Kimmeridge Clay

The Kimmeridge Clay is a sedimentary deposit of fossiliferous marine clay which is of Late Jurassic to lowermost Cretaceous age and occurs in southern and eastern England and in the North Sea.[1] This rock formation is the major source rock for North Sea oil. The fossil fauna of the Kimmeridge Clay includes turtles, crocodiles, sauropods, plesiosaurs, pliosaurs and ichthyosaurs, as well as a number of invertebrate species.

Kimmeridge Clay
Stratigraphic range: Kimmeridgian-Tithonian
Beach and cliffs, Egmont Bight - - 900296
Grey cliffs of Upper Kimmeridge Clay above the beach at Egmont Bight
TypeGeological formation
Unit ofAncholme Group
Sub-unitsBirch Sandstone Member, Burns Sandstone Member, Claymore Sandstone Member, Dirk Sandstone Member, Magnus Sandstone Member, Ptarmigan Sandstone Member, Ribble Sandstone Member
UnderliesPortland Sandstone Formation
OverliesAmpthill Clay, Corallian Group
OtherSiltstone, Sandstone, Conglomerate
RegionEngland (surface)
North Sea (subsurface)
Type section
Named forKimmeridge Bay
LocationType area - coastal outcrops from Black Head, Weymouth to Chapmans Pool


Kimmeridge Clay is named after the village of Kimmeridge on the Dorset coast of England, where it is well exposed and forms part of the Jurassic Coast World Heritage Site.[2] Onshore it outcrops across England, in a band stretching from Dorset in the south-west, north-east to North Yorkshire. Offshore it is found throughout the Southern, Central and Northern North Sea.[1]

The foundations of the Humber Bridge on the southern (Barton) side of the bridge are on Kimmeridge Clay beneath superficial deposits, under the Humber estuary.[3]

Economic importance

Kimmeridge Clay is of great economic importance,[2] being the major source rock for oil fields in the North Sea hydrocarbon province.[4] It has distinctive physical properties and log responses.[5]

A Kimmeridge Oil Shale Project (KOSP) has been pursued by the UK based oil and shale gas exploration company Cuadrilla Resources.[6]:6

Vertebrate fauna

Color key
Taxon Reclassified taxon Taxon falsely reported as present Dubious taxon or junior synonym Ichnotaxon Ootaxon Morphotaxon
Uncertain or tentative taxa are in small text; crossed out taxa are discredited.

Fauna uncovered from the Kimmeridge Clay include:[7]

Ray-finned fish

Thrissops KC
Complete specimen

Lobe-finned fish

Lobe-finned fishes of the Kimmeridge clay Formation
Genus Species Location Stratigraphic Position Abundance Notes Images




One specimen, cranial material

Housed at the etches collection, discovered by Steve Etches. More than 2 metres long




One specimen, a portion of the head

Housed at the etches collection, discovered by Steve Etches

Cartilaginous fish

Cartilaginous fishes of the Kimmeridge clay Formation
Genus Species Location Stratigraphic Position Abundance Notes Images




Known from many dorsal spines

Housed at the etches collection, discovered by Steve Etches




Known from many dorsal spines

Housed at the etches collection, discovered by Steve Etches




Known from many dorsal spines, perhaps a complete head

Housed at the etches collection, discovered by Steve Etches




One specimen

Housed at the etches collection, discovered by Steve Etches




Known from a complete specimen, and other isolated remains

Housed at the etches collection, discovered by Steve Etches




Indeterminate nodosaurid remains have been found in Wiltshire, England.[7] Indeterminate stegosaurid remains have been found in Dorset and Wiltshire, England.[7]


Indeterminate ornithomimmid remains have been found in Dorset, England.[7] An undescribed theropod genus was found in Dorset.[7]





Trigonellites latus
An aptychus with the name "Trigonellites latus", from the Kimmeridge Clay Formation

The invertebrate fauna of the Kimmeridge Clay includes:[27][28]

