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A Trip North with More Memories Than Fossils


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Returned last evening from a road trip up in the near north. We covered about 1,750 km of road, and although the finds were not plentiful, good times were still had. The missus had some holiday time to spare, so we headed off for adventure. Our main goal was to visit the islands north of Manitoulin, but we had to take the long way around as the ferry was booked solid, and any nearby accommodations were booked many months in advance. So we decided to pay a visit to a fossil friend who is situated in a nice part of the province.

 

Day 1 was taken up driving for most of it, so a 4 hour drive became a bit over 5 hours due to construction and the usual traffic foofaraw through Toronto. When we arrived, time to take out the canoe and swim in the lovely lake. And, of course, spend some time with my friend's friendly pooch. 

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After a night of merriment, it was back on the road again up through the Muskokas. It is all Canadian shield with impressive walls of rock. No pictures, unfortunately, as there are no safe places to pull off. It's about a five hour drive from my friend's place to Sudbury. Our motel was situated just 28 km west of there, so not as close as we would have liked. 

 

We bedded down and prepared for our first day of collecting at what I will call "Location 1." The drive down is quite lovely. Winding roads with deep valleys, lakes, and massive precambrian roadcuts. 

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Myself and two other fossil comrades have visited both locations 1 and 2 last August. My hope was that there would be something new in the offing. We had permission for location 1, but safety equipment is still required. 

 

On the way, there are a number of Paleozoic roadcuts that begin to appear as one proceeds southward. It seems to yo-yo between those and the Huronian rocks. The gap between those and the Ordovician rocks that on-lap them is about 1.7 billion years(!). The first Ordovician roadcuts are Shadow Lake Fm overlain by Gull River Fm. The former is not all that fossiliferous at all, and the latter is not that much better.

 

Location 1 is situated in what is known in the literature as the "Cloche Beds," with some saying it is lower, and others middle, Bobcaygeon Fm. The fauna here is similar to that found in the Lake Simcoe area, but deposition is slightly different, and faunal volumes as well. 

 

Deb is suited up and ready to go. The lower 3/4 of the site is a blue limestone with some shaly partings. It is also very energetic, which accounts for finding mostly fragments or low deposition horizons of mostly single-valved brachiopods. Ostracods of considerable size are numerous here.

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The location remained unchanged from last year's visit, and back then we had three pairs of eyes scanning every rock surface. So, my expectations were scaled appropriately. Trilobites almost always appear as fragments in this material. Pictured here is one of a few large and tantalizing pieces of Isotelus, a possible piece of Bufoceraurus, and a neat looking spider. :P 

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The upper third of the strata is a more larger-grained and orange-brown rock. It is there that we begin to see the presence of nicely sized Maclurites and plentiful Gonioceras anceps.

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Other fossils include in the lower blue material, of course, plentiful brachiopods. What is interesting (and frustrating) is in finding a lot of Ceraurinus fragments. Deb found what may be the pygidium of, well, I'll need to have a closer look under the scope to determine it. Various other whatsits, odds, and ends as well.

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The best find at this location turned out to be my trip-maker. This is quite possibly a complete Ceraurus mostly buried in matrix. It was sitting in a car-sized bloc, and I did not have a rock saw. So, I stabilized it the best I could and very patiently used hammer and chisel to free it. Miraculously, it came away clean. Usually, Murphy's Law dictates that any such attempt will almost certainly crack right through the specimen! 

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Location 2 is south of the Cloche Beds, and may be Verulam Fm in age. The rocks are quite old and weathered, and splitting doesn't quite reveal much. Surfaces are covered in beds of either hashes of crinoid ossicles, or thick stems that sadly don't want to terminate to a calyx. Still, with persistence, one can find complete crinoids. Trilobite fragments are uncommon, but it was at this location last year that I found that near complete Dolichoharpes. Alas, this was a skunked visit as nothing had changed since the three of us scanned it last year. 

 

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Assorted finds from that location were not much to write home about, but a few calyx pieces, a possible Gabriceraurus fragment, and a large, 3D Isotelus hypostome (albeit incomplete). 

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We also toured Manitoulin Island a bit and did a few non-fossil things. I was able to book the ferry to cross over to Tobermory and we could begin the 3.5 hour drive back home. The weather was -- like most of July up here -- fairly unsettled, so there were patches of drizzle and stormy systems passing through during our stay. It was Deb's first ferry ride, so I was sad that for most of our crossing it was raining. But, by the last fifteen minutes the rain had let up, and we could go to the top observation deck. Plenty of small islands along the way. Of course, I had to snap a photo of the water and big sky for @Bobby Rico and his love of romanticist scenes! :D 

 

So that's about it! Not many fossils, but some great times and scenery. It got me out of the house, too, rather than moping around. :P 

 

For those who want to pay a visit, just a word of helpful advice: no matter how remote a roadcut might be, all of it is privately owned, so ensure you get the permission of the landowner first. If we could not find the owner, we would drive on. 

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Excellent post. wish I could have joined but the grandkids were here from Ottawa. I still have not been out collecting yet in 2021!!!!!!

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Tidgy's Dad

I don't know, looks like some pretty decent finds to my eye. 

And anyway, memories last forever and fossils.......erm, I mean some things are more important than ...........hmmm. 

Well, I'm very glad you had a great time, anyway, I do like the brachs, of course, though most of them have taken a bit of a beating, the coral and the ostracods are great and one or two good trilofinds. Super photos; I adore the spider with her babies on her back. 

Thanks for sharing. :)

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Looks to me like it was well worth the trip on many counts.

