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Uncle Siphuncle

Site Prospecting 101

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PhacopsRana25

Great info Dan-

I'd like to add that BLM Surface Management maps can be somewhat helpful identifying whether you are on private, state or federal land. They are not all inclusive regarding information, as they are generally overlaid on 1:100,000 USGS topos (so the details are not there), but here in New Mexico they've helped friends in mild disputes (read that as no firearms involved)over land status.

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Cthulhu Darren

8. Once you've found some good sites and have taken what you need for your collection, do a few reciprocal guided trips with other collectors who have site knowledge different from your own. Practicing in this fashion I consider myself somewhat of a "site investor". I'm taking a guy out exploring this weekend to explore some high potential new echinoid sites. The next trip will be his turn to do the guiding.

Thank you! What I've found so far is that collectors have an insatiable appetite; NEVER sharing spots and hunting sites until depleted. This is just my experience so far, and mostly applies to Meg teeth. I'm in St Pete FL, btw.

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Rover

One thing I have found to find new site is google- use a keyword to your area with fossils- you will get many hits, some with locations. Google will also give you many scientific journal entries, usually not the whole thing however, you'll have to get it at your local univeristy library. These articles will often list collection locations.

Once you learn to recognize different stratigraphy, you can size up a site that you haven't been before fairly quickly.

The real key is looking, whever you are. I live in an area of loess on top of eocene clays, very unfossilferous. However, I walked to my neighbor's house this weekend for an estate auction (about .25miles), on the way back, I looked down in the road ditch, and found a 40 pound chunk of petrified wood. It could be from some cretaceous sandstone rip-rap brought in, but more likely from the eocene, as it does produce some petrified wood occasionally.

I never look up, might miss something.

Brent Ashcraft

Did something similar myself, actually - I saw my dog lying behind a tree in my back yard, went over to pet the dog, and saw a 5 pound chunk of petrified wood under the tree. Not quite the 40-pounder you found, but a nice find for South Carolina.

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jpc

I don't now if anyone is still reading this far down a thread, but here in Wyoming I ALWAYS ask landowner permission. I usually write the landowner a letter stating my intent, and what I hope to find there and that I am not selling, but just collecting, and that I will call them in a few weeks to follow up. This has worked fairly well and gotten me access to many areas for fossil fun. So many that the summer is too short out here, and my garage is full of retirement projects. These ranchers talk to each other and it is easy enough to build up a good reputetion if you deserve it. Or a bad one. At this point I am the only one that at least two of my landowners allow access to. That is a HUGE feather in my cap. One has dinosaurs, the other has endless Eocene outcrops. And yes, some landowners ask me for money (trespass fee). I used to balk at this, but now I have a job and am willing to pay. But then these are the sites I visit less often.

I must admit, though, that I think it helps that I actually live here. But asking permission is a must in my book. And it is the scariest part of this hobby. Like asking women out, the fear of rejection can be insurmountable. If you come out west, please ask permission, or you risk ruining it for everyone.

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Ludwigia

Hi Dan,

Great thread and very useful, not only for Newbies.

I'd like to emphasize one point which Siteseer has already touched upon, and that's making contact. Of course you can learn a lot through study and surfing, but it's all theory until you gather experience. And it's mostly helpful when you do your collecting with some colleagues who already have some experience. You learn much more quickly that way. Everybody has something to contribute and it's usually more fun (and safer for that matter) doing things together. Of course that doesn't mean you shouldn't also go off on your own. Sometimes a man needs his peace and quiet ;)

There's usually a club of some sort in the area which one can visit, and Forums like this are great for establishing personal contacts.

Best wishes, Roger

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frozen_turkey

THis is realy helpful but the refrences around here is so out of date and every thing is over grown so what should i do to make my fossil hunting trip tomorrow worth the time and money?

-Frozen

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Uncle Siphuncle

Look for current exposures in the area around the overgrown sites. Cross reference your old refs to geo maps and online satellite images. Unfortunately there aren't really any short cuts; there is a learning curve that goes along with all this. It gets a bit more efficient with experience however when scouting new areas I only hit paydirt about 25% of the time for various reasons outside of my control. Patient persistence and willingness to log miles and hours will put you on a collision course with quality fossils.

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frozen_turkey

Look for current exposures in the area around the overgrown sites. Cross reference your old refs to geo maps and online satellite images. Unfortunately there aren't really any short cuts; there is a learning curve that goes along with all this. It gets a bit more efficient with experience however when scouting new areas I only hit paydirt about 25% of the time for various reasons outside of my control. Patient persistence and willingness to log miles and hours will put you on a collision course with quality fossils.

Thanks for the repply. I sould be more experiance with looking for exposurs, but i have been searching a local quarry for the last 2 years that keeps on yelding cool stuff. So i had no reason to look, but now they have some fancy new rules about visiters. So Iam kicked out of that site.

-Frozen

Edited by frozen_turkey

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frozen_turkey

Hay guys i yesterday went on my trip today and i did my home work before i left and you wouldnt beleive what i found. I was driving around and stopping at exposures here and there, but i wasn't finding mutch until i looked in this one creek. And there i fond streight cephalopods, but just not a few HUNDREDS EVEN THOUSANDS OF THEM. I was steping on them and every thing there were that many. Then i found a road cut and there were even more it was realy eciting and that was basicly my first time going way out to look for fossils. And some of the c-pods were hollow and had these deep red crystals in them.

Also here is a basic etimated number of what i found at those two places.

c-pods: 500 (there were too many to collect them all)

gastropods: 12

corals: 1

alge: 1

trilos: 1

-Frozen

Edited by frozen_turkey

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Auspex

Hay guys i yesterday went on my trip today and i did my home work before i left-Frozen

Did you come up with a name for the formation?