  • Arthropoda:
    • Phlyctosoma sp.
    • Eryma sp.
    • Magitalatimana sp.
    • Mechochirus sp.
    • Archaeolepas redtenbacheri

See also


  1. ^ a b British Geological Survey. "Kimmeridge Clay Formation". BGS Lexicon of Named Rock Units. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  2. ^ a b Gallois R.W. (2004). "The Kimmeridge Clay: the most intensively studied formation in Britain". Open University Geological Journal. 25 (2).
  3. ^ Historic England. "The Humber Bridge". Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  4. ^ Gautier D.L. (2005). "Kimmeridgian Shales Total Petroleum System of the North Sea Graben Province" (PDF). United States Geological Survey. Retrieved 2 November 2018.
  5. ^ Penn I.M.; Cox B.M.; Gallois R.W. (2007). "Towards precision in stratigraphy: geophysical log correlation". In Gregory F.J.; Copestake P.; Pearce J.M. (eds.). Key Issues in Petroleum Geology: Stratigraphy. Geological Society, London. pp. 34–35. ISBN 9781862392373.
  6. ^ Andy Lukas (17 July 2013). "Approaches to informed and balanced debate about shale gas in the UK – How we are working with the Communities" (PDF). Fracking and our Gas Future. AJ Lucas Group Ltd. p. 45. Retrieved 18 May 2016.
  7. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v w x y z aa ab ac ad ae af ag ah ai aj ak al am an ao ap aq ar as at au av aw ax ay Weishampel, David B; et al. (2004). "Dinosaur distribution (Late Jurassic, Europe)." In: Weishampel, David B.; Dodson, Peter; and Osmólska, Halszka (eds.): The Dinosauria, 2nd, Berkeley: University of California Press. Pp. 545–549. ISBN 0-520-24209-2.
  8. ^ Etches, S, Clarke, J. (2010). Life in Jurassic seas. Dorset, Dorchester: Epic Creative Print.
  9. ^ Retrieved 31/10/2017
  10. ^ Foffa, D.; Johnson, M.M.; Young, M.T.; Steel, L.; Brusatte, S.L. (2019). "Revision of the Late Jurassic deep-water teleosauroid crocodylomorph Teleosaurus megarhinus Hulke, 1871 and evidence of pelagic adaptations in Teleosauroidea". PeerJ. 7: e6646. doi:10.7717/peerj.6646. PMC 6450380. PMID 30972249.
  11. ^ a b Wilkinson, L.E.; Young, M.T.; Benton, M.J. (2008). "A new metriorhynchid crocodilian (Mesoeucrocodylia: Thalattosuchia) from the Kimmeridgian (Upper Jurassic) of Wiltshire, UK". Palaeontology. 51 (6): 1307–1333. doi:10.1111/j.1475-4983.2008.00818.x.
  12. ^ Andrade, M.B.D.; Young, M.T.; Desojo, J.B.; Brusatte, S.L. (2010). "The evolution of extreme hypercarnivory in Metriorhynchidae (Mesoeucrocodylia: Thalattosuchia) based on evidence from microscopic denticle morphology". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 30 (5): 1451–1465. doi:10.1080/02724634.2010.501442.
  13. ^ Mark T. Young; Marco Brandalise De Andrade; Steve Etches; Brian L. Beatty (2013). "A new metriorhynchid crocodylomorph from the Lower Kimmeridge Clay Formation (Late Jurassic) of England, with implications for the evolution of dermatocranium ornamentation in Geosaurini". Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society. 169 (4): 820–848. doi:10.1111/zoj.12082.
  14. ^ "Table 19.1," in Weishampel, et al. (2004). Page 415.
