April 21, 2007 - Cretaceous and Tertiary Fossils, Butler Co, AL

The April field trip took us to Butler County where a creek has cut through early Tertiary and late Cretaceous sediments. Once again as with last months field trip to Green County we had some of the best spring weather Alabama can offer, with the temperature reaching a pleasant 76 degrees.

Everyone met at a central location, and a brief introduction to the geology of the area was given before driving about 12 more miles to the entrance to the site. While past trips to this location have found the entrance roads to be very slick from rain, this years access was dry and easy. The entire caravan was able to drive to the limestone hilltop parking area.

The fossil hunting started the moment you exited your car with small gastropods and segments of large ammonites being found on the cleared hill top. The trail down to the creek provided more ammonites.

The creek was beautiful with white quartz sand beaches at many of the bends. Shark teeth, ray teeth, fossil bone, ammonite pieces and nautiloids were found in the gravel bars, along with numerous non-fossilized bones and teeth from various mammals. Some of the more interesting finds were various human artifacts rather than fossils. Indian potshards, some with incised decorations, a couple of projectile points and an Indian pipe, probably of European origin, were found.

The end of the day found the diehard fossil hunters resting at the beach where the trail intersected the creek. The Novaks organized a fire on the beach to roast small sausages, while others brought snacks to contribute, and the Stewarts returned to the parking area to set up camp for the night and fix their dinner.

By dark, everyone headed home, leaving Pam and Bob to enjoy a pleasant night at the site with owls hooting and Whip-poor-wills calling. At daybreak turkeys could be heard at the tree line adjacent to the camp area. After a couple of hours of walking the creek on Sunday morning the Stewarts packed up and reluctantly left the site, letting it return to nature.
--Edited by Vicki Lais

(Photos courtesy Jan Novak, Bob Stewart, Becky Guthrie, and Vicki Lais)

fossil lecture before trip
Vice President Greg gives an overview of the geology of the site and collecting rules.

group ready to hunt fossils
A lot of excited people showed up for the field trip - fossils can even be found on the limestone earth in the foreground.

fossils on limestone ground
If you look carefully, you can spot tiny round gastropods, each approximately 3/8 inch across.

hiking to creek to hunt fossils
Hiking down to the creek from the parking area (and of course, looking for fossils along the way!)

creek where fossils are found
The creek was higher this year than normal, but there were still numerous gravel bars.

searching for fossils in creek

searching for fossils on rocky beach
A recent storm had washed up a huge pile of brush and trees, and left behind rocky rubble and mud rather than the white sand we normally find.

fossil tooth and coquina stone

searching for fossils in creek

fossil nautiloid
Nice nautiloid found by David.

geologic layers visible in creek bank

teaching the little ones to collect fossil

fosil ray and shark teeth
Ray tooth and shark tooth.

fossil oyster shell

unknown fossil
Unknown item, can anyone identify? Looks kind of like a tooth. . . .but . . . .

fossil turritella in coquina
Nice turritella in coquina.

Lea & mom searching creek for fossils
Lea's mom was visiting from the Czech Republic, and decided to join us for the fun!

pottery shard

fossil shells in matrix
Shells in matrix.

pottery handle
Probably a pottery handle.

pottery shards

pottery shards

pottery leg

pottery shard

recent worm tracks similar to fossil tracks
Worm tracks in the sand. Fossil worm tracks much like these are found in shale in north Alabama.

fossil shark teeth

fossil clayball with plant material
Numerous clayballs were found in the creek. This one shows bits and pieces of plant debris. The finder did not examine it closely to determine whether these were fossil leaves or recent, however, based on the geology of the area, they could easily be cretaceous fossil remains.

miscellaneous items

camping on limestone bald
While Bob & Pam set their tent up . . .

cooking on campfire by creek
The others built a fire and enjoyed the evening.

late afternoon around the campfire
The campfire has about died out as some of the diehard fossil hounds hang out wringing that last little bit of enjoyment from the day!