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Martin County, Florida

I was fortunate enough to return to Florida again the other day and was able to hang out with Sam Wolfe (photographer mentioned in last FL post).  This time we visited the House of Refuge, where we identified an old fossilized coral reef, and to the Bathtub Reef, where we snorkled and checked out lots of things that weren’t fossilized…yet.

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Here's a fairly close shot to some petrified coral reef, which is part coral, part sandstone/limestone/shell mix.

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There's quite a bit of it...BTW, these two petrified reef photos are courtesy of S. Wolfe.

While snorkling at the Bathtub Reef, we were fortunate enough to see a nurse shark, two sea turtles, three eels, countless fish, a lobster that looked like it just molted, sea urchins (many which were purple and contrasted nicely with the orange-colored sponges they lived in and were probably eating), and Sam again saw a manatee that I again missed…That’s what he said anyway…  Also, I found a beautiful cowry shell (also spelled cowrie), which by technical definition is a fossil, eventhough I date it to no more than 1 month old from the time of its owner’s extinction.  It is a gastropod (snail) from the cypraeidae family, it’s a juvenile since it still has its spiral at the top and its aperture has not yet started curving inward.  I’ve not been able to identify its species yet as the only picture similar to it that I’ve found definitely labels it as something it isn’t. 

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This juvenile cowry measures 10.5 x 6.0 cm. Many cowries do not ever reach this size, so he was on his way to being a big fella.

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A view of the spiral

UPDATE: The cowry is the Atlantic Deer Cowry or Cypraea Cervus.

Where to next?

Montreal, Province Quebec, Canada

This is possibly my last opportunity to collect at this location (due to a building that’s been constructed in what was not long ago an empty lot).  It’s not yet been paved or grassed over, so I figured I’d see what the construction churned up. This is the lot on the corner of Dollard-Desjardin off Henri-Bourassa next to Lamiver Glass.  In front and to the right side of the building (if you’re facing the front of it), there are lots of tiny marine fossils no less than 425,000,000 years old, with many of these fellows having been amazingly preserved.  The detail, if you have a magnifying lense of some sort to actually be able to see it, is astonishing.

While collecting is still possible, you can find crinoid columnals, occasional brachiopods and pelecypods, rarely conularia, and other things I’ve not yet identified.

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Here’s a strongly ribbed brachiopod, probably a species of zygospira. Approximately 0.5cm wide.

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A view of the entire conularia impression.  At about 3cm, this possible worm-like creature is the largest fossil I’ve found in Montreal.

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Using my Galaxy S4′s camera zoomed in to 4x and a pair of 5x magnification lenses, I was fortunately able to get a half-decent shot of the unbelievable detail that’s survived hundreds of millions of years of an animal we know almost nothing about.  Brilliant.

Where to next?

Fort Pierce, Florida

Stopped in Vero Beach on my way down to Pompano Beach to deliver some very large glass.  I was fortunate enough to be able to join up with my bro-in-law, who happens to be an excellent photographer (Time, covers of multiple national papers–that kind of excellent) and knows the area quite well.

There was one sea cow spotted(…though not by me), lots of pelicans, catfish, needlefish, tourists, tiki bars, crabs, surfers, a coconut, the international space station, and of course…marine fossils by the thousands.  Clams, mussells and the like in sandstone/limestone used as riff raff to keep the “piers” from eroding so quickly.  (The pier is basically rubble cemented together.  It’s an ecosystem all by itself and is pretty cool to check out.)

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Just a small sample of the riff raff– innumerable, post cretacious material.

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The coconut.

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The little white dot is what we were able to see of the ISS (International Space Station) as it raced across the clear, night sky.

P.S. If you’d like to see some quality photography, look up “Sam Wolfe photography” or “Subsea Images”.  Do it.

Where to next?

Spring Hill, Kansas

Finally, now that the polar votices seem to have gone on their merry ways, I can get back to what’s important.  Exactly right: finding fossils and minerals everywhere.

While waiting (forever) to be called into load some glass headed to Michigan, I noticed some large chunks of yellowish, beige limestone along a bank that looks to be used for flood drainage leading out of an industrial area and curving away from a residential.  When you’re in eastern Kansas and see that, that means you are almost guaranteed to find some marine fossils.  Of course, I then did find some.

