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October Coal Mine Trip

The APS took a return trip to an active coal mine in Jefferson County for their 10 October field trip. We were joined by a group from Auburn University - Montgomery on this outing. This was a highly anticipated trip and we had a very good group of fossil hunters. The site dates to the Carboniferous - Pennsylvanian and represents the Westphalian stage dating to approximately 310 mya. We were rewarded with a bright sunny day, however it was quite warm for mid-October. There was a lot of new material that had been dumped since our last visit in August. Along with terrific fern fossils, there are many 3-Dimensional branches, roots, and stumps to be found at this site. Occasional marine fossils and invertebrate tracks have also been found.

There are truly some big fossils here, a lot of these are best collected with the camera. The following group of pictures captures some of the fossils that remained where they were either because they were too big or too difficult to extract safely! From top left to bottom right - leaves, scale bark (Lepidodendron), Calamites, lycopod, and more calamites and a modern human.

Occasionally, you see something that demands a picture, this next photo is one such example. When I walked up on this I thought to myself "Wow that stump looks like it could have been cut today." Of course it was a modern stump, but then I realized right next to it was a seed fern stump on nearly the exact same size that was definitely a fossil. That one came home with me!

There were a large number of 3D fossils found including a number of Stigmaria (times 2) and Calamites in addition to a few stumps. The first picture is of a beautiful large Stigmaria!

The site also yielded a number of great ferns and other plant fossils.

Finally, there is always something that has you scratching your head. This next one fits that description, as there are three oblate spherical objects, and I have no idea what they could be or how they were created. One would have been odd enough but three in the same block and very close together crazy, any ideas?!?!

Until next time - happy hunting!

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