The condition, use and future of the UK’s largest accessible dinosaur tracksite at Spyway Quarry, Dorset

Kirsty Edgar*, Luke Meade, Harry Jones, Lewis Haller, Sam Scriven, Christopher Reedman, Richard Butler

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

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Abstract

Spyway Quarry in Dorset contains >100 prints made by large sauropod dinosaurs walking across what was a shelly beach in the Early Cretaceous. It is the largest in situ easily accessible UK dinosaur tracksite, a unique location for the public to directly engage with dinosaurs. Following consultation on how best to open and manage the site considering its “value”, longevity, and resources available, it was left unmanned with the track surface directly accessible. The site has been open to the elements since 2013 and to the public since 2016. We created a new photogrammetric model of the site in 2021, for comparison with an existing 2014 model to identify any changes in the trackway surface and to assess the sustainability of direct public access and weathering to the surface. To understand public use of the site, we installed a visitor counter, compiled social media reviews, and analysed photographs of visitor’s movement on the quarry surface. We provide quantitative evidence for exfoliation of the track surface and reduction in the prominence of individual tracks over time primarily due to natural processes. Visitor data suggest ~10,000 people visit annually, and feedback suggests potential improvements to visitor directions and information. We do not recommend substantial changes to the site management plan given resource constraints. Our work highlights the importance of using 3D imaging techniques to document sites upon discovery and thereafter and making these data openly available to all for conservation monitoring, communication and to preserve sites' legacies.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages14
JournalProceedings of the Geologists' Association
Early online date8 Feb 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Apr 2023

Bibliographical note

Not yet published as of 06/01/2023.

Keywords

  • Dinosaur
  • Spyway Quarry
  • Track
  • Cretaceous
  • Purbeck
  • Geoconservation

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