December 16, 2006 - Mississippian & Ordovician Fossils, Jefferson Co, AL

A visit to the quarry at the Ruffner Mountain Nature Center and a chance to check on our “pet rock” was the highlight for this December trip. This was a service trip (photos only - no collecting) to Ruffner Mountain Nature Center, and BPS had been asked to make some photographs of fossils the Nature Center could use in their educational activities. A couple of years ago, we etched the surface of a small boulder to make the fossils stand out better. Since this is a rock used by Nature Center as an example on tours, we check periodically to ensure the fossils are still visible and the rock is still usable for their education programs. We examined and photographed the boulder, which contains crinoids, bivalves, bryzoans, and numerous other small fossils, then went on to locate and document as many other fossils as we could find during our day there.

Since the grey-on-grey of the limestone makes it difficult to photograph the details clearly, Chris took multiple photos of the boulder, then used “stitch” photo technology to create detailed photographs of the complete rock surface. By using extreme macro and pasting the sections together, we have gotten far better records of those surfaces and the fossils they contain than with past techniques.

The Ruffner Mountain quarry is a fascinating place to visit and learn more about the Alabama fossil record. BPS is glad that we can contribute to the educational services of the Nature Center by our documentation.

After a late lunch at a locally famous hamburger joint, it was time to head home and get ready to party! All-in-all, a great day, topped off by the annual Xmas party. Good company, good food, Dirty Santa, a lot of laughter, and live music from our very own Lea Novak. It doesn’t get much better than that!

--Edited by Vicki Lais

(Photos courtesy Chris and Vicki Lais)

on the trail to the fossil site
Part of the group deciding which way to go.

on the trail to the fossils

iron ore on path to quarry
Iron ore spotted on path to quarry.

bluff walls of quarry where fossils are found

rock filled with fossils
Mixture of fossils including brachiopods and bryozoans.

rock filled with badly weathered fossils
Most of the fossils are badly weathered.

BPS members search for fossils
fossil coral

rock covered with fossils

fossil shell - brachiopod

quarry bluffs

fossil coral on huge boulder
Large coral in boulder.

fossil coral on huge boulder
Another view of the same coral.

fossil echinoderm plate
This is very tiny, no more than 1/2 inch across (My apologies for lack of a scale). Dr. Phil Novack-Gottshall says this appears to be a diploporitan, a type of echinoderm .

fossil echinoderm plate

rock covered with fossil

rock covered with fossils

BPS members searching for fossils
Taking a break.
boulder covered with fossils

pet rock covered with fossils
This is the rock/boulder that has been etched so that more fossil material is visible.

pet rock covered with fossils
A closer view.

examining fossils on a boulder

rubble piles abound each rock containing fossils

fossil crinoid stem
This odd looking fossil had us speculating, but according to Dr. Phil Novack-Gottshall, it is a crinoid stem with very regular cirri.

fossil crinoid stem
A macro view of the unusual crinoid stem.

fossil coral

fossil coral

boulders covered with fossils

searching for fossils in the quarry


fossil brachiopods