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I_gotta_rock

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We made a couple trips to Beltzville State Park in PA this past week. We had heard about brachiopods on the lake's beach from Robert Beard's Rockhounding Pennsylvania and New Jersey guide. The park is the site of dam and an artificial lake build by the Army Corps of Engineers with a stony bottom. A small, sandy beach sits along part of the lake with rocks get scattered from water action. The rest of the lake shore is red, orange, brown and gray mississippian sedimentary rock. I wasn't expecting much as it is a well-known spot in a state park that permits collecting and even provides ID sheets. Figured it would be pretty well picked-over. But, we went to investigate. You never know until you look, right?

 

The first time out was a short, spur-of-the-moment trip with my husband to poke around while we waited for something we were planning to do later in the day. We walked over to the beach and found our first crinoid in about 5 minutes. Another hour of poking around revealed crinoid stems, brachiopods, bryozoans, corals, and bits of trilobites scattered along the shore for easy pickings. The water was crystal clear as deep as I dared wade in the sundress I'd worn for the planned, cleaner agenda for the day. I picked up a couple lying at my feet in the warm, still water. I decided then and there that it would be great fun to go snorkeling for fossils here.

 

A week later, over Labor Day weekend, we returned with the kids. We walked as far towards the dam as the beach would allow, and discovered the real spot for fossil finds. Probably one pebble in four had something in it. Not all of it was worth taking home, but there was plenty to examine.

 

My first glance down at the pebbles at land's end, I spotted a beautiful brachiopod. I picked it up and tossed it carefully to my daughter, parked a couple feet away and already holding a fistful. She caught it, admired it and tossed it back. I fumbled it, dropped it on the beach and lost it forever. Doh! So, if you see a lovely, round brachiopod on Beltzville's shore, think of me!

 

There was more where that came from though, and we looked for a couple hours. When my daughter had had enough, I donned my swim suit and snorkel mask and went exploring in the area less traveled: under water! I only swam at a depth of arm's length. The boats and jet skis in the center of the lake that day stirred the water so that any deeper it was impossible to see the bottom. At this depth I could see the texture of the muck-coated rocks. The undersides of the rocks were clean, so turning the stones over carefully made for even better viewing. I turned up a pair of trilobites in only a few minutes! Unfortunately, that was about the only thing I found that way worth taking home. But, the fish were fun to watch. I expect that on a quieter day, when when the water is clearer, I may have better luck.

 

All told, we brought home some nice shell impressions, crinoids, colony and solitary corals, bryozoans, and a couple that I did not recognize and were not on the sheet. The adventure will have to continue on the  the ID forum. For now, though, here are a few scenes from the week:

 

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Edited by I_gotta_rock

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Darktooth

Great trip report and pics! Thanks for sharing!

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doushantuo

Great report.Let there be more!

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