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FossilForKids

Bay Area Locations

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FossilForKids

I plan on placing in this section of the forum fairly detailed information of sites throughout california. This first section will be entitled "The Bay Area". This will be updated as I discover more sites.

1. Pleasanton/Sunol: Just southwest of Pleasanton California is a great little fossil site for kids and beginners. It is loaded with Clams, pectin and gastropods. Some nice display pieces can be carved out.

Location: Take the Sunol Road exit of of 680 West from Pleasanton. Bear right off the exit and go 1.2 miles to a parking area next to a very obvious railroad cut out. The entire wall is composed of fossilize shells. Be careful because it is a cliff face and occasionally the RR tracks can have traffic.

Access = ***** (out of five)

Prevalence of fossils = *****

Kid Friendly = ****(careful with little used RR tracks)

Tools = Hammer and spike

Hazards = Falling rock, trains, car traffic

Photos:

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Edited by FossilForKids

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FossilForKids

The Pursima (sp) formation at Capitola is a great place for collectors of bivalves, Gastropods, Sand dollars, whale material, crabs, and the occasional shark tooth. The added benefit of being located in a very quaint and enjoyable seaside village is a big plus. Located just a few miles south of Santa Cruz this is an easy location to find. You take the Bay exit off of highway one and stay on it until you literally run into the beach. There is public parking about a 1/2 mile from the beach that is very self-evident and very recommended. Once you have arrived at the beach as you look out tyoward the bay in front of you walk to your left toward the obvious cliffs. ** There will be a sign that says do not go beyond thios point wich is highly disregarded by everyone. Check the tidal charts first and only go during Low tide. You don't want to be caught against the tide. Also do not dig directly into the cliffs not only is this illegal it is dangerous do to frequent "cliff erosion". However almost every rock and chunk of "cliff fall" is loaded with fossils. There is no need to dig into the cliffs. Large and beautiful shells, casts and molds become very eveident quickly. Also check the large rocks on the beach and you'll find complete whale skulls and other skeleton parts. Leave them alon!. They are too big and solid to even try to remove plus they are a part of the charm on the beach.

Access: **** very easy to find but remember it is a national seashore. Also it is limited by the tides

Prevalence of fossils: *****

Kid Friendly: **** It's a beach full of fun and some potential danger from falling debris, tides etc...

Hazards: Tides, cliff erosian, falling off of rocks

Photos:

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Edited by FossilForKids

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FossilForKids

The Bean Creek Sand Dollar Locality has been putting smiles on kids and adults for many years. The in the Santa Margarita formation and the flavor of choice is.....Sand Dollars.......and lots of them. You can also find the occasiona shark tooth as well. It's also possible to carve out small "mortality plates" They are very easily obtainable which is why this is such a great place for beginners......instant gratification! You can reach this location by traveling to Scotts Valley which is located off highway 17 roughly half way between Santa Cruz and San Jose. Take the Mount Hermon exit to Mount Hermon road. Take the first light right onto Scott's Valley. Then take the first light left onto Bean Creek Road. I don't know the exact milage but it's about a mile or two down Bean Creek road to a very obvious large, sandy, road cut that has a good size turnout acroos from it that allows for plenty of parking. Just start sifty through the sand or walk up to the center wall and start plucking them out.

Access: *****

Prevalence of fossils: ***** (They are everywhere!)

Kid Friendly: **** It is easy digging but you must always be careful at a site with elevation.

Hazards: Near a moderately traveled road and always a fall risk working higher up on the wall.

Photos:

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Rhinofly

Thanks for posting this. I have been to the Sunol spot a few times and found lots of clams in the main rail cutout but they are very fragile. I am going to try preparing a carefuly removed slab to see how they come out. I also found many many fragments of shells in the harder rock...but not much intact.

This link shows a sand dollar found there. http://www.gtlsys.com/FossilForum/Archive/messages/440.html Did you see any sand dollars at that location? I did not.

Edited by Rhinofly

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FossilForKids

Thanks for posting this. I have been to the Sunol spot a few times and found lots of clams in the main rail cutout but they are very fragile. I am going to try preparing a carefuly removed slab to see how they come out. I also found many many fragments of shells in the harder rock...but not much intact.

