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Lossiemouth Shore SSSI is located to the north-east of the golf course at Stotfield, Lossiemouth. Parking can be found at the West Beach car park.
This cache is owned by outdoor learning and adventure charity, Outfit Moray. Visit www.outfitmoray.com for more information on our work locally with vulnerable or disadvantaged young people, to hire outdoor equipment such as canoes or bikes or to book an adventure fun day for up to 8 people!
Lossiemouth Shore was designated a SSSI during a Geological Conservation Review (GCR) that was completed in 1989. Although the Lossiemouth Shore SSSI has not yielded any fossils, unlike other local SSSI quarry sites including Findrassie, Spynie, Masonshaugh, Cuttie's Hillock and Lossiemouth East Quarries, it was notified because it has exposures of Stotfield Cherty Rock (see photo). This rock is important for understanding the environment of the area at the end of the Triassic geological period. The Cherty Rock, which is the youngest Triassic rock in the region, is a grey to white coloured rock, containing numerous quartz filled cavities. It is very hard and has joints (fractures) that run through its mass, which are filled by quartz and other minerals, including calcite (calcium carbonate), pyrite (iron ore) and galena (lead ore). At the shore, the metals are rather tarnished by the sea water. It is interesting to note that at one time the lead ore in the Cherty Rock of the area was commercially exploited.
When the Permian and Triassic rocks of the Elgin area were laid down, the geography and climate of Northern Scotland and Britain as a whole was totally unlike that of today. In fact, the portion of the Earth's crust, which was to form modern day Britain, was land-locked within the giant continent of Pangaea. As a part of this continent, northern Scotland 250 million years ago, was situated between 15° and 20° north of the equator and therefore had a hot arid climate. However, it was during Permian and Triassic times that Pangaea started to break up by the process of continental drift. This eventually led to the modern day distribution of continents and oceans.
During Permian and Triassic times it was receiving sediment from the adjacent highland areas. The sediment was transported into the basins and deposited largely by river systems that may have periodically dried up in the arid climate. At the lowest point in the basin, there were probably lake-land and river flood plain areas, which supported a fauna and flora. Away from the lake-land areas, sand dunes would have migrated under the power of the prevailing winds across the surface of the basin.
This arid environment which existed during Permian and Triassic times, eventually ceased to exist as the basin continued to sink downward between the faults in the crust, as Pangaea was being pulled apart and the area was inundated by the sea. There then followed a complex sequence of events in which the basin alternated between dry land and sea during the Jurassic and Cretaceous periods, with the accumulation of huge amounts of sediment which covered the Permian and Triassic deposits.
Millions of years of erosion, most recently during the Ice Age, produced the present day landscape, in which most of the Permian, Triassic and younger deposits have been removed, leaving behind remnants resting upon older underlying rocks. These older rocks are known as the "Old Red Sandstone" which were formed during the Devonian geological period, over 100 million years before the Permian and Triassic periods.
Originally, the Cherty Rock was a layer of sandy soil that formed above the Lossiemouth Sandstone Formation, under hot and dry semi-arid conditions the soil persisted a long time without being covered by windblown or river deposited sediment, although chemical changes did take place in the soil at times, as groundwater circulated through it. As mentioned previously, the area became flooded by the sea at the start of the Jurassic period with the deposition of marine sediments. The composition of the Cherty Rock suggests that it was submerged in brackish water for a period just before the area was engulfed by the sea. Following submergence, it was covered in sediments of Jurassic age.
To “bag” this cache, simply take a photograph of yourself in front of the largest Cherty Rock outcrop, with or without your GPS.
Also, please email the answers to the following questions:
(a) The fossils of which dinosaur were discovered at the nearby Lossiemouth East Quarry?
(b) What was the first SSSI site in the Elgin area to yield fossil remains?
(c) In which local woods will you find Cuttie’s Hillock, the site of the oldest reptile fossils in the area?
(d) What is the approximate height of the largest cherty rock outcrop?
This site is managed by the Moray Council who has given permission for this cache. Further information The Lossiemouth Shore SSSI can be found by contacting the Scottish Natural Heritage on 01343 541551 or by visiting its website (visit link) and choosing “Site Links” from the menu on the right hand side.
Thank you to Scottish Natural Heritage for their help and information.
(No hints available.)