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9 December 2022
Pillbug tracks in ash from Mt. St. Helens
Reader Nancy Weidman (who supplied the Wind River boudinaged basaltic dike images from earlier in the week) sent me this interesting note: Your ichnoanalogue post reminds me of the insect or pillbug tracks I found in Mt. St. Helens ash deposited in Missoula, Montana. At least some of the tracks, if I recall correctly, ended in dead bugs, presumably dead after its breathing tubes clogged with ash. No fossils from …
11 August 2020
Strange creatures: book reviews about mysterious animals in the sea
Callan reviews two well-written books about of enigmatic creatures of the deep: eels and lobsters.
27 August 2018
Beautiful Swimmers, by William Warner
The subtitle of this wonderful book is “Watermen, Crabs, and the Chesapeake Bay.” It’s an excellent account of crab ecology in the Chesapeake Bay as it stood in the mid-1970s, and simultaneously a sympathetic portrait of the lives of the locals who capture those crabs for sale to the seafood market. The writing is thoughtful and calm, paced very similarly to John McPhee’s writing, rich in quotes from the watermen …
23 May 2017
Silurian tidal flat carbonates of the Tonoloway Formation
Journey to the Silurian period in what is today the Valley & Ridge province of eastern West Virginia to see some exquisite sedimentary rocks that represent deposition in a very arid, very shallow setting.
8 February 2017
Parasite Rex, by Carl Zimmer
I’ve always been fascinated by parasitism. Parasites are organisms that live on or in another organism (or organisms) in a way that detracts from the vitality of the host. Nothing in nature is redder in tooth and claw than the parasite. They represent a stark repudiation of the naive way many people think of evolution, with humans at the pinnacle, with a historical sense of purpose or progress, and with …
4 July 2016
Virtual field trip to Kinkell Braes, Scotland
Walking along the shore east from St. Andrews, Scotland, along the seaside sandstones of Kinkell Braes, you encounter several extraordinary examples of geology. It’s a great place for the next stop on our Grand Tour of the geology of the British Isles. Here’s the scene: The first stop is a giant eurypterid trackway, potentially the largest invertebrate trackway in the world (Whyte, 2005), on the underside of an overhanging sandstone …
23 December 2015
Four new GIGAmacro images of sedimentary rocks
It’s been a week and a half since Mountain Beltway has seen any publishing action, given the overlapping timesucks of the AGU Fall Meeting and the end of the semester. But now I’m back in the Appalachian mountain belt, and my grades are all in, and I have time to think about indulgences like blogging again. Let me make up for it now with a suite of four new macro …
25 October 2015
Cool fossils from the Clearville member of the Mahantango Formation
On Saturday, I took my historical geology class on their field trip out to Corridor H, West Virginia. We made a stop at the Mahantango Formation outcrop exposed on the eastbound exit ramp near Baker, and poked around there for fossils. These Devonian-aged siltstones are chock full of invertebrates including rugose corals, crinoids, articulate brachiopods, and even trilobites. Here are two of the best fossils we encountered there: A trilobite …
10 February 2015
Pisolites in the Tansil Formation, Carlsbad Caverns, New Mexico
Pisolites are large primary concretions that develop in backreef or lagoonal settings such as the Permian Tansil Formation of New Mexico, into which is cut the enormous hole called Carlsbad Caverns.
26 February 2014
A fistful of fossils (Devonian Helderberg Group of West Virginia)
More images for you today from my field trip a few weeks ago to West Virginia’s bizarro highway Corridor H, a quiet place built for roaring traffic. Its multistory roadcuts are fresh and profound; they offer the most incredible views into the mid-to-late-Paleozoic surface of Earth… and the creatures that lived there. In the Devonian period, the Helderberg Group of limestones was deposited. It’s full of interesting fossils, the remains …