This link shows a sand dollar found there. http://www.gtlsys.com/FossilForum/Archive/messages/440.html Did you see any sand dollars at that location? I did not.

There are definitely Sand dollars there. They tend to be small and eroded. The Scotts valley site is the best place for sand dollars.

Good Luck,

FFK

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jsw

Thank you for posting these sites. I've been to both the Bean Creek Rd. site and Capitola beach, but I'll have to try the other one. I'm going to be down there this week and next week and definately plan on getting some collecting in. If you wouldn't mind, do you know of anymore sites near Scott's Valley?

- Josh

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nickkcin11

I'm gonna have to try these locations when I head to San Fran at the end of the month. Nice post. If Im not mistaken eventually this will cover all of California?

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RockyJr

WARNING - this awesome spot is the private property of the railroad company. Three trains went by in our first 45 minutes there, even on Saturday of Labor Day Weekend - not exactly occasionally... The third train, (just the engine), came to tell us the police were on the way and to leave immediately. Pretty scary for a 9 year old!

But that won't stop us from checking out the other sites here! There WERE lots of great shell fossils here. My 9 year old found your great website yesterday and we immediately left for Pleasanton :). Thanks for posting this for us all!

-Rocky Jr's mom

1. Pleasanton/Sunol:

Location: Take the Sunol Road exit of of 680 West from Pleasanton. Bear right off the exit and go 1.2 miles to a parking area next to a very obvious railroad cut out. The entire wall is composed of fossilize shells. Be careful because it is a cliff face and occasionally the RR tracks can have traffic.

[end quote]

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MOROPUS

Looks pretty neat`places, full of shell material!

I would like to know the age of the sand dollar site, looks interesting!

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FossilForKids

WARNING - this awesome spot is the private property of the railroad company. Three trains went by in our first 45 minutes there, even on Saturday of Labor Day Weekend - not exactly occasionally... The third train, (just the engine), came to tell us the police were on the way and to leave immediately. Pretty scary for a 9 year old!

But that won't stop us from checking out the other sites here! There WERE lots of great shell fossils here. My 9 year old found your great website yesterday and we immediately left for Pleasanton :). Thanks for posting this for us all!

-Rocky Jr's mom

1. Pleasanton/Sunol:

Location: Take the Sunol Road exit of of 680 West from Pleasanton. Bear right off the exit and go 1.2 miles to a parking area next to a very obvious railroad cut out. The entire wall is composed of fossilize shells. Be careful because it is a cliff face and occasionally the RR tracks can have traffic.

[end quote]

I've collected there over a dozen time and seen one train. I have also seen vans from a local college there. I guess timing is everything but this is the first time I have heard of any problem collecting there. I'm sorry that you had to go through that. With as many people that have collected there it's interesting that there are no keep out or warning signs.

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FossilForKids

Looks pretty neat`places, full of shell material!

I would like to know the age of the sand dollar site, looks interesting!

About 3-6 million years old

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siteseer

John,

I collected there in April (didn't see or hear a train) with a friend who started going there as a kid with a club maybe thirty years ago and he didn't say anything about a problem of any kind with the site. He wouldn't have suggested it if he knew it was trespassing. I'll let him know.

You're right. There are no signs and I wandered some distance in both directions just to look around.

I've collected there over a dozen time and seen one train. I have also seen vans from a local college there. I guess timing is everything but this is the first time I have heard of any problem collecting there. I'm sorry that you had to go through that. With as many people that have collected there it's interesting that there are no keep out or warning signs.

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FossilForKids

John,

I collected there in April (didn't see or hear a train) with a friend who started going there as a kid with a club maybe thirty years ago and he didn't say anything about a problem of any kind with the site. He wouldn't have suggested it if he knew it was trespassing. I'll let him know.

You're right. There are no signs and I wandered some distance in both directions just to look around.

Thanks Jess

I Plan on walking that creek that is parallel to those track to see if there is any younger stuff there.