  15. ^ Galton, Peter M. (1999). "Cranial anatomy of the hypsilophodont dinosaur Bugenasaura infernalis (Ornithischia: Ornithopoda) from the Upper Cretaceous of North America". Revue Paléobiologie, Genève. 18 (2): 517–534.
  16. ^ "Table 13.1," in Weishampel, et al. (2004). Page 270.
  17. ^ a b Paul M. Barrett; Roger B.J. Benson; Paul Upchurch (2010). "Dinosaurs of Dorset: Part II, the sauropod dinosaurs (Saurischia, Sauropoda) with additional comments on the theropods". Proceedings of the Dorset Natural History and Archaeological Society. 131: 113–126.
  18. ^ "Table 13.1," in Weishampel, et al. (2004). Page 267.
  19. ^ "Table 13.1," in Weishampel, et al. (2004). Page 271.
  20. ^ Benson, R.B.J. (2008). "New information on Stokesosaurus, a tyrannosauroid (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from North America and the United Kingdom". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 28 (3): 732–750. doi:10.1671/0272-4634(2008)28[732:NIOSAT]2.0.CO;2.
  21. ^ Brusatte, S.L.; Benson, R.B.J. (2013). "The systematics of Late Jurassic tyrannosauroids (Dinosauria: Theropoda) from Europe and North America". Acta Palaeontologica Polonica. 58 (1): 47–54. doi:10.4202/app.2011.0141.
  22. ^ "A new monofenestratan pterosaur from the Kimmeridge Clay Formation (Kimmeridgian, Upper Jurassic) of Dorset, England - Acta Palaeontologica Polonica". Retrieved 2017-08-31.
  23. ^ Benson, RBJ; Bowdler, T (2014). "Anatomy of Colymbosaurus (Reptilia, Plesiosauria) from the Kimmeridge Clay Formation of the U.K., and high diversity among Late Jurassic plesiosauroids". Journal of Vertebrate Paleontology. 34 (5): 1053–1071. doi:10.1080/02724634.2014.850087.
  24. ^ a b c d Roger B. J. Benson, Mark Evans, Adam S. Smith, Judyth Sassoon, Scott Moore-Faye, Hilary F. Ketchum and Richard Forrest (2013). "A Giant Pliosaurid Skull from the Late Jurassic of England". PLoS ONE. 8 (5): e65989. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0065989. PMC 3669260. PMID 23741520.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  25. ^ a b c Espen M. Knutsen (2012). "A taxonomic revision of the genus Pliosaurus (Owen, 1841a) Owen, 1841b". Norwegian Journal of Geology. 92 (2–3): 259–276. ISSN 0029-196X.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link) Low resolution pdf Archived 2013-12-24 at the Wayback Machine High resolution pdf Archived 2013-12-24 at the Wayback Machine
  26. ^ Noè, L. F.; Smith, D. T. J.; Walton, D. I. (2004). "A new species of Kimmeridgian pliosaur (Reptilia; Sauropterygia) and its bearing on the nomenclature of Liopleurodon macromerus". Proceedings of the Geologists' Association. 115: 13–24. doi:10.1016/S0016-7878(04)80031-2.
  27. ^ The Student's Elements of Geology by Sir Charles Lyell Part 7 out of 14 accessed 13 February 2009.
  28. ^ Wignall, Paul B. (1990). "Benthic palaeoecology of the late Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay of England" (PDF). Special Papers in Palaeontology. The Palaeontological Association, London. 43. ISBN 978-0-901702-42-5. Retrieved February 8, 2011.


