A 'LIVING geology' treasure trove in the heart of Oxford has been granted a new protective status.

Lye Valley in Headington was officially designated a Local Geology Site this week by the Oxfordshire Geology Trust.

The status aims to recognise the site's 'extraordinary hydrological and geomorphological features' which interact with the biodiversity in the valley.

The trust made its decision following a tour of the nature reserve in March last year.

Chairman Owen Green said: "The Lye Valley is a most interesting place an example of 'living geology', where springs flowing from the valley sides are forming calcareous tufa similar to the

white deposits in your kettle on the surrounding mosses and plants, which is typically formed in alkali conditions.

"These deposits contrast with the bright orange iron-rich springs near-by, whose bacteria prefer an acidic environment.

"The springs which we see in the Lye Valley have come from rain water which has fallen on nearby ground where is it absorbed, fed through the underlying limestone and sandstone strata and emerges maybe years later, saturated with calcium. It is crucial that the hydrology of the valley and its rainwater catchment is not disturbed, as this could affect the balance between the plants, invertebrates and bryophytes recorded within the area.

"It's a wonderful educational resource for residents, children and students."