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May 3rd - Scarva, County Down


The Moffat Shale Group outcrops in the Southern Uplands, Down and Armagh provide the vital clues to understanding the stratigraphy, age and tectonic structure of the Southern Uplands-Down-Longford Terrane. The recent Tellus survey with its airborne resistivity/electomagnetics has traced the Moffat Shale across the two Northern Irish counties and facilitated the discovery of further outcrops.


On Saturday 3rd May about 20 members of the Club or/and the Society were present in more spring-like weather. The purpose of the excursion, led by Dr Mark Cooper and Dr Gareth Barker, of the GSNI and of the British Geological Survey, was to examine two groups of such outcrops, armed with the knowledge of seeing the stratigraphic divisions at Coalpit Bay.


We met at Scarva and the moved to a rock scarp on the west side of a low hill SE of Shaneglish where grey-black graptolitic Lower Hartfell Shale is stratigraphically overlain by grey-green and red-stained “Barren Mudstones” of the Upper Hartfell. This Ordovician sequence is repeated by faulting. The shales are remarkably rich in pyrite and, as at Coalpit Bay, include at least two bentonite beds.  


In the afternoon we travelled to Waringsford and followed a gentle stream south from a road bridge at Meadowvale (Irish grid J226494). On either bank of the stream beds of Gala Group greywackes dip steeply south but young or “face” northward. Birkhill Shale underlies the greywacke stratigraphically and yields numerous Monograptus and Rastrite specimens.


Bernard Anderson

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