The stratigraphy of the Upper Greensand Formation (Albian, Cretaceous) of the Isle of Purbeck, Dorset, UK

Ramues Gallois, Hugh Owen


At its maximum development in the type area on the Devon coast, the Upper Greensand Formation comprises up to 55 m of sandstones and calcarenites with laterally and stratigraphically variable amounts of carbonate cement, glauconite and chert that were deposited in fully marine, shallow-water environments. The formation is divided into three members, in ascending order the Foxmould, Whitecliff Chert and Bindon Sandstone, each of which is bounded by a prominent erosion surface that can be recognised throughout the western part of the Wessex Basin. The full thickness of the formation, up to 60 m, was formerly well exposed in cliffs in the Isle of Purbeck in the steeply dipping limb of the Purbeck Monocline. The upper part of the succession is highly condensed in comparison with the Devon succession and exhibits lateral variations over distances of hundreds of metres that are probably related to penecontemporaneous fault movements. Much of the fauna is not age-diagnostic with the result that the ages of parts of the succession are still poorly known. However, the Isle of Purbeck sections contain diverse ammonite faunas at a few stratigraphically well-defined levels that enable the succession to be correlated with that of east Devon and west Dorset.


Upper Greensand Formation; Dorset; Isle of Purbeck; Cretaceous; Albian Stage; Stratigraphy; Palaeontology; Ammonites

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