GEOLOGY | The geology of Oxfordshire
A landscape of limestone hills and clay valleys
The solid geology of Oxfordshire consists of an alternating series of Mesozoic sedimentary limestones, sands and clays that have been uplifted and gently tilted by circa one degree to the south-east. This means that the older Jurassic rocks occur in the north-west and the younger Cretaceous age material crops-out in the south-east of the county. The differential erosion of the strata has resulted in a landscape of clay vales and limestone uplands. This geology is of course complicated by structure, glaciation and drainage systems:
the long dip slope of the Cotswolds gives way to the clay vale of the upper Thames Valley;
the Faringdon to Oxford ridge of Corallian limestones and sands form the watershed between the upper Thames Valley and the clay-floored Vale of White Horse;
the sequence finishes with the abrupt chalk escarpment of the Downs and Chilterns.
The first port of call for those interested in the geology of the county is the splendid display in the Oxford Museum of Natural History in Parks Road.
The best modern guide is Oxford Geology Group President, Philip Powell’s, 'The Geology of Oxfordshire' (2005). Still very rewarding is W.J. Arkell’s classic 'The Geology of Oxford' (1947).
Andrew Goudie & Adrian Parker co-authored a useful book published by the Cotteswold Field Club (1996) 'The Geomorphology of the Cotswolds'.