Geological Magazine

Original Article

Warwickshire Group (Pennsylvanian) red-beds of the Canonbie Coalfield, England–Scotland border, and their regional palaeogeographical implications


a1 British Geological Survey, Keyworth, Nottingham NG12 5GG, UK

a2 Saudi Aramco, PO Box 2001, Dhahran 31311, Saudi Arabia

a3 10 Tarn Court, Ilkley, West Yorkshire LS29 8UE, UK

a4 16 Harvard House, Rivermead, Wilford Lane, Nottingham NG2 7RB, UK


Late Carboniferous red-beds, < 700 m thick, at outcrop and in the subsurface of the Canonbie Coalfield can be assigned to the Warwickshire Group. They are preserved within the axial part of the Solway Syncline and are divisible into the Eskbank Wood, Canonbie Bridge Sandstone and Becklees Sandstone formations. Sedimentation largely took place on a well-drained alluvial plain, characterized mainly by early, primary oxidation of the strata. Large, northerly-flowing braided river systems were common, with overbank and floodplain fines deposited lateral to the channels; soils formed during intervals of low sediment aggradation. The Canonbie succession includes some of the youngest Carboniferous rocks preserved in the UK. Correlation of the Eskbank Wood Formation is equivocal, but using petrographical, heavy mineral, zircon age dating and palaeocurrent data, the Canonbie Bridge Sandstone Formation can be unambiguously correlated with the Halesowen Formation of Warwickshire, the Pennant Sandstone Formation of South Wales and the offshore Boulton Formation. This suggests that southerly-derived detritus travelled considerable distances from the Variscan highlands of Brittany and/or central Germany across the southern North Sea and UK areas, to a position some hundreds of kilometres north of that previously recognized. The Becklees Sandstone Formation has much in common with the Salop Formation of the English Midlands. It appears to have no preserved equivalent elsewhere in the UK or in the UK sector of the southern North Sea but resembles stratigraphically higher parts of the southern North Sea succession seen in the Dutch sector.

(Received February 23 2009)

(Revised February 19 2010)

(Accepted March 02 2010)

(Online publication June 09 2010)


  • Canonbie;
  • Carboniferous;
  • red-beds;
  • correlation;
  • sedimentology


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