FSC | Field Studies Council

Field Studies Council: Bringing Environmental Understanding to All

Geology and Earth Science

Many of our centres are ideal venues for geology and earth science field courses and offer:

  • High quality field sites - either within walking distance or a short drive away
  • Fully risk assessed field sites with prior access agreements
  • Well equipped, WiFi enabled classrooms, lecture rooms and laboratories
  • Range of field equipment, including ranging poles, tape measures, surveying equipment and hard hats
  • Fieldwork support and local advice from trained Field Centre staff
  • Links to local geological experts  (who can deliver specialist sessions)


Pembrokshire (Dale Fort and Orielton Field Centres)

Some of the most diverse geological scenery in the British Isles and over 250 miles of exposures. Precambrian to Silurian rocks and Quaternary deposits are all within an hour’s drive. Highlights include:

  • Igneous: Pillow lavas at Strumble Head, spotted dolerites of the Preseli Hills
  • Sedimentary: Range of marine to terrestrial deposits displaying variety of structures
  • Structural: Ladies’ Cave chevron fold at Saundersfoot, unconformity at Marloes Sands.
  • Quaternary: raised beach platforms at Broadhaven, karstic weathering at Green Bridge of Wales
  • Fossils: cross sections of corals at Stackpole Quay, brachiopods at Marloes Sands
  • Renewable and fossil-fuel energy production and industries at Valero Oil Refinery, Pembroke Gas-Powered Power Station, Dragon LNG Storage Terminals. Wind turbines. Tidal Turbine at St Justinian’s.
  • Coastal Processes, Landforms  and Coastal Management at Saundersfoot Bay and at St Brides Bay.

The Lake District (Blencathra and Castle Head Field Centres)

An area with a troubled Geological past that has included explosive volcanic eruptions, continental scale mountain building, faulting and folding throughout, mineralisation and metamorphism. Finally we shouldn’t ignore the dramatic impact of glaciation in this area with extensive erosion in the higher areas where mountain glaciers carved gigantic corries and knife-edged aretes from the tortured peaks. In the lower valleys and towards the margins of Lakes, deposition ruled with some classic glacial landforms.

Shropshire and Welsh Borders (Preston Montford Field Centre)

The geology of Shropshire is more varied than any other area of comparable size in Britain and possibly the rest of the world. Every geological era, except the Cretaceous, is represented in the county. Hutton, Murchison, Darwin and Lapworth all studied in the area to form their theories. Highlights include:

  • Precambrian volcanics,  the tectonic plate boundary and active Church Stretton fault by Caer Caradoc and the Wrekin
  • Unconformity and ripples in Ercall Quarry
  • Fossils abound at the Silurian Ludlow Bone Beds, Whitcliffe Common and the limestone Wenlock Edge
  • Ordovician Quartzite tors and patterned ground at the Stiperstones NNR
  • Permian preserved sand dunes at Bridgenorth Hermitage
  • Industrial links to the geology of the Ironbridge Gorge
  • The meeting of 2 ice sheets has deposited till and fluvio-glacial sediments for examination at Wood Lane and Condover Quarry
  • Palaeocene peneplain at Clee Hill

Yorkshire Dales (Malham Tarn Field Centre)

The spectacular scenery of the Yorkshire Dales is a direct result of the area's unique geology - predominantly carboniferous limestone (including Great Scar Limestone and the "Yoredale Series" of layered limestones interspersed with shales and sandstones), capped on the higher fells by Millstone Grit.  The Yorkshire Dales lies on an area defined by the underlying Askrigg Block, which is bordered to the north by the Dent Fault beyond which are the much older Silurian and Ordovician rocks of the Howgill Fells. The many spectacular “karstic” limestone features included caves, potholes, cliffs and gorges such as Malham Cove and Gordale Scar, as well as limestone pavements. Fossil rich “reef knolls” can be found on Scosthrop Moor and at Cracoe.  Beyond the Stainmore Gap is an the intrusion of the Whin Sill, an igneous dolerite rock which is responsible for features such as the waterfalls at Low Force, High Force and Cauldron Snout. Mineral deposits are relatively common in the dales. Lead veins having been worked primarily on Grassington Moor and Greenhow Hill.

South Devon (Slapton Ley Field Centre)

Devon has a varied and ancient geology. The uplands are dominated by the granite of Dartmoor, and the sandstones, slates and other sedimentary rocks of Exmoor. In the central belt of there are Carboniferous Culm Measures of shales and sandstones. Devonian limestone is found along parts of the south coast. The red soils to the east of Exeter come from Permian and Triassic sandstones. Cretaceous Greensand makes up the ridges of the Blackdowns and the Haldon Hills. Overlying Chalk occurs around Beer in East Devon. The Tertiary period Sticklepath Fault runs north-west to south-east across the County and caused local subsidence creating basins filled with accumulated sand, ball clay and lignite.


Other FSC locations with excellent geological field sites near by include:

Exmoor and the Somerset Coast (Nettlecombe Field Centre)

Northern Ireland (Derrygonnelly Field Centre)

Scottish Highlands (Kindrogan Field Centre)

Course Design

Courses can be co-taught with University staff. FSC tutors are able to lead the fieldwork component or to provide specialist lectures. Alternatively you can lead your own course with support provided by FSC staff prior to and during the course. You are entitled to a free pre-visit to help plan your course.

Next Steps?

Dr Mark Ward (FSC Higher Education Officer) is available to discuss details and options with you on 01743 852100 or by email [email protected] , or fill in the booking enquiry form below:

Booking Enquiry

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