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Leeds Geological Association Leeds Geological Association
Field Visit - Moss Carr Open Cast Site, Methley
6:30 PM, 18th July 2002

Jon Barber
School of Geography, University of Leeds
Leeds LS2 9JT
Tel: +44 (0)113 233 6638
e-mail [email protected]
Leeds Geological Asociation

Moss Carr

The Moss Carr open cast coal works exhibits some excellent exposures of Pleistocene glacial sedimentary structures. The site covers roughly 1km2 and is situated on the interfluve between the Aire and Calder near the village of Oulton, Leeds (SE 4365 4263). The site is one of several extensive patches referred to (by the British Geological Survey) as older (than the last interglacial) 'boulder-clay' and glaciofluvial 'drift' that can be found to the south and east of Leeds (figure 1). The (misfit) Oulton valley separates the deposit at Moss Carr from another extensive patch of glacial deposits at Rothwell, (to the north). This dry valley terminates in the Airedale as a series of river terraces perched above the present-day floodplain.

Quaternary deposits exposed at the Moss Carr open cast coal mine, show a wide variety of sedimentary and glaciotectonic structures indicating the former advance of a large ice mass in a south westerly direction across the Pennine footslopes. Lithological content of glacial diamicton (figure 2) and associated gravel (figure 3) strongly suggests ice movement from the north and east towards the south and west.

Organic material trapped below glacial till at this site has given a radiocarbon date of 40 780 +/- 1010 BP (Beta-161669), suggesting that the deposits here are more recent than previously considered. Glaciotectonised sands, gravels and laminated clays associated with the till at Moss Carr suggest ice advancing into the Aire and Calder valleys, disrupted normal fluvial drainage. Masses of gravel (of unknown age and origin) located both at high elevations and the valley floors of the Aire and Yorkshire Calder, suggest the existence of standing water with a transient upper surface elevation, during the latter half of the Pleistocene.

Pleistocene sediments found at Moss Carr include glaciotectonised sand and gravel, laminated (varved) clay, a palaeosol and diamicton.


Figure 1

Figure 1. Location of the Moss Car glacial deposits outside the accepted Late Devensian glacial limit.


Figure 2

Figure 2. Lithological content of diamicton at Moss Carr.


Figure 3

Figure 3. Lithological content of gravel at Moss Carr.


Photo 1

Photo 1. Diamicton at the Moss Carr site.


Photo 2

Photo 2. Ripple marks in sand picked out by coal dust, Moss Carr.


Photo 3

Photo 3. Glaciotectonised brown sand and carbonate sand overlain by diamicton, Moss Carr.


Photo 4

Photo 4. Glaciotectonised, varved clay, Moss Carr.


Photo 5

Photo 5. Bedded gravel and sand (rucksack for scale), Moss Carr


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© Jon Barber 2002

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