  • Galton, P.M. 1999. Cranial anatomy of the hypsilophodontid dinosaur Bugenasaura infernalis (Ornithischia: Ornithopoda) from the Upper Cretaceous of North America. Revue Pale´obiologie, 18, 517–534.

Further reading

  • Martill, D.M., Naish, D. & Earland, S. 2006. Dinosaurs in marine strata: evidence from the British Jurassic, including a review of the allochthonous vertebrate assemblage from the marine Kimmeridge Clay Formation (Upper Jurassic) of Great Britain. In: Colectivo Arqueologico y Paleontologico Salense, (ed.) Actas de las III Jornadas Intrernacionales sobre Paleontologı´a de Dinosaurios y su Entorno, 16–17 Sep. 2004. Salas de los Infantes, Burgos, 47–84.

Brachypterygius (meaning ″wide wing/paddle″ in Greek) is an extinct genus of platypterygiine ophthalmosaurid ichthyosaur known from the Late Jurassic of England. The type species was originally described and named as Ichthyosaurus extremus by Boulenger in 1904. Brachypterygius was named by Huene in 1922 for the width and shortness of the forepaddle, and the type species is therefore Brachypterygius extremus. The holotype of B. extremus was originally thought to be from the Lias Group of Bath, United Kingdom, but other specimens suggest it more likely came from the Kimmeridgian Kimmeridge Clay (Late Jurassic) of Kimmeridge Bay, Dorset, UK.

Cann, Dorset

Cann is a village and civil parish in the county of Dorset in southern England. It is situated on the A350 road in the North Dorset administrative district, 1 mile (1.6 km) south of Shaftesbury. The civil parish covers 2,600 acres (1,100 ha) and has an underlying geology of Kimmeridge clay, greensand and gault clay. In the 2011 census the parish—which includes HM Prison Guys Marsh—had a population of 822.

Cephalopod egg fossil

Cephalopod egg fossils are the fossilized remains of eggs laid by cephalopods. The fossil record of cephalopod eggs is scant since their soft, gelatinous eggs decompose quickly and have little chance to fossilize. Eggs laid by ammonoids are the best known and only a few putative examples of these have been discovered. The best preserved of these were discovered in the Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay of England. Currently no belemnoid egg fossils have ever been discovered although this may be because scientists have not properly searched for them rather than an actual absence from the fossil record.

Clay Ope

Clay Ope is on the west side of the Isle of Portland in Dorset, England. It forms part of the Jurassic Coast. The geology of the area includes Purbeck Beds, Portland Stone, Portland Sand, and Kimmeridge Clay. Above Clay Ope is West Cliff.


Colymbosaurus is a genus of cryptoclidid plesiosaur from the Late Jurassic (Kimmeridgian-Tithonian) of the UK and Svalbard, Norway. There are two currently recognized species, C. megadeirus and C. svalbardensis.

Cumnor Hill

Cumnor Hill is a hill in the civil parish of Cumnor, to the west of the city of Oxford in the English county of Oxfordshire. In 1974 it was transferred from Berkshire. It is also the name of the ribbon development between the original Cumnor village and Botley outside the ring road on the outskirts of Oxford.

The road up Cumnor Hill was the original route of the A420 between Oxford and Swindon, until the Cumnor Hill by-pass was built in the 1970s. The road is now unclassified.

At the top of Cumnor Hill is the hamlet of Chawley, where the Kimmeridge Clay is close to the surface. There were brickworks there until 1937.Position: (grid reference SP476050)

Cumnor Hurst

Cumnor Hurst, also known as Hurst Hill, is a wooded hill in the neighbourhood of the village of Cumnor, Oxfordshire, England. It lies to the north of Boars Hill. In 1974 it was transferred from Berkshire.

The hill is a landmark on the ridge of Corallian limestone that is topped by Lower Greensand and Kimmeridge Clay. The Kimmeridge Clay provided bricks and tiles, from clay extracted at the Chawley Brick and Tile Works. It was there that fossilised remains of the dinosaur Cumnoria were found, in 1879-1880. Remains of plesiosaurs and ichthyosaurs have also been found there. A housing estate was built on the site of the Chawley Brick and Tile Works in the period 2012 to 2015, and this estate now adjoins the Hurst, with new roads

Kimmeridge Road, Oakwood Way and Seven Sisters Way.

