March 21, 2020 - Pennsylvanian - Jefferson County, AL

On Saturday, March 21, 2020, a baker’s dozen members and guests of BPS went to a site that we’d never visited.  A tip from a member’s neighbor and a scouting outing was awarded by permission to collect in a strip mine in Jefferson County.  The spoil piles that held fossils were from the Pennsylvanian period – Coal Age fossils that were formed as warm moist coastal swamps gave way to periodic flooding and sedimentation during continental drift changes.  Interestingly, similarities between Pennsylvanian coal deposits in the Black Warrior Basin and those in South America indicate that they were once the same seam.  
During this time, as changes occurred, fossils of both plants and animals were very well preserved.  In the overburden piles where we collected, the majority of the fossils were lycopods, Calamites components, Cordaites impressions and fern-like plants.  Many lovely lycopod leaf scar pieces were found, along with Calamites pith casts.  There were numerous, large stigmaria casts, some with roots (hope some photos will demonstrate) and lots of lovely, very detailed fern leaf sections – most too fragile to collect except by photo.  In addition, a few bivalve and limpet fossils were found – some collected and some photographed.
The day was overcast and chilly and the recent rain covered all the cars with sticky grey mud but the group was too busy collecting to worry about minor complaints.  The area that was collected was huge – probably many more fossils to find there AND there’s a whole different area to explore.  Sounds like another field trip!