Geology of Cornwall

The rocks of Cornwall have an amazing story to tell. They have been on a journey of 8,000 miles in just 400 million years. This journey has included tropical seas, deserts, volcanic eruptions and hot granites, mineral vapours rich in tin and copper and ever-changing climate and sea levels. (Cornish Geology)

A true force of nature.

Cornish geology typically consists of black, folded slates and pale grey, blocky granites. But there are exceptions:

Polzeath Beach (north coast on the Camel estuary): Stripey slate formations in purple and pale greens.

polzeath (8)

Kynance Beach (south-west on the Lizard peninsula): Serpentinite cliffs are made up of dark green and red rocks, polished by thousands of years of crashing waves to look like shiny snakeskin.

kynance (7)

Up on the cliffs by Porth Chapel on the north coast the rocks were lighter and redder.

And at Boscastle (north coast, north Cornwall) I was intrigued by huge lumps of marble-like granite rocks along the pathway and on tops of Cornish stone walls.


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I now live back in the UK, but spent several years travelling the world and then living in South Africa. I look forward to a long and leisurely retirement doing what I like most - gardening, photography, walking and travelling.

39 thoughts on “Geology of Cornwall”

  1. I love the textures of the rocks. I remember in Izki, Oman one night when Mario and I spent the whole evening until sunset photographing the interestingly patterned rocks. I loved the pictures that came from that evening. These are fabulous, Jude. 🙂

  2. It’s easy not to notice these details when wandering around a beach. The differences in the rocks and stones are quite remarkable, and you have recorded them very well Jude.
    Regards as always, Pete. x

  3. I love this post, Jude. Beautiful captures of the variety of stones on the beach and interesting reading. We’ve signed up for several geological walks on the North Norfolk coast this summer. Now I’m even more looking forward to it!
    Wishing you a happy new week,
    Dina, Klausbernd, Siri & Selma

  4. I would never have guess how interesting photo or talk of rock and their formation might be. These are mind-blowing colorful and I’ve never seen anything like these rocks. Thank so much for sharing, Jude. Wow. 😮

  5. Oh, with rocks like those I can imagine myself in your place excitedly taking pictures (as I did on my last morning in New Zealand not so long ago). You made me wonder whether such patterns have ever served as wallpaper, and in searching online I found one site that says: “Imagine an interest wall of your kitchen covered in one of our large selection of faux stone wall papers!” More commonly, though, I found wallpaper of the computer-monitor type that shows rock patterns.

    As for the “journey of 8,000 miles in just 400 million years” that you opened with, I did the arithmetic and found that that amounts to about a trifle over an inch and a quarter a year. The movement would be easily noticeable soon enough if only a person could somehow set up a non-moving marker in the air above a given bit of rock.

    1. So glad you enjoyed the post Steve 😀
      Not sure I’d want rock wallpaper, but I have found a company which creates splashbacks of ocean forms and movement using the same method of using resin that is used to make surfboards. Looks really good in a shower room!

  6. Now you’ve done it. As if the beautiful shorelines and green hillsides weren’t enough, now I get a closeup of the rocks – those colors are spectacular and the variety … A collector’s paradise. Cornwall is oddicially on my travel list.

    Thank you for these glimpses of what awaits, Jude. I’m bookmarking this one to show Raqi who is obsessed with rocks and minerals.

    1. The different colours were astonishing! I couldn’t get over that purple and pale green and then we went to Kynance and found the dark green and dark red combination!!

  7. Interesting, and these are beautiful pieces of nature. Some people (OK, me) like to pickup and take home interesting pebbles, so this would be a perfect place for me.

  8. Having been a rock climber for many years I love seeing rocks, the texture, the color. I almost can feel these on my finger tips Jude. Beautiful.

  9. On our various hiking adventures, I developed a deep appreciation for rocks and rock formations. I regret not having some basic knowledge about geology because it is so interesting when you’re outside surrounded by magnificient rocks like the ones in your photos.

    I particularly love the purple and green rock. That’s a new one for me. I’ve never seen a purple rock. Absolutely gorgeous!

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