QRA/Quaternary Engineering Research Group Field Meeting: Quaternary engineering geology of the West Cumbria region

17/03/22 - 20/03/22

Registration form: Please use this document

E-mail completed registration forms to: jwm@bgs.ac.uk;

Registration form: Please use this document

E-mail completed registration forms to: jwm@bgs.ac.uk; jonathanmerritt0@gmail.com

Leaders: Nick Smith (National Nuclear Laboratory), Chris Coleman and Paul Fish (Jacobs), Jon Merritt and Emrys Phillips (BGS)

The glacial sequence underlying the coastal plain of West Cumbria is locally exceptionally thick and complex owing to past interactions between ice emanating from the adjacent Cumbrian Mountains and ice streaming through the Irish Sea basin. Most agree that following the Last Glacial Maximum ice-marginal lakes occupied lower reaches of the western Lake District valleys, ponded by ice occupying the Irish Sea basin. The coastal plain was subsequently affected by several glacial readvances and local marine inundation. The glacial and geomorphological legacy within this domain contrasts starkly with the ground immediately inland, where the Pleistocene sequence is relatively thin and simple.

This excursion will concentrate on the detailed analysis and interpretation of the sedimentology, physical characteristics and deformational legacy at coastal sections between St Bees and Ravenglass. The sections display a rich and diverse assemblage of glacigenic deposits and both small and large scale deformational structures. The results of ongoing work will be presented that add to the wealth of previous knowledge derived from extensive site investigations undertaken in the area, which includes the Sellafield Nuclear Complex and the Low Level Radioactive Waste Repository at Drigg.

The QERG is intended to foster greater collaboration between industry, academia and government organisations. Industry has access to a wealth of practical experience on the engineering properties of Quaternary sediments, knowledge of outcrops available for study, access to ground investigation data and core material. Industry supports research funding applications and collaborates with universities to develop funded PhD studentships under the ESPRC Cooperative Awards in Science & Technology (CASE) programme. The engineering industry and related government organisations are a significant employer of engineering geologists, geomorphologists and geoarchaeologists and field meetings such as this foster links and showcase examples of Quaternary engineering geology practice and state-of-the-art research.


The meeting will be based in the Lake District National Park around the Bridge Inn, Santon Bridge, CA19 1UX, in Lower Wasdale.

Sites to include

Mainly coastal sections at St Bees, Nethertown, Seascale, Drigg and Ravenglass.


Participants are requested to book their own accommodation as soon as possible. The Bridge Inn is adjacent to the Old Post Office Campsite and near the Village Hall in Santon Bridge. If possible, please express willingness to share a twin room in the hotel when booking by phone, mentioning QRA.

The campsite has good facilities and accepts touring caravans/motorhomes as well as tents.

The village hall may be used by us as very basic accommodation. It has a microwave oven, oven with grill, toilets and one shower. Please bring own sleeping bags and floor mats, cutlery, plates, bowls, pans, etc.

Self-catering accommodation for small groups may also be available locally.

The Bridge Inn, Santon Bridge, Holmrook, Cumbria CA19 1UX; https://www.santonbridgeinn.co.uk; sales@santonbridgeinn.co.uk; +44 (0)19467 26221 [linked with Irton Hall B&B and self-catering, 2km from Santon Bridge]

The Old Post Office Campsite; https://theoldpostofficecampsite.co.uk; enquiries@theoldpostofficecampsite.co.uk; tel: +441946726286 tel:+447968425604

Alternative accommodation is available in Nether Wasdale (4km), Eskdale Green (4km), Gosforth (5km) and Holmrook (5km).


All participants are requested to attend an introductory meeting in the village hall at 8 pm on Thursday 17th March. (Meals available earlier in Bridge Inn on prior reservation)


Travel during the meeting will involve sharing private cars. Vehicles must be kept to a minimum due to restricted parking at most localities. The nearest railway station and long-distance bus stop is at Seascale.


We must adhere to any instructions and recommendations in force during the meeting. We encourage all participants to take a lateral flow test before travelling and to wear face masks indoors. Anyone with symptoms of COVID19 should follow guidelines regarding self-isolating.


The QRA holds 3rd party Public Liability Insurance. Participants are responsible for arranging their own travel/health insurance. They are asked to notify the organisers of any relevant access issues or medical conditions. Organisers reserve the right to limit or refuse attendance on health and safety grounds. The party will examine many high coastal cliff sections, walk over bouldery beaches and rough ground (< 5 km) and may visit quarries.

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