Garrarus Strand

Outline Site Description
The site includes the foreshore and coastal cliffs both east and west of Garrarus Strand.

Geological System/Age and Primary Rock Type
The bedrock is all of Ordovician age, from about 460 million years ago. The soft sediments overlying bedrock were deposited by ice during the Quaternary (Ice Age).

Main Geological or Geomorphological Interest
The cliffs in this bay include a wide range of rock types and different formations with faults separating and repeating units. There are baked black shales, pale rhyolite intrusions, limestone of the Tramore Limestone Formation and many intrusions of andesite volcanic rock.

At each end of the beach large channels eroded out of the bedrock are seen in section, and are filled with glacial till.

Site Importance
The site is part of the complex of sites along the Copper Coast, which collectively are of national importance and which are already part of a proposed NHA (Ballyvoyle Head to Tramore No 1693).

Management/promotion issues
The beach has safe access and parking and the rocks are accessible along the beach. If venturing beyond the beach, caution must be taken in relation to the tides, but at low tide it is possible to traverse westwards along to Kilfarrasy.


Kilfarrasy Strand

Outline Site Description
A long coastal section of cliffs and bays.

Geological System/Age and Primary Rock Type
The rocks are all of Ordovician age from around 460 million years ago, but are quite variable in type, with rhyolite and andesite volcanic rocks, shales and slaty sedimentary rocks.

Main Geological or Geomorphological Interest
The cliffs display a complex mix of Ordovician volcanic and sedimentary rocks, with many folds and deformation of the sedimentary rocks observed. Where there are no volcanic rocks the sedimentary rocks are strongly cleaved, or slaty, because of the intense pressure they experienced during the Caledonian mountain building event. The volcanic rocks are less deformed. The lithological control on deformation is typical of the region but is displayed well here.

Towards the western end of the section there is a headland with a distinct arch eroded through it. However, on the foreshore eastward of the headland is a freestanding rock arch, with two arches present. Sea stacks and other coastal erosion features abound here.

Site Importance
The site is part of the complex of sites along the Copper Coast, which collectively are of national importance and which are already part of a proposed NHA (Ballyvoyle Head to Tramore No 1693).

Management/promotion issues
The beach is publicly accessible and there is a Copper Coast Geopark interpretative panel mounted near the access point. If exploring further parts of the section westwards to Kilfarrasy Island (a headland) and its sea arch, or eastwards towards Sheep Island the tide needs to be taken into consideration and low tide is needed for access.


Tankardstown

Outline Site Description
Tankardstown is one of the main complexes on the Copper Coast of mineralised rock that has been mined in the 19th century for copper ores. The site includes the industrial heritage buildings as well as the mineral veins and old mine workings.

Geological System/Age and Primary Rock Type
The great diversity of minerals recorded here are hosted in Ordovician volcanic rocks, but the minerals are a mixture of different ages. The primary ores, probably of Devonian age, occur in veins, which cut across and through the volcanics. There may be some minerals associated with the volcanic eruptions themselves too. However, the most spectacular minerals in Tankardstown mine are secondary minerals derived from oxidation or weathering of the primary ores, and are therefore quite recent, developing since mining ceased.

Main Geological or Geomorphological Interest Tankardstown is of particular interest for the diversity of minerals it has, some of which are rare. There are at least 36 different minerals recorded from Waterford Copper Coast mines, such as arsenopyrite, azurite, barite, bornite, botallackite, brochantite, chalcopyrite, chrysocolla, cobalt arsenides, connellite, copper, cuprite, dolomite, epidote, erythrite, galena, langite, malachite, pyrite, siderite, sphalerite, tennantite and tetrahedrite, many of which are found at Tankardstown. The finest examples at Tankardstown are of brochantite and the flowstones of langite/brochantite. The minerals are contained in primary veins, secondary weathered zones called gossans and as spectacular flowstone type deposits in the abandoned mine workings.

Of considerable value to the Copper Coast Geopark is the iconic remains of an engine house on the northern side of the road. These have been conserved and interpreted with the aid of the Mining Heritage Trust of Ireland and are safe for visitors to explore and enjoy.

Site Importance
The site is of national importance for its mineralogy. The site is part of the complex of sites along the Copper Coast, which collectively are of national importance and which are already part of a proposed NHA (Ballyvoyle Head to Tramore No 1693).

Management/promotion issues
The disused mine workings are not suitable for general promotion as they presently exist. A major investment costing perhaps millions of euros would be required to make them publicly accessible as a showmine, meeting all safety requirements and regulations. It could be done with adequate funding though, and they are sufficiently interesting to be a tourism attraction that could potentially be quite successful. At present the Tankardstown Mine workings are inaccessible without specialist equipment. Collapsed shafts have blocked access to inner sections for mine heritage specialists. A fenced off open shaft from the clifftop intersects the horizontal adits underground in the mine. Underground mine workings such as these are the responsibility of the Minister for Communications, Energy and Natural Resources and permission must be sought for entry or any intervention.


Knockmahon & Stage Cove

Outline Site Description
The site comprises coastal cliffs and the bay at Stage Cove, and Knockmahon beach to the east of it.

Geological System/Age and Primary Rock Type
Ordovician volcanic rocks such as andesite and rhyolite are injected into sediments such as muddy limestone and slate at the site.

Main Geological or Geomorphological Interest
A main feature of interest here is the Pipes of Baidhb – an intrusion of rhyolite, which has cooled with polygonal columns, perpendicular to the surface of the intrusion. It forms an arch in the cliffs and is reminiscent of the Giant’s Causeway, although it is much older. However, weathering is causing the columns to collapse and it is an ever changing feature through the years.

There are also andesite intrusions running through the sedimentary rocks, and andesite tuffs interbedded with the shales.

At Knockmahon, and in Stage Cove especially, there are numerous mine shafts on the cliff top and adits into the cliffs that reflect the mineralised veins, which run northwest-southeast through this site. One mineralised fault in particular is eroded out as a gully. Stage Cove has a slipway, which was used in shipping copper ore out, and also has remains of a Copper Yard with a cobbled floor.

Site Importance
The site is part of the complex of sites along the Copper Coast, which collectively are of national importance and which are already part of a proposed NHA (Ballyvoyle Head to Tramore No 1693).

Management/promotion issues
Access to this site is not easy and descending the gully is not recommended. A grassy path down to beach level is found to the east of the gully. Loose rock fragments do fall down here, certainly on a windy day, and rockfalls, such as at the columnar jointed intrusions, are apparent from the debris at beach level, so caution must be exercised. The mine shafts and adits also require significant care, and should not be entered except in the company of experienced mine explorers (such as the Mining Heritage Trust of Ireland).


Bunmahon Head

Outline Site Description
The site comprises a rocky headland and Trawnamoe beach to the west.

Geological System/Age and Primary Rock Type
The rocks of Bunmahon headland are Devonian age sandstones and conglomerates. The adjacent rocks in the bay to the west are Ordovician volcanic and sedimentary rocks.

Main Geological or Geomorphological Interest
Mining heritage is highly visible in the bay with small adits cut into the rocks. The volcanic lavas at the western end of the Trawnamoe beach show very interesting features, which are called peperitic intrusion. When andesite lava was being injected into wet sediments, it broke up into rounded blobs and was extensively altered by hot fluids.

The headland of Bunmahon Head is composed of Devonian age red sandstones and conglomerates. These are tilted to vertical and form impressive cliffs. A fault runs to the west of the headland separating them from the Ordovician rocks.

Site Importance
The site is part of the complex of sites along the Copper Coast, which collectively are of national importance and which are already part of a proposed NHA (Ballyvoyle Head to Tramore No 1693).

Management/promotion issues
There is reasonable access via a cliff top track from Bunmahon, and a path onto the headland or down into the bay via a grassy slope. The remote feel of this place is perhaps best left untouched by explanatory panels, but the clifftop viewpoint into the bay or the car park at the end of the rough track would be the place to install any such interpretation or explanation.


Ballydwan Bay

Outline Site Description
The site comprises cliffs in a coastal embayment.

