Visit by the Manchester Geological Association, Sunday 14 July 2002
Leader Fred Broadhurst

The Trafford Centre opened in 1998 after just over 2½ years of construction, at a cost of 600 million. extensive use has been made of natural stone for the floors of the malls and for the frontages and interiors of the shops. The floors of the main malls are made of just seven different stones, comprising two granites, three gneisses, a marble and a serpentinite. The slabs are 2cm thick. See overleaf for illustrations.

Stop 1. Ground floor. Peel Avenue, close to foot of escalator beneath the dome. The floor of this mall is dominated by the granite Giallo Veneziano Fiorita and the gneiss Cinza Rajado, both rocks from Brazil. In the granite note the 'zoned' feldspars, indicating a change in the chemistry of the melt as crystallisation proceeded. The foliation in the gneiss is often folded and faulted and is cut by veins of igneous material. This suggests that partial melting was taking place at the time of metamorphism. In places there is so much igneous material that these rocks could be called migmatites. There are also panels of the marble Statuario Venato from Carrara and the serpentinite Verde Olympia from India. This assemblage of stones is also to be found on the first floor of Peel Avenue.

Stop 2. Under the dome at the foot of the escalator the blue stones comprise the blue-streaked Azul Macauba, a quartz-sandstone with the unusual mineral dumortierite (an aluminium borosilicate), about 1000 million years in age, from Brazil. Note the cross-stratification. The (darker) blue Azul Bahia (also from Brazil) is a syenite (intermediate in composition between a granite and a gabbro) with the blue mineral sodalite (a sodium aluminium silicate chloride). These blue rocks are expensive. Whereas most of the granites and gneisses at the Trafford Centre cost between £50 and £90 per square metre the Azul Macauba costs about £440 per square metre and the Azul Bahia between £450 and £1000! Selfridges store is faced by a polished limestone ('marble' to the stone trade where any soft material that takes a polish is described as 'marble'), the Rosso Alicante from Spain. Note the calcite infilled cracks and occasional fossils.

Stop 3. The Ground floor. Regent Crescent is dominated by the red granite Rosso Santiago, from Brazil. The pink gneiss (also from Brazil), is the Rosso Pantaleon and includes lenses of igneous material. The grey gneiss is the Samba White (Brazil). There is more marble and serpentinite.

Stop 4. The 'Café Venue'. The coffee table tops are made of Blue Pearl syenite or larvikite from S Norway. The impressive water cascade here is made of the Rosso Santiago. Note the floor in Samba White. Ascend to the First Floor of Regent Crescent.

Stop 5. 115 Regent Crescent 'Next' At the base of the windows is a gabbro, an igneous rock much liked by architects. It is known as Bon Accord and comes from the Johannesburg area in S Africa.

Stop 6. 117 Regent Crescent, 'Mango' The floor is composed of limestone, Jura, from Solenhofen, Germany. Note the ammonites, belemnites. sponges, cyanobacterial spheroid and ovoid structures. There are many burrow systems. This limestone, is of late Jurassic age (about 150 million years old). It was from this formation that the first known fossil bird Archaeopteryx was found.

Stop 7. 130-136 Regent Crescent, British Home Stores The front of the store is faced with the limestone travertine, a deposit formed by hot springs. Cavities have been infilled with resin. Return to the dome and into the entrance to the Orient. Veins in the Rosso Pantaleon show tight folds here. Return to the dome and walk along Peel Crescent (excellent Cinza Rajado) to the Festival Village.

Stop 8. Festival Village. The stones here are cut to smaller sizes than elsewhere in the malls of the Trafford Centre but are composed of the same materials, though less attractive.

Stop 9. Outside the Festival Village. Blocks of Upper Carboniferous micaceous sandstone, in places rich in plant remains.