fossil hunting at ketton quarry

What a surprise this years birthday present was not 'just' membership to the Stamford Geological Society but also to attend a joint visit with the Open University Geological Society to the Ketton Quarry near Stamford.

The quarry is famed for its superior strength cement, recent notable customers being the London Olympics & offshore wind farms. Armed with hi-vis jackets, hard hats, chisels and hammers the eagerly awaited day arrived, luckily the weather although overcast and cloudy didn't threaten any rain.

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rock and gem magazine issue 60 summer 2013

After a slight direction issue we arrived to be waved through to the meeting point. Difficult as it is to merge in with our seasoned fellow visitors with our freshly purchased dazzling kit, we chatted as people arrived. This was a joint venture with the OUGS group.

Ketton cement is famed for its particularly strong cement mix and has already sold all it can produce for 2013, 50,000 tons of raw material is harvested for the plant each week, they can crush 2,000 tons an hour. Another product of the quarry is the oolitic freestone which can be seen in buildings of the local and surrounding area.

The last mine we had visited was the ASARCO Mission mine outside of Tucson which was on a slightly different scale. Although parked up for the weekend some heavy machinery was on view which you couldn't help but cast an eye over and imagine a sneaky test drive!

Visible is the Upper Lias, Northampton Sand & Grantham formations. Amix of limestone is available in the quarry along with the oolite. Fossiliferous Rutland formation, alternating rootlet beds and brackish marine shelly clays. Blisworth limestone, clay, cornbrash, Kellaways clay and sand. An almost continuous section of the middle Jurassic at the site with complex faults.

There is evidence on top of the Lincolnshire limestone of a well used dinosaur trackway, a Cetiosaurus skeleton has been found in the vicinity. Fossils are also found in the Cornbrash which is a darker limestone and the most probable place to find ammonite Macrocephalites.

Once all the groups had assembled a safety briefing took place and an overview of the day, a handful of keen fossil hunters wanted to skip the geological tour and dive straight into the spoil heaps. So two parties set out walking into the quarry with the group leaders and the quarry representative.

 Whilst observing the key places to see the aforementioned formations the keen eyed could point out the ironstone previously mined for ore
to supply the previously defunct Corby steel works. Calcite mineral formations, some quartzsite, areas of collyweston slate. Soon
enough we headed to the spoil heaps to find a wealth of marine shells, bi valves the odd echinoid and several shark teeth were found.
Here I must confess to the amateur mistake of not keeping a tooth find separate from the main haul and later after excitedly telling the tale of where the tooth was found I was unable to validate the event because it had vanished!

All too soon rumblings were heard, not overhead but it was lunchtime, in a civilised manner we trekked back to the site meeting room and broke out the packed lunches and had an envious peruse over what others were happy to disclose they had found in the morning.

Glancing around the room you could see letters from local schools saying thank-you for the great time they also had when visiting
along with a wealth of fossils and minerals that the quarry staff had found over the years which helped to bolster our resolve to head out doors once more.

Catching up with hardened tooth hunters we had a peep at their days pickings and headed for new ground to see what else we could find.

All too soon the day was over and we headed home with out collection of shells, bi valves, some petrified wood, calcite crystals and no doubt some as yet unnamed fossils and nice looking pieces of stone. I did realise that perhaps I might  need a geological hammer for my next trip, oh yes already arranged to Pode Hole just outside Peterborough.

ketton quarry

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