OPEN TODAY: The Etches Collection, Kimmeridge, Dorset
Article by Neil Frewin
Nestled between the hills of the Isle of Purbeck and the English Channel is the small village of Kimmeridge, which lends its name to a more significant time period well known to petroleum geologists both in the UK, and globally. The coastal outcrop of the Upper Jurassic Kimmeridge Clay extends east and west of the village and is a frequent stop on any field trip for geoscientists wanting a better view of the principle source rock for fields scattered far to the east in the North Sea.
For the study of Jurassic fauna, the more renowned outcrops of the stratigraphically older Blue Lias (at Lyme Regis for example) yield a higher volume of fossils. However, Kimmeridge plumber and amateur palaeontologist Steve Etches has amassed a collection of over 2000 individual specimens from Kimmeridge-aged strata over 30 years of patient excavation and preparation.
This rich collection has now made the transition from Steve’s living room to a newly-built, £5 million facility in the village, which opens today for the first time.
What is striking about this collection is not only the volume and quality of specimens, but also a unique study of a 155 million year old ecosystem, life and death carefully interpreted from evidence and carefully displayed for visitors of all ages to learn from and interact with. Finely preserved examples of fish, some completely new species, are set alongside marine reptiles and molluscs. Ammonites are described with their eggs, providing a rare insight to their reproductive systems, whilst the remains large marine reptiles show the scars of predation. The static exhibition is roofed by a CGI-rendering of a Jurassic ocean.
For any petroleum geologist, a visit to the south coast of Dorset will be rewarded by this fine exhibition complemented by a visit to the nearby outcrops themselves.
The Collection and its Trustees are looking at all forms of sponsorship. In addition to the exhibition, the facility houses meeting rooms for workshops and small conferences, which can be hired. The Collection aims to extend its own museum with visiting exhibits, educational visits for schools and oil industry talks / field trips.
The PESGB will welcome Steve and colleagues to the PETEX 2016 exhibition next month to present the collection to attendees.
Visit the Etches Collection at Kimmeridge (postal code BH20 SPE) from Friday 21st October. Open Tuesday to Sunday, 10am-5pm. All details on website http://theetchescollection.org/