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I_gotta_rock

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              The Delaware Valley Paleontological Society got a permit to explore the restricted area at Beltaville Dam in Lehighton, PA today. The spillway for the dam is immense! The 20-50ish foot walls of the spillway are covered with rubble in swaths of hard blue-black and red stone, soft colorful clay stone, and the occasional bit of tan sandstone. All are from the Upper Devonian Mahantango Formation.  The sun was shining, the air was warm and the wind was still. Perfect day for prospecting!

               Everybody spread out along the walls. There was more than ample room for everybody to claim a big spot to explore. I walked along the north wall until the smooth, flat stones started showing texture. I had expected to find very little in the harder material and lots of things in the colorful clay. That’s been my experience on the beach in the adjacent state park*, anyway. Quite the opposite! As soon as I found a promising spot in the hard matrix, I sat down and examined every rock. The trilobites were lurking watching me from all directions. I found eyes from at least 8 animals. Most I kept, just for the sake of counting. A couple I tossed because this was getting silly. One I gave to someone nearby, “So he can keep an eye out for you.” The best was this 2-inch Phacops sp. cephalon. I now officially claim to have the PA State Fossil. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to figure out if it’s P. rana, but the right genus is close enough for me. Such a cute little froggie face!

                              I found one tiny brachiopod or bivalve among the buggies that still had the whole shell intact, albeit a might smoothed during its time under water. It's not silicified. It's not pyritized. It's still CaCO3 after all these ages. I tested it. I showed it to our trip leader who said that there was coral preserved like this shell further down the wall. Nifty. There were also some very nice, red-stained bryozoa and hash plates. Unfortunately, the hash plates were mostly at the narrow ends of long rocks, arranged 90 degrees from the plane of the layers in the splitting stone. Most I admired and left behind. There are only so many big, mostly-featureless rocks I can store in the house.

               After a couple hours, I appeared to exhaust my trilobite supply. People had walked past me with some pretty horn corals molds, so I headed towards the clay to see if I could find any. No luck. There was plenty of colorful stone, buy almost nothing as far as fossils, so I kept picking my way across the wall where I could get footing. I kept getting higher and higher until eventually I needed all 4s to navigate in any direction and abandoned my collection bucket. Another quarter mile or so down the wall, I found a good spot to slid tom the spillway floor. And there they were. In a space covering maybe 5 horizontal feet of the wall were rocks littered with preserved coral bodies. Jackpot! I spent at least an hour at the top. I tried to slide down a little and slid all the way to the bottom, unable to climb back up the steep pile of flat pebbles. There was definitely more at the bottom, but the middle eluded me. While poking around for corals, I found a couple of ½” brachiopods with both sides intact and a preserved crinoid stem.

               I walked across the spillway and back up the other side but found nothing. I somehow totally missed that the rest of the group had left, with just Rick and Steve watching me from a distance. Typical for me to be the last one out.

I'll post a link in the comments to my Beltzville album when I finish sorting through my finds and photographing them.

 

*Yes, I know it is illegal to collect fossils in most states' parks. Pennsylvania is an exception. 

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It looks like you had great weather for a great hunt!  Congratulations on your finds!

 

By the way - I think Phacops rana has been changed to Eldredgeops rana.  That's a cute little roller that you found - I love the eyes on that little guy/gal! :wub::trilo:

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Tidgy's Dad

Lovely report and great finds.:)

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I_gotta_rock
4 hours ago, Monica said:

It looks like you had great weather for a great hunt!  Congratulations on your finds!

 

By the way - I think Phacops rana has been changed to Eldredgeops rana.  That's a cute little roller that you found - I love the eyes on that little guy/gal! :wub::trilo:

You are correct, but if you look up PA's state fossil it still uses the old name. It's ironic that we use taxonomy as a way for everyone to understand exactly what life form we are talking about, then constantly reassign them.

