Meet our Geology Placement, Joe

In an exciting new partnership between Onion Collective and environmental consultants Geckoella*, we have a new Placement working at the Onion Collective office. Joe Beaven comes to us from Cambridge University to help us find ways to promote Watchet as a world class geological destination.

Growing up in West Somerset, it is virtually impossible to ignore the landscape that surrounds us. In this area, you are never too far from both striking coast, with high cliffs and shores often topped up with fossils, and higher land, with deep gorges and high open areas with amazing views. The landscape also shapes the lives of us locals with twisting country roads connecting small towns in the area. Previously, it has even provided employment such as the iron mining industry leaving an industrial legacy that affects the social dynamic of towns such as Watchet to this day.

Attending Primary School in Watchet at Knight's Templar, the local importance of the landscape and geology was also prominent and featured in subjects from art to geography.

And so, returning from university after a year of studying Earth Sciences, the reasons why Watchet is so renowned for its local geology become clear. Walking from West to East, the town's coast tells a story of an area migrating north from arid regions near the equator leaving behind the associated red, sandy cliff deposits. We can then see the start of the land submerging underwater for the first time with limestones appearing and of course, further east still, the start of Jurassic marine fossils that the area is famous for.

This story is simple to see in the changing cliffs and is complemented by additional points of interest such as faults (ancient earthquakes), the excitement of fossil collecting and the social implications of the geology seen in the town itself in it's railway, port and artistic scene. Working on the geology of Watchet with Onion Collective is intriguing with a geological background but it is accessible to everyone and is possible and rewarding to decode for yourself.

I will be working with Onion Collective and Geckoella on identification sheets, a map showing geological points of interest, and general 'facts' about Watchet that help to tell the story of this amazing place.

*Geckoella is an environmental consultancy based in Taunton and Williton that offers specialist advice on geology and ecology throughout the country, including both heritage and interpretation projects. Find out more here

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