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28 June 2016

“Dunbar marble” at Barns Ness, Scotland

Thanks to the website ScottishGeology.com, run by Angus Miller, I learned of Barns Ness, a Mississippian-aged limestone fossil site on the shore not far from where we are staying at Dunbar. We ventured out there on Saturday afternoon, in search of fossils. The presence of the Dunbar Cemenet Works nearby is an indication that this is the most extensive limestone outcrop in central Scotland. I set my field assistant loose …

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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 …

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3 September 2014

Rugose corals in the Clearville member of the Mahantango Formation

Here are some rugose coral fossils (along with some cross-sectioned articulate brachiopod shells) to be seen in the Clearville member (~80 feet thick) of the Mahantango Formation, exposed on the north side of route 55, just west of the West Virginia / Virginia border. These fossils are cool in their own right (what fossils aren’t?) but here they’re serving another purpose – they’re letting us know where we are in …

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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 …

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27 November 2012

Good lighting on invertebrate fossils

Good lighting on these fossils at the Royal Tyrrell Museum in Drumheller, Alberta, eh? You’ve got a batch of brachiopods mixed with crinoid columnals and little cornucopia-shaped rugose corals. Maybe some sponge spicules in there, too… This is a great rock because (a) it’s full of well-preserved fossils in a fine-grained matrix, and (b) it’s been weathered so that the fossils poke out in high relief. But the way the …

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17 August 2012

Guest post: Turtle Mountain and the infamous Frank Slide

A guest post by Nicholas Rossi, a student in Callan’s Canadian Rockies field course. Turtle Mountain is located in the Blairmore Range in Alberta Canada about 160km south of Calgary. It is the site of the Frank Slide, a landslide of over 90 million tons of rock that gave way on Turtle Mountain’s East side and covered part of the small coal mining town of Frank in about 100 seconds!  …

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14 March 2012

Reef Madness, by David Dobbs

Callan reviews a book about the historical battle over the meaning of coral reefs. Protagonists include Charles Darwin and the son of Louis Agassiz. The book’s author, David Dobbs, answers some questions for Callan and readers.

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25 July 2011

Swift Dam

Dave Lageson of Montana State University and I ran into each on our respective field trips sometime last year outside of the Two Medicine Dinosaur Center in Bynum, Montana, and he told me that I had to go check out the Swift Dam area, a little ways northwest of the town of Depuyer. So, a year later, finding myself in Depuyer (as one does), I finally did. One thing I …

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6 April 2010

Suess effect II: corals sing an isotopic song

Almost a year ago, on my old blog, I brought up the issue of the Suess effect. Go read that post if you don’t remember what the Suess effect is. If you want an executive summary, digest this: The burning of low-14C fossil fuels (because the fuels are old and the 14C has all decayed), lowers the total atmospheric ratio of 14C relative to other isotopes of carbon. The carbon …

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