Hi there! I'm Duncan White, an experienced professional Unix programmer, and an enthusiastic amateur geologist with a love of fossil collecting.
Welcome to my first Fossil Collecting page.

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On Sat 22nd March 2008, while most of Britain was suffering snow and high winds, I went on a fossil walk in (cold but) beautiful sunshine along the Jurassic coast from Charmouth to Lyme Regis, organised by Roy Shephard's www.discoveringfossils.co.uk and led by the enthusiastic, knowledge and helpful Chris Pamplin who also runs his own fossilwalks.com company.

For those not familiar with this part of Dorset, the cliffs near Lyme Regis are Lower Jurassic in age (approx 200 million years old, 200Ma in geospeak), and have been a famous fossil collecting locality ever since Mary Anning collected ichthyosaurs and plesiosaurs there in the early 19th century. In particular, there's a very large unstable area of Jurassic mudstone known as Black Ven, the largest mudslide in Europe, apparently. The muddier and soggier parts of Black Ven continuously slump down onto the beach, especially after the winter storms. The sea then erodes the fresh mud, exposing and sorting thousands of fossils (mainly ammonites, belemnites and crinoids) which were entombed in the mud all those millions of years ago.

There were about 70-80 of us, including many whole families with enthusiastic posses of kids, pottering slowly along the sea shore and looking for the fossils that continuously wash out of Black Ven. I happened to wander along the back of the beach for a while, looking at the edges of the recent mud flows, and suddenly I noticed a strange piece of ridged stone in the mud. I attacked the surrounding mud enthusiastically, and extracted this amazing Liparoceras cheltiense ammonite, about 9 inches diameter.
Liparoceras in the field Closeup of Liparoceras on the beach
Thanks to Chris Pamplin for the above two pictures (sorry about the hat!). After taking my prize home and cleaning most of the mud off, I took some more pictures of the Liparoceras with a 12 inch ruler for scale; Click on each image for a much larger view:
Liparoceras1 Liparoceras2
Liparoceras3 Liparoceras4

By the way, two months after my collecting trip, on Tuesday 6th May 2008, about a million tons of mud and rock "fell off" Black Ven, described by the BBC as the biggest landslide for 100 years, see their news report: http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/england/dorset/7386923.stm

Updated: May 2008