Geological System/Age and Primary Rock Type
Devonian age conglomerates and sandstones are the main rock types seen in the bay, but they are in unconformable contact with Ordovician andesite volcanic rock towards the eastern end.

Main Geological or Geomorphological Interest
High, vertical cliffs at the back of the beach in Ballydwan Bay are composed of conglomerate and sandstone rocks of Devonian age. These are red in colour and have abundant pebbles of white vein quartz within them.

A feature of particular interest is seen at the eastern end of the beach. The red conglomerates are seen in an unconformable contact with Ordovician volcanic rock. This reflects a time gap of about 80 million years, and the red rocks were deposited by rivers on a weathered land surface of Ordovician volcanic andesite rocks. Lumps of the greenish andesite can be seen in the conglomerates near the unconformity.

At the southwest corner of the bay there is a fault and is now the location of a landslip. Another is found at the eastern end of the beach. In the sea stack towards the eastern end of the beach, there is a ventilation shaft dug to get air into 18th century silver mines, which were dug below the seabed. This is now filled with sand.

Site Importance
The site is part of the complex of sites along the Copper Coast, which collectively are of national importance and which are already part of a proposed NHA (Ballyvoyle Head to Tramore No 1693).

Management/promotion issues
The beach is accessible with a public road and a car park to a narrow slipway. However, the cliffs are very high and also have potential for rockfalls and landslips, so general promotion is perhaps not advisable. Well prepared geological parties can negotiate the section but there is perhaps the need for a warning sign at the car park.


Stradbally Cove

Outline Site Description
Low cliffs beside the sandy beach on the western side of Stradbally Cove.

Geological System/Age and Primary Rock Type
Ordovician sedimentary rocks such as slates and mudstones are intruded by thin units of volcanic rocks like andesite.

Main Geological or Geomorphological Interest
There are indications the sediments were still wet or only partially consolidated when the lavas were injected into them and so there is disturbance of the sediments. Some later minor faults are seen by their associated veins of white quartz. Other sedimentary features provide evidence of earthquakes and quiet periods in between.

There is also a lime kiln here for use with coal and limestone brought in by boat.

Site Importance
The site is part of the complex of sites along the Copper Coast, which collectively are of national importance and which are already part of a proposed NHA (Ballyvoyle Head to Tramore No 1693).

Management/promotion issues
The beach access allows easy and safe access to the rocks. The Copper Coast Geopark has emplaced some picnic seats and a table made of stone, and explanatory signboards. Little else is suggested except for maintenance of the facilities and boards, especially when faded with UV in sunlight.


Dunhill Quarry

Outline Site Description
Dunhill Quarry is a small, disused and heavily vegetated old quarry on the east side of the Annestown Stream valley, opposite the landmark of Dunhill Castle ruins.

Geological System/Age and Primary Rock Type
The quarry is cut into Ordovician rocks, which date from about 460 million years ago. The rocks are bedded tuffs.

Main Geological or Geomorphological Interest
The bedded tuffs here are the product of a volcanic eruption, which spread ash and debris into air around the volcano. These ashes fell down into the sea around the volcano and then sank to the sea floor. Tuffs are simply the ashes reconstituted as a new rock, either as sedimentary particles in water, or sometime as a welded deposit where their own retained heat helped them recombine.

The quarry has been closely examined by geologists and the tuffs show a lot of details, which help understand how many of the Copper Coast volcanic rocks developed and formed. At least 5 different tuff units or beds are seen with grading of different sized particles, indicating they have settled in water. Specific features seen include laminations in the finer grained tops of each tuff and coarser grained layers made of larger particles called lapilli by volcanologists. There are also some larger blocks, which have fallen directly to the sea floor, and indented the last tuff deposit. Some units of tuff have larger pumice fragments at the top, where the gas holes in pumice helped it float, but eventually the fragments became waterlogged and sank, after the finest particles had settled out already. One face is a very clean cut through the dipping tuff units, like a cheese wire had been cut through the rock for geological exhibition purposes.

Site Importance
The site is of national importance in the Cambrian – Silurian theme, and recognition as a County Geological Site will help protect it until it is formally put forward for designation as a geological NHA.