The hill is owned by All Souls College, Oxford. It is mentioned in Matthew Arnold's poem The Scholar Gipsy.Older maps show 'Cumnor Folly' on the hill, for example National Library of Scotland's map of Berkshire, 1938. This is likely to indicate not a building but a small wooded area, following a local dialect usage, recorded in the Oxford English Dictionary. The area is now extensively wooded. Cumnor Hurst is a Site of Special Scientific Interest.


Dacentrurus (meaning "tail full of points"), originally known as Omosaurus, was a large stegosaur of the Late Jurassic Period (154 - 150 mya) of Europe. Its type species, Omosaurus armatus, was named in 1875, based on a skeleton found in the Kimmeridge Clay of England. In 1902 the genus was renamed Dacentrurus because the name Omosaurus had already been used for a crocodylian. After 1875, half a dozen other species would be named but perhaps only Dacentrurus armatus is valid.

Finds of this animal have been limited and much of its appearance is uncertain. It was a heavily built quadrupedal herbivore, adorned with plates and spikes.


Duriatitan is a genus of titanosauriform sauropod dinosaur that lived in the Late Jurassic in what is now England. The holotype specimen of Duriatitan, BMNH 44635, is a partial left upper arm bone which was found by R.I. Smith near Sandsfoot in the lower Kimmeridge Clay from Dorset. The type species, D. humerocristatus, was described in 1874 by John Hulke as a species of Cetiosaurus. The specific name refers to the deltopectoral crest, crista, on the upper arm bone, humerus. The specimen was assigned to its own genus by Paul M. Barrett, Roger B.J. Benson and Paul Upchurch in 2010. The generic name is derived from the Latin name for Dorset, Duria, and Greek Titan.


Gigantosaurus (from the Greek "Γίγας" and "σαυρος", meaning "giant lizard") is a sauropod dinosaur genus from the Late Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay Formation of England. The type species, Gigantosaurus megalonyx, was named and described by Harry Govier Seeley in 1869. Its syntype series consists of several separately discovered sauropod bones found in Cambridgeshire, including two caudal (tail) vertebrae (CAMSM J.29477 and CAMSM J.29478), the distal end of a tibia (CAMSM J.29483), a cast of the right radius (CAMSM J.29482), a cast of phalanx (CAMSM J.29479) and an osteoderm (CAMSM J.29481). It was synonymised to Ornithopsis humerocristatus by Richard Lydekker in 1888 and to Pelorosaurus by Friedrich von Huene in 1909. Today it is considered a nomen dubium.

Because of these references Eberhard Fraas incorrectly assumed in 1908 the name was available for other species and he used it, despite it being preoccupied, for African material totally unrelated to the British finds. As a result, the name Gigantosaurus factored into the convoluted taxonomic history of the African dinosaurs Barosaurus, Tornieria, and Janenschia. A discussion of this can be found in the main Tornieria article.


"Ischyrosaurus" (meaning "strong lizard", for its large humerus; name in quotation marks because it is preoccupied) was a genus of sauropod dinosaur from the Kimmeridgian-age Upper Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay of Dorset, England. It was once synonymized with the Early Cretaceous-age Pelorosaurus.


Kimmeridge ( ) is a small village and civil parish on the Isle of Purbeck, a peninsula on the English Channel coast in Dorset, England. It is situated about 4.5 miles (7.2 km) south of Wareham and 7 miles (11 km) west of Swanage. In 2013 the estimated population of the civil parish was 90.

Kimmeridge is a coastal parish and its coastline forms part of the Jurassic Coast, a World Heritage Site. The coast is also part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and the whole parish is part of the Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Kimmeridge is the type locality for Kimmeridge clay, the geological formation that covers most of the parish. Within the clay are bands of bituminous shale, which in the history of the village have been the focus of several attempts to create an industrial centre. An oil well has operated on the shore of Kimmeridge Bay since 1959.

The roughly semi-circular Kimmeridge Bay is southwest of Kimmeridge village. It is backed by low cliffs of Kimmeridge clay, and beneath the cliffs is a large wave-cut platform and a rocky shore with rock pools and attendant ecology. Kimmeridge Bay is a surfer and diver area.

