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steve p.

Beaumont Formation Mud?

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steve p.

There is some mud visible on McFaddin Beach, near the water line, and submerged at high tide.

It's within a mile or two from the main access at High Island.

Is this mud known to be the famous Beaumont Formation mud, or is it probably the much more recent mud that overlays the Beaumont?

I recall some root remains in at least some of the mud, if that is important.

I read that the Beaumont formation is but 6ft deep, according to some trenching work. Not sure if the mud I see on the water line would be this mud...

Just trying to get a handle on what I see on this isolated stretch of coast.

Thanks in advance.

Steve.

Edited by steve p.

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steve p.

Don't worry about that.

There's a lot of mud down there and who knows what it really is.

I will say I realize now that much of Houston is underlain by the Beaumont.

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tracer

that is the beaumont formation, but it is MUCH thicker in some places than mentioned. it also is very much a feature of large amounts of coastline, because i've seen it well over into louisiana and way down the coast of texas. there are intermittent gaps in it and places where it's covered by recent sand, but it's lots of places.

i personally feel like many of the "fossils" people find along the beach aren't fossils. i think the much-less-commonly seen darker, more mineralized material from extinct species tends to only be brought in from offshore by big storms.

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MikeD

i personally feel like many of the "fossils" people find along the beach aren't fossils. i think the much-less-commonly seen darker, more mineralized material from extinct species tends to only be brought in from offshore by big storms.

I'm curious mr. t, because I have personally examined some of these "fossils" and have to wonder about their age also. I've seen "bison" bones that do not appear to be mineralized much, yet I've seen and held a mammoth leg bone from there that wasn't very mineralized either. Are some of these horse and bison only a few hundred or maybe a thousand years old? Washed in or out from storms or down river from floods?

Some people I know recently found many associated "bison" teeth and bones right in the clay. I haven't seen them yet, so I don't know about the preservation. Until I see them, I will have to question their origin.

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tracer

well, i have thought about this quite a bit. i have used detailed morphological information regarding the differences between cow and bison bones to examine stuff at the coast and feel much of it is more likely to be cow than bison. i have also noted that hurricanes strip all the sand off of the beaumont formation, and push large walls of water a long ways onto the coast and then haul everything back off the land. in the process, the upper layer of the beaumont gets substantially altered and mixed up. i would imagine hurricanes have been killing cattle and redepositing their remains for a few hundred years in some of these coastal areas.

when i first started contemplating these sorts of things i had originally thought that there was something about the density, acidity, or minerals present in the beaumont that was either leaching bones or at least preventing secondary mineralization. i'm still not sure that the concept doesn't have some validity as compared to the mineralization that occurs in more calcareous/siliceous strata to the west or more inland, but still, the fact remains that there are random small amounts of stuff that seems much denser and darker and older.

i *know* that fossils have been found which originate from the beaumont, but that doesn't mean that everything found on the upper surface of the beaumont is a fossil. i don't really feel like much of anything from the upper surface of it on shore is likely to be of fossil age.

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steve p.

Tracer, I think what you said makes sense. I wonder if you would consider Bison bones to be "fossils"?

According to an expert that I met tonight, the bones and teeth I collected at McFaddin are Bison. He assured me he could tell Cow from Bison, and that the bones were Pleistocene. He said the tooth I had was absolutely Bison.

If I accept they are Bison, then what you say about the age of the bones makes me wonder. I saw no good internet reference, but Bison were likely still on the Texas Gulf Coast as late as the 1800's. If their carcasses got somehow embedded (via hurricanes, etc) into the Beaumont, "then, there you go!"

Have a good night,

Steve.

