Point Loma

Geology:

Point Loma is part of the Point Loma Formation, near the coastline of San Diego. According to the second citation, “The massive, ungraded sandstones in the Point Loma Formation have sharp upper and lower contacts, thick lenses of mudstone clasts, and common load-deformation structures, suggesting deposition largely by grain-flow processes.”

Paleontology:

The Upper Cretaceous strata in the Point Loma formation contain abundant trace fossils of the species Qphiomorpha and Thalassinoides, which suggest that the area was a shallow sea during the Cretaceous Period.

Directions:

According to The Fossil Forum (Citation 1), “Towards San Diego, get off at the Tecolate Road/Sea World exit. Proceed west on Sea World Drive — past Sea World, it becomes Sunset Cliffs Blvd. Drive to the end of Sunset Cliffs and park in the lot for Sunset Cliffs Park. Look along the top of the sea cliff.”

Works Cited:

Gary Kindel, “Fossil Collecting Sites in North America,” (Digital Rockhound’s Companion Site 2009) http://www.digitalrockhound.blogspot.com

Philip Kern et al, “Trace Fossils and Bathymetry of the Upper Cretaceous Point Loma Formation, San Diego, California,” (San Diego State U, Rice U 1974) http://gsabulletin.gsapubs.org/content/85/6/893.abstract

 

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Rincon Point

Directions:

According to this page’s first citation, ” from LA, travel north on the Ventura Freeway (101) towards Ventura. Travel about an hour, north towards Santa Barbara. Exit onto Highway 150 (towards Lake Casitas) and park immediately after leaving Route 101. The fossils are found along the freeway offramp and up the hill above.”

Geology of the Area:

Rincon Point is a famous surfing spot on the border of Santa Barbara and Ventura County. The fossils of Rincon Point are found off a freeway cut that exposes 16 different layers of Santa Barbara Formation strata. Santa Barbara County was underwater for most of Earth’s history, but slowly rose to the surface during the Cenozoic Era, especially as a result of the Miocene dated tectonic movements that created the San Andreas Fault.

Fossils:

Pliocene-Pleistocene dated fossils are abundant in the sediments off the freeway. The fossils are marine fauna including invertebrates such as bryozoa,mollusks, gastropods, and Pecten.

Works Cited:

Gary Kindel, “Fossil Collecting Sites in North America,” (Digital Rockhound’s Companion Site 2009) http://www.digitalrockhound.blogspot.com

“US and Canadian Fossil Sites — Data for California” http://donaldkenney.x10.mx/STATES/CA.HTM

“Offshore Geology of Santa Barbara County” (County of Santa Barbara Planning and Development ) http://www.sbcountyplanning.org

Coal Point, Isla Vista

Geology: The fossiliferous layers are part of an unnamed Pleistocene formation. Once you park, walk down to the beach and look for the sedimentary rocks on the beach cliff. However, the geology of the area should be similar to the Monterey formation which contains both Gaviota Beach, and Jalama Beach.

Fossils: The layers of sandstone contain marine assemblages from the Pleistocene epoch.

 

Jack’s Peak County Park

Geology: According to the USGS, “Geophysical data and sea floor samples collected from the continental shelf and slope between Ano Nuevo Point and Point Sur, California indicate that the Monterey Bay region has had a complex late Cenozoic tectonic history”, meaning that it is difficult to easily date the fossils based on location. See the Further Reading to learn more about the geology of the Monterey Bay region.

Fossils: Fossils containing small leaves and shells are in shale a hundred yards down the trail from the west parking lot.

Further Reading/Works Cited:

Gary Greene, “Geology of the Monterey Bay region, California” (USGS 1977) https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/ofr77718

Topanga Canyon

Geology:

Topanga Canyon is part of the Topanga Canyon Formation. It contains middle Miocene sandstone and siltstone.

Paleontology:

The sediments contain large quantities of gastropods and pelecypods (most are shell prints). It is recommended to go after a rain when the fossils have been washed (at least partially) out of the matrix.

topanga_shells

Directions: 

“from the Ventura Freeway (in the San Fernando Valley), get off at the Valley Circle/Mulholland Drive exit Turn left onto Valley Circle, cross over the freeway and proceed onto Mulholland Drive. Turn right onto Valmar Avenue — Valmar becomes Old Topanga Canyon Road. At Mulholland Highway, bear right and prepare to turn left back onto Old Topanga Canyon Road in 1/8 mile. Turn left and proceed up Old Topanga almost a mile, past the point where the road switches back upon itself. From this point until the top of the hill, you will encounter fossiliferous road cuts on your right. The first embankment contains a massive oyster reef.” (see first citation for source)

Works Cited:

Sam Park, “Fossil Collecting in California” (The Fossil Forum 2008) http://www.thefossilforum.com

“Topanga Canyon fossils,” (Rockhound Blog October 12, 2006) http://www.rockhoundblog.com

Centerville Beach

Geology of the Area: Centerville Beach is part of the Rio Dell Formation, giving it very similar geological history to the Scotia Bluffs nearby. The sedimentary rocks were once a mud rich layer that was deposited on the edges of a shallow sea during the Pleistocene epoch. Look for layers of grey unconsolidated mud, which will be fossiliferous and have shell fossils protruding from the surface. Low tide is the best time to look for fossils on a beach.

Paleontology/ Fossils Found: Moon Snail, Giant Pacific Scallop, Clam, Pandora shell, Cockle, Snail, Channeled Dogwinkle, and other fossils can be easily found on the cliffside of the beach.

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Works Cited:

Leslie Scopes Anderson, “Unearthing Evidence of Creatures from Deep Time,” (Humboldt U 2011) www2.humboldt.edu

Ellin Beltz, “Fossil Localities – Humboldt Bay Area,” (Field Trips by Ellin Beltz 2008) http://www.ebeltz.net

Scotts Valley

Geology: Being within the Santa Cruz Mountains in the Central Coast Ranges, Scotts Valley is a geologically active region under the influence of multiple fault lines. The valley’s bedrock is part of the Purisima Formation. Fossils obtained in the area are likely part of the Santa Margarita Sandstone. According to the Scotts Valley Town Center, “The Santa Margarita Sandstone generally consists of massive, fine- to medium-grained sandstone of upper Miocene geologic age. The Santa Margarita Sandstone forms a distinctive formation of white and yellow sand that can be observed in cliffs around the area”.

Paleontology: Marine fossils are very prevalent in the area, and it is a common area for fossil collectors to visit. Shark teeth (Mako, Megalodon, etc), dolphin, whale, sea cow, and walrus bones, and sand dollars have been found in the area. Sand dollars are especially common and should be fairly easy to spot. Here is a collection of photos of fossils recovered from the area from the Land Trust of Santa Cruz County. Recently, a four million year old whale fossil was discovered in the area. The find was covered by the article, “Whale Fossil Uncovered in Scotts Valley”.

Directions to Sand Dollar Site: One site in particular is known for its abundance of sand dollars. According to this fossil collector, Take Hwy 17 south from San Jose towards Santa Cruz/Scotts Valley. Take Mount Hermon Exit in Scotts Valley. Turn right onto Scotts Valley Drive. Turn right onto Bean Creek Road, and drive a little over a mile until you see a tall, sandy roadcut that is fairly steep. However, it is important that the area is off limits, and you will encounter ‘No Trespassing’ signs.

Works Cited:

RMcWilson, “Fossil Sand Dollar Site in Scotts Valley, California,” (Flickr 2009)

“Scotts Valley Town Center Specific Plan EIR, 4.5 Geology and Soils,” (City of Scotts Valley)  http://www.scottsvalley.org/downloads/town_center/4.5%20Geology%20and%20Soils.pdf

Bolinas Lagoon

Geology: The Bolinas shelf is less than 0.3 degrees tilted, meaning that it is quite flat. The seafloor of the bay area near the lagoon is shallow, and has large bedrock outcroppings from the shore to depths of about 25 m. The sediments date to the Neogene epoch.

Paleontology: Fossil hunters have determined that fossilized sand dollars are fairly common in the area.

Works Cited:

“Geology and geomorphology–Offshore of Bolinas Map Area, California,” (USGS 2015) http://pubs.usgs.gov/ds/781/OffshoreBolinas/metadata/Geology_OffshoreBolinas_metadata.html

Further Reading:

“Recent Marine Sediments of Bolinas Bay, California” (UC Berkeley 1968) http://escholarship.org/uc/item/2kf907bg#page-1

Mazourka Canyon

Geology: Inyo County, containing many elevation extremes, has the highest summit in the continental US (Mt. Whitney), and the lowest area in the Northern Hemisphere (Badwater Basin). The canyon is especially perfect for fossil hunting because it drains the water from a large portion of the Inyo Mountains, causing the water to cut a canyon and expose layers of fossils.

Paleontology: Well preserved Paleozoic invertebrate fossils, some 485 to 415 million years old, can be found in the canyon.

girvanellabonanzakingdolomite1a.jpgBlue Green Algae is commonly found.

vaughngulchcorals1b

So are horn coral.

 

 

 

Works Cited (Highly Recommended to Find More Information) :

“Paleozoic Era Fossils at Mazourka Canyon, Inyo County, California”, http://inyo2.coffeecup.com/mazourkacanyon/mazourka.html

Scotia Bluffs

Geology of the Area:

The Scotia Bluffs sandstone was deposited around two million years ago during the Pleistocene epoch. The fine to medium grained sediment has a maximum thickness of 640 m. It is part of the Upper Wildcat group and overlies the Rio Dell Formation in Humboldt County. Additionally, the cliffs are about 15 miles from the coast and are at an elevation of 550 feet.

Paleontology of the Area:

Shallow fossil marine life from the Pleistocene epoch can be found in the bluffs, with many of the species still thriving today. According to “Unearthing Evidence of Creatures from Deep Time” by Leslie Scopes Anderson, Giant Pacific Scallop (Petinopecten sp.), Clam (Thrasia sp.), Cockle Shell (Clinocardium meekianum), Sand Dollar (Scutellaster sp.), Moon Snail (Nautica clause), Pandora shell (Pandora sp.), Razor Clam (Siliqua oregonensa) and Shelly sandstone (Psephidia sp.) have been recovered from the area. See image below.

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Works Cited:

Hugh McLean, “Federal Lands Assessment Program: Eel River (Humboldt) Basin, California (Province 80),” (USGS 1988) <http://pubs.usgs.gov/of/1987/0450i/report.pdf&gt;

Leslie Scopes Anderson, “Unearthing Evidence of Creatures from Deep Time,” (Humboldt U 2011) www2.humboldt.edu