Pendleside Formation (PDL)

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Parent: Craven Group (CRAV)
Daughter(s): Rad Brook Mudstone Member (RKM)
Age (Ma): c.348-330 Ma
Period Carboniferous
Overlying unit: Bowland Shale Formation (BSG)
Underlying unit: Hodderense Limestone Formation (BOH)
Thickness: Up to 300 m
Lithology status
Main lithology LMST Limestone
Main lithology MDST Mudstone
Subsidiary lithology BREC Breccia
Trace lithology SDST Sandstone
Type locality Burst Clough, Pendle Hill [SD 7808 4220]
Key reference

Waters, C N, Waters, R A, Barclay, W J, and Davies, J R. 2009. Lithostratigraphical framework for Carboniferous successions of Southern Great Britain (Onshore). British Geological Survey Research Report, RR/09/01.

Author(s): C N Waters (BGS)


Pendleside Limestone (Holkerian - early Brigantian). Well-bedded fine calcarenites towards the base of the formation. The beds are partly dolomitic and are mostly capped with layers of nodules of chert. Bottoms Beck, Gisburn Forest. P005700.

The Pendleside Limestone Formation, a formation of the Craven Group (CRAV), comprises mainly carbonate turbidites of Visean (early Carboniferous) age. The formation comprises a single member, the Rad Brook Mudstone Member (RKM) dominated by calcareous mudstone. The formation occurs in north-west England within the Craven Basin depositional area. The lateral extent of this unit is somewhat uncertain and it is possible that several distinct limestone units have been attributed to this single term.


The Pendleside Limestone Formation forms a complex area of outcrop associated with deformation within the Ribblesdale Fold Belt of north-west England, between Blackburn and Skipton.

Stratigraphical position[edit]

Definition of lower boundary:[edit]

In the type section, the base is defined at the base of the first grey mudstone bed lying above the pale olive and blue-grey nodule-bearing wackestones that characterise the Hodderense Limestone Formation (BOH). The base unconformably overlies the Hodder Mudstone Formation (HOM) within the Skipton Anticline.

Definition of upper boundary:[edit]

The junction with the overlying Bowland Shale Formation (BSG) is marked by the absence of bioturbation, and by a colour change from pale olive- and blue-grey, to dark blue and black, as mudstones and interbedded limestones become fetid and petroliferous. This colour change commonly corresponds to the entry of limestone breccias.

Lithological description[edit]

Grey, fine- to coarse-grained, bioclastic, commonly graded, erosive-based and bioturbated cherty packstones, interbedded with wackestone, sporadic intraformational and extraformational limestone conglomerate, and especially in the lower part, dark to pale olive- and blue-grey mudstone of the Rad Brook Mudstone Member (RKM). Locally dolomitized, especially in the packstones, and rare sandstones.

Previous names and history of research[edit]

The term Pendleside Limestone was used during the Primary survey in the Clitheroe district (Hull et al., 1875[#cite_note-0 [1]]) to denote the limestone strata separating the Shales-with-Limestone (below) from the Bowland Shales (above). Parkinson (1926)[#cite_note-1 [2]] defined the ‘Pendleside Limestone Series’ in the Clitheroe district as the strata from the ‘Hodderense Band’ up to the base of P1 ammonoid zone, the latter coinciding, according to him, with the base of the Bowland Shales, and the term was used in this sense by Parkinson (1936)[#cite_note-2 [3]] and Earp (1955)[#cite_note-3 [4]] in the Slaidburn area. Earp et al. (1961)[#cite_note-4 [5]] regarded the Pendleside Limestone as an impersistent lithostratigraphical unit at the top of their Worston Shale Group, but George et al. (1976)[#cite_note-5 [6]] reinstated a partially biostratigraphical classification with a ‘Pendleside Limestone Group’ extending from the ‘B. hodderense Beds’ to the base of the Bowland Shale Group. Lithostratigraphical criteria were used by Fewtrell and Smith (1980)[#cite_note-6 [7]] to define their proposed ‘Pendleside Limestone Formation’ or ‘Pendleside Formation’ for the Craven Basin as a whole, but they failed to define a type section. They placed the base ‘at the oncoming of the characteristic turbldite limestones’ and the top ‘at the final disappearance of limestone beds of substantial thickness, at the corresponding change to the predominance of the characteristic Bowland Shale lithology’. The definition presented by Fewtrell and Smith (1980)was used by Gawthorpe (1987)[#cite_note-7 [8]] and Arthurton et al. (1988)[#cite_note-8 [9]]. Riley (1990)[#cite_note-9 [10]] provided the first attempt at a formal definition for the formation, with a narrower interpretation of what constituted Pendleside Limestone Formation. Firstly, Riley (1990) excluded the Hodderense Limestone Formation (the lithologically distinct beds rich in the ammonoid Bollandoceras hodderense) from the lower part of the formation. Secondly, Riley (1990) excluded those limestones interbedded with black mudstones which he attributed to the Bowland Shale Group (now Formation). The top of the formation was thus defined at the loss of bioturbation and a prominent colour change. The definition provided by Riley (1990) was adopted by Waters et al. (2009)[#cite_note-10 [11]]. Within the Skipton Anticline, the Draughton Limestone and Draughton Shales of Hudson and Mitchell (1937)[#cite_note-11 [12]] are included within the Pendleside Limestone Formation.

Palaeontology – fossil content (excluding reworked taxa)[edit]

Algae [Chadian to Asbian]: bilaminar Koninckopora (Riley, 1990)

Ammonoids [Beyrichoceras (B1 to B2b) Zone]: Beyrichoceras, Bollandoceras micronotum, Bollandites, Dimorphoceras, Merocanites, Michiganites, Nomismoceras rotiforme (Riley, 1990)

Foraminifera [Koskinotextularia Pojarkovella nibelis (Cf5) to Neoarchaediscus (Cf6) zones]: Archaediscus, Brunsia, Glomodiscus, Howchinia, Mediocris, Neoarchaediscus, bilaminar palaeotextulatiids, Paraarchaediscus, Pojarkovella nibelis, Planoarchaediscus, Viseidiscus, Vissariotaxis (Riley, 1990)

Conodonts [Mestognathus praebeckmanni to Gnathodus bilineatus zones]: Gnathodus bilineatus, G. girtyi, G. homopunctatus, Lochreia commutate, Mestognathus praebeckmanni (Riley, 1990)

Coral: Lithostrotion (Riley, 1990)

Inferred range of late Holkerian to late Asbian

Palaeoenvironmental interpretation[edit]

The Pendleside Limestone Formation was deposited as carbonate turbidites and debris flows deposited in the Craven Basin on a carbonate slope (Gawthorpe, 1986)[#cite_note-12 [13]]. The presence of derived fossils indicate a source from adjacent shallow-water platform carbonates present to the north, primarily from the Askrigg Block (Ramsbottom, 1974)[#cite_note-13 [14]]. The formation shows a broad, though complex, southward passage from dominant debris flows (limestone breccias/calcirudites) present immediately to the south of the Cracoean reefs, which mark the margin of the Askrigg Platform, to turbidite-dominated bedded lime mudstone/wackestone and calcarenite, passing southwards to more distal parts of the turbidite fans with slumps and slides in which hemipelagic mudstones become increasingly dominant (Gawthorpe, 1987). The deposits were possibly triggered by the onset of a phase of tectonism, which ultimately led to the break-up of the Asbian shelf carbonates of the Askrigg Block (Gawthorpe, 1986; 1987.

Physical properties[edit]

Carbonate content: (insoluble residue values) sourced from Harrison (1982)[#cite_note-14 [15]] for Pendleside Limestone Formation (low insoluble residues indicate purer limestones):

  1. Catlow Anticline [SD 71 58] limestone breccia in upper part of formation (1.2 to 7.0% insoluble residues - variable, but predominantly medium purity limestone); lower part of formation (10 to >15% insoluble residues – impure or low purity limestone).
  2. Pendle Hill [SD 781 420] to Hook Cliffe [SD 790 427] limestone from upper part of the formation (above the Rad Brook Mudstone Member) is a low purity limestone with >6.5% insoluble residues but highly variable depending upon chert content, becoming impure east of Hook Cliffe where the limestone becomes increasingly shaly.
  3. Grindleton [SD 760 466] where 90 m of folded, dark grey, cherty limestone with thin shale interbeds comprise impure or low purity limestone with >6.5% insoluble residues.
  4. Tosside [SD 75 55], Wigglesworth [SD 817 572], Newton Moor [SD 852 583] - 90 m of dark grey, fine-grained limestone and argillaceous limestone with chert beds, patchily silicified beds and disseminated dolomite are present around Tosside to Wigglesworth. Here, the lower part is argillaceous and shaly and the upper part includes boulder beds. The formation thins to about 40 m towards Newton Moor, with the formation mainly comprising boulder beds. The formation is defined as a low purity limestone, although beds of impure limestone are also present. The silica content is particularly high with between 9 and 32% silica. The boulder beds are of medium, though variable, purity with 2 to 3% insoluble residues recorded at Newton Moor.
  5. Airton [SD 90 60] where the formation is 150 to 200 m thick, the upper part including about 40 m of limestone debris beds comprising light grey, massive, fossiliferous limestone with abundant limestone clasts. The debris beds are medium purity limestones with between 3 and 5.4% insoluble residues.
  6. Draughton [SE 03 52] to Bolton Abbey [SE 07 54] includes limestone with limestone conglomerates mainly in the lower part, with common bedded and nodular chert and variable amounts of siliceous material, dolomite and pyrite, and shales more abundant towards the top of the formation. The limestones are of low purity or impure, with 11 to 22% insoluble residues.