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tracer

i defer to the most common definition of a fossil and therefore do not consider a modern bison's skeletal pieces to be fossils.

i got tired of trying to figure out whether bones were from a cow or a bison, so i asked a university paleontologist where to get good reference material to differentiate. i ended up with a book with very detailed drawings and descriptions of the minute morphological characteristics, which, taken as a whole, have been found to give a certain percentage bias in favor of a bone being from one species or the other. note that i said a percentage. what i mean is that, in many cases, the tiny identifying differences might say something like 18 out of 25 bison had this feature, and only 7 out of 25 cows did, so having the feature favors the bone maybe being from a bison. so when i find a bone, if the bone happens to be one that's complex enough in its morphology that it has eight or ten characteristics from the book that i can look at, and all of the characteristics end up pointing toward it probably being bison when i examine and compare them, then i figure it's a bison bone. otherwise i consider it cow or indeterminate.

ask people how they can tell when they tell you what something is. you'll learn more in the process and also it will help you figure out who's the most knowledgeable regarding a particular issue.

as far as teeth go, i have yet to find an expert who can tell me anything at all regarding how to reliably tell bison from cow teeth. i've therefore come to regard all bovid teeth as elsie suspects unless they are huge and worn and black and encased in solid sandstone wrapped in newspaper made from petrified wood and with advertisements for dart points printed on it.

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steve p.

Thanks for the info, and all the contributions you make to this forum!

Steve.

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tracer

p.s. - some places the mud is so bad off the beach that the water's chocolatey brown!

p.p.s. - this location is probably at least a hundred miles from where you're talking about :)

post-488-0-18084000-1309393022_thumb.jpg

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steve p.

I've seen mud on McFaddin that closely resembes that image.

Come to think of it, I see mud like that all the time. Houston mostly sits on it!

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MikeD

Interesting thoughts, tracer.

Steve, that gumbo mud is a whole different animal, which overlays a reddish clay, which you can sometimes see when they dig in northeast Ft. Bend county. I don't remember what is under that, although sometimes they hit gravel bars from the old Brazos river channels. The formations on the upper Texas Gulf coast generally tend to tilt down toward the Gulf.

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steve p.

Interesting thoughts, tracer.

Steve, that gumbo mud is a whole different animal, which overlays a reddish clay, which you can sometimes see when they dig in northeast Ft. Bend county. I don't remember what is under that, although sometimes they hit gravel bars from the old Brazos river channels. The formations on the upper Texas Gulf coast generally tend to tilt down toward the Gulf.

Mike,

I may be confused. When you say gumbo mud, are you referring to what I see on McFaddin, or in the Houston area? My maps show McFaddin and Houston to be both on the Beaumont. Also, agreed with younger sediments on GOM vs interior Texas.

My interest is to understand the soils and geology of my home area, with an interest in the few fossils that may exist.

I am also new at this, so I will defer to you, and gratefully accept your corrections as I lay out my interpretation of our area.

The GAT maps show Sugarland mostly as Quaternary Alluvium (Qal) that follows, not unsurprisingly, the Brazos River. The Qal there actually dissects the Beaumont (Qb). Both the Qal and Qb are described as clay, silt and sand. So, digging in Sugarland, one would pass through the customary river sand and gravels and clay/silt/sand, as one gets to the Beaumont again. Since the soils in both are very similar, knowing the transition would seem to be a problem. Of course, the alluvial deposits would seem to be prime places to look for Ice Age stuff.

post-2987-0-32734700-1309467664_thumb.png

My area (near Highway 6 and Clay Rd) is in the Lissie Formation (Ql), which is also described as clay, silt, and sand. I want to visit the map locations where the Qb and Ql transition, however I suspect that I will not be able to tell the difference, when I compare the actual soil samples. Unfortunately, little fossil stuff is noted.

Maybe if I took 290 northwest to around Cypress, and looked at the soils of the Willis Formation (Qw). The Willis is gravel, silt, sand and clay, with some petrified wood noted. So, I would think the Qw would be more coarse and sandlike compared to the very fine clays and silts of the Qb and maybe Ql also. I recall reading how professionals have been unable to differentiate some transitions looking at drilling core samples, which makes me feel better I guess.

I've also noted how the geologic diversity increases as one goes towards Austin. The GAT map for Houston (all Quaternary) shows appx 7 items in the map legend, whereas the Austin sheet (Quaternary to Tertiary to Cretaceous) shows over 30.

