage Sites recognized for its internationally important rocks, fossils and landforms.

The site stretches from the Triassic of Orcombe Point at Exmouth in Devon eastward to the Cretaceous of Studland, Dorset, 95 miles (122 kilometers) away – and encompasses 185 million years of Earth’s history.

For more than 300 years the area has been a crucible for learning, inspiring and enthusing generations of scientists about all aspects of the earth sciences – from the evolution of life to the formation of petroleum deposits.

Getting Involved

The proposed Jurassic Coast Studies Centre would be a state-of-the-art, 120 bed multi-use residential facility. It will accommodate laboratories, seminar and conference facilities, workshops, actual and virtual classrooms and an exhibition space.

It will offer a wide range of courses delivered by many of the world’s leading experts, including fieldtrips along the Jurassic coast to showcase the area’s geological and geomorphological history.

Of note to AAPG members, more advanced courses will focus on the Jurassic Coast’s petroleum systems.

The Studies Centre will be located about halfway along the Jurassic Coast in Lyme Regis – a small town with a big name, renowned for its geological and paleontological heritage that includes the remarkable fossil hunter Mary Anning and her pivotal role in the birth of paleontology.

The project is led by the Lyme Regis Development Trust (a community enterprise organization) and is a central strand to a regeneration strategy that will position the town as an internationally significant education destination.

AAPG members who would like to be part of the effort should contact director of the Lyme Regis Development Trust at

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England’s Jurassic Coast: A Natural Laboratory

Additional information on England’s scenic and geologically significant Jurassic Coast:

The connection between the Natural History Museum ( in London and the Jurassic Coast, England’s only natural World Heritage Site, dates back many years.

Research undertaken along the coast was fundamental to the early development of the earth sciences, involving some of the NHM’s founding scientists, and specimens from the area have made major contributions to the early development of the NHM’s collection.

The Jurassic Coast is a natural “laboratory” and continues to be a very
important source of new knowledge for understanding current and past environments – it continues to be a source of material and inspiration for NHM‘s on-going research and education programs.

The Natural History Museum, Jurassic Coast and Lyme Regis Development Trust ( have been working in partnership since 2004 on a series of joint festivals based on the town’s geology, fossils and pivotal role in the birth of the earth sciences. These events bring together the local community, fossil experts ( and collectors with a range of science institutes and universities to offer a range of arts and science activities to people of all ages leaving them wanting to know more.

The Natural History Museum, Field Studies Council ( and Lyme Regis Development Trust jointly staged a pilot project in February and March 2010 to demonstrate effectiveness of joint working, the Jurassic Coast as outdoor classroom and likely demand in adult learners and professional career development markets. This Pilot Project was the subject of a formal evaluation involving all parties in May 2010.

The collaboration builds on the current increases in society’s thirst for understanding of the workings of the natural world and contributes to wider science objectives such as the International Year of Biodiversity, etc.

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