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Fossils that can be found at Aurora, NC

View Collecting Trip Reports from Aurora, NC

Printable Identification Fossil Sheets for Vertebrates from Aurora, NC

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Last Update: 4/2014
Please note that due to safelty reasons, the PCS mine is closed to collecting
However, you can still collect fossils at the spoil piles at the Aurora Fossil Museum

Aurora - PCS Phosphate Mine, Aurora, NC
Surrounding areas
Roughly 18-22 and 2.5-5 Million Years Old
Early Miocene and Pliocene
Pungo River and Yorktown Formations

This is your place for miocene and pliocene fossils, including fossil shark teeth!

"Collecting guides discussing the 2007 colelcting area"

"Waiting to enter the pitt, spring 2005"

"Amy, overlooking the collecting area, spring 2005"

"I found a meg!"

Amy's find of the day, a 4 5/8 slant megalodon tooth. Notice she STILL has that awful oversized hardhat!

"This is one heavy megalodon!"

Another one of Amy's find of the day, a giant 6" megalodon tooth. The tip is chipped. If it was there, the tooth would measure over 6".

"No fossils for me"

After not finding anything decent all day, I decided to end fossil hunting and try modeling. As the picture shows, I was also unsuccessful at that.

Additional site images

Aurora, PCS Mine, North Carolina Site Map

About the Fossil Site, Collecting Tips, Directions, Books, etc...

View Fossils that can be Found at Aurora, NC (Yorktown and Pungo River)

Aurora, NC Fossil Identification Sheet (Pungo and Yorktown)

Additional Photos/Images from Aurora, North Carolina

View a Sample of Fossils Found:

If you plan on collecting at Aurora, either the mine or the Museum spoil piles, and need fossils identified, this is your place, click the image below!

How good are you at spotting the teeth? Test yourself!

Collecting Fossils at Aurora, NC
Aurora, NC is a quiet town just south of the Pamlico River in rural North Carolina. It has a population of well under 1000. Although this is a small rural town, there is a rich geologic history lying beneath Aurora. This makes it the capitol of the world for many fossil enthusiasts.

The Potash Corporation of Saskatchewan (PCS) is currently operating a large phosphate mine in Aurora. In the process of prospecting for phosphate, the mine digs through several fertile fossil-bearing formations. This gives paleontologists and fossil enthusiasts a unique opportunity to collect and study this rich fossil bearing material.

Aurora has a Museum devoted to the geologic diversity found under the town. The Aurora Fossil Museum contains a wide array of fossil displays collected from the PCS phosphate mine. These displays include numerous shark dentitions, including the jaws of a Giant Megatoothed shark, to a walrus skull and a whale skull. The museum also has a room devoted to native American artifacts from the area. Also, the PCS mine dumps piles of fossil bearing sediments at the museum for visitors to search through.

Brief Geologic History:

Throughout the Tertiary, North Carolina was part of the Albemarle Embayment. The Albemarle Embayment was one of the large embayments of the Atlantic Coastal Plain. The other was the Salisbury Embayment, which presently takes the form of the Chesapeake Bay. The two embayments are collectively called the SAE (Salisbury and Albemarle Embayment)

Similar to the Salisbury Embayment, this embayment may have acted as a calving ground for whales. The embayment housed a large diversity of life, including reptiles, and all kinds of fish, including sharks such as C. megalodon. It housed numerous marine mammals including large baleen whales, porpoises, seals, and sea cows. Sea going birds also thrived in this embayment. Also, remains of land mammals that washed out to sea can occasionally be found including horses and camels.

Throughout the Tertiary, sediments and animal remains were deposited into formations. The two most popular formations (fossil-wise) are the Pungo River (Miocene) and Yorktown (Pliocene). Many other formations were also deposited ranging from the Eocene formations to Pleistocene formations (James City Formation). The PCS Phosphate mine digs through these formations in search of phosphate that has accumulated in this ancient embayment.

This video shows the draglines in action digging through the Yorktown and Pungo River Formations in order to get to the phosphate bed.
To see all my fossil videos, go to my Youtube page: Thefossilguy100.
Minning for Phosphate

Phosphate pebble from PCS mine, Aurora, NC

Collecting locations at Aurora, NC
Before you collect these tertiary fossils, I highly recommend a visit first to the Aurora Fossil Museum. There you can see the type of fossils to look for, and even fossil hunt at their spoil pile across the street from the museum.

Aurora Fossil Museum

Collecting at the Mine:

Please note, due to safety reasons, the PCS mine is currently CLOