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Kane

Penn Dixie - April 27, 29, 30

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Kane

I had been looking forward to a multi-day, multi-site trip since even before the semester ended. There's nothing like breaking rock to relieve the stress of grading papers. Deb and I made the drive down to Penn Dixie to meet up with Jay (DevonianDigger), Malcolm, Greg, and James. As we arrived at the Peace Bridge at around 11 am, we were delayed by construction on the bridge, a long lineup at the border, and a less than courteous border guard. And then construction in Buffalo with all its confusing signage meant taking detours upon detours. But eventually we made it by a little after 12:20. 

 

As Malcom alluded to in another thread, hardly any of us thought to take any pictures on the Friday as we were just too busy breaking rock. Jay had the excavator on site to test out some new areas on the site where we could dig into some fresh material, leaving the material for the Dig with the Experts alone. The site is vastly changed since last season, and it looks like it will be a productive one for those who go.

 

I am still in the process of going through field finds, but I can at least for now share some pictures of the process and method when we crazy canucks come down to PD.

 

Deb has snapped a picture of us at work in the newly excavated area. From left to right: James, Greg, Jay, and me. Malcolm is represented on the far left by his dolly that carries his trademark rock saw.

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Kane

This is from the new pit looking toward the entrance.

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Kane

From our excavation area: a piece of Devonian plant matter that is about as good as they get at PD.

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Kane

A decently sized, but broken, Goniatite.

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Kane

The areas we were digging seemed a bit poor in trilobites. Although we were at the right Smokes Creek contact layer, they tend to pinch in and out like pulses. But here is a prone Eldredgeops rana with its impression, missing a few bits. I'll be gluing the two halves together and prepping it from the top. It should come out complete:

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Kane

After our DSR trip, plans to visit another site fell through. It was snowing on Sunday morning, but by the afternoon the sun was out so Deb and I went back to PD. These pictures give a sense of the new excavated areas. The first one was where some Bellacartwrightia were being found, but that lead dried up. I removed some slabs along the gully bank, but they were pretty thin on anything but trilo-bits.

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Kane

Deb and I returned to where our crew was working on Friday just to double check. Deb is standing in the hole. To her right is some overburden I would remove to get at some slabs. 

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Kane

We're not surface collectors, preferring to rip out slabs to get at fresh material that hasn't weathered out. People do find nice trilobites in the talus, but the better odds of finding complete or multi-plates in better preservation requires slabbing. 

 

There is a bit of art to doing this as the slabs are interlocking, and requires finding the keystone to unlock all the others. I usually get too much into that, just ripping out one right after another until I hit a tough patch, at which point it is time to split what is taken out. Pictured here is a typical keystone removal. The rock is a smaller slab at about 200 lbs and sloping inward. At times like these, it is important to expand the fissure and use the pry bar to maneuver it out. Once that is done, I flip it to check what is underneath. Sometimes you'll find an impression of a full trilobite that would be at the contact, at which point care is needed to remove any small domes that are under water. And then the splitting begins.

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Kane

This one was not all that productive, but at least this one came out. A bit damaged, but almost complete and will require some glue: 

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Kane

On Monday, we made one last trip for about 4 hours before having to leave and go back to Canada. I was incredibly sore from three days of slabbing and splitting, so we agreed to check out the newly excavated brach layers. Trilobites do appear in these, but are more fragile and more likely to come out as partials. Greenops are also more common in this layer. Here is a nice pygidium:

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Kane

The brach layers are just filled with... brachs (and crinoids stems, too). Typical hash:

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Kane

The weathered out brachs are incredibly abundant. You can probably pick out 20 a minute. 

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Kane

After 20 minutes, we were getting kind of bored picking brachs and decided to head back to one of the gully areas. As none of our crew on Friday were hitting paydirt for abundant trilobites, and none of my benchwork on the Sunday was coming up with much, our expectations were low. But - wouldn't you know it - on the last day when we had not much time left before having to make the trip home, we hit the sweet spot. Here's a nice prone that will prep out easy and beautiful:

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Kane

The new area we were exploring still had a lot of overburden, but the rocks were coming out easier. Yanking out one slab, check out this huge dome. It's tough to make out in this picture, but that is one big dome! Domes at PD are hit and miss: either they are filled with trilobites or you strike out hard.

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Kane

What was underneath the dome? I had to know. There were tell-tale signs in the nearby rocks to suggest that there might be a trilobite party nearby. Looks like assemblages are indeed possible at this one area. 

 

Sadly, we had to leave, but others who work that particular spot will be well rewarded, for sure!

 

More pictures to come later once I clean up the finds in the buckets.

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Malcolmt

Awesome post... wish I could have been with you on the extra days but had to check out a new site on Saturday. We had a good day on the Saturday as well but the site although having plentiful bathyrus trilobites appears to be in a very turbulent zone with only pygidiums and cephalons being found. Isotelus tails were also found. We did find graptolites, ostracods, cephalopods and other non trilo's. Site is worth checking out again but is unlikely to have a lot of complete trilos.

 

Here is a pic of the new locality we scoped out with permission from the owner.

 

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Kane
6 minutes ago, Malcolmt said:

Awesome post... wish I could have been with you on the extra days but had to check out a new site on Saturday. We had a good day on the Saturday as well but the site although having plentiful bathyrus trilobites appears to be in a very turbulent zone with only pygidiums and cephalons being found. Isotelus tails were also found. We did find graptolites, ostracods, cephalopods and other non trilo's. Site is worth checking out again but is unlikely to have a lot of complete trilos.

 

Here is a pic of the new locality we scoped out with permission from the owner.

 

 

Looks like a sweet site, even if only partials are being found (at the moment). 

 

The real heartbreaker is that the trilo-zone at PD was quite close to one area you were working later that day. :( 

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Malcolmt

Probably where I found the greenops at the end of the day

 

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Fruitbat

Great trip report!  I wish we had a place like that down here in Texas for finding nice 'bugs'!

 

-Joe

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Shamalama

Great report! Lots of hard work to get all those bugs out!

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belemniten

Great tour and awesome fossils ! I love these trilobites ! Wish I could find so many and such beautiful specimens :trilowalk::trilosurprise:

Thanks for all the pictures ! :dinothumb: 

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Tidgy's Dad

Terrific report and glad that you found some nice trilobites and other specimens. 

Those brachiopods are amazing! :)

The location pictures are great, i almost feel I know the site. 

Look forward to seeing the prep results. 

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Kane

Thanks everyone. :) More pics to come - Just out on my patio rinsing finds and waiting for the sun to creep over the fence.

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digit

Love the trip report--my arms and back are sore just from looking at the photos. ;)

 

Looking forward to seeing the prepped photos of some of the better finds.

 

 

Cheers.

 

-Ken

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Phevo

Great trip report and very nice finds ! 

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