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Kane

Two Ordovician Spots in Ontario

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Kane
18 hours ago, FranzBernhard said:

True, true, true!!! :D (I know, I know, I am repeating myself, but self-prospecting and self-discovering new sites is above everything :)).

 

I don´t know the extension of fossiliferous strata in southern Ontario, but in New York state they are extensive, covering at least the area of my country (> 86.000 km2). @Al Tahan (for New York) and @Kane (for Ontario), would you be able to make a guess how many fossil sites are documented in your area, how many are "forgotten" and how many are still to be discovered (natural outcrops). Soooo many nice creeks everywhere...

 

 

There is no doubt that you demonstrate dogged persistence in your area, and it really pays off given the staggering number of specimens you've been able to acquire!

 

I would say all of southern Ontario's strata is fossiliferous (with some minor exceptions, such as the Queenston Fm, which is largely blank). Fossil collecting in Ontario has about a 200 year history. The strata in southern Ontario moves youngest to oldest in an east by north-easterly direction, with the Devonian dominating the western side of the arch, a sliver of Silurian, and Ordovician in the east. Southern Ontario covers an expanse of about 140,000 sq. km. 

 

I've amassed a good number of now very dated geological bulletins and journal articles that indicate collecting areas. Back in the old days, quarry access was not as much of an issue as it is today. A lot of the prime productive spots of yesteryear now lie underneath shopping malls and housing developments, too. In my more immediate vicinity, outcrops are virtually nil as the creeks are geologically young and lazy, so don't cut deeply across a very flat expanse. In my city and surrounding area, you can expect up to 100 metres of glacial backwash before ever hoping to hit bedrock, so even construction sites don't seem to throw up much more than dirt and glacial erratics. The southwest is ideal agricultural land, but not so good for fossils with the exception of a few spots like in Arkona and Thedford areas. 

 

Serious collectors have been scouring the old journals for decades to visit named collecting spots, picking those clean. I would assume some of the more minor spots may have not been worth the effort 50-100 years ago when there were more abundant nearby outcrops. When those were collected to exhaustion, succumbed to encroaching development, or became legally protected as provincial parks, collectors had to fall back on locating those minor spots. 

 

I would say one big boom period in Ontario, and North America more broadly, would have been during the massive infrastructure building in the postwar period. Laying out the extensive highway network over the succeeding decades meant having to blast and cut through a lot of rock, allowing for new exposures and a need to dump the blast piles somewhere. Such large scale infrastructure and development projects certainly altered the landscape significantly, and it is difficult to imagine that we'll find ourselves in a similar situation in the future. 

 

In terms of "forgotten" spots, there may still be a few! I would probably say that they are less forgotten, and it is more likely the case that they were tapped out. That being said, some sites "bounce back" when left alone for a few decades as various processes of erosion reveal more. There are some small spots I've tapped out that I'm leaving alone for the next 5-10 years to "replenish." 

 

There are also the commercial collectors who make their living doing this, and so need to be resourceful in checking on leads and prospecting new areas. The new trend is for some of these operators to acquire leases on private property. Some of them are able to corner the market on strata that is not known to be exposed in accessible areas elsewhere. Sometimes this backfires when they flood the market with the strata's unique fauna rather than managing supply more effectively. Sometimes this results in even mercenary competition. The losers in that scenario are the ethical commercial collectors, casual collectors, and natural science professionals. But, as Ontario fossils don't seem to come up as often on the auction sites, this is not indicative of demand or quality, but issues of sourcing supply.

 

Quarries still remain the holy grail for collecting, but there are now just two in all of southern Ontario that allow very limited access. We used to have the run at many quarries, but all it takes is for one person to get injured by being reckless in not following safety procedures to ruin it for everyone. Some of these quarries are massive, million dollar a day operations and gain little to nothing by us being there, so that and issues of liability make it a tough sell to permit access. We are exceptionally lucky to have the arrangements we currently have, thanks to some kindness on the part of the quarries. One thing we don't have that NY has is a fossil park like Penn Dixie. Fortunately for me, it is only a three hour drive away. :D 

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FranzBernhard

Thank you very much, @Kane, for your exhaustive explanation of the situation in southern Ontario. It seems to be a little different than in my area. I was most surprised of that:

57 minutes ago, Kane said:

There are also the commercial collectors who make their living doing this, and so need to be resourceful in checking on leads and prospecting new areas. The new trend is for some of these operators to acquire leases on private property. Some of them are able to corner the market on strata that is not known to be exposed in accessible areas elsewhere. Sometimes this backfires when they flood the market with the strata's unique fauna rather than managing supply more effectively. Sometimes this results in even mercenary competition. The losers in that scenario are the ethical commercial collectors, casual collectors, and natural science professionals. But, as Ontario fossils don't seem to come up as often on the auction sites, this is not indicative of demand or quality, but issues of sourcing supply.

