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Alaska Fossil Sites


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Hoping to head up to Alaska this next summer and would love to hunt for fossils.

Does anyone know of a list of sites to start looking?


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Hi Rocketmandane,


I have no personal knowledge of sites in Alaska, but I've been exploring geological maps of the US states and saving the good ones. I live in a location where information on exactly where to go fossil hunting is usually hard to come by, so I often go about it this way. You might prefer to get some direct information to make the experience less hit and miss like my ventures can sometimes be. When first looking at a geological map like this, I explore the map key looking for the right age of geological formation and the correct kind of sedimentary layer.


As an example, on this map the first formation that looks interesting to me is labeled 'DOsc':

Shale, chert, and argillite (Lower Devonian to Ordovician)—Includes the following units: DOka McCann Hill Chert, Road River Formation, and Troublesome unit of Weber and others (1992) (Lower Devonian to Ordovician)—EC; p. 66 DOhb Hood Bay Formation (Lower? Devonian to Ordovician)—SE; p. 66 St Turbidite deposits of southeast Alaska (Silurian)—SE; p. 69 Slc Lost Creek unit (Silurian)—CN; p. 70


Then from that info I can look into each unit. A quick search of the first unit, the McCann Hill Chert showing as a fossiliferous unit. Even if you prefer to find some first hand knowledge of good locations I hope this map is still of use in giving you some more detailed knowledge of the geology of the area.


Geological map of Alaska published in 2015 by USGS:

Sheet 1: https://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/3340/sim3340_sheet1.pdf

Sheet 2: https://pubs.usgs.gov/sim/3340/sim3340_sheet2.pdf

Sourced from: https://pubs.er.usgs.gov/publication/sim3340

Lower-Res (both sheets): https://prd-wret.s3-us-west-2.amazonaws.com/assets/palladium/production/s3fs-public/thumbnails/image/Geologic_Map_of_Alaska_whole.jpg


Large, high resolution PDF, hence why they chopped it into two sheets. You would likely want to download and stitch these together. Best of luck on your fossil hunts!




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Hello Dane,

So Alaska is one of the two states I've not visited - Ohio being the other.  (How have I missed Ohio? :DOH:)  From the amount of traffic on TFF regarding Alaska (or should I say "dearth of traffic"), I assume few of the members have been to Alaska.  Having said that, I perhaps can help you in getting started in your research of where to "start looking":

19 hours ago, Rocketmandane said:

Does anyone know of a list of sites to start looking?


1.  Within TFF library see: 

and scroll down to Alaska for a list of papers on Alaskan paleo.


2.  Also in TFF archives see:


3.  USGS Pubs Warehouse search for "Alaska Fossils"



4.  USGS Pubs Warehouse search for "Alaska Paleontology"



5.  Do a thorough search of the offerings of

Use the site's search engine to explore "paleontology" and "fossils", etc.
6.  Do an internet search for "Alaska fossils", Alaska paleontology", etc. (You may be surprised at what shows up.)
7.  Do a Google Scholar search for "Alaska fossils", Alaska paleontology", etc.
8.  There is a book entitled Rockhounding Alaska that will likely have some fossil locales included.  It can be picked up at THE auction site or THE on-line (think S. Am. major river) "purchase any product in the world" site.
9.  From this list of resources you will probably get many other recommendations in the Biblio. or Recommended Reading sections of the papers to chase.
10. Finally, that should get you started.  When you finish chasing down these resources, let us know what you found as I think there are few on this site who have had the opportunity to fossil hunt Alaska.  So it would likely be a topic about which you can educate the rest of us.  And, we can still dream of visiting those sites.  -_-
Hope this helps,
  • I found this Informative 2
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There does exist a book called Rockhounding in Alaska.  The best fossil site in it (according to yours truly)is a several hours hike and you are warned to be careful of bears.  Alaska is huge and highly unaccessible with basically only a few roads.  But they are there... the fossils.   

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  • 1 year later...

Well I'm a little late lol. I know of a nice miocene plant site near me on the Kenai peninsula. It requires a bit of beach hiking or driving to get to (about 3 miles to start, 6+ miles to best areas). There is a drive accessible place with plant materials about an hour northeast of Anchorage. Don't recall the age but miocene comes to mind. There are a few lesser known spots I've read about (see the book mentioned by @jpc ) near the roads. But most of all the other places are off the road system (WAY off, think airplane access) I still need to learn more places.

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