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Shellseeker

I never realized I was so close. I am sitting in the Hilton 2 miles from Sunol Road. I will check out the hill, tracks, stream sometime this week. But I did not bring the right clothes or equiptment

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FossilForKids

I never realized I was so close. I am sitting in the Hilton 2 miles from Sunol Road. I will check out the hill, tracks, stream sometime this week. But I did not bring the right clothes or equiptment

I have tools. I can meet you there either this Thursday around 5:15 or sometime this weekend.

Just let me know.

Thanks,

John

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Shellseeker

I have tools. I can meet you there either this Thursday around 5:15 or sometime this weekend. Just let me know. Thanks,

John

John,

5:15 on Thursday -- I do have a pair of jeans..

Location: Take the Sunol Road exit of of 680 West from Pleasanton. Bear right off the exit and go 1.2 miles to a parking area next to a very obvious railroad cut out.

Is this a good place to meet? Jack

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FossilForKids

John,

5:15 on Thursday -- I do have a pair of jeans..

Location: Take the Sunol Road exit of of 680 West from Pleasanton. Bear right off the exit and go 1.2 miles to a parking area next to a very obvious railroad cut out.

Is this a good place to meet? Jack

That will work. I'll PM my cell phone # and see you tomorrow at 5:15.

John

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curiousfinds

Right now, anywhere on the coastline...It is eroding at a rapid rate and ancient items are falling out.

PLEASE - don't 'help' the coastline erode any faster by chiseling stuff out. Take pictures and watch for the proper time.

And, please - wherever you go, try to make an 'exercise habit' of picking up the garbage you see and can reach, (t.p. and napkins I avoid...)

For as much trash as idiots leave, picking it up is exercise).

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aaroncbailey

I was hunting at this place after finding it on this website.

A cop pulled over and asked us what we were doing...I said "Just Fossil Hunting" and he said "oh ok" and left.

From that standpoint it doesn't seem illegal.

A quick question though. A lot of the material is soft sand stone, how should i prepare these fossils for display?

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bugsydog

Hi everyone, just found this awesome site....question, back in the 70s i went to 6th grade camp in the santa cruz hill, and remember there was a creek running through the camp that was full of different types of shell fossils. Does anybody know of this location? its been bugging me since i found this site....ill keep racking my brain and try and remember where its at i hope...

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caliwebman

Good stuff here. Can someone share with me the exact elevation at which you are finding the sand stone based "crumbly" fossils? It would be much appreciated.

-s

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paleoRicklis

I have tried Capitola, and it is a nice place ful of clams. Come in the morning, like 7, I think it is the best time. The ocean is beautiful and the seals will be swiming in front of your eyes. Don't ecxpect much fossils though, rather then clams. Sand dollars and sharkteeth will be very rare, I didn't find any, though you WILL see rocks withh whale bones. I saw one with what we think is a squid, pretty big. Be sure not to come too late, because they tide will beat ypu, morning is best. Even though there will be obvious cliffs on the right, follow the directions and defenetliy go LEFT. You will not find as many fossils if you go right. Also, the fossilized sand dollar localition is CLOSED and built on don't bother...

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tsuoying

FYI the Bean Creek site seems to be offlimits now, there's a sign not to trespass :(. We did still find a few sand dollars right in the turnout/parking area so that was exciting for my 4 yr old!

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Boesse

Paleoricklis: the tides change every day by 40-60 minutes, so what may have been low tide in the morning one day would be high tide by the end of the week. Follow tide tables! I personally use this webpage: www.saltwatertides.com/dynamic.dir/californiasites.html

Otherwise, the sand dollar site is the Santa Margarita Sandstone and thus a bit older and about 9-12 Ma (probably closer to 9); the Purisima Formation is 6.9-2.5 Ma in age, and the Santa Cruz Mudstone (the unit deposited above the Santa Margarita and below the Purisima) is about 7-9 Ma.

For those who haven't been here long, I'm a marine vertebrate paleontologist who has done a fair amount of fieldwork and research on marine mammal fossils from many of these localities and elsewhere in California and Oregon (although I'm currently doing my Ph.D. in New Zealand). If you find something you think is important, I'd love to see it!

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califossilhunter

I don't want anyone to drive all the way to Bean Creek by Scotts Valley and have to go elsewhere. Unfortunately, the collecting area has been closed off. See this FossilForum post. :(

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