I did not expect any commercial fossil digging in your area.

I don´t know of any commercial fossil digger who makes his living from this work in Austria. But I may be uninformed! Before WW1, however, there was a rather active fossil business with Triassic ammonoids in the Salzkammergut (@andreas) and maybe with Trochactaeon in Gosau-Rußbach.

Thanks again!
Franz Bernhard

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JUAN EMMANUEL
On 2019-07-07 at 9:11 AM, Kane said:

I was able to fit in some prospecting for new sites while the missus had a week off from work. Obviously I couldn’t monopolize all the vacation as the main purpose was to visit a relative and lounge on a beach. Regularly accessible and productive Ordovician sites in Ontario are few and far between, mostly relegated these days to the biannual trip to the quarry in Bowmanville, or to the creeks around the greater Toronto area (GTA). 

Hey Kane, 

What are you thinking and planning with the spots around the GTA? Do you have any intentions of visiting the Georgian Bay Formation?

DM me and I might be able to help with you with some info. 

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Kane
15 hours ago, JUAN EMMANUEL said:

Hey Kane, 

What are you thinking and planning with the spots of around the GTA? Do you have any intentions of visiting the Georgian Bay Formation?

I don't frequent those areas as it seems mostly river-tumbled stuff and somewhat trilobite poor. I need areas that I can excavate seriously. Thanks for the offer, though! :) I'm sure we'll find an occasion to collect together at some point in the near future.

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FossilNerd
On 7/7/2019 at 9:15 AM, Kane said:

Apart from a lot of Isotelus fragments, some of which would have belonged to monster bugs 30 cm (~1 foot) long, there are also plenty of other neat things. I can't seem to resist pocketing gastro steinkerns and any free nautiloids and the occasional brach (like Rhynchotrema sp.). Here is an assortment: 

IMG_6126.JPG

Very nice Kane, but I’m surprised you picked these up! Are there trilobites hiding amongst those steinkerns? :headscratch: 

 

Only kidding. Looks like your hard work has paid off very well! Congrats! 

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Kane
53 minutes ago, FossilNerd said:

Very nice Kane, but I’m surprised you picked these up! Are there trilobites hiding amongst those steinkerns? :headscratch: 

 

Only kidding. Looks like your hard work has paid off very well! Congrats! 

I've had it happen before! Same formation, different location a few years back:

 

C4A04CC5-54FD-464B-8040-6B81B7A7AE35.jpeg

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FossilNerd
11 hours ago, Kane said:

I've had it happen before! Same formation, different location a few years back:

 

C4A04CC5-54FD-464B-8040-6B81B7A7AE35.jpeg

I knew it! :heartylaugh:

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Kane
2 hours ago, FossilNerd said:

I knew it! :heartylaugh:

Funny thing was, I didn't even know it was there initially, as it was almost completely covered in matrix. It was only about six months later that I saw what appeared to be some segments. A trip to the lab and the rest is history! :D 

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FossilDAWG
17 hours ago, Kane said:

I don't frequent those areas as it seems mostly river-tumbled stuff and somewhat trilobite poor. I need areas that I can excavate seriously. Thanks for the offer, though! :) I'm sure we'll find an occasion to collect together at some point in the near future.

It's true you won't find much opportunity to move mountains in the GTA rivers and creeks, but Juan Emmanual has posted some very nice not-river-tumbled trilobites and even crinoids in the past.  I think that might be your best chance to add self-collected Flexicalymene meeki or F. granulosa (not sure which one is present, maybe both), and there is always a chance at an Isotelus maximus.  Trilobites won't jump out and bite your toes for sure, but with Juan as a guide you'd have a better chance than just randomly hitting the creek on your own.

 

Don

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