Density: No density measurements have been taken by BGS, but in common with other limestones, the density is expected to be in the order of 2.5 to 2.7 kg/m3.

Intact rock strength/hardness: No intact rock strength measurements are available. Compressive strength of typical limestone elsewhere lie in the range of 60–170 N/m2 ( ). The rock is hard but brittle.

Aggregate impact value (British Standards Institution, 1975): Snape House Borehole SD75NE/12 [SD 7794 5661]: range between 17 and 21 with a mean of 19 from 10 samples (Harrison, 1982). Hambleton Quarry [SE 0565 5325]: single value of 20 (Harrison, 1982). Wheelam Rock Quarry [SE 0319 5214]: single value of 20 (Harrison, 1982).


No hydrogeological information is available specifically for the Pendleside Limestone Formation and the information provided here is for Lower Carboniferous Limestones from the Pennine region, sourced from Jones et al. (2000)[#cite_note-15 [16]].

The limestone typically has low porosity and permeability, but form aquifers where dissolution has produced flow systems, mainly along bedding planes and/or joints/fractures. Interbedded mudstones act as aquicludes or aquitards.

Porosity: The Carboniferous limestones from the Pennines region have an average porosity of 1.3%, based on 4 exposures, and 1% based on 3 boreholes.

Permeability: Average permeability of 0.14 m/d for samples from a borehole near Burnley.

Transmissivity: based on 19 limestone values, range from 0.1 to 1015 m2/d with an interquartile range of 1.6 to 43 m2/d and a median of 18 m2/d.

Specific capacity: based on 54 values, range from 0.35 to >1900 m3/d/m with an interquartile range of 42 m3/d/m and a median of 11 m3/d/m.

Type and reference sections[edit]

Type section: Pendle Hill, Burst Clough, seen on the lower slopes, 0.16 km south-east of Angram Green Farm, 1.38 km east-south-east of Worston. Almost complete section is exposed, together with lower beds of the overlying Bowland Shale Formation [SD 7808 4220– SD7830 4197] (Riley, 1990).

Reference section: Composite section in Cutlers Quarry [SD 6239 4007] and Dale House Quarry [SD 6253 4022] (both disused), about 2.5 km north-east of Longridge, Lancashire (Aitkenhead et al., 1992)[#cite_note-16 [17]].

Reference section: About 50 m of the well-bedded limestone subdivision of the Pendleside Limestone Formation are exposed in two sections in Bottoms Beck in Gisburn Forest, Lancashire: The lower sequence [7450 5657 to 7452 5659] includes thick-bedded, heavily slump-folded limestones, with mudstone clasts and shelly and crinoidal debris at the base, resting on mudstone. The upper [7456 5671 to 7454 5662] comprises 36 m of well planar-bedded limestone (beds mostly less than 0.5 m), faulted near the top.

Reference section: River Hodder, Collyholme Wood, Lancashire with a 21 m-thick succession, comprising lower beds of planar-bedded lime mudstone/wackestone interbedded with upward-fining calcarenites and occasional mudstones, overlain sharply by interbedded massive and upward-fining calcarenites and limestone breccias [SD 719 576].

Reference section: Hambleton Quarry, Bolton Abbey, North Yorkshire [SE 056 532] contains a folded and faulted succession from the uppermost part of the Hodder Mudstone Formation through to the basal part of the Bowland Shale Formation. The quarry is most notable for the exposure of the Pendleside Limestone Formation.

See also[edit]

Pendleside Formation (PDL)


