Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Bear Lake Field Trip 2015 - Day Four: Cambrian Spence Gulch

Once again we met in Paris.  A short drive and a short, steep hike down into a gulch and we were happy!  For this was an exposure of Cambrian Spence Shale.  We hoped for trilobites and hyoliths.  Hyoliths were new to many of us, I think!

Here is an iphone panorama shot of the exposure:

Spence Shale
The picture is a little odd since I was standing so close to the subject.  You can see that there was plenty of room for fossil hunters...

We did find the expected fossils.  There were some exceptional finds, of whole trilobites and of what is likely Eocrinoidea!

I just have to share with you a picture of someone I admire, look up to, want to be like.  Not only did she find some of the best whole trilobites, but she is an octogenarian!!!

Ann, my hero
Ann didn't want to stop digging here but we had another site to go to.  So, she packed up her backpack and bucket of fossils and climbed out of the gulch just like the rest of us.

The final site of the day was a return to the east shore of Bear Lake.  We'd been shut out before by the rain and hail storm.  This afternoon was beautiful; perfect for hunting Pleistocene bivalves and gastropods.

East shore, Bear Lake
The following morning, many of the trip participants had plans - DMNS Field School in Escalante, Yellowstone, head back to work...  A few of us were able to make one more stop, not far from Kemmerer, WY.  This stop was Eocene, and yielded agatized Elimia tenera.

It was a great trip and I am grateful to WIPS and the field trip leaders Joe Dabelko and Dennis Gertenbach for putting this together.

Bear Lake Field Trip 2015 - Day Three: Minnetonka Cave

We watched the sun rise in Paris!

Idaho, that is, in the parking lot of the tabernacle.

From there, we took our caravan to the Minnetonka Cave.  I understand there aren't many known caves in Idaho; this one is a good one!  We don't know how many steps there are in it since we heard 444, 548, and 600+.  It has the columns and features of any normal, healthy cave (stalagmites, stalagtites, columns, bacon, etc.).  Our guide was young and fun.

Just down the road from the cave was a site yielding burrows.  We found some trilobite bits, brachiopods, lots of traces, and a few mysteries that we'll have to get back to for identifying.

Sadly, we couldn't quite collect this slab.

Following this, we went out to find food.  Some of us stopped at campgrounds, which were quite nice along the road to the cave.  We picnicked, then met up to caravan to Paris Canyon.  I was so busy looking for ammonites in the Triassic Thaynes Formation, I forgot to take pictures!

Now, this day was Saturday.  It is culturally sound to have a party.  And Joe and his family know how to do that!  They were at a resort and invited us to burgers and games.  There was good food, company, and prizes.  We all got into playing Fossil Jeopardy, created by Joe.

Team One struggled to regain control
Team Two had the lead


Friday, August 28, 2015

Bear Lake Field Trip 2015 - Day two: Mississippian

Soda Springs hourly geyser
We had a bonus stop today - we saw the Soda Springs geyser!  This was our morning meeting place.  From there we drove north about 25 miles to Pelican Point Quarry (I haven't heard why it is called this...).  This is an easily-accessed quarry of Mississippian Lodgepole limestone.

The stone is quite hard so you hope to find a piece containing that fossil you want and it is small enough to carry.  Actually, we all had some great finds.  The horn coral can be large and is the main attraction.  Also found were brachiopods, tiny crinoid parts, tabulate corals, and even a blastoid!

Brenda's syringopora tabulate coral
Bob's blastoid
The fossil hunting was so good, many of us underestimated the boxing needed for the day.  Back in Soda Springs Geyser park for lunch, we discussed how to fill that need.  It so happened, there was a nearby container with our answer.

"Dumpster Diving" for boxes
Having filled that need, we moved on to Fossil Canyon, a private drive with more of the Missippian cobbles.  Not so prolific, some did find some nice horn corals.  A couple of folks also found some beautiful stromatolites.

To cap the day, many of us dined at the Ranch Hand.  We ate like ranch hands, for sure!

Bear Lake Field Trip 2015 - Day one: Kemmerer, WY

There is so much to look forward to on this field trip.  Name an invertebrate marine fossil and we're going for it.  But first, we're going to go fossil fishing in Kemmerer, WY.  Many of us are driving to Kemmerer the day before Day One of the field trip.  What was fun is, without any preplanning, many of us met up in Rawlins, WY for food and good company.  It pays to pay attention to that car with the Colorado license plate in the middle of Wyoming...

Quarry Caravan
As folks began to collect at the Best Western Fossil Country Inn, we asked at the front desk where we should eat.  Highly recommended was El Jaliciense.  We took that recommendation and had a hearty meal served with a smile.

The following morning all met at the BW to caravan to the Warfield Quarry.  All signed in, chose hammers and chisels, then selected the rock pile to begin splitting.  There were a mix of repeat visitors and first timers.  I think everyone did pretty well on this fishing trip!

First Timers Barbara and Bob
First Timers Barbara and Bob
First Timer Kathy
First Timer Kathy

After four hours of hammering and moving rock (AKA catching fish), we packed up and had lunch at a park in Kemmerer.  Several of us even took the opportunity to visit the original J.C. Penney store!

The next stop was the Fossil Butte National Monument.  Ever been there?  Put it on your list!  What fantastic displays they have.  We had the wonderful fortune of hearing Ranger Arvid Aase's story about fossil plants in the Fossil Lakes and their contribution to climate studies.

From there, it was time to head further west into Utah.  We wanted to visit the east shore of Bear Lake to look for Pleistocene bivalves and gastropods.  Alas, it was not meant to be for a severe thunderstorm was roaring down the valley, bringing strong winds, rain, and hail.  So some of us simply went to have a raspberry shake!