Management/promotion issues
The site is on private land and access would need to be agreed with the landowner before any promotion can take place. However, the subtlety of what it shows is probably of primary interest for geological groups, rather than the general public. For management of the site, clearance of ivy and other vegetation from the main face would be a priority to maintain the excellent display of the tuff units in a clean face. With low face heights and competent rock, there is low risk from loose rocks falling down.


Kilmurrin Cove

Outline Site Description
Coastal cliffs and fields, with a blowhole included.

Geological System/Age and Primary Rock Type The rocks are of Ordovician age, but the blowhole is a Holocene feature eroded by the sea.

Main Geological or Geomorphological Interest
A classic blowhole is displayed on the clifftop on the eastern side of Kilmurrin Cove. The sea has eroded a sea cave inland until there has been a collapse to surface at the inner, landward end. This has been progressively enlarged by tides and now a steep sided depression is seen with the sea entering and leaving by a short cave, or natural tunnel.

Site Importance
Alone, this is of County Geological Site importance but is part of a complex of sites along the Copper Coast, which collectively are of national importance, and which are already part of a proposed NHA (Ballyvoyle Head to Tramore No 1693).

Management/promotion issues
As the feature is on private farmland it should not be promoted except by arrangement with the landowner. It is easily viewed from the western side of the cove at the bend in the road there, where there is a small lay-by. Consideration could be given to a signboard being placed there explaining its origin and including pictures of the feature.


Fenor Bog

Outline Site Description
Fenor Bog is a small acidic fen peat area, formed among crags of Ordovician age rocks in southeast Waterford.

Geological System/Age and Primary Rock Type
The fen itself has been formed in the Holocene (post-glacial) Period, though the hollow and surrounding crags have been moulded by glacial ice during the Quaternary (Ice Age).

Main Geological or Geomorphological Interest
The fen is an area where slightly acidic groundwater seeps out from surrounding land and collects in a bowl-shaped depression, thus forming a marshy mire.  Peat has formed within this hollow from the partial decay of plant remains over the last few millennia.

The fen is just over a kilometre long (north-south) and approx. 200m wide, occupying a hollow scoured out by ice among rock crags during the last Ice Age.

As with many fen features, the flora is somewhat unique in Waterford, although a number of such, similar features do occur in the surrounding area.  Wetland plants abound and unusual species have been recorded here.  The wettest patches are dominated by bogbean (Menyanthes trifoliata), water horsetail (Equisetum fluviatile) and bog pond weed (Potamogeton plygonifolius).

In drier places these species become less common and the dominant species is the moss Aulacomnium palustre, with cotton grass (Eriophorum angustifolium), marsh bedstraw (Galium palustre) and sedge (Carex rostrata) all frequent.  In addition the bog St. John’s Wort (Hypericum elodes) is very common, a local species in Ireland and Britain.   The abundance of St. John’s Wort is one of the more unusual aspects of the fen.

Site Importance
This is a very good example of an acidic fen peat environment, and it is an example of the most recent geological deposit still in the process of forming. The site is of County Geological Site status for its geological importance, but it is a national Nature Reserve and a pNHA (No. 1697).

Management/promotion issues
This is a well managed site by the local community and complements the local Copper Coast Geopark initiative. It is owned by Móin Fhionnúrach Development Association and the Irish Peatland Conservation Council


About Copper Coast Geopark

The Copper Coast Geopark is in Co. Waterford, Ireland and is an outdoor museum of geological records; it stretches along the coast from Kilfarassy Beach, near Fenor in the east to Ballyvoile Beach near Stradbally to the west. Volcanoes, oceans, deserts and ice sheets all combined to create the rocks which provide the physical foundation of the natural and cultural landscapes of the area. Follow the self-guided "Copper Coast" trail and walking cards available from the The Copper Coast Geopark Centre in Bunmahon.

Contact Information

Copper Coast Geopark Ltd.
Knockmahon,
Bunmahon,
Co. Waterford,
X42 T923
Ireland

Phone: +353(0)51292828

Email: info@coppercoastgeopark.com

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