Kimmeridge Bay

Kimmeridge Bay ( ) is a bay on the Isle of Purbeck, a peninsula on the English Channel coast in Dorset, England, close to and southeast of the village of Kimmeridge, on the Smedmore Estate. The area is renowned for its fossils, with The Etches Collection in the village of Kimmeridge displaying fossils found by Steve Etches in the area over a 30-year period. It is a popular place to access the coast for tourists. To the east are the Kimmeridge Ledges, where fossils can be found in the flat clay beds.

Kimmeridge Ledges

Kimmeridge Ledges ( ) is a set of Kimmeridge clay ledges stretching out in to the sea on the Isle of Purbeck, a peninsula on the English Channel coast in Dorset, England.They are located to the southeast of Kimmeridge Bay and south of the villages of Kimmeridge, on the Smedmore Estate.


Kimmerosaurus ("lizard from Kimmeridge") is an extinct genus of plesiosaur from the family Cryptoclididae, closely related to Tatenectes.


Macropterygius is a genus of ichthyosaurs known from the Late Jurassic (Kimmeridgian age) of England (Kimmeridge Clay formation). Though many specimens have been referred to this genus from all over Europe, the type specimen of the only recognized species, M. trigonus, consists of just a single vertebra. Because this cannot be used to distinguish ichthyosaurs from one another, the genus and species are currently considered nomena dubia (doubtful names).

Manston, Dorset

Manston is a small village and civil parish in the county of Dorset in southern England, lying next to the River Stour in the Blackmore Vale in the North Dorset administrative district, 2 miles (3.2 km) east of the town of Sturminster Newton. The geology of the parish consists mostly of Kimmeridge clay, with a thin strip of Corallian limestone in the west.In 1086 in the Domesday Book Manston was recorded as Manestone; it had 19 households, 8 ploughlands, 25 acres (10 ha) of meadow and 2 mills. It was in the hundred of Gillingham and tenant-in-chief was Waleran the hunter.The parish church of St Nicholas has a 13th-century chancel, 14th-century nave and 15th-century west tower. The first legal cremation in Britain took place at Manston House in 1883,carried out by Captain Thomas Hanham. In 2013 the estimated population of the parish was 140.

Margaret Marsh

Margaret Marsh is a hamlet and civil parish in the English county of Dorset. It is situated in the Blackmore Vale in the North Dorset administrative district of the county, halfway between the towns of Shaftesbury and Sturminster Newton. It is sited on Kimmeridge Clay close to a small tributary stream of the River Stour. In the 2001 census the parish had a population of 60. In 2013 the estimated population of the parish was 40. The parish church has a 15th-century tower and 13th-century font, but the rest of the building was rebuilt in 1873. For local government purposes the parish is grouped with the parishes of East Orchard and West Orchard, to form a Group Parish Council.

Sutton Waldron

Sutton Waldron is a village and civil parish in north Dorset, England, situated on the A350 road between Iwerne Minster and Fontmell Magna, in the Blackmore Vale under the scarp of Cranborne Chase, 8 miles (13 km) north of Blandford Forum and 5 miles (8.0 km) south of Shaftesbury. In the 2011 census the parish had 93 dwellings, 87 households and a population of 200.The parish covers about 1,300 acres (530 ha) in a strip of land that, from west to east, is composed of Kimmeridge clay, Lower Greensand, Gault Clay, Upper Greensand and chalk.In 1086 in the Domesday Book Sutton Waldron was recorded as Sudtone; it had 24 households, one mill, six ploughlands, 6 acres (2.4 ha) of meadow and 40 acres (16 ha) of woodland. It was in the hundred of Gillingham and the lord and tenant-in-chief was Waleran the hunter.The parish church dates from 1847 and is constructed in the Decorated Gothic style.


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