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A trip to the Middle Jurassic Aalenian


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I mentioned in this thread that I would be taking my camera along the next time I go on a hunt to the Wutach Valley, and believe it or not, I actually remembered :), so I figured I might as well take you all along for the trip.

The goal is exposures of the murchisonae and bradfordensis zones in the middle Jurassic Aalenian layers, which are accessible on some forested hills in the viscinity. Prime finds are ammonites with some bivalves with some other fauna occasionally strewn amongst them. The first thing to do is to drive your car up a dirt road and then park it on a meadow with permission of the local farmer. Then you get your gear out of the car, head uphill over another meadow.....

 

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  ...and duck into the forest.

 

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If you happen to have your camera with you, then you start taking photos of the forest flora.

 

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Forest anemone

 

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Celandine


 

       

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There is a lot of rubble lying around which has rolled down from the top, mostly induced by collectors like myself, but some of them come down on their own due to weathering, so it's sometimes worth banging them open if the lithology looks right.

 

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But you still have to continue on up the hill if you want to reach your goal. There's the main exposure up there.

 

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I had already checked it out last week in the hopes that the winter had opened up some cracks which I could work with my crowbar, but it was mostly still as hard as steel. I did manage to loosen up a bit and make a few finds, but pretty soon it became obvious that there wasn't much to be done there this year without a backhoe. So I decided to mosey on a bit to the left in search of a new and productive exposure.

 

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The trick here is quite simple, but it involves quite a bit of work and especially a good portion of luck. You have to estimate where the fossiliferous horizons are and then start digging and scraping away the dirt and rubble to see if your guess was right. You can recognize the layers with a bit of experience, but there's no guarantee that there are any fossils in them at that point, since they aren't laid out in a perfect line all the way along, but tend to be gathered together in what used to be troughs on the former ocean floor. It's usually best to find spots where the exposure is well weathered so you can pull bits out for inspection with no great effort. It often takes a few digs before you strike paydirt, which was the case last week. Then the real work begins. Here's the exposure I had uncovered as I left it last week....got to open up another post to show it.

 

 

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The springtime is beautiful there (can you feel my jealousy through the screen? :P ). Love how the early spring flowers poke up through last year's leaf litter. :) It certainly looks like a lot of digging - and a bit of hit and miss at times, pending if the zone is thick or thin / full or blank. But I suppose that is part of the adventure, too - that lovely prospect of discovery. 

 

:popcorn:

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A beautiful place to hunt! Your spring is a bit further ahead than it is here in N. England. :)

 

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The fresh rock at the bottom is one of the so-called sinon banks of the murchisonae zone, named after the ammonite Costilioceras sinon, the indicator for these banks . The staufensis bank, a member of the bradfordensis zone, which also produces fossils more sporadically, lies a foot or two above it. As already mentioned, now the real work begins. First of all removing more rubble and checking out the larger blocks within. Sometimes a fossil appears after whacking the block, as here.

 

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Partials are also quite common, but you get used to that.

 

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But I did manage to find a gastropod, which is pretty rare for this horizon. Yippee!

 

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So now that I've removed some more rubble I can finally start with the hard work.

 

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Last week I was dealing mostly with easy to remove weathered stone, but this week is a bit tougher, although still possible. There are enough cracks which can still be opened up in order to excavate blocks. It is absolutely necessary to first remove the layers above the horizon you are trying to reach in order to be able to remove the fossils unscathed. Otherwise they can resist removal because of the weight from above and can then shatter into little bits. A good example is the following photo. I thought the ammonite was loose enough to be removed, but alas, it didn't budge in one piece and split into smithereens.

 

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So here's the final move at extricating a block of sinon bank after the overburden was removed. By the way, I've transformed my long handled estwing geologists hammer into a pure pick which can be driven in with a good club hammer. Works well for me in situations like this.

 

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49 minutes ago, Kane said:

The springtime is beautiful there (can you feel my jealousy through the screen? :P ). Love how the early spring flowers poke up through last year's leaf litter. :) It certainly looks like a lot of digging - and a bit of hit and miss at times, pending if the zone is thick or thin / full or blank. But I suppose that is part of the adventure, too - that lovely prospect of discovery. 

 

:popcorn:

You got it :)

 

38 minutes ago, TqB said:

A beautiful place to hunt! Your spring is a bit further ahead than it is here in N. England. :)

 

Don't worry. Spring will sprung there as well soon.

 

16 minutes ago, PFOOLEY said:

I love it when you take your camera!

Glad I remembered this time. More pics to follow.