I am alert to any exposed "bed" in my area. Bear Creek has been channelized, and appears to be cutting through sediments possibly 25ft deep. I noticed a hard layer at the bottom, exposed in just a few places. I attempted to get a sample with my bare hands, but could not. I had to return with a rock hammer to easily get a sample, though it is wet. It appears to have a fair amount of sand and some clay. There are also gravel operations in my area. I would like to somehow visit them to see what is coming out of the ground at depth.

All this interest was spurred on by my rececently recieved Bur. of Economic Geology's Geological Atlas of Texas, including the Houston and Austin maps. I am very impressed with the maps, and how fast they arrived. I got the cd of the entire series (more than 20 maps), and hard copies of many for $6 each. Of course, they are available onlinein a Flash application, encumbered by those limitations. In the past, I did screen captures and pasted into jpg or png files but that got old. I wish my car's Garmin GPS would display the GAT maps.

Anyway, hope this info is not too far off, and that I did not bore everyone!!

Take it easy.

Steve.

Edited by steve p.

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Auspex

...Anyway, hope this info is not too far off, and that I did not bore everyone!!

I find this very interesting, not because I expect to ever put this specific geological information to use, but because I enjoy the process of teasing out and interpreting the secrets of the strata. :)

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tracer

sounds like you may have developed a true interest in the geology itself and if so it would seem good to get someone who really knows it to show you around and describe stuff to you as you're looking at it. ought to be someone from the geological society in your area who would be willing to do that.

the maps most definitely do not give the total picture, although they can get you into the right area sometimes.

the beaumont is not homogenous in its makeup. it does not look exactly the same in all locations or at all levels. and it definitely does not contain fossils everywhere it outcrops.

post-488-0-93633000-1309472498_thumb.jpg

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steve p.

I find this very interesting, not because I expect to ever put this specific geological information to use, but because I enjoy the process of teasing out and interpreting the secrets of the strata. :)

A person who can't spend the little time to learn about his home turf, seems kind of silly to spend vast amounts of time studying places he has to travel hours to get to. That's just me, anyway. Auspex, you and I may never have a professional need for this data, yet I think it is part of understanding our environment. Have a great day. Steve.

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steve p.

the maps most definitely do not give the total picture, although they can get you into the right area sometimes.

the beaumont is not homogenous in its makeup. it does not look exactly the same in all locations or at all levels. and it definitely does not contain fossils everywhere it outcrops.

post-488-0-93633000-1309472498_thumb.jpg

I know these GAT maps are not like treasure maps, but it must help to know where the formations are.... I hope.

As to how the Beaumont varies, I would hate to have to identify bags of soil as to formation, from different Quaternary, Beaumont, Lissie, and Willis formations. They are all essentially different combos of clay, silt, and sand. At least, that is what I read. I will test this soon. Steve.

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MikeD

Mike,

I may be confused. When you say gumbo mud, are you referring to what I see on McFaddin, or in the Houston area? My maps show McFaddin and Houston to be both on the Beaumont. Also, agreed with younger sediments on GOM vs interior Texas.

My interest is to understand the soils and geology of my home area, with an interest in the few fossils that may exist.

Sorry, I meant in the Houston area. I know some things about this area, but I am certainly no expert. I have a lot of the same questions as you about this area. There are some sandstone-ish outcrops in the Brazos River near the I-10 bridge. Someone once told me, but I can't remember what formation it is a member of. Seems like it was part of the Lissie.

The GAT maps just show the general surface geology. What is actually going on is sometimes mind boggling.

Edited by MikeD

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steve p.

Sorry, I meant in the Houston area. I know some things about this area, but I am certainly no expert. I have a lot of the same questions as you about this area. There are some sandstone-ish outcrops in the Brazos River near the I-10 bridge. Someone once told me, but I can't remember what formation it is a member of. Seems like it was part of the Lissie.

The GAT maps just show the general surface geology. What is actually going on is sometimes mind boggling.

Mike,

I've been to that place also and had the exact same question as to that formation. Does it seem like sandstone or limestone? The formation seems very hard, making me think it is limestone... I've picked up quite a bit of fossil wood among those chunks of sandstone/limestone.

