Geology

Objective: To conserve and enhance the geodiversity of the AONB, in terrestrial, aquatic and marine habitats

The term ‘geodiversity’ encompasses the variety of rocks, minerals, fossils, landforms, sediments and soils in an area, together with natural processes, such as erosion and landslips that may still be active. The rocks, fossils and minerals have been formed over millions of years, shaping the landforms of the area and providing much of the spectacular scenery along the coastline.

 The underlying geology is a mixture of carboniferous sandstones and shales, Devonian slates, sandstones and volcanics, with an area of transition sandwiched in between. Spectacular zig-zag patterns in the carboniferous rocks can be seen along the Atlantic coast at Hartland Quay. This illustrates how the rocks were crumpled and contorted by the collision of crustal plates and thrust up into mountains. In the northern part of the AONB, the slates and sandstones provide building materials, clearly visible in the village of Mortehoe. A scattering of Limestone intrusions around Ilfracombe and Combe Martin have left their legacy in the remains of industrial heritage such as lime kilns and burners.

Within the North Devon Coast AONB there are 10 designated geological SSSI of which 94% are in a favourable or favourable recovering condition in 2018. Additionally, there are thirteen Regionally Important Geological Sites (RIGS) defined due to their value for education, geological research or aesthetic reasons. Whilst they are non-statutory designations, they are recognised as important “material considerations” when local authorities assess planning applications.

There are some amazing outcrops to see along our coast wherever you are. To find out more about our geology take a look at the Devon Regionally Important Geological and Geomorphological Sites (RIGS) Group reports, below

 State of the AONB 2014 - 2018 - Geodiversity indicators

Geodiversity Action Plan
North Devon AONB RIGS Torridge
North Devon AONB RIGS North Devon
Geology of Britain Viewer

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