  1. [#cite_ref-0 ↑] HULL, E, DAKYNS, J R, TIDDEMAN, R H, WARD, J C, GUNN, W, and DE RANCE, C E. 1875. The geology of the Burnley Coalfield and of the country around Clitheroe, Blackburn, Preston, Chorley, Haslingden and Todmorden. Memoir of the Geological Survey, U.K.
  2. [#cite_ref-1 ↑] PARKINSON, D. 1926. The faunal succession in the Carboniferous Limestone and Bowland Shales at Clitheroe and Pendle Hill, Lancashire. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, Vol. 82, 188-249.
  3. [#cite_ref-2 ↑] PARKINSON, D. 1936. The Carboniferous succession in the Slaidburn district, Yorkshire. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London, Vol. 92, 294-331.
  4. [#cite_ref-3 ↑] EARP, J R. 1955. The geology of the Bowland Forest Tunnel, Lancashire. Bulletin of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, Vol. 7, 1-12.
  5. [#cite_ref-4 ↑] EARP, J R, MAGRAW, D, POOLE, E G, LAND, D H, and WHITEMAN, A J. 1961. Geology of the Country around Clitheroe and Nelson. Memoir of the Geological Survey of Great Britain, Sheet 68 (E&W).
  6. [#cite_ref-5 ↑] GEORGE, T N, JOHNSON, G A L, MITCHELL, M, PRENTICE, J E, RAMSBOTTOM, W H C, SEVASTOPULO, G D, and WILSON, R B. 1976. A correlation of Dinantian rocks in the British Isles. Geological society Special Report, Vol. 7., 87.
  7. [#cite_ref-6 ↑] FEWTRELL, M D, and SMITH, D G. 1980. Revision of the Dinantian stratigraphy of the Craven Basin, N England. Geological Magazine, Vol. 117, 37-49.
  8. [#cite_ref-7 ↑] GAWTHORPE, R. 1987. Tectono-sedimentary evolution of the Bowland Basin, northern England, during the Dinantian. Journal of the Geological Society, London, Vol. 144, 59-71.
  9. [#cite_ref-8 ↑] ARTHURTON, R S, JOHNSON, E W, and MUNDY, D J C. 1988. Geology of the country around Settle. Memoir of the British Geological Survey Sheet 60 (England and Wales).
  10. [#cite_ref-9 ↑] RILEY, N J. 1990. Stratigraphy of the Worston Shale Group (Dinantian) Craven Basin, north-west England. Proceedings of the Yorkshire Geological Society, Vol. 48, 163-187.
  11. [#cite_ref-10 ↑] WATERS, C N, WATERS, R A, BARCLAY, W J, and DAVIES, J R. 2009. Lithostratigraphical framework for Carboniferous successions of Southern Great Britain (Onshore). British Geological Survey Research Report, RR/09/01.
  12. [#cite_ref-11 ↑] HUDSON, R G S, and MITCHELL, G H. 1937. The Carboniferous geology of the Skipton Anticline. Summary of Progress of the Geological Survey for 1935, 1-45.
  13. [#cite_ref-12 ↑] GAWTHORPE, R. 1986. Sedimentation during carbonate ramp-to-slope evolution in a tectonically active area: Bowland Basin (Dinantian), N. England. Sedimentology, Vol. 33, 185-206.
  14. [#cite_ref-13 ↑] RAMSBOTTOM, W H C. 1974. Dinantian. 47-73 in The geology and mineral resources of Yorkshire. RAYNER, D H, and HEMINGWAY, J E (editors). 2. (Yorkshire Geological Society occasional publication.)
  15. [#cite_ref-14 ↑] HARRISON, D J. 1982. The limestone resources of the Craven Lowlands: description of parts of 1:50 000 Geological Sheets 59, 60, 61, 67, 68 and 69. Mineral Assessment Report. Institute Geological Sciences, No. 116.
  16. [#cite_ref-15 ↑] JONES, H K, MORRIS, B L, CHENEY, C S, BREWERTON, L J, MERRIN, P D, LEWIS, M A, MACDONALD, A M, COLEBY, L M, TALBOT, J C, MCKENZIE, A A, BIRD, M J, CUNNINGHAM, J, and ROBINSON, V K. 2000. The physical properties of minor aquifers in England and Wales. British Geological Survey Technical Report WD/00/4; Environment Agency R&D Publication 68, 234.
  17. [#cite_ref-16 ↑] AITKENHEAD, N, BRIDGE, D M, RILEY, N J, and KIMBELL, S F. 1992. Geology of the country around Garstang. Memoir of the British Geological Survey, Sheet 67 (England & Wales).

Other sources[edit]

COSSEY, P J, RILEY, N J, ADAMS, A E, and MILLER, J. 2004. Chapter 6 Craven Basin. 257–302 in British Lower Carboniferous Stratigraphy. Geological Conservation Review Series No. 29. COSSEY, P J, ADAMS, A E, PURNELL, M A, WHITELEY, M J, WHYTE, M A, and WRIGHT, V P (editors). (JNCC, Peterborough.)

FEWTRELL, M D, and SMITH, D G. 1978. Stratigraphic significance of calcareous microfossils from the Lower Carboniferous rocks of the Skipton area, Yorkshire. Geological Magazine, Vol. 115, 255–271.

METCALFE, I. 1981. Conodont zonation and correlation of the Dinantian and early Namurian strata of the Craven lowlands of Northern England. Report of the Institute of Geological Sciences, Vol. 80/10, 1–70.