I wish there were more accessible gravel bars there. I know there are some to the north, but they are protected by private property. I guess this is where a boat comes in...

Steve.

Edited by steve p.

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NT Master Naturalist

Hi, I study archaeology. I've not been to McFaddin beach yet, but want to badly. The site's been well studied by archaelogists and more Clovis material has been recovered from the beach and from any other site in the US. The presence of the Clovis artifacts which date to the Pleistocene should date the faunal remains. I've seen some of the fossil material from McFaddin and there are different degrees of fossilization. But I also volunteer at a museum and saw a skull of an extinct bison that was not really fossilized. I think the fossilzation depends on enviromental factors. During the last Ice Age, the shoreline extended further out into the Gulf. That ancient shore line is eroding and artifacts are washing up all the time on the Texas coast. I have a peccary tooth picked up on Quintana Beach. The lady with me was hunting shells and almost pitched it.

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tracer

the fact that clovis points have been found does not in any manner date any faunal material also found along the 26 miles of coastline between high island and sabine pass, unless a clovis point was lodged in a bone.

as far as the archaeological material goes, it is my sense that the primary reason the area is known for that is because of the intense interest and documentation diligence of a small number of very long-term visitors to that area.

a collaborative effort to document the material resulted in a two-volume work titled Spatial Data Analysis of Artifacts Redeposited by Coastal Erosion: A Case Study of McFaddin Beach, Texas. It was written by an archaeologist with the Department of the Interior and based at least in part on analysis of over a quarter century of collecting by five local people. it is a cool reference work to browse.

but the "good old days", in my mind are largely gone. between the scavengers out to make a buck and the resulting regulatory restrictions, you never know whose footprints you're looking at, but it's somebody who's ahead of you in the game.

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tracer

ok, wait a second. are those cow tracks around all those bison bones?! hmmmm....

post-488-0-92963000-1309555214_thumb.jpg

hey, um, ya'll - i'm thinking highway 87 could use some work...

post-488-0-75850900-1309555558_thumb.jpg

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steve p.

Hi, I study archaeology. I've not been to McFaddin beach yet, but want to badly. The site's been well studied by archaelogists and more Clovis material has been recovered from the beach and from any other site in the US. The presence of the Clovis artifacts which date to the Pleistocene should date the faunal remains. I've seen some of the fossil material from McFaddin and there are different degrees of fossilization. But I also volunteer at a museum and saw a skull of an extinct bison that was not really fossilized. I think the fossilzation depends on enviromental factors. During the last Ice Age, the shoreline extended further out into the Gulf. That ancient shore line is eroding and artifacts are washing up all the time on the Texas coast. I have a peccary tooth picked up on Quintana Beach. The lady with me was hunting shells and almost pitched it.

My advice to you is to wait until it is cooler, although dawn and dusk would be do-able. I park and walk the beach with a day pack, because the deep sand is just too treacherous for 2wd.

Beaumont "mud":

post-2987-0-88875900-1309571473_thumb.jpg

After many trips and many hours, I just have Bison teeth and bones to show for it.

For my interest, searching sand and gravel in the Texas rivers would be a better bet.

The nearest town, High Island, has the Gulfway Motel, which is spartan, but the help is friendly. They have a cafe that is open limited hours.

Good hunting.

Steve.

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steve p.

ok, wait a second. are those cow tracks around all those bison bones?! hmmmm....

Tracer, enough of pooh pooh-ing McFaddin. :D

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tracer

post-488-0-17710100-1309575211_thumb.jpg

bovids examining components of highway 87

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MikeD

Mike,

I've been to that place also and had the exact same question as to that formation. Does it seem like sandstone or limestone? The formation seems very hard, making me think it is limestone... I've picked up quite a bit of fossil wood among those chunks of sandstone/limestone.

I wish there were more accessible gravel bars there. I know there are some to the north, but they are protected by private property. I guess this is where a boat comes in...

Steve.

Seems like it was sandstone. Didn't pay much attention because I was looking for fossils. A watercraft is a must there.

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