In onshore areas of the British Isles, Paleogene rocks crop out mainly in two widely separated areas with greatly differing developments. Predominantly shallow-marine and marginal-marine sediments are represented in the Hampshire and London Basins in southern England; lava sheets and associated intrusive rocks in NW Scotland and northern Ireland. Marine Neogene sediments are represented almost entirely by a small Pliocene outcrop on the North Sea coast in East Anglia. Non-marine Paleogene and Neogene sediments occur mainly in small areas, except for the Lough Neagh Basin in northern Ireland (Fig. 1).
Tertiary igneous rocks of the NAIP (North Atlantic Igneous Province) have a long history of intensive study; yet, for many years, Tertiary sediments had a rather subordinate role in British stratigraphy (and in stratigraphy textbooks), studied largely by a small group of geologists, but which included several outstanding stratigraphers and palaeontologists. They outcrop in a relatively limited area of the British Isles, and were difficult to date and correlate owing to the apparent lack of ‘zone fossils’ such as the ammonites or graptolites of previous eras. Their main economic value being the exploitation of sand and clay for bricks, other building materials and ceramics, they could not easily compete with Carboniferous coalfields or Jurassic iron ores for government or academic research funding.
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This Special Report comprehensively describes the stratigraphy and correlation of the Tertiary (Paleogene-Neogene) rocks of NW Europe and the adjacent Atlantic Ocean and is the summation of fifty years of research on Tertiary sediments by Chris King. His book is essential reading for all geologists who deal with Tertiary rocks across NW Europe, including those in the petroleum industry and geotechnical services as well as academic stratigraphers and palaeontologists.
Introductory sections on chronostratigraphy, biostratigraphy and other methods of dating and correlation are followed by a regional summary of Tertiary sedimentary basins and their framework and an introduction to Tertiary igneous rocks. The third and largest segment comprises the regional stratigraphic summaries. Regions covered are the North Sea Basin, on shore areas of southern England and the eastern English Channel area, the North Atlantic margins (including non-marine basins in the Irish Sea and elsewhere) and the Paleogene igneous rocks of Scotland.