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East Central Illinois Spoil Pile

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Over the last year I have made a few trips to explore an abandoned, partially reclaimed spoil pile in East Central Illinois. Coal was mined from underground at this site until the 1940s, and it was largely graded and replanted in the early 2000s. However, a ridge adjacent to the main pile still exposes the overburden from the mine, including the fossiliferous Pennsylvanian Energy Shale. 

 

Although not anywhere near as productive as Mazon Creek or the Fowler Park site in Indiana, I have found a small variety of plant fossils at this site. This weekend I made a quick trip to see what had been exposed by weathering over the past few months.

 

The first picture shows the main spoil pile in the background with exposures on the ridge in the foreground. The sparse vegetation on the right is the result of a coal fire still burning in places inside the smaller pile- you can feel the heat close to the ground and see smoke rising in the winter, which means caution is required.

 

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On this trip I found a handful of nodules, including a few already split. The first open one is a small fern pinnule, while the second is my first Lycopodites or Lepidodendron branch tip.

 

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Finally, I also found a few interesting things I left at the site, including a large section of fossilized wood and this large metal hook, a remnant of the mine.

 

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When I get a chance, I will add some pictures of fossils I have found on earlier trips to this site, too.

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Nice finds!  I hit Mazonia South Unit today and grabbed me a whole bunch of nodules.  Good stuff!

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Nice location find. Its fun when you find your own little place to hunt.

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Thanks for the report and pictures - looks like a wonderful place to look for fossils. :) 

Some nice finds already - hope to see more when the nodules split. 

Regards,

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On 7/16/2017 at 10:48 PM, CBOB said:

Nice finds!  I hit Mazonia South Unit today and grabbed me a whole bunch of nodules.  Good stuff!

 

Thanks! I'm hoping to hit the South Unit one more time in September once it's cooled down a little.

 

On 7/17/2017 at 3:02 AM, smt126 said:

Nice location find. Its fun when you find your own little place to hunt.

 

Thanks, the finds are definitely sparse ( and not preserved all that well compared to Mazon Creek), but having a place less than an hour away from home is great.

 

On 7/17/2017 at 6:34 AM, Fossildude19 said:

Thanks for the report and pictures - looks like a wonderful place to look for fossils. :) 

Some nice finds already - hope to see more when the nodules split. 

Regards,

 

 Thanks, me too!

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Here are a few finds from previous trips.

 

A small  selection of Pecopteris ferns.

 

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A very well preserved piece of inner bark- I couldn't find an exact match in the Mazon Creek guidebook, though.

 

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Finally, this section of Lepidodendron shows some eye-catching color.

 

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I have the nodules in the freezer right now, so we will see this weekend if anything has cracked yet!

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Those are lovely! :) 

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Very nice specimens.

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gorgeous. 

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