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At first sight, Bingham appears to offer nothing of interest to the geologist. There are no spectacular rocky crags or mountainous peaks and fossils are hard to find. However, despite being hidden from view, Bingham's rocks document a fascinating record of life and landscapes extending back hundreds of millions of years into geological time.

The record of the rocks

The sedimentary rocks below Bingham consist of particles of clay, sand or lime that were first deposited in layers and then - over millions of years of geological time - compressed and cemented together to form rock. The composition, layering and fossil content of sedimentary rocks enable geologists to reconstruct ancient environments with amazing accuracy and detail. They also help us to predict where valuable resources of coal, oil and gas can be found.

IPR/24-3C

Fossilized salt crystals preserved on this 250 million year-old slab of siltstone from the Bingham area indicate that this rock was originally deposited on mudflats next to a salt lake.

Please visit the following supplementary pages

Geological Map
The rocks beneath Bingham
Why Bingham is where it is

The search for energy

Since the early 1960s, numerous boreholes have been sunk near Bingham to explore for oil, gas and coal resources several hundred metres below the surface. As these boreholes penetrated deeper into the ground, they encountered progressively older layers of sedimentary rocks. Samples from each of these layers have enabled geologists to piece together a history of events stretching back over 300 million years before the present day, long before the time of the dinosaurs.

Evolution of a landscape

The rocks immediately below the soil in Bingham are around 220 million years old, deposited in the Triassic geological period. The present landscape, however, has been shaped in the past few tens of thousands of years during the Ice Age. What happened during this enormous time gap? Younger Jurassic and Cretaceous rocks were formerly deposited on top of these Triassic rocks, but have been removed by steady erosion over the past few million years. These younger rocks, including the Lincolnshire Limestone and the Chalk, are still preserved in Lincolnshire. The effect of the Ice Age in the last 2 million years was to sculpt the present landscape and lay over it a thin veneer of different kinds of sedimentary deposit that characterize Ice Ages.

Past, present and future

Geological processes of deposition and erosion are continuing today, but operate so slowly that their effects are almost undetectable over a single human lifespan. In terms of geological time, traces of Man occur in only the most recent deposits. The peat and clay deposits of Bingham Moor contain pre-historic human artefacts, together with the remains of freshwater mollusc shells that may be several thousand years old. Bingham Moor is a former marsh with seasonal ponds and meres, formed since the end of the last Ice Age 10,000 years ago. Other sand and gravel deposits in the Bingham area can be related to earlier Ice Ages that have occurred over the last 500,000 years. These deposits preserve a record of past climatic and environmental variations that can be used to predict future changes - vital if we are to understand Man's own impact on the environment.

Credits for the Geology pages


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