Fossils of squid-like creatures who lived in the tropical Jurassic seas in Germany can be spotted in Canary Wharf , but just where?
Chances are you walk past imprints of the little critters every day.
Their coiled shells can be found in lasting form within the limestone used for Credit Suisse’s headquarters in Cabot Square.
East Londoners challenged to pick out “spectacular geology” around the estate might be left a little stumped yet a team of eagle-eyed architecture fans are on a mission to hunt down the glittering, historic treasures used as building material to create many of E14’s office blocks.
Led by UCL student mentor Ruth Siddall they have discovered stone crammed with well-preserved fossils as well as towers created with granite dating back more than 600 million years and dazzling mineral crystals which sparkle in the sunshine.
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The student mentor at UCL is eager to highlight the history of the rocks which have been sourced from across the globe in a series of walking tours.
Her next London Walk, on Saturday, January 23, starts at 2.30 pm at Canary Wharf Tube station.
“Everyone knows that Canary Wharf represents some of the most modern examples of business architecture in London, but few people stop to notice the stones used in the construction of these buildings,” she said.
“These materials were chosen with care by the architects for both their decorative and engineering properties.”
Here are her top 5 discoveries.
1. Jura Limestone (Credit Suisse, Cabot Square)
From a distance, this looks like any old boring white rock, but get up close and look carefully.
It is packed with fossils; extremely well preserved, cigar-shaped belemnites and the coiled shells of ammonites. Both of these are the shells of squid like animals which lived in the tropical Jurassic seas of what is now Bavaria in Germany. The environment was a reef, not composed of coral, but of marine sponges.
Fossils of these can also be seen in this rock, as uneven, ring shaped structures.
2. Giallo Granites (Westferry Circus; 30 North Colonnade; 2 Churchill Place, Canada Square; 40 & 50 Bank Street)
Varieties of these beautiful yellowish granites are used in several locations because they contain spectacular garnets. They range in size from a millimetre or so in diameter to large examples, up to 1.5 cm diameter. The garnets are deep wine-red and form roughly circular crystals that stand out clearly. Good examples are seen particularly in the paving at 30 North Colonnade and on the facades of 40 and 50 Bank Street. These granites come from Espirito Santo State in Brazil and are almost 600 million years old.
3. Porkkala Granite (25 Cabot Square, 20 Bank Street & 15, Westferry Circus)
This is a truly ancient rock, clocking in at 1.6 billion years old. It comes from southern Finland on the Baltic coast. It has large crystals of rose pink and white feldspars. Some examples are pink in the middle with a rim of white feldspar. These minerals are typical of all granites, but are only found with this particular texture in these ancient rocks, which are relatively common in Finland. This stone was used as a livery for Morgan Stanley building in the Canary Wharf development.
4. Vermont Marble (North Colonnade)
This large block is clad with a stone rarely encountered in Europe. It is Vermont Marble from the USA, composed almost entirely of the mineral calcite. The swirling banding seen in this rock formed as the rock was squashed and deformed around 400 million years ago. It started off as a limestone but the processes of metamorphism has transformed it into a marble.
5. Charnockite (11 Westferry Circus)
This stone is almost certainly from Brazil and is around 600 million years old. It is a variety of rock known as charnockites which are very poorly understood by geologists.
We do not know fully understand how they are formed. However, charnockites are often very decorative
as well as being strong and resistant to weathering. This example is particularly beautiful, containing ruby-red garnets and large blue-green crystals of a mineral called microcline which is also known as the semi-precious stone amazonite. These crystals are clearly visible to the naked eye and it is a stone that sparkles in the sunshine.