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Great report and pics, Kane. I've never seen any pics from that area of Ontario. Looks beautiful! Good luck with the Ceraurus. Love to see it fully prepped. 

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Cheers Kane for the sublime sky pictures. I miss the sea and living by the coast and sailing. It looks like you are having a great time enjoying the beautiful land and seascapes. Nice finds and a cool spider with it hatchlings. 
 

all the best Bobby 

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7 minutes ago, Bobby Rico said:

Cheers Kane for the sublime sky pictures. I miss the sea and living by the coast and sailing. It looks like you are having a great time enjoying the beautiful land and seascapes. Nice finds and a cool spider with it hatchlings. 
 

all the best Bobby 

Thanks, Bobby. :) What with the smoke from (the tragic) forest fires that turned the sun and moon orange, and so many storm systems passing through, the sky has been like early 19th century paintings on a regular basis! 

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1 minute ago, Kane said:

Thanks, Bobby. :) What with the smoke from (the tragic) forest fires that turned the sun and moon orange, and so many storm systems passing through, the sky has been like early 19th century paintings on a regular basis! 

Yes sounds like you are describing a John Martin painting. I appreciate you remembering my interest In the romantic landscape. 

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I responded to this thread yesterday using my phone but I don't see that reply here now.  I've had that happen a few times lately.

 

Anyway you're making me nostalgic for the north country again.  I'm hoping I can make it happen in mid September if Delta doesn't shut things down again. 

 

Perhaps you didn't make out as well as you did on the Quebec trip, but I'd say you didn't do too badly.  Those look like trilobite genera you don't see so commonly further south, or up in the Verulam/Lindsey at least.  Those two crinoids (a Carabocrinus and maybe an Archeocrinus?) have potential.  Did you save that encrusting coral in one of the first photos?  It looks like a Protarea, which I have collected from the Cobourg (= Lindsey) but I've never seen it as low as the Gull River.

 

I guess after last year's trip the Thresherodiscus learned to hide when they see you coming.  Too bad!

 

I did not know that about Ontario roadcuts.  Is that true everywhere (Formosa Reef for example)?  I thought the province had a right-of-way alongside the roads.

 

Anyway looks like you had a fun trip.

 

Don

 

 

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On 8/2/2021 at 5:16 PM, FossilDAWG said:

I responded to this thread yesterday using my phone but I don't see that reply here now.  I've had that happen a few times lately.

 

Anyway you're making me nostalgic for the north country again.  I'm hoping I can make it happen in mid September if Delta doesn't shut things down again. 

 

Perhaps you didn't make out as well as you did on the Quebec trip, but I'd say you didn't do too badly.  Those look like trilobite genera you don't see so commonly further south, or up in the Verulam/Lindsey at least.  Those two crinoids (a Carabocrinus and maybe an Archeocrinus?) have potential.  Did you save that encrusting coral in one of the first photos?  It looks like a Protarea, which I have collected from the Cobourg (= Lindsey) but I've never seen it as low as the Gull River.

 

I guess after last year's trip the Thresherodiscus learned to hide when they see you coming.  Too bad!

 

I did not know that about Ontario roadcuts.  Is that true everywhere (Formosa Reef for example)?  I thought the province had a right-of-way alongside the roads.

 

Anyway looks like you had a fun trip.

 

Don

 

 

If you're up for the drive and expectations are scaled, very much worth the trip for the scenery and some fossils. I can patch you into the locations with advance warning. As you know, I'm trilobitocentric, so I judge the success of a trip on that basis. :D Indeed, the trilobites (fragmentary as they come) are somewhat unique to the strata compared to Lake Simcoe, which makes them a bit more scientifically significant. The crinoids are neat, but not my focus. :P I did save the coral and most of the pictured specimens that will be in a labeled flat in storage, in the event that someone may need me to donate them for research. I also have more of the bryozoan Constellariai than you can shake a stick at.

 

Yeah, the Threshers were hiding, as well as the Dolichoharpes! Still, a full Ceraurus from that area is the most complete specimen found in the last two years. The literature does not record complete trilobites, but fragments, so that was a win. 

 

In terms of Ontario road cuts, I can only speak for this area. It is even more tantamount to seek permission these days given that much of the lands are First Nations territory, it is just proper form to inquire for permission. But, technically up there, it is private property. The guiding rule is "the farther north you go, the more you need to seek permission." Many were the road cut I couldn't access because someone wasn't home.

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That Ceraurus is gorgeous! :wub: 

Great trip report Kane, looks like it was a memorable excursion even if you didn't come back with another Dolichoharpe :P

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JUAN EMMANUEL

Nice trip and finds! 

If only I had a car to go anywhere to fossil hunt, as Im an urbanite who obsessively uses public transportation to get to anywhere. 

 

Those Precambrian rocks you came across- are any of them sandstones/sedimentary or are they all igneous or metamorphic? I have heard of ichnofossils and stromatolites being found in the Precambrian of Ontario.

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7 hours ago, JUAN EMMANUEL said:

Nice trip and finds! 

If only I had a car to go anywhere to fossil hunt, as Im an urbanite who obsessively uses public transportation to get to anywhere. 

 

Those Precambrian rocks you came across- are any of them sandstones/sedimentary or are they all igneous or metamorphic? I have heard of ichnofossils and stromatolites being found in the Precambrian of Ontario.

 I share your car-less predicament so do depend on the wheels of others. Sometimes it is a blend of taking the train to meet with a collector with a vehicle en route. But I adore the train, so it's not that bad. 

 

All the Huronian rocks appear to be non-sedimentary, so no Precambrian goodies that I know about. That being said, they can still be quite aesthetic with their folds, banding, and thrusts. :) 

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