Beaumaris Bay Fossil Site

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Beaumaris Bay Fossil Site, Beach Rd, Beaumaris, VIC, Australia

Photographs:
List:Register of the National Estate
Class:Natural
Legal Status:Registered
(26/10/1999)
Place ID:18053
Place File No:2/17/047/0004
Statement of Significance:
The cliffs and underlying gravel beds of Beaumaris Bay contain one of
the richest and most diverse fossil assemblages in Australia for both
marine mammals and sharks. Beaumaris is the only Australian fossil record
for the shark genus MEGASCYLIORHINUS and has also yielded many excellent
fossils including remains of the oldest known Australian albatross
(DIOMEDEA THYRIDATA) as well as a variety of sharks’ teeth and bones of
diprotodontid marsupials, seals, whales and penguins.

The Beaumaris Cliffs are the geological type locality for the
Cheltenhamian Stage, a rock unit of the late Miocene epoch. Consequently,
the cliffs are a reference site for comparison with all other Australian
rock sequences of this age, and with Miocene type localities in Europe.
The cliffs have also been a significant geological research site since the
1890s, with many rock and fossil collections taken from the place and
scientific papers published about it.

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Indigenous values of national estate significance may exist
in this place. As yet, these values have not been identified, documented
nor assessed.
Official Values: Not Available
Description:
The place encompasses the line of cliffs between Table Rock in the
south-west and Cliff Grove in the north-east. The major rock outcrop is of
the Late Miocene Black Rock Sandstone, dated at between 5 and 6 million
years old according to the fossil marine invertebrate fauna. Most of the
other exposures of this material occur near sea level, but in Beaumaris
Bay the sandstone has been elevated and the full 15 metre sequence is
visible. Common fossils in this rock layer include molluscs, brachiopods,
echinoderms, corals and crustaceans.

Below
the Black Rock Sandstone is a thin gravelly bed that includes nodules of
phosphate and iron. The nodule bed has yielded a range of vertebrate
fossils including sharks’ teeth, the bones of seals and whales, the
penguins PSEUDAPTENODYTES MACRAEI and P. MINOR, and the albatross DIOMEDEA
THYRIDATA. The lower beds of the Black Rock Sandstone extend below sea
level and also contain rich and diverse fossil deposits. Some of the best
known fossils are the numerous and well preserved specimens of the
echinoid LOVENIA FORBESI.

Overlying the
Black Rock Sandstone is the Pliocene Red Bluff Sand consisting of
non-marine clayey sands and gravels. This unit contains terrestrial
marsupial fossils including jaw bones of the diprotodontid genus KOLOPSIS
and the species ZYGOMATURUS GILLI. The Red Bluff Sands vary in thickness
along the cliffs and are most extensive at Table Rock and near Cliff
Grove.

The cliffs are aligned parallel to
the axis of a major tectonic structure known as the Beaumaris Monocline
which has downthrown the sedimentary strata to the south-east. The cliffs
are steep to vertical and undercut in several locations, with large blocks
of fallen sandstone scattered along the shore. Narrow shore platforms
front the cliffs, and resistant beds of Black Rock Sandstone occur as
offshore reefs running parallel with the monocline. This section of the
coast provides a very clear example of a monoclinal fold.

The vegetation above the cliffs is dominated by
a coastal scrub of coast tea-tree (LEPTOSPERMUM LAEVIGATUM), coast wattle
(ACACIA SOPHORAE), mirror bush (COPROSMA REPENS), coast beard-heath
(LEUCOPOGON PARVIFLORUS), common boobialla (MYOPORUM INSULARE), drooping
sheoke (ALLOCASUARINA VERTICILLATA), black wattle (A. MEARNSII), and spike
wattle (A. OXYCEDRUS). There are also limited stands of coast manna gum
(EUCALYPTUS PRYORIANA). Understorey species that may also occur further
down on the cliffs include hairy spinifex (SPINIFEX SERICEUS) and knobby
club-sedge (ISOLEPIS NODOSA).

Some
characteristic birds of the area are the little penguin (EUDYPTULA MINOR),
little pied cormorant (PHALACROCORAX MELANOLEUCOS), great cormorant (P.
CARBO), white-faced heron (EGRETTA NOVAEHOLLANDIAE), nankeen kestrel
(FALCO CENCHROIDES), Pacific gull (LARUS PACIFICUS), white-browed
scrubwren (SERICORNIS FRONTALIS), brown thornbill (ACANTHIZA PUSILLA), red
wattlebird (ANTHOCHAERA CARUNCULATA), little wattlebird (A. CHRYSOPTERA)
and silvereye (ZOSTEROPS LATERALIS).
History: Not Available
Condition and Integrity:
The place is generally in a good condition but some of the fossil beds
have been covered by the buildings and car park of the Beaumaris Motor
Yacht Squadron. The condition of the fossil beds is dependent on the rate
of erosion and the amount of pedestrian traffic and fossicking that
occurs. The construction of sea walls and other structures has reduced
erosion and decreased the amount of fossil material washed up on the
shore. Particularly unstable sections of the cliffs have been closed off
to restrict public access. Parts of the coastline are only accessible by
boat while others can only be reached at low tide.

March 1997
Location:
About 30ha, at Beaumaris, being an area enclosed by a line commencing
at the intersection of Beach Road and Cliff Grove, then south westerly via
the southern side of Beach Road to Sparks Street, then south easterly to a
point offset 250 metres seawards via the alignment of Sparks Street, then
north easterly to the intersection of the alignment of Cliff Grove and the
LWM (approximate AMG point 28759368), then north westerly to the point of
commencement. The buildings and the carpark of the Beaumaris Motor Yacht
Squadron, the Keefers Boatshed buildings, The Moysey Gardens, and the
carpark opposite Keys Street are excluded from the area.
Bibliography:
Bird, E. (1990). Structure and Surface: The Geology and Geomorphology
of the Sandringham District. The Sandringham Environment Series No. 8.
City of Sandringham.

Bird, E. (1991).
Geology and Landforms of Beach Park – An Excursion Guide. The Sandringham
Environment Series No. 2. City of Sandringham.

Bird, E.C.F. (1993). The Coast of Victoria. The Shaping of
Scenery. Melbourne University Press, Melbourne.

Bird, E.C.F., Cullen, P.W., and Rosengren, N.J., 1973
Conservation problems at the Black Rock Point. The Victorian Naturalist 90
(9), 240-247.

Christidis, L., and Boles, W.
(1994). The Taxonomy and Species of Birds of Australia and its
Territories. Royal Australasian Ornithologists Union Monograph 2. RAOU,
Melbourne.

Hall, T.S., and Pritchard, G.B.
(1897). A contribution to our knowledge of the Tertiaries in the
neighbourhood of Melbourne. Proceedings of the Royal Society of Victoria
9, 187-229.

Hallet, S.G. and Walmsley, D.,
1993. Sandringham Coastal Management Plan. City of Sandringham.

Kenley, P.R., 1967. Geology of the Melbourne
district – Tertiary. Bulletin of the Geological Survey of Victoria 59,
30-46.

Irwin, R.P. (1994). A review of the
geology of the Beaumaris Cliffs. Victorian Naturalist 111, 139-44.

Kemp, N.R. (1991). Chondrichthyans in the
Cretaceous and Tertiary of Australia. In Vertebrate Palaeontology of
Australasia (Ed. P. Vickers-Rich, J.M. Monaghan, R.F. Baird, & T.H.
Rich). pp. 497-568. Pioneer Design Studio, Melbourne.

King, R.L. 1987. Geological features of significance and their
conservation. In Geology of Victoria, Douglas, J.G. and Ferguson, J.A.
(Ed) 1988. Geology and Victoria. Geological Society of Australia
Melbourne, Special Publication 5, 177-124.

LCC. (1993). Marine and Coastal Special Investigation
Descriptive Report. Land Conservation Council, Melbourne.

Norris, M. (Ed.) (1995). Local Birds of Bayside.
Bayside City Council.

Pritchard, G.B.
(1978). Geology of the Sandringham-Beaumaris coastline. Victorian
Naturalist 93, 4-20.

Rich, T.H.V. (1976).
Recent fossil discoveries in Victoria. Victorian Naturalist 93, 198-205.


Rosengren, N. (1988). Sites of Geological
and Geomorphological Significance on the Coast of Port Phillip Bay
Victoria. Ministry of Planning and Environment, Melbourne.

Ross, J.H. (Ed.) (1993). A Census of the
Vascular Plants of Victoria. Fourth Edition. Royal Botanic Gardens,
Melbourne.

Singleton, F.A. (1941). The
Tertiary geology of Australia. Proceedings of the Royal Society of
Victoria 53, 1-125.

Stirton, R.A., 1957.
Tertiary marsupials from Victoria, Australia. Memoirs of the National
Museum of Victoria 21, 121-134.

Stirton,
R.A., Woodburne, M.O., and Plane, M.D., 1967. A phylogeny of the Tertiary
Diprotodontidae and its significance in correlation. Bureau of Mineral
Resources, Bulletin 85, 149-160.

Stirton,
R.A., Tedford, R.H. and Woodburne, M.O., 1968. Australian Tertiary
deposits containing terrestrial mammals. University of California,
Publications in Geological Science 77. 1-30.

Vickers-Rich, P. (1991). The Mesozoic and Tertiary history of
birds on the Australian Plate. In Vertebrate Palaeontology of Australasia
(Ed. P. Vickers-Rich, J.M. Monaghan, R.F. Baird, & T.H. Rich) pp.
721-807. Pioneer Design Studio, Melbourne.

Vickers-Rich, P., and Rich, T.H. (1993). Wildlife of Gondwana.
Reed, Chatswood.

Wilkinson, H.E. (1969).
Description of an Upper Miocene albatross from Beaumaris, Victoria,
Australia, and a review of fossil Diomedeidae. Memoirs of the National
Museum of Victoria 29, 41-51.

Report Produced: Sat Mar 15 12:23:21 2008