Jump to content

Fossil Hunting near Idaho


Recommended Posts

Hey everyone, 

 

I'll be in central Idaho (near Stanley) during the week of August 21 to see the eclipse, and it would be great to get some fossil-hunting in while I'm there.  Does anybody know any good spots within a day's drive of central Idaho?  I've read a little bit about Clarkia and the fossil bowl to the north.  Has anybody hunted there?  How was it?  

 

Thanks!  

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...

Just heard about Clarkia this weekend while on a volunteer fossil dig with the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH). Got to chatting with one of the other volunteers and he mentioned Clarkia. He said he had great fun finding interesting botanical fossils there and it is on our bucket list for the area now. We'll also be in Idaho for the eclipse and may try to add this fossil hunt to our itinerary as well.

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

Link to post
Share on other sites

I am not sure if Clarkia is available to collecting.  I also know that the preservation is so good that the leaves sometimes just dry up and blow away... so I am told.  

Link to post
Share on other sites

I only heard about this locality over the weekend and so I'm not sure if it is still accessible. The guy who mentioned it to me collected there but I'm not sure just how recently. I'll be in the general area in August and will be investigating if there is a place to hunt this formation before I head out there.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

Link to post
Share on other sites

Good to know that site is still viable. Will give it a go in August when I'm in Idaho to see the solar eclipse.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

Link to post
Share on other sites
On ‎2‎/‎13‎/‎2017 at 9:23 AM, digit said:

Just heard about Clarkia this weekend while on a volunteer fossil dig with the Florida Museum of Natural History (FLMNH). Got to chatting with one of the other volunteers and he mentioned Clarkia. He said he had great fun finding interesting botanical fossils there

 

Carkia, Idaho, is a world-famous paleobotanical and paleoentomological locality of Middle Miocene geologic age, about 15 million years old; fishes present, as well. Extraodinary organic preservations prevail there. Original pigmentations of leaves (dark greens, plus autumnal reds and browns, for example) and beetle eleytra (metallic greens, blues, purples, and black) can be observed in the still-wet finely laminated sediments where first exposed, though the glorious life-colors rapidly oxidize and eventually disappear.

 

More information here (pdf documents):

 

"Guidebook To the Clarkia Fossil Area of Northern Idaho"--Idaho Bureua of Mines and Geology Information Circular 33

 

Lake Clarkia Fossil Sites in: February 2010 SAGE NOTES A Publication of the Idaho Native Plant Society Vol. 32 (1)

 

 

 

 

 

 

  • I found this Informative 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I had heard about a site where the life colors could be ephemerally viewed before they turned black with oxidation. I may have seen this on a television show years ago but could not remember where it was. Glad to know that it is Clarkia as I may be in range to get there this August when I'm in Idaho to see the total solar eclipse (may have to bring along some Pink Floyd music to that event. :))

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 2 months later...
Allosaurus

Clarkia is a really great site to visit. It is full of a variety of plant fossils. To my knowledge, there are 4 outcrops around Clarkia, though all are privately owned. The Fossil Bowl is the most well known as it is a pay site and easy to access given that it is visible from the main road. I've had the chance of visiting the Fossil Bowl and another site as well; both produced roughly the same quantity of material, which is unsurprising as all the known outcrops are from the same region of the lake (southern portion). I did like the preservation of material a little better at the other site, though the Fossil Bowl still produces very nice specimens. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Are any other sites available to the average fossil hunter or is the Fossil Bowl the best option to those visiting from out of town? Also hope to go hunting for some star garnets nearby when I visit this August.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

Link to post
Share on other sites
Allosaurus

There is road right next to the Fossil Bowl that supposedly takes you up to a garnet collecting site. I tried to get up there last year and a tree had fallen over, so I don't know how far that one is. Traveling further past the Fossil Bowl a little ways there is a sign on your left (I think it says Emerald Creek, but I'm not sure). The sign talks about a garnet mine up that road; again though I haven't been to that one because I tried last year and it was closed until the end of May. But I've seen first hand some of the gorgeous garnets that have come out of the area and they are beautiful. I saw one purple one that was the size of the palm of your hand. Obviously that's pretty big and the smaller ones would certainly be more common, but they do come out of there now and again.

 

As far as the other sites being available, I'm actually not sure on that one. When I went up to the other one, it was with some of the geo club students at WSU. I think at least that one might so long as you talk to the landowner first. I'll have to ask around and see if he is okay with me giving out his name first though (via PM). As far as the others, I don't know who owns the land for those.

