Why is it called Devonian Limestone?5th December 2008
The Devonian Limestone is one of the most important rock types found within our Geopark. It is this limestone which has helped to shape the Bay over millions of years and now forms the impressive headlands at Hope's Nose and Berry Head.
409-363 million years ago Torbay was a very different place: Europe was attached to North America and was positioned over the equator. Sea levels were much higher and the temperature was much warmer resulting in an environment similar to that associated with the tropics today.
The shallow seas were home to an abundance of marine life as the different families that scientists are now familiar with were beginning to establish themselves. Beautiful reef communities were formed from corals and sponges and larger creatures such as trilobites scuttled across the sea floor.
When these marine creatures died, their skeletons and other hard body parts sank to the sea bed and were compressed under high pressure to form limestone rock.
In the early 18th century scientists were working on a system for naming the main periods of geological time. Unfortunately, this was not a simple task and tended to result in disagreements amongst members of the British Geological Society.
It was Roderick Murchison and Adam Sedgwick who originally named the Devonian Period following research they carried out in Devon, and in particular, Torbay. They found some unusual marine fossils in the limestone at Lummaton Quarry and it was this discovery that lead to the time period becoming known globally as the Devonian.
The limestone from Lummaton, and other similar locations in the Bay, was quarried extensively during the Victorian era.
Do you have an interesting fact about the rocks in Torbay?