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9 April 2018

Orthocone nautiloids of the Lexington Limestone

I took a trip last week to Kentucky. My colleague Kent Ratajeski from the University of Kentucky took me out on a nice all-day field trip to examine some of the local geology. I was particularly impressed with the large straight nautiloid fossils that abounded in the Ordovician-aged Lexington Limestone. Here are a series of photos I took of these orthocones, all on pavement exposures (horizontal bedding planes) with my …

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2 April 2018

101 American fossil sites you’ve gotta see, by Albert B. Dickas

Mountain Press has released a new volume by frequent author Bert Dickas: it’s a compilation of 101 places in the United States where fossils can be viewed. Some sites are collection sites on public land; others are museums or protected areas. The book is a useful collection of information in a concise, well-illustrated form. Each of the sites gets a name, a latitude/longitude (but not directions), a short tag line, …

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29 September 2017

Friday folds: soft sediment deformation in thin sections of MTD sandstone

The Friday folds are small soft-sediment deformational features within a dismembered, folded sandstone (a “ploudin”) from a mass transport deposit from the latest Devonian of West Virginia.

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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.

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27 February 2017

Bedding / cleavage intersections at Indian Spring, Fort Valley

A new outcrop in Fort Valley shows Devonian fossil-rich mudrocks overprinted by a tectonic cleavage imparted during Pangaea’s birth throes.

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12 December 2016

Fossils as strain markers: the boudinaged belemnites of the Swiss Alps

Don’t you hate it when plate tectonics ruins a perfectly good fossil? This is a sketch of a belemnite from the Swiss Alps: The thing has been broken into segments, with calcite filling the gaps between the segments. What a bummer! Now we’re going to have a much harder time reconstructing the life habits of the organism that left this fossil behind… It was a squid-like thing, with an internal …

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8 December 2016

Silent samples, holey samples

Two very different samples tell stories that are full of holes. What’s going on with this weathered sandstone? What’s going on with this fossil scallop shell?

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3 October 2016

A virtual field trip to Rathlin Island, Northern Ireland

Rathlin Island lies north of mainland Northern Ireland, a few miles offshore. I spent three lovely days there this past summer, investigating the geology and appreciating the wildlife (puffins and other sea birds, and seals). The geology is pretty straightforward: Paleogene basalt overlying Cretaceous “chalk” (really not so chalky here – technically, it’s the Ulster White Limestone). Here’s a suite of interactive imagery that you can use to explore Rathlin’s …

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28 September 2016

Virginia Museum of Natural History specimens in GIGAmacro view

One of the small sub-projects of my 2015-2017 Chancellor’s Commonwealth Professorship is to create some GIGAmacro images of cool fossil specimens from the Virginia Museum of Natural History in Martinsville. Curator of paleontology Alex Hastings was good enough to loan us a few specimens to image, and hopefully there will soon be more where they came from. Here are three examples: a fossil plant, and two fossil vertebrates: Strobilus cone …

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1 September 2016

Archean microbial mats in the news and in GigaPan

The news yesterday of 3.7 Ga stromatolites in Greenland prompts a closer look at 3.22 Ga microbially-induced sedimentary structures in the Barberton Greenstone Belt’s Moodies group sandstones.

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