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Early Carboniferous, Canadian Rockies


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A nice Spring day and a return one of my favourite areas.  Headed out to the Eastern slopes west of Calgary.   Begins with a 45 minute bicycle ride along Canyon Creek. Then the physically hard part...an hour or so climbing through the forested lower slopes to get above the tree line. Then another 4 hours diligently scrambling around  exploring the area (yellow circle on photo).  Although the yellow circle looks small its the size of a couple soccer pitches. Fossils are from under the cliffs. Cliffs have fossil layers but too precarious to access.

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Quite peaceful place to rest on upward climb. Lots of birdlife and other happenings. Pikas and chipmunks were both doing their own thing

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Breaking through at treeline. Some of those rocks are car size.

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The exposed rocks before the steep cliffs are Banff Formation. Earliest Carboniferous (Tournaisian).  There are distinct layers climbing across the boulders.  The first being tabulate and rugose colonial corals.  Genera are 'in sensus lato'...Syringopora and Stelechophylum.

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Next layer are crinoids. Lots of stems, loose segments in the ground and calyxes in the matrix. I rarely find a loose calyx.  First photo Calyx on one piece, stem on another. Another with a calyx impression. 

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Every so often shark teeth in matrix. A variety of genera.  These haven't been studied. Some rocks also have scales like these. Shark teeth are hard to photograph in the sun.

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A layer that contained  lots of bryozoa and blastoids in matrix. Some loose blastoids of various genera. Not studied but tentatively assigned to 'Schizoblastus', ' Deltoblastus' and a few others.

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There's about  80 varieties of brachiopods...they correspond to the layers. Quite a variety of genera. Loose brachs aren't rare but difficult to spot in the rubble....especially when I'm clinging on with all fours to gain traction on the slope. 

 

 

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View to the northeast. A falcon landed on the tree a couple times. Likely a migrating Peregrine. It took off every time I tried to take a photo.

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Across to the east. The same sedimentary layers ( middle of mountain) .  I once trekked up that side but took me half a day...I was also younger. Similar fauna found.

 

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There is a layer of strange branching squigglies.  Not bryozoa or graptolites. I just call them Squiggles.  Another rock of enigmatic 'spiders'.

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Typical 'hash plate' at upper level before cliff. Contains a variety of stuff from trilobites to brachs, bryozoa, crinoids, etc...but never shark teeth at this layer. Now and then a gastropod but they are rare.

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At the base of some daunting cliff layers.  Looks like the top but still a long ways up above these cliffs. Above the cliff are rock layers from the Livingston Formation ( Visean age)

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Must be lots of good stuff up there. Lots more layers but...yikes...

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Only a  thousand meter drop over the ledge. Ledge is bigger than it looks but still gives me the heebie-jeebies when out there.  Carboniferous mountains in the distance. Beyond that  set of mountains one gets into Cambrian formations ( Burgess Shale).

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BadlandTraveller

Great post thanks for sharing.

 

I love the level of detail, looks fun. 

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Time to head down. Yay! All down hill and same with bike ride returning to vehicle.  Soon back in the city and watching the hockey game.

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24 minutes ago, BadlandTraveller said:

Great post thanks for sharing.

 

I love the level of detail, looks fun. 

 

This is along Canyon Creek.  If you live in Calgary same mountain as the ice caves...you can see the caves to the left in the first photo. Photo across at same layer is of Moose Mountain. I think the snow capped mountain in the distance in the second last photo is Tombstone along the Elbow River loop.

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Looks like a great place to hunt with many interesting fossils!

Thanks for the virtual tour!!

Tony

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Looks like some good workout collecting.  Its got to feel good getting back to the car on those days.  Some of those hash plates are just full of stuff.  Always like crinoid finds as well.  Beautiful place to collect.

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Great report and pics! Some really nice specimens and I love the hash plates!

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There must be a couple million hash plates to look at in that yellow circle area. However, between the physical exertion, trying to keep my balance, and the lighting...just not possible to concentrate for long and focus the brain on minute details.    Back home I often wonder what 'Wow' specimens I unknowingly passed  by when out fossil hunting.  I recall Phil Currie ( A theropod dino expert) telling how he found his best specimen when he dropped his camera and it rolled down a hoodoo and landed next to the jaw...a place he had previously walked by many times.

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Thanks for the great report and photos! I appreciate the effort you put in to sharing the experience.

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Wrangellian

A fossil hunter's paradise. Interesting stuff! What could those starlike things be?

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