 

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Well, as bad luck would have it, there wasn't much in there. One ammo worth keeping and small to boot. That's the luck of the game, isn't it? You'll never know until you've tried. A lot of people her make envious comments about how great it is to be able to find such nice ammonites, but I think you're starting to get an idea by now about how much effort you have to put into the endeavor. Sometimes it's sorta like making benches all day at Hungry Hollow and then coming away with half a Greenops.

 

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So what next? Still got a couple of hours of daylight. I scraped away a bit more debris to the left and noticed a good sized block right down into the sinon bank that looked like it could be easily pried out.

 

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The top part belongs to the staufensis bank and was pretty loose, so I got the bits out first and banged them apart, thereby finally finding a pocket of fossils. Hooray!

 

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One more from the pocket.

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Then I pried out the bottom block.

 

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 And broke up the two pieces which came out. They were really hard and iron rich, which was unusual for this horizon, but fortunately a few more ammonites popped out relatively unscathed.

 

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I'd been at it for about 5 hours and was starting to feel like it was time for supper, so I took one last shot of my finds...

 

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...packed up my gear, slid back down the hill to my car, changed my clothes, dropped into my favorite restaurant on the way for crepes with nutella and immediately jumped under the shower once I got back home.

Now I've got some prep work ahead of me with these finds, but it'll probably take a few days before I get down to it, since someone just brought me some commision work to do. Never a dull moment! :)

 

 

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Tidgy's Dad

Wonderful report! 

Great photos and quite exciting to read. 

Can't wait to see what you prep out of there. :)

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9 minutes ago, Tidgy's Dad said:

Wonderful report! 

Great photos and quite exciting to read. 

Can't wait to see what you prep out of there. :)

Thanks. Play by play is my style today. :) I can't wait either. Maybe I'll just get at least one done before the commision work...:ninja:

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Heteromorph

Great report! Thanks for taking us along with pictures. I have never been to Germany but hope to visit there one day. It looks lovely and full of fossils (both very good things).

 

I can’t wait to see them prepped either.:popcorn:

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3 hours ago, Heteromorph said:

Great report! Thanks for taking us along with pictures. I have never been to Germany but hope to visit there one day. It looks lovely and full of fossils (both very good things).

 

I can’t wait to see them prepped either.:popcorn:

You're welcome. If you ever do get here I'll be happy to show you around.

 

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Roger, thank you for the pics and report. Seems you are always sucessful where ever you go.;)

kind regards

Andreas

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Nothing good comes without the effort to find it.

Great pictures! 

Looking forward to the results.

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2 hours ago, andreas said:

Roger, thank you for the pics and report. Seems you are always sucessful where ever you go.;)

kind regards

Andreas

Thanks Andreas. Here's wishing you good luck for your endeavors this summer.

 

2 hours ago, ynot said:

Nothing good comes without the effort to find it.

Great pictures! 

Looking forward to the results.

Thanks Tony. As a matter of fact, I decided to put the commission work on the back burner this evening and got down to one of the ammonites which I thought was going to be ok, but it turned out to be a dud in the end. The parts sticking out of the matrix looked good, but there was hardly anything else under it. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.

 

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In order to cheer me up again, I did a couple of little ones which were guaranteed to be alright and wouldn't take much time to get done. Glued the 2 gastropod parts back together and cleaned it up and then abraded the bivalve.

 

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Leptomaria amyntas. 3x2.5cm.

 

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This is the best preserved and largest (although only 3.5cm. long) Myophorella formosa that I've ever found in these parts, so I can already say that the trip was worth the effort.

 

 

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55 minutes ago, Ludwigia said:

I can already say that the trip was worth the effort.

You could say that before You went!:P

Like the snail and clam, they came out real nice.:thumbsu:

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4 minutes ago, ynot said:

You could say that before You went!:P

Like the snail and clam, they came out real nice.:thumbsu:

And I suddenly realized that this is the first ever gastropod for me from this site. :)

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3 hours ago, Ludwigia said:

And I suddenly realized that this is the first ever gastropod for me from this site. :)

Even better!:yay-smiley-1:

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Amazing, as always, Roger - that snail and bivalve are stunning!!! :wub:

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Tidgy's Dad

Love the gastropod and the Myophorella. :)

Nicely prepped, of course. 

Splendid! 

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Great trip report! Thanks for taking us along Roger. :) You sure do transform those chunks of rock into gorgeous specimens!

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Roger, those first batch of photos look similar to a place my friends and I visited last spring. Beautiful pictures documenting your arduous work. Absolutely in love with that bivalve.

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