 

EDIT. To address what JP mentioned, the fossils collected are very fragile. The rock itself is heavily fractured and you will have to dig in some cases a fair distance to get under the heavily cracked material in order to pull out larger slabs of more complete specimens. The rock tends to be very wet, but because of the unique preservation of the leaves, they will dry exceedingly quick and can curl off the rock. I've watched them removed via HF before and preserved that way, but once they start to flake off there isn't much you can do. Thus, as you pull out slabs of rock, the moment you find something that you want to keep, you should wrap it up in newspaper and place inside (preferably) a ziploc bag (open, not closed) and safely secured in a sturdy box. You don't want to leave them out exposed throughout the day while you dig because you will likely come back to some damaged specimens, especially if it is warm that day. If it is a cool day (60 or under) you may be able to get by without immediately wrapping them so long as it's not super sunny, but better to not risk it. When you get home, you'll want to either place the box of fossils either in a very cool area or preferably in the refrigerator for several months to slow down the process of drying. Obviously you don't want the box closed off because the water can't evaporate away, but the idea is to slow the evap process as much as possible to protect the fossils. 

Edited by Allosaurus
  • I found this Informative 1
Link to post
Share on other sites

I've heard this about those Miocene leaf fossils and I'll be ready with newspaper (they still print news, don't they?) and a bunch of large zip-top bags. Planning on doing some rockhounding as well and may end up shipping back a box if reasonably successful. Leaves would end up hand carried back through the airports as I wouldn't trust those no matter how well packed. Picked up a rockhounding guide to Idaho and I'll be planning several stops while I'm out there (including the Emerald Creek fee dig site and a nearby free roadcut). The book looks to be useful for pre-planning a route through Idaho. We'll see how up to date it is once I'm boots on the ground in Idaho. We're flying into Spokane, WA where we'll cross over into the panhandle of ID and hit Fossil Bowl/Emerald first. Then we'll head south stopping at a few places along the way for collecting a (hopefully nice) variety of minerals and rocks for tumbling as well as stopping at a few places to pan for some gold. Most of the other fossil localities mentioned in the book seem to be near the border with Wyoming so we'll probably swing east and try to pick off a few of those localities before flying out of Boise to head home with half the state in our suitcases. :P

 

Here are links to the book I've got on Amazon where you can buy a copy:

https://www.amazon.com/Rockhounding-Idaho-Guide-States-Sites/dp/0762748125

 

On Google Maps where the 99 spots mentioned in the book are conveniently placed with a brief description so you can plan a visit:

https://www.google.com/maps/d/viewer?mid=1yS2FsEzCIFPU2_G1Pr5SH3oN9DY&hl=en_US&ll=45.5623470700002%2C-114.16501500000004&z=6

 

And a link to a slightly redacted copy of the book on Google Books:

https://books.google.com/books?id=qGNxo_9KwMQC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

 

Link to post
Share on other sites
Allosaurus

I've found the Falcon Guides to be pretty helpful. Last summer I used my Idaho book to look for fossils (kind of skipped the minerals sadly) and some of the sites seemed to be pretty worthwhile. A few of the fossil sites in the bottom southeast corner didn't really produce anything, so I don't know if I was just in the wrong location or if they had been picked over at the time. I don't have my notes with me, but from what I remember Paris Canyon was a decent roadcut that yielded some nice impression fossils. 

 

As an aside, if you have an extra day, you could swing up north from Spokane, go through Bonners Ferry, and cross into Montana around Troy. There is a proterozoic roadcut there that seems to always produce some really nice ripplemarks, mudcracks, and stromatolites. I'll see if I can find some pictures tonight to attach if you are interested.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sounds good. Always like to be prepared with as much information as possible when visiting an area. TFF is a great network for learning about new areas.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

Link to post
Share on other sites
Allosaurus

I didn't think I had some of the pics on my laptop, but apparently I did. I thought I took more photos of the rock surfaces, but that must have been from 2 summers ago. 

IMG_20160318_173821_511.jpg

IMG_20160318_180902_785.jpg

IMG_20160318_184435_517.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
Allosaurus

Just a few photos I took from the sites around Clarkia to give you an idea of what some of the plants look like. The first is a flower, still debated as to which genus it belongs to I believe. The large garnet in my hand was collected in a mine nearby. And the lithocarpa in the last picture is a leaf completely separated from the matrix via HF and placed between two protective sheets. I love that picture because you can clearly see all of the veins and structures within the leaf

12472764_617360405071724_1072143369721252249_n.jpg

IMG_20160507_123814_114.jpg

IMG_20170429_124659_858.jpg

IMG_20170429_134655_089.jpg

IMG_20170429_164254_330.jpg

Link to post
Share on other sites
Fossil-Hound

@Allosaurus I'm originally from Burley, ID and the family still lives there. Really looking forward to hitting these sites sometime. Really sweet pics.

Link to post
Share on other sites
  • 1 year later...
On 5/9/2017 at 7:29 PM, Allosaurus said:

As far as the other sites being available, I'm actually not sure on that one. When I went up to the other one, it was with some of the geo club students at WSU. I think at least that one might so long as you talk to the landowner first. I'll have to ask around and see if he is okay with me giving out his name first though (via PM). As far as the others, I don't know who owns the land for those.

I an driving there from Oregon on Sunday, I will be in the area about a week; Did you find out iof you can give the land owners info?

 

Thanks!
Nyla

Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.

×
×
  • Create New...