Hampshire Cultural Trust

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Paleogene

Priabonian Stage (38.6 - 35.4 million years ago)

In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight the Priabonian stage (formerly known as the Late or Upper Eocene) is represented by approximately 95 metres of sands, clays, marls and limestones, collectively known as the Solent Group. This group is further divided into three formations, each representing either a prolonged low lying terrestrial to freshwater environment and more rarely encroachment by estuarine to shallow marine environments. The Priabonian stage is present in various sea cliffs and below the entire length of the northern part of the Isle of Wight. It has also been recorded below the southeastern part of the New Forest.

Bartonian Stage (42.1 - 38.6 million years ago)

In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight the Bartonian stage (formerly known as the Middle Eocene) is represented by approximately 120 metres of sands and clays, collectively known as the Barton Group. This group is further divided into three formations; sediments in the lower part represent a prolonged marine phase becoming progressively shallower to marginal marine in the upper part.We have comprehensive collections of fossils and geological specimens, particularly from the Hordle and Brockenhurst areas of Hampshire. Invertebrates, especially molluscs and terrestrial vertebrates, particularly from the lowest part of the Headon Hill formation, are well represented in the collection.

The Bartonian stage is present in the sea cliff at Whitecliff and Alum Bays and underlies the northern part of the Isle of Wight. The stage is also present on the lower-lying edges of the Solent, below the New Forest and in Barton Cliff, Hampshire. Comprehensive collections of fossils and geological specimens particularly from the Barton and Gosport areas of Hampshire are strongly represented in the collection. The fossil fauna of the Bartonian is dominated by invertebrates, particularly molluscs. However, marine vertebrates, particularly shark and ray teeth from the Huntingbridge and Barton Clay formations, are well represented in the collection.

Lutetian Stage (50.0 - 42.1 million years ago)

In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight the Lutetian stage (formerly known as the Middle Eocene) is represented by approximately 151 metres of sands and clays, collectively known as the Bracklesham Group. This is further divided into four formations. The Lutetian stage began with a shallow marine or brackish estuarine phase, which was followed by the marine phase known as the Earnley formation. This was later replaced by another predominantly estuarine phase. This complicated series of Lutetian sedimentary cycles concluded with a gradual increase in sea level which marked the beginning of a marine phase known as the Selsey formation.

Sediments from the Lutetian stage are present in the sea cliff at Whitecliff and Alum Bays and underlie the northern part of the Isle of Wight. The stage is also present on the lower-lying edges of the Solent and continues west below the New Forest. The upper part of this stage is also present in the Blackwater Valley, near Farnborough in northeastern Hampshire.

We have comprehensive collections of fossils and geological specimens, particularly from the Gosport and Southampton areas of Hampshire. The fossil fauna of the Lutetian is dominated by invertebrates, particularly molluscs. Marine vertebrates, especially the teeth of cartilaginous fish collected from the Earnley and Selsey formations, are also very well represented in the collection.

Ypresian Stage (56.5 - 50.0 million years ago)

In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight the Ypresian stage (formerly known as the early or Lower Eocene) is represented by approximately 100 metres of sands and clays, collectively known as the Thames Group. The group is further divided into six divisions from two formations; sediments in the lower part represent a prolonged marine phase which is periodically interrupted by shallow, marginal marine phases. The Ypresian stage ends with sandy, marginal marine and deeply channelled estuarine sediments.

The Ypresian stage is present in the sea cliff at Whitecliff and Alum Bays and underlies the northern part of the Isle of Wight. It is also present below both southern and northern Hampshire.

We have comprehensive collections of fossils and geological specimens, particularly from the Fareham and Havant areas of Hampshire. The fossil fauna of the Ypresian stage is dominated by invertebrates, particularly molluscs. Marine vertebrates are rare in our Ypresian collection.

Thanetian Stage (60.5 - 56.5 million years ago)

 In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight the stage is poorly represented by approximately 28 metres of mottled clays and occasional sands known as the Reading formation.

These sediments indicate that, at the time of deposition, low-lying brackish water lagoons were present, although there is evidence that shallow seas periodically flooded the lagoons. The Reading formation rests directly on the chalk of the underlying Cretaceous period. The clays of this stage are present in the sea cliff at Whitecliff and Alum Bays and underlie the northern part of the Isle of Wight. The stage is also present, but only rarely accessible, below both southern and northern Hampshire. Geological specimens from Whitecliff Bay and the Newbury area are present in the collection. 
Fossils from this stage are rare but, when present, are dominated by invertebrates, particularly worm tubes and oyster valves. Plant leaves have been recorded from some localities.

Dentition Myliobatis

 

Cephalopod Cimomia

 

Paleogene vertebrates

Vertebrates remains are not common in the Paleogene sediments of Hampshire. Fossil fish remains, particularly individual fish otoliths and the teeth of sharks and rays, are the most frequently found of the marine vertebrate fossils. Terrestrial vertebrate faunas are dominated by fossil mammals and reptiles, particularly crocodiles.

Paleogene invertebrates

Invertebrates remains are common in the Paleogene sediments of Hampshire. Fossil mollusc remains dominate the marine and freshwater faunas. Marine arthropods, corals, echinoids, and molluscs are particularly well represented in the collection but we have few terrestrial invertebrates.