Geology, Rocks and Minerals


Millions of years in the making - the story of the treasures hidden deep underground, where they are found, and why they are so sought after is a fascinating journey of discovery. 

Geology, Rocks and Minerals

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Earth treasures

In the 18th and 19th centuries Cornwall was one of the richest mining economies in the world. Industries, inventions and communities were built on its wealth of underground treasures. But why were the metals and minerals so valuable and what were they used for? 
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Cassiterite Specimen (tin dioxide SnO2) - Ainsley Cocks

First discoveries

The history of mining in Cornwall and west Devon stretches back into prehistory when the region was uniquely placed to supply the tin vital for the production of bronze and pewter in Britain. Explore how mining in Cornwall and West Devon began.
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Botallackite Specimen (1865) - Rob Lavinsky

How minerals form

Undersea lava, earthquakes, extreme temperatures, severe weather and relentless wave action have all played their part in creating the rocks, minerals and metals that make up the geology of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.
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Mineral Vein Cligga Head  Adam Sharpe

Mineral deposits in the WHS

The location, structure and orientation of the lodes (mineral deposits embedded in a fissure or crack in rock) within the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site determined the different characteristics and developments of mining in each Area.
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Consols Mine Gwennap - Barry Gamble

Submarine mines

Iconic images of cliff-top engine houses perched in dramatic locations have come to symbolise Cornish mining and Cornwall as a whole. Did you know they were positioned to hunt minerals out under the seabed?
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Wheal Trewavas - Ainsley Cocks

Impact on today's landscape

Cornish mining activity throughout the centuries – from early tin streaming to deep shaft mining and all of the ancillary industries – has extensively transformed the landscape of the region.
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Tailings lagoon within the Wheal Maid Valley  Barry Gamble