All about dinosaurs, fossils and prehistoric animals by Everything Dinosaur team members.
24 06, 2014

Site in Denmark Awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status

By | June 24th, 2014|General Teaching, Key Stage 1/2, Key Stage 3/4|Comments Off on Site in Denmark Awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status

Stevns Klint K/T Boundary Site Awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status

The members of the UNESCO World Heritage Committee have awarded World Heritage status to the nine mile long cliffs at Stevns Klint (Danish island of Sjaelland).  These awards reflect the cultural or national heritage of such locations and do much to help preserve such sites.  The chalk and limestone cliffs at Stevns Klint record the K-T boundary, the time in Earth’s history when the dinosaurs and about seventy percent of all terrestrial life on Earth became extinct.

The Beautiful Cliffs on the Island of Sjaelland

K/T Boundary preserved.

K/T boundary preserved.

This site has huge significance to palaeontologists and geologists, as the cliffs have preserved an exceptional fossil record showing a complete succession of fauna and micro-fauna that maps the Cretaceous extinction event and charts the recovery of life on our planet.

Tertiary aged limestone strata overlies much softer, older Cretaceous chalk deposits and clearly visible to the naked eye, is an ash layer which contains substantial amounts of the rare Earth element iridium.  The ash layer is believed to represent deposits from the Chicxulub impact event which took place in the vicinity of the Yucatan peninsula (Mexico) around sixty-six million years ago.

The Iridium Rich Ash Layer is Clearly Visible

Pointing to the boundary layer.

Pointing to the boundary layer.

We at Everything Dinosaur, congratulate all those people who have been involved in this award, the cliffs at Stevns Klint now join other world famous locations such as Dorset’s “Jurassic Coast” and the Great Barrier Reef of Australia as UNESCO World Heritage sites.

Extension Ideas

Key Stage 2

  • Explore ideas of how and why rock can be deposited in layers, more capable learners can explore what the terms igneous, sedimentary and metamorphic rocks mean
  • What does the ash layer represent?  Why is this series of sedimentary rocks important in terms of helping to explain the extinction of the dinosaurs?

Key Stage 3

  • Look up information on the fossil assemblage that is present at this site, why is this sequence of fossils important?  What does it tell us about recovery after an extinction event?
  • Discuss with the class the links that such sites have with the theory of natural selection/evolution.  Changing climates and other impact events can lead to some organisms gaining an advantage.

Useful link that explores the Stevns Klint strata in more detail: Important Geological Site Awarded World Heritage Status

24 06, 2014

Famous K/T Boundary gets UNESCO World Heritage Status

By | June 24th, 2014|Educational Activities, Geology, Main Page, Teaching|0 Comments

Stevns Klint Awarded UNESCO World Heritage Status

The World Heritage Committee, meeting in Doha (Qatar) have granted World Heritage status to a number of new sites and locations.  These awards are given to reflect the cultural or natural heritage that such sites and locations represent, they are important to humanity and therefore it is imperative that their value is acknowledged.  One such site is the nine mile long cliffs at Stevns Klint, on the Danish island of Sjaelland.  These fossil rich cliffs record the K/T boundary, (Cretaceous – Tertiary) and as a result, this site is extremely important to palaeontologists and geologists.  The cliffs have preserved an exceptional fossil record showing a complete succession of fauna and micro-fauna that charts the extinction event and the subsequent recovery of life on Earth.

An exceptional fossil record is visible at the site, showing the complete succession of fauna and micro-fauna charting the recovery after the mass extinction.  Tertiary aged limestone deposits overlie much softer, older Cretaceous chalk deposits.  Sandwiched between the two distinct rock types is a thin, ash grey coloured band with high levels of the rare Earth element iridium.  This is the ash layer that is associated with the Chicxulub impact event that occurred approximately 66 million years ago and marked the end of the dinosaurs and the extinction of something like 50% of all life.

The Picturesque Stevns Klint Cliffs (UNESCO World Heritage Site)

Geologically significant site awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

Geologically significant site awarded UNESCO World Heritage status.

Picture Credit: UNESCO/Jacob Lautrup

This part of the Danish coast is a popular tourist destination, it lies twenty-five miles south of Copenhagen on the east coast of Sjaelland and many types of Cretaceous and Tertiary marine fossils can be seen at the local museum.  This site is one of three known in the world that exhibit the iridium anomaly, which helped form the basis of the extraterrestrial impact theory proposed by Walter and Louis Alvarez in 1980.

The K/T Boundary can be Made Out very Clearly

The K/T boundary is very clearly defined.

The K/T boundary is very clearly defined.

Picture Credit: UNESCO/Jacob Lautrup

The exposed succession is around forty-five metres thick and shows the stratigraphic evolution from Maastrichtian (Upper Cretaceous) across the K/T boundary into the very early Tertiary (Danian faunal stage of the Palaeogene).  A huge amount of research has been undertaken in this area.  Studies into the micro-fauna, palaeontology, geochemical changes, sediment deposition and sea level changes are just some of the research that has taken place recently.  The Stevns Klint locality is defined as the type location for the classification of the Danian faunal stage, it joins such famous fossil locations as the Jurassic Coast of East Devon and Dorset and the Messel Quarry near Frankfurt (Germany) as a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Our congratulations to everyone involved in nominating this wonderful location.

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