OR/14/063 Site assessment - ELC 21: Cheese Bay
|Whitbread, K, Ellen, R, Callaghan, E, Gordon, J E, and Arkley, S. 2014. East Lothian geodiversity audit. British Geological Survey Internal Report, OR/14/063.|
|ELC_21: Cheese Bay|
|Location and Summary Description:|
Cheese Bay is a small, 70 m wide bay, situated 2.5 km to the north-west of Dirleton. The site is well known within the geological community for its palaeontological links. Historically, a wealth of fossilised shrimp, fish and other fossils from the Carboniferous were found in situ here. Today there is little left of the fossiliferous bed in situ, due to erosion and vandalism, but fossiliferous pebbles can be found on the adjacent beach.
|National Grid Reference:
Mid-point: 349242, 685684
|Site ownership: unknown||Current use: Open country|
|Field surveyors: The site was not surveyed in the field. Information was derived from desk study||Current geological designations: Cheese Bay GCR (GCR ID: 2916); part of Firth of Forth SSSI|
|Date visited: N/A||Other designations: Firth of Forth SPA and Ramsar|
Cheese Bay, so called due to a ship laden with cheese which was historically wrecked nearby, is a small bay 1 km to the west of Archerfield Golf Course. This site is a GCR site due to its palaeontological importance, as it is the type locality for Rhadinichthys formosus (Traquair, 1904), a Lower Carboniferous fish.
Access and Additional Information
|Stratigraphy and Rock Types|
|Age: Carboniferous||Formation: Gullane Formation, Strathclyde Group|
|Rock type: Dolomite, sandstone, siltstone and mudstone|
|Assessment of Site: Access and Safety|
|Road access and parking||Public access is best achieved by parking in the Yellowcraig Plantation car park to the east, and walking westward along the coastal path to get to Cheese Bay. It may be possible (with permission) to access the site via Archerfield Golf Course.|
|Safety of access||The walk to the site is just under 3 km from the Yellowcraig Plantation, mostly along a coastal path. However, the site itself is only exposed at low tide, and therefore all visitors should be aware of the tide times when planning a visit.|
|Safety of exposure||Stout footwear is recommended for coastal path and the weather forecast should be checked before visits.|
|Access||Access along the foreshore/beach and dune area.|
|Current condition||The rocks can be covered in barnacles and seaweed, and erosion/vandalism has removed a lot of the exposure.|
|Current conflicting activities||None known.|
|Restricting conditions||The site is only accessible at low tide.|
|Nature of exposure||Intertidal exposure.|
|Assessment of Site: Culture, Heritage & Economic Value|
|Historic, archaeological & literary associations||Cheese Bay is the site of a ship wreck reputed to have been carrying cheese.|
|History of Earth Sciences||Type locality of fish fossil Rhadinichthys formosus (Traquair, 1904).|
|Economic geology||No known association.|
|Assessment of Site: GeoScientific Merit|
|Palaeontology||International||Excellent||Traquair, 1904, 1907; Clough et al., 1910; Briggs and Clarkson 1983; Dineley & Metcalf, 1999; Paton et al., 1999.||X|
|Site Geoscientific Value|
The exceptional range of fossils, in particular shrimps, fish and tetrapod, found historically within this site merits a designation of ‘international’ in rarity. The site is also the type locality for Rhadinichthys formosus (Traquair, 1904). However, the site is only occasionally exposed at low tide, and the site has suffered vandalism in the past, rendering actual in-situ localities of fossils extremely rare. There are however pebbles of shale on the beach which are known to contain fossils from this nearby outcrop.
|Assessment of Site: Current site usage|
|Community||Rarely visited, although passed regularly by golfers and coastal path walkers.|
|Education||The site has significant importance in understanding the diverse fauna that existed during the Lower Carboniferous. The site is therefore an excellent locality for educational fieldwork and research. The geodiversity of the site could be further promoted by a geo trail linking this site with the nearby Yellowcraigs site (ELC_6).|
|Assessment of Site: Fragility and potential use of the site|
|Fragility||Weathering/erosion, fossil collecting.|
|Potential use||On site geo-trail, school and higher education, research.|
|Cheese Bay preserves a wealth of fossils, ranging from ostracods and shrimps, to fish and tetrapods and as such is extremely important in understanding Lower Carboniferous environments and how fauna existed within those environments. The site is already designated as a GCR, but is an at risk site due to fossil collection and coastal erosion.|
- TRAQUAIR, R H. 1904. Summary of Progress of the Geological Survey of Great Britain for 1903. HMSO, London, pp.121–3.
- PATTON, R L, SMITHSON, T R, and CLACK, J A. 1999. An amniote-like skeleton from the Early Carboniferous of Scotland. Nature, 398, 508–513.
- DINELEY, D, and METCALF, S. 1999. Fossil Fishes of Great Britain, Geological Conservation Review Series, No.16, Joint Nature Conservation Committee, Peterborough. ISBN 1 86107 470 0.
- BRIGGS, D E G, and Clarkson, E N K. 1983. The Lower Carboniferous Granton ‘shrimp bed’, Edinburgh. In Trilobites and other early arthropods: papers in honour of Professor H B Whittington, F.R.S. (eds. D E G Briggs and P D Lane), Special Papers in Palaeontology, 30, 616–77.
- TRAQUAIR, R H. 1907. Report on fossil fishes collected by the Geological Survey of Scotland from shales exposed on the shore near Gullane, East Lothian. Transactions of the Royal Society, Edinburgh, 41, 103–17.
- CLOUGH, C T, BARROW G, CRAMPTON C B, MAUFE H B, BAILEY E B, and ANDERSON, E M. 1910. The Geology of East Lothian (second edition). Memoir of the British Geological Survey, Explanation of Sheet 33, with parts of 34 & 41 (Scotland).