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Green River Formation, Kemmerer, WY


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Here is another update from my July 2019 solo Fossil run! (Edit...it appears some of the fossil pictures are displaying poorly....I will rectify this shortly.)

 

PICTURE HEAVY

 

Day 1: I drove solo from Omaha, NE to Fossil Butte National Monument. I left at 0300 local and made it to the Museum at the monument about 45 minutes before they closed at 1800 local. The museum is outstanding. Small, but amazing. Also, unlike most other national parks and monuments, it is FREE and open 7 days a week during the summer. I didn't take any photos as A, I was exhausted, and B, there are plenty of pictures of the museum already on the web. Sometimes, I like to just have memories I don't have to share. Anyway, after drooling over all of the great stuff to view (think complete two meter crocodilian skeleton), I got my second wind and had to find a place to camp before dark.

 

Thankfully, you get about 18 hours of useful sunlight up in that area, so I set out for a "secret" campsite on the BLM land just northwest of the monument proper.

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I found the site and made camp. There was some promising looking shale exposed here, but not a fossil to be found. (I did bring a few samples back however as I discovered later that there was some interesting fluorescence in green, yellow, and orange on some of the rock!) I'm at around 2100 meters above sea level for the night!

Either way, beat down and a bit light headed from too many years living in the flat lands, I caught a nice sunset and wolfed down four MREs. I planned to spend the next day in deep in the Green River Formation. 

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Day 2.

 

It was a rough night. I got about two hours sleep from a combination of exhaustion, excitement, and the strangest wind storm I have ever experienced. At right around 0000, a single gust of wind dropped the temp for around 22C to 8C in less than five minutes. I was prepared for this, however I wasn't prepared for what showed up 45 minutes later- sustained 40kph winds with 72kph gusts. Due to the hard rocky ground, I couldn't use tent stakes or bury the deadmen for my guy lines on the tent, so I spent the next three hours in a very noisy, semi-collapsed tent. As the storm continued, I realized I was going to have to set the guy lines under the tires of my truck if I hoped not to blow away. Imagine my surprise to discover that with all that wind, there was not a cloud in the sky. It was crystal clear out. What I had thought was rain hitting the tent was actually small bits of gravel! I carefully positioned the truck as a bit of a wind break and anchor for the guy lines. Ten minutes later, the windstorm quit.

I made twelve cups of espresso in my trusty Moka pot and headed over to American Fossil Quarry at sunrise.

 

I didn't bother taking pictures of the quarry as there are plenty on the web. I did a half day dig. I had a most excellent time. What follows is photos of about a third of the fossils I found. I have many many more that need prep work, but these were my "practice" specimens. I found so many fish fossils, I kept only the best ones, plus a similar amount to use as practice for preparation and preservation techniques. Sure, it is a pay-to-play quarry, but I got more than my money's worth I feel. I actually got a bit bored with finding fish, something I never thought would happen. I also found some scales and coprolites, but no stingrays or plants. One fellow digging while I was there ended up with a magnificent palm leaf however!

 

Anyway, here are a few of the fossils I have prepped so far. Apologies for the less than perfect photos. I have only owned this macro lens for a few days and haven't quite figured it out yet. Also, you will notice that they appear shiny, this is because the fixative has not fully cured yet.

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I will share my best two specimens in other threads later on!

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Looks like a fun trip. That camp site is absolutely gorgeous! Thanks for sharing.

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Beautiful site to camp, and excellent fossils!  I'm looking forward to seeing more as you get things prepped.

 

One note of caution, when I visited the area I was told it is illegal to collect anywhere outside of the licensed quarries.  When I was packing up at Ulrich's quarry law enforcement types were searching some guy's truck.  My quarry guide told me that the state has a Cessna airplane they use to look for people (or vehicles) camped/parked in backcountry areas.  They direct troopers/rangers to the area, and if you are caught collecting anything (or certainly any vertebrate fossils including fish) on State or BLM land you will be looking at a heavy fine or jail time, plus your vehicle and equipment will be confiscated.  The vehicle that was being searched had been spotted earlier in the day on state/BLM land.  

 

Don

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4 hours ago, FossilDAWG said:

Beautiful site to camp, and excellent fossils!  I'm looking forward to seeing more as you get things prepped.

 

One note of caution, when I visited the area I was told it is illegal to collect anywhere outside of the licensed quarries.  When I was packing up at Ulrich's quarry law enforcement types were searching some guy's truck.  My quarry guide told me that the state has a Cessna airplane they use to look for people (or vehicles) camped/parked in backcountry areas.  They direct troopers/rangers to the area, and if you are caught collecting anything (or certainly any vertebrate fossils including fish) on State or BLM land you will be looking at a heavy fine or jail time, plus your vehicle and equipment will be confiscated.  The vehicle that was being searched had been spotted earlier in the day on state/BLM land.  

 

Don

This is true for vertebrate fossils for sure. On BLM lands, invertebrate fossils and shark teeth are legit to collect for personal use to a "...reasoable amount.." and with "...minimal ground disturbance". However, that area of Wyoming is a hotspot for vertebrate poaching, so law enforcement does checks all the time. Plus, one would be hard pressed to hit the Green River Formation outside of a quarry without a backhoe. In the case of this site, it is a BLM designated dispersed camping and rockhounding area.

 

It varies from state to state too. For instance, Utah is basically a "help yourself" state (even road cuts are OK), but it is illegal to sell any of your finds. Colorado on the other hand, fossil collecting outside of designated public rockhounding sites is 100% illegal- even road cuts. In Nebraska, one can collect on road cuts and state parks, but surface only and a limit of 20lbs per person per day.

Even more confusing is the differences in state vs. federal vs. private owned lands.

 

In the case of this trip, I only went to legitimate sites or pay-to-play sites. For the Colorado portion, I did explore road cuts, but only with my hands and a camera.

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In most areas it is not legal to collect shark teeth. They are vertebrate fossils... Some states have exceptions at state managed sites. Ask a local land manager what the local status is. In some areas certain invertebrates and plants are protected as well.

 

Bob

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Just to reiterate what Bob said, it is not legal to collect shark teeth on BLM or National Forest land.  Florida, Georgia, North and South Carolina, Virginia, and Maryland allow shark tooth collecting on State land, as far as I know.  No-one should assume Florida laws apply in their own states or anywhere else without checking.  Also, "rockhounding" is not fossil collecting, with the possible exception of petrified wood.

 

Don

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