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Holbrook (ish), Arizona (again)

Iwis, I’m not above going to the same locations.  You may say I’m a lazy explorer and ocassionally that’s true, but all I really promised in making Treasure Hunting Trucker is that I will find cool stuff relating to geology, mineralogy, paleontology, and should it ever cross my path, archeology.

Well, I’m keeping that promise by showing you my new favorite piece of petrified wood.  I prefer PW that still has organic material.  That is, I prefer permineralized (partially replaced with minerals) wood.  Basically, wood that turned mostly to rock that still actually looks like wood.

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This is the largest piece of PW that I've found so far. It does have a plate of small quartz crystals on the opposite side, but I like the "grainy" side better.

This fella here looks pretty good for 207-209,000,000 years old, for having been flattened by a major volcanic event, and for dealing with countless Arizona wind storms (which seem to last around 364 days, give or take a few).  It still looks like wood and therefore gives a more realistic view of the Upper Triassic than the fully agatized variety.

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The word on the street is that these red PWs are becoming scarce and that some dealers are hording what's left of their stocks for when prices jump.

These are closer to being completely agatized with the one at the top being the furthest along in the process.  This is the stuff, generally, that most collectors go for because it’s pretty and it sells better than its woody-looking brother.

This location is off exit 300 on I-40 westbound (so the land north of the highway).  You should be able to find good PW from here to Winslow at least. Just make sure you’re not on Native American reservation land or in a national park.  Other than that, if there are no “No Tresspassing” signs you’re golden (most of AZ is public land).  FYI: watch out for rattlesnakes, huge spiders, elk, cattle, scorpions, and all the super sharp burrs that plants love to attach to your shoelaces, socks, pants, etc.

Where to next?

Amsterdam, New York

Just south of Amsterdam at the rest area on I-90 eastbound, there is a fair variety of mineral and fossil “reference” specimens.  By “reference” I just mean that what you find here probably won’t make your show cabinet, but there are really cool examples of ordovician (444-488 mya) marine life  with surprising detail.

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To the left is part of a trilobite while next to it on the right lies two arms of a sea star. Pic taken through 5x magnifying lens.

Above, a trilobite and a sea star were hanging out, some things happened that nobody wanted, then some mud covered them, none of their friends could find them, and almost half a billion years later they show themselves again.  At least they missed the awful hair bands of the 1980’s…the 1880’s…the 1780’s…well, all of the 80’s I guess.

There are lots of bits of trilobites, sea stars’ arms, crinoid columnal segments, shell pieces of all kinds, corals, red calcite, grey dolomite, and a little quartz that you can find with pretty high rates of success for most of these.  All of this material is in the bank toward the exit and none of it is in the slate, which is surprising because there’s a ton of material in slate about 20-30 miles down the road in Herkimer county.

Where to next?

Bedford, Nova Scotia, Canada

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As this was my first time going to Nova Scotia where almost nothing went wrong (lost balance and bumped head…inside the cab of the truck…), I actually had a few minutes to walk around the industrial park on Bluewater Road and see what’s going on.  This area is commercial and therefore private property, so ask if you feel the need to search here.  Fortunately, this rock formation is all over the area, so you can look most anywhere else here and probably find what I did.

First, much of the bedrock here is a hard kind of metamorphic slate that’s suffered from some heat and pressure.  There are also granites and other high silica content amalgamations to look through.  Anywise, I found what I expected…unfortunately, it wasn’t there…It’ll make sense after the pic.

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This is what the matrix rock looks like when a beautifully formed pyrite cube decides to jump ship.  It was likely a 3-5 cm specimen that didn’t want to move to the US.  It’d probably just get deported anyway…

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Here's an unexciting, albeit very coppery, chalcopyrite. This is further evidence that a more in depth search in this area should prove worthwhile.

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Here's a 10x view of tiny epidote crystals.

I found this in some gravel.  It’s a small pocket of epidote crystals.  Someday, I’m hoping to find epidote crystals to several cm’s in length. Since these 2-3 mm fellas are twice as large as the last epidote crystals I found (in Arizona), I figure I’m moving in the right direction.

Where to next?

Genoa, Ohio

Another entry on the importance of looking down periodically…

At the last eastbound rest area on I-80 just before reaching Toledo, the decorative, mid-sized pebbles along the building and surrounding sidewalks are littered with limestones and sandstones containing marine fossils.  Bivalves and corals are mostly what you will find here as well as some tiny specks of pyrite here and there.

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I think this outline of a brachiopod, as if it's drawn onto the matrix, is pretty cool.

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Not that any of these finds are scientifically significant directly, but I do believe that as we map out our finds we do our parts in putting together a more complete picture of prehistory.  True, these finds from rest areas and the like are allochthonous, so to speak, and are so for human and not natural reasons, and are not exactly scientifically valid for that reason.  However, none of these locations pull there “rock-scaping” from very far away and so can contribute to a general view of the past’s “bio-scape”.

So look down occasionally.  I promise you that you will start finding cool things…or bump your head because you’re not looking forward…

Where to next?

De Witt, Iowa

This is a short post today mostly just reminding you to look down once in awhile.  While at a gas station in De Witt, IA, I noticed I had parked on a limestone/sandstone gravel.  Anywhere you see rock like this in the midwest, there is an excellent chance of finding something (either fossil or calcites).

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This fossil is cool because we get to see the impressions left by both the columnal segments and the axial canal, which is the long "tube" in the middle of the columnal.

I’ve seen this same carboniferous-aged material all over Iowa and Illinois and similar material all the way down to Oklahoma.

Where to next?

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?

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