The shore below the promenade at Waterloo Bay, Larne, is the best place in Northern Ireland to see rocks from near the end of the Triassic Period and the beginning of the Jurassic Period.
Originally deposited in horizontal layers, they have since been tilted to the north by Earth movements and planed off by erosion. A walk from the south end of the Promenade, near the Leisure Centre, to the north end, near Waterloo Cottages, passes through almost 10 million years of Earth’s history!
The red, greenish-grey, and dark grey to black rocks seen along the shore record a fascinating history of changing environments, from desert to open sea, between ~205 million to ~195 million years ago. The rocks here at Waterloo Bay are of international importance to scientists looking at the boundary between the Triassic and Jurassic periods.
Around 200 million years ago Britain and Ireland were shaken by an extraordinarily violent earthquake and swept by a catastrophic tsunami. The evidence for this can be seen on the shore at Larne far more clearly than at any other site in the UK.
The Jurassic rocks at Larne are rich in marine fossils and were the location for the discovery, by a geology student in 1999, of the most complete ichthyosaur skeleton yet found in Northern Ireland.