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At Highcliffe access to cliffs can be made with ease, indeed fossils occur in high concentrations in the seaward end of the slumped Barton Clay, so it’s not necessary to travel far to find a diversity of fossils.Close inspection of the Barton Clay reveals a mass of broken fossil material alongside plenty of complete specimens too, especially gastropods.From the car park a surfaced footpath leads directly to the foot of the cliffs.Above: Parking is available in the cliff-top car park at Highcliffe, accessed along Waterford Road.
Looking across the Solent from Barton on Sea on a clear day the distinctive outline of the chalk Needles and lighthouse can be seen at the western tip of the Isle of Wight.
During periods of regression (falling sea levels) the shallowing sea forced the coastline seaward and closer to the Barton area, delivering a greater volume of sand to the area.
Clay on the other hand (formed of silt/mud) is indicative of a deeper, low energy setting – the finer particles are able to remain suspended within the water and travel a greater distance from their source, before settling to the sea floor.
Neither of the latter formations are the subject of this report, however it should be noted that the Chama Sand appears towards the top of the cliff, close to where the above panoramic was taken, and descends gradually as the beds dip eastward.
The overlying Becton Sand appears at the top of the cliff a short distance from the sea defences to the east.
During periods of transgression (rising sea levels) the coastline was pushed inland, reducing the supply of sand to the Barton area and favouring the accumulation of silt/mud.