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exasperatus2002

Great finds! Do you have to have a permit to search all of Beltzville or only the dam area?

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I_gotta_rock
1 hour ago, exasperatus2002 said:

Great finds! Do you have to have a permit to search all of Beltzville or only the dam area?

Yes, however, there is a lot along the lake in the public areas, if you know where to look. They can give you directions at the park office.

 

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The Mahantango Formation is Middle Devonian- roughly equivalent to the Hamilton Group in New York.

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I_gotta_rock
1 hour ago, Jeffrey P said:

The Mahantango Formation is Middle Devonian- roughly equivalent to the Hamilton Group in New York.

Ah, well, according to the park's literature, this stuff is about 365 million years old, which would put it at the end of the Devonian, and is part of the Mahantango. The most recent GSA time scale says "Late" Devonian was about 385 to 355 mya.  The park may have got it wrong, or their literature may need updating. I defer to the Devonian Scholar.

 

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I_gotta_rock
21 hours ago, exasperatus2002 said:

Great finds! Do you have to have a permit to search all of Beltzville or only the dam area?

Sorry, misread your question. You only need a permit for the restricted area. The rest of the lake area is fair game.

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sTamprockcoin

Only a few PA state parks allow fossil/rock collecting! Most do not allow the removal of anything natural or historical. I know one guy who got fined for picking up a chunk of iron slag.  Of course picking up a small rock and sticking  it in your pocket can be gotten away with. Research ahead of time and talk to the Nature Center Ranger on duty. They can sometimes point you in the direction of nearby spots.

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I_gotta_rock
4 hours ago, sTamprockcoin said:

Only a few PA state parks allow fossil/rock collecting! Most do not allow the removal of anything natural or historical. I know one guy who got fined for picking up a chunk of iron slag.  Of course picking up a small rock and sticking  it in your pocket can be gotten away with. Research ahead of time and talk to the Nature Center Ranger on duty. They can sometimes point you in the direction of nearby spots.

This is handy for figuring out which ones allow collecting. Also lists nice places to just look.

https://www.amazon.com/Rockhounding-Pennsylvania-New-Jersey-States/dp/0762780932/ref=sr_1_fkmrnull_1?keywords=rockhounding+pennsylvania+and+new+jersey&qid=1555264279&s=gateway&sr=8-1-fkmrnull

 

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  • 3 months later...

Could you supply contact information on how to get permits for the spillway.  I have a group friends and their kids that would enjoy this location.

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I_gotta_rock
47 minutes ago, toddgetz said:

Could you supply contact information on how to get permits for the spillway.  I have a group friends and their kids that would enjoy this location.

Sorry, but I don't have any. I was not the trip organizer.

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Thanks.  If you get a chance to ask the trip organizer I would very much appreciate the assist.  Always trying to find interesting locations for father children days for my group of friends.

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I_gotta_rock
5 minutes ago, toddgetz said:

Thanks.  If you get a chance to ask the trip organizer I would very much appreciate the assist.  Always trying to find interesting locations for father children days for my group of friends.

I do know that you have to contact the Army Corps of Engineers office there to access the spillway. However, you do not need  permit to collect in the adjacent state park. In fact, the folks in the park office will be happy to hand you an ID sheet and point out the best spot to look. They have fossil programs with an interpreters occasionally, too, though I've never attended one.

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  • 1 year later...
LightWorker33

Found this trilobite specimen today along with this beautiful bryozoa specimen.

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I_gotta_rock

That bryozoan is fabulous!

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lovely trilo, are you going to prep more of it out?

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LightWorker33
On 5/23/2021 at 7:30 PM, I_gotta_rock said:

That bryozoan is fabulous!

Thank you! Been brushing it up I'll post the cleaned version when I finish.

On 5/23/2021 at 7:54 PM, Top Trilo said:

lovely trilo, are you going to prep more of it out?

Im trying but I seem to be doing more damage than good >.<

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