Here you will predominantly find neospirifer (300 mya brachiopods) shell bits, but there are also fairly complete ones, too, up to approximately 2 cm, many of which have a pinkish hue which is cool.  Additionally, there are crinoid columnals, mostly small, but I did come across a specimen with a diameter of about 1.3 cm.  Unfortunately, it will have to remain where it is until I can cut it out of this extremely hard rock.  I would have destroyed it with a hammer and chisel…

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Here’s my first half decent find of the season, a Pennsylvanian aged (299-318 mya) columnal, which is the stem to many species of crinoids and blastoids, echinoderms, related to starfish.

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Pinkish neosprifers are all over the place here.

This location is off KS-7 and 199th st.  Take 7 east and turn left onto 199th. It curves and becomes webster. Take a left before reaching Sonic. Turn right onto Lincoln and go to the cul de sac. Bank with limestone bedrock on your right.

Where to next?

Jerome, Idaho

Off I-84, exit 173 near Jerome and Twin Falls, Idaho there is a Flying J.  At this Flying J, there is likely a wide expanse of vesicular basalt, aka lava rock, under the fields surrounding it.  No need to go digging, there are already piles of it for the exploring.

Knowing that the basalts of Washington can house some zeolites, ie natrolite, apophyllite, stilbite, etc, I hoped that Idaho might produce for me.

After, getting past the guardian of the fields with some kind words…

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I proceeded to one of the piles of basalt where I immediately found limestone attached to it.  Obviously, magma can reach the surface underwater, too, as limestone is an indication that a body of water was present.

The limestone you’ll find comes in several forms including oolitic, massive encrustations, stalactitic, and possibly botryoidal (meaning grape-like).  I use “possibly” because the botryoidal specimen i found may not be limestone. It may be aragonite (which is basically chemically the same), or it could indeed be a zeolite (either thomsonite or mordenite).  The problem is it’s often difficult to tell and not monetarily valuable enough to get tested.  I’ll check with Jason at the rock shop back home Earth, Wind, Fire, & Ice, or with James at the Rock Shop in Rolla, MO. 

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Small stalactitic limestone plate.

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Even smaller botryoidal somethingite sitting in a vug where a gas bubble formerly lived.

Where to next?

Buffalo Valley, Tennessee

On the way home from Arkansas, where my wife and I attended my company’s Driver of the Month Banquet (I’m Mr. September, btw),  we stopped in the Buffalo Valley Service area off I-40 in Tennessee.  First, I really have to say that this is a beautiful place with a great view. You can fish here, picnic, hike some, or even sleep in the parking lot like we did (of course, we were in the truck).  I have a panoramic pic that I put up on the Treasure Hunting Trucker Facebook page if you’d like to see the view. And yes, that is a ploy to get you to like that page and follow me.

So why am I posting today? One, because I found fossils in the limestone being used as the support for the bench outside the information center. They’re just bits of broken stuff, but it means it’s worth the time to go check out when I actually have the time.

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Two, because I need to tell you that no matter where I’ve gone this winter, all I’ve been finding is snow.  It’s everywhere.  Rockhounding is a seasonal sport up north, but this year everywhere from Nova Scotia all the way down to Texas has been covered in white.  I can’t even see rocks.  Bring on the summer already.  Somebody, shoot that groundhog.

Three, and I’ll also be posting this on FB, I’m getting THT tee-shirts made.  Let me know if you’re interested. I’ll post the design when it’s done. 

Where to next?

Lyman, Wyoming

Today was productive. I made it to the Green River formation so I could hopefully find some Eocene fish fossils.  I did find the right type of rock matrix, but I found most everything else other than the fish. 

Take exit 41 off I-80 in Lyman, Wyoming, and go to the rest area.  To the east there is the pet walking section.  Yes, go there and explore past it.

Here it is possible to find Elimia tenera (gastropods or snails), plant fossils, colorful cherts, magnesite, and possibly fish pieces.  For the fossils, you should bring a hammer and a flat head screwdriver so you can split the sedimentary matrix down the sides into thinner plates.  For splitting rock into thinner plates, I’ve found that a flat head screwdriver works better than a chisel as it’s thinner and therefore less destructive.

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A nice grouping of Elimia tenera. I have the negative side, too, which is nice.

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Plants I’ll probably never identify…

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A little bit of magnesite caught me off guard.  I was finding splinters of it and originally thought they were tiny bits of permineralized wood.  But they weren’t.  They were tiny bits of magnesite.

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Here’s something that doesn’t make sense to me.  This is chert.  It’s a funky, waxy feeling type of cryptocrystalline quartz.  It solidifies at high temps and yet there seems to be crinoid fossil imprints.  Secondly, I’m in a former freshwater lake and crinoids like salt.  Obviously,  this must be a pseudofossil, but I still don’t know what it is.  I’ll update if I figure it out.

Where to next?

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