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Benefits of studying Geology in the Burren.

Kilfenora is an excellent location for studying a range of geological rocks and processes. The Burren itself is one of the best exposed limestone sequences in NW Europe, providing opportunities to examine differing limestone types and the influence of sea-level change on their formation. The Burren limestones show a wide range of fossils some of which can be really spectacular, including corals (tabulate and rugose, solitary and colonial), ancient sponges, bivalves, brachiopods and crinoids. There are also opportunities to see how the rocks have undergone long-term compaction, and then been eroded through the formation of fissures and cave networks; some of these caves can be visited.

After millions of years of tropical conditions and limestone formation, the geology of the Burren changed dramatically, and this can be seen just north of the spa town of Lidsdoonvarna, where there is a fossil bone bed that represents several million years where nothing other than bones (e.g. fish and shark teeth) were deposited. Overlying this is a black shale bed that represents very slow deposition in a deep water tranquil setting. This Clare Shale unit is a superb example of a petroleum source rock, and similar units offshore of Ireland look to have sourced hydrocarbons and are the subject of ongoing exploration.

Further afield the County Clare coastline has some of the most spectacular geological outcrops in Europe, attracting geologists from across the world. There is a complete shallowing up succession from deep-water submarine fan deposits in the south around Loop Head, through a slope succession in mid-Clare, and culminating in a series of deltaic units. These deltaic units are extremely well exposed in northern County Clare, with opportunities to study outcrops at Furcera Bay and elsewhere, and spectacular overviews of entire deltaic coarsening upwards successions from the Cliffs of Moher. There is also the chance to see the amazing fossilerous Liscannor Flags, where thousands of organisms have eaten their way through almost every part of the rock, leaving a spectacular array of feeding traces.


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