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Cretaceous

Cretaceous

The Cretaceous lasted about 80 million years and began with the Berriasian stage approximately 145.6 million years ago and ended with the Maastrichtian stage about 65.0 million years ago.

The terrestrial deposits of the Barremian stage represent the early part of the Cretaceous period of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight. The marine transgression which followed is represented by the remaining seven stages, of which the Campanian is the most recent stage found in Hampshire. These Cretaceous stages have been divided into ten formations of marl, clay, sand, sandstone and limestone. Each formation contains a diverse fossil fauna dominated by vertebrates in the early stages giving way to mollusca in the later stages. 

The majority of the down-land in Hampshire and the Isle of Wight over 100 metres high overlies the chalk of the Late Cretaceous Period.

Senonian Stage (88.5 - 65.0 million years ago)

Senonian is the collective term for the uppermost Cretaceous chalk which includes the Coniacian, Santonian, Campanian and Maastrichtian stages. In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight it is represented by approximately 400 metres of soft limestone/chalk and subordinate marls which are thought to have been deposited in an extensive, 100m deep, sea. The Maastrichtian is absent in Hampshire. Senonian chalk is present below the higher downland and in the sea cliffs at each end of the Isle of Wight, at Portsdown Hill and below most of the higher parts of the Hampshire downland. Elsewhere it is concealed by younger sediments.

We have comprehensive collections of fossils and geological specimens, particularly from the Fareham and Winchester areas of Hampshire. The fossil fauna from this stage is dominated by invertebrates, particularly echinoids. Vertebrates, mainly shark teeth, are also well represented in the collection.

Turonian Stage (90.4 - 88.5 million years ago)

The Turonian stage, formerly referred to as the Middle chalk, is now included in the White Chalk formation. In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight it is represented by approximately 59 metres of soft limestone/chalk and subordinate marls. These sediments are thought to have been deposited in an extensive, 100 metre deep, sea.  The Turonian stage is present below the higher downland and in the sea cliffs each end of the Isle of Wight. It is also present below most of the higher parts of the Hampshire downland and at various depths throughout the rest of the county.

We have comprehensive collections of fossils and geological specimens, particularly from the Winchester area. The fossil fauna from this stage is dominated by invertebrates, particularly brachiopods and echinoids. Vertebrates are poorly represented in the collection.

Cenomanian Stage (97.0 - 90.4 million years ago)

The Cenomanian stage, formerly known as the Lower Chalk, is now usually referred to as the Lower Chalk formation.In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight it is represented by approximately 64 metres of soft limestone/chalk and marls formed by sediments deposited in an extensive, 100m deep, sea.  Cenomanian chalk is present below the higher downland and in the sea cliffs at each end of the Isle of Wight. With the exception of the Alton area, this stage is deeply buried below most of Hampshire's downland and is concealed by younger geological periods throughout the rest of the county.

Fossils and geological specimens from this stage are poorly represented in the collection.

Albian Stage (112.0 - 97.0 million years ago)

The Albian stage was formerly known as the Selbornian which includes the Gault and Upper Greensand. In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight it is represented by about 71 metres of clays and greensands which derive from wholly marine sediments deposited in water between 27 and 54 metres deep. . The Albian stage is present below the southern part and in the sea cliffs at each end of the Isle of Wight. The stage is concealed below more recent geological periods in Hampshire and is only present at the surface southeast of Alton.

We have few fossils and geological specimens from this stage in the collection, various rare zonal cephalopods and bivalves are the best represented.

Aptian Stage (124.5 - 112.0 million years ago)

The Aptian stage, formerly the Lower Greensand, is divided into the Lower and Upper Aptian stages. In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight it is represented by approximately 213 metres of clays and greensands. . These stages include the Atherfield Clay and Ferruginous Sand formations which are represented by marine sediments of various depths beginning with the marine transgression which marked the close of the Barremian stage. The Aptian stage is present below the southern part and in the sea cliffs at each end of the Isle of Wight, particularly in Chale Bay. In Hampshire the upper part of this stage is present near Petersfield, but is concealed elsewhere in the county by more recent geological periods.

Our collections of fossils and geological specimens from this stage are restricted to the various outcrops on the southern side of the Isle of Wight. Invertebrate fossils from the Atherfield area of Chale Bay are well represented in the collection.

Berremian Stage (131.8 - 124.5 million years ago)

The Berremian Stage, formerly the Wealden Marl and Wealden Shales, is divided into the Wessex and Vectis formations.In Hampshire and the Isle of Wight it is represented by approximately 228 metres of marl or variegated clays, limestones, sand, sandstone and black shale.  The lower part or Wessex formation is represented by sediments from swamps, muddy lagoons and drainage systems serving an extensive low-lying basin. The overlying Vectis formation is represented by sediments, thought to have been deposited in an estuary, which became choked with deltaic deposits.The Berremian stage is concealed below the southern part of the Isle of Wight and outcrops in Compton, Brighstone and Sandown Bays. This stage is either absent or concealed below more recent geological periods and is not present at the surface anywhere in Hampshire.

Our collections of fossils and geological specimens are restricted to the various outcrops on the southern side of the Isle of Wight. Vertebrates, particularly reptiles, collected between Compton and Chale Bay are well represented in the collection.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Cretaceous vertebrates

Vertebrates remains are not common in the Cretaceous sediments of Hampshire. Fossil fish remains, particularly individual teeth of sharks and rays, are the most frequently found of the marine vertebrate fossils. Disarticulated remains of fossil reptiles, including dinosaurs, dominate terrestrial vertebrate faunas.

Cretaceous invertebrates

Invertebrates remains are common in the Cretaceous sediments of Hampshire. Fossil mollusc remains dominate the marine and freshwater faunas. Marine arthropods, corals, echinoids, molluscs and sponges are particularly well represented in the collection but we have few terrestrial invertebrates.