Discovery and recovery of an exceptional accumulation of carboniferous echinoids at Hook Head, Wexford
Ciborowski, T. Jake R.
Parkes, Matthew A.
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Álvarez-Armada, Nidia, Murray, John, Gatley, Sarah, Ciborowski, T. Jake R., & Parkes, Matthew A. (2022). Discovery and recovery of an exceptional accumulation of carboniferous echinoids at Hook Head, Wexford. Irish Journal of Earth Sciences, 40, https://doi.org/10.1353/ijes.0.0002
Geoconservation is a burgeoning area of activity within the Earth sciences and the preservation of significant fossil finds remains crucial for the advancement of palaeontological knowledge and protection of geoheritage. Here, we report on the discovery of an unusually large and remarkably well-preserved cluster of Carboniferous echinoids at Hook Head in County Wexford, Ireland. The fossil accumulation was located in the upper part of the Ballysteen Limestone Formation, which is Tournaisian in age and records sedimentation on a mixed carbonate-siliciclastic shelf/ramp. The fossil record of Paleozoic echinoids is generally poorly sampled; however, the fossil cluster from Hook Head includes at least 250 partially imbricated echinoid specimens in close association and preserves features such as the spines, Aristotle's lantern and peristomal plates. The fossil-bearing surface was precariously located on a coastal outcrop and at serious risk of being removed by storm activity, prompting an emergency rescue operation. The successful recovery of this important fossil find, which included securing official permission for extraction of the slab and its lodgement with the National Museum of Ireland, represents something of a first for Irish geological conservation.