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Uncle Siphuncle

Sweat equity has its rewards. I'm glad you got to experience the thrill of tracking down your own virgin sites. This is perhaps the biggest draw to the hobby for me. I'd like to see pics of your better finds.

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frozen_turkey

Sweat equity has its rewards. I'm glad you got to experience the thrill of tracking down your own virgin sites. This is perhaps the biggest draw to the hobby for me. I'd like to see pics of your better finds.

Ill post a thread for them once i have all the mud and clay washed off!!!!

Oh and it do have the name. Its called the Upper Ordovician Maquoketa formation, and do to some reaserch i did on the area the majority of the fossils I found seem to came from the Elin, clermont, and Fort Atkinson member.

-Frozen

PS But here is a preview (these are only half what i have these are only the clean ones.

post-2572-008398400 1279198683_thumb.jpgpost-2572-020323600 1279198717_thumb.jpgpost-2572-099411900 1279198755_thumb.jpg

Edited by frozen_turkey

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Auspex

Now we're talkin'; good job :)

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Uncle Siphuncle

Yeah, that's what I'm talkin' about....."to the motivated go the spoils'...

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frozen_turkey

Thanks

Im planing a trip back to the site to see if i cant find were the C-pods i found in the creek bed are eroding out of. Because they seem to be in better condition and are more stable then the ones dug out of the road cut. But the ones in the creek are not hollow and are lacking the deep red crystals that are found in the hollow ones that i dug out of the road cut. Unforinetly i need to sell some of the stuff i found to get money for the gas. So if anyone is interested.........

-Frozen

Edited by frozen_turkey

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PaulR

Very useful information for a beginner like myself. I work for a pipeline company and have had the pleasure of finding rocks and fossils along the way while "working". Now that I no longer work in the field, I have to find places to go. These tips will help alot. Thanks.

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Raistlin

I love to take drives and just see the sights so to speak. Now that my interest in fossils has been reignited due to my son, I am seeing a few things in a different light. In my driving I have see all sorts of bluffs, cuts, and somewhat eroded areas. Some of them might produce nothing but going and taking a look will certainly be something I will be doing soon.

One place in particular I have used as a background for photos of my car several time. Most of the areas I am thinking of are on county roads or in a creek just beside the county road. Taking a Saturday/Sunday drive with your family might help to plot out other areas as well.

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markm

John McPhee once wrote about the dangers of car travels with a driving geologist - nose forward, but eyes to the side, like some sort of Egyptian hieroglyph. We were driving dangerously long before texting became popular!

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jpc

John McPhee once wrote about the dangers of car travels with a driving geologist - nose forward, but eyes to the side, like some sort of Egyptian hieroglyph. We were driving dangerously long before texting became popular!

Birdwatchers are just as bad, and birdwatching paleontologists like me can be downright dangerous. (There were no birds or rocks to look at when I hit the curb in Bakersfield.)

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Majed86

Thank that was very helpful to me, and am so glad to find this website with variety of valued information. However, In your steps No. 2 and 3 where I can find such references and images?

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maiunicorn

Thanks for the post and the reading list! Everything we have found has been either at the apartment backway area or the construction area where we now live. I wondered/worried if we would get into heat for digging up fossils and could they be confiscated but, we search very early or before sundown and nobody seems to care. We instinctively know to stay clear of machinery and unoccupied homes. I couldn't stop looking anyway so I just don't worry about it. I'm sorry that New Jersey is like that - seems to me fossil hunting is a fun and intellectual pursuit and the State should be interested for educational purposes. As a young student I never understood the different periods but a fossil would have put it all into perspective. Hmm... I do remember going to a park called Leon Valley here in San Antonio TX and being told you cannot even remove a rock from the place. They had guys walking around w/broken off golf clubs "protecting" the place. What?? I was on the nature trail and encounter one or the protectors looking menacing/silly with his golf club and I just kept asking about the history of the place instead of bumping heads about his behavior. It worked. Turns out he knew much. He left me alone and I kept hiking everyday because my presence reminds him its a public park not his shrine. Still, be careful some real crazy folks that will act out nowdays. I've walked through neighborhoods where the folks let there dogs loose on you because you don't live there. Always carry a cell phone.

Will someone talk about removal of a fossil from the Earth? We ruined a specimen because we should have used water to soften the clay and wait but we didn't have any and we pried it out and broke the top bivalve and it was a beauty. Fossil hunters like to live and learn...that Rocks!

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maiunicorn

Yeah, my friend has made me do u-turns because she thought she saw something interesting fossil wise. Like a nut I do hoping it is. I bird watch and yes its more dangerous than texting. I saw a bird withextremely long tail feathers and almost my last I was drifting into another lane while trying to look to figure out what it was.lol

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Coco

Hi,

I would like to ask something... The title is "Site prospecting 101".

Dan, my friend, it isn't the first time when you indicate a number about your hunging places. Is it about a personal numbering of the sites which you visit, or of a relationship with a some listing ? It is just for my personal information, to understand better your conversations ;)

Coco

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Uncle Siphuncle

coco...the numbers relate to my personal site log

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squalicorax

Prospecting for sites can be a pain in the rump. 2 words of advice while searching for sites or trying to get quarry access. Do not feel bad when someone says no. It can hurt you a bit getting denied but just be honest and explain yourself and you might get lucky. Also don;t give up. I called 10 quarries this week and got no's from all but 1. Lucky to have a university graduate who helps operate the quarry to give us access. Be honest and ask questions to refer to other quarries and localities in the area.

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