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SailingAlongToo posted a topic in Fossil Hunting TripsThis past Sunday Mrs.SA2 and I ventured out for what was going to be my last opportunity to fossil hunt in 2018 due to my work schedule. Sunday's weather forecast was for upper 40s F, light rain - mist, 15 mph Nor'east winds gusting to 20 mph, 3 foot waves and water levels along all the rivers running double normal for this time of year due to all the recent rain and snow melt. Obviously, not ideal for fossil hunting along any of eastern VA's swollen rivers but it was the last day I could hunt this year, so we were going to make the best of it. Mrs.SA2 is quite the trooper and always up for an adventure. (I think she was just humoring me since she's off work from Christmas Eve till after NYs and plans on doing lots of fossil hunting with some of our fossil friends.) We hit the beach at high tide and hoped we would get at least some water level drop moving towards low. No such luck, wind picked up and waves started crashing the beach. We spent about 5 hours walking what little beach there was and found plenty of (several hundred) small sharks teeth, but nothing exciting, not even large broken teeth. I did manage to find a worn dolphin periotic, which are always nice to find and we pulled out quite a few Chesapecten nefrens from recent slides/falls, but that was about it. Nothing worth even posting photos of on TFF. Before hitting the beach we had discussed the cliffs being super-saturated from all the rain and recent snow, and the need for us to stay together and to pay particular attention to the cliffs as we moved along. There were even a few places we walked out in the waist deep water instead of under some nasty looking spots. On our way back to the entrance point, we stopped so she could put the teeth she was "hiding" in her mitten, into a plastic bag, as we knew we were approaching one of the spots where we needed to walk in the water. As we did that, 10 feet in front of us the cliff broke free and dropped about 4 dump truck loads of material and 2 very large trees down on the beach. Photo below from the upstream side. Thank goodness we were on the downstream side at the time it fell since you can see the trees covering the beach on the upstream side. Downstream side looked much more dramatic with all the cliff material, but smaller falls were still occurring there, so we went into waist deep water and moved around the danger area fairly quickly yet carefully. Eastern VA has experienced its wettest year on record and it's still going. We are forecast for another 1.25 - 1.75 inches of rain tonight through tomorrow night and 2 more significant rain events before years end. It will all be storm runoff as the ground can't absorb anymore water. There is standing water everywhere. I can only imagine what the Freeze - Thaw Cycle will do to all the cliffs and bluffs this winter given how saturated the sediment and stratigraphy is. This made the 4th cliff fall we have seen since March along various VA rivers.
This view of the cliffs in Calvert County, Maryland is gorgeous. I don't often see quite the vivid color range in this formation. I didn't linger, though, and I was wading in the bay to keep my distance. See those trees at the top of the 40 ft +/- cliff? The ones with the roots hanging over the edge? Those aren't going to be at the top of the cliff for long. At this point, they are probably only still there out of sheer habit. We did her a landslide the night we arrived, the spoils of which are in some of the following images in this album. I was on a trip earlier in the year, at a different part of the cliffs, when someone did get hit in the head by a bit of falling clay. Lucky for her, it wasn't a big chunk or from very high up. She *only* had a concussion. If ever you are close to the cliffs like this, watch and listen to where you are at all times. Run like crazy if you hear anything falling! DO NOT TOUCH THE CLIFFS! DO NOT STAND ON THE TOP EDGE OF THE CLIFFS! That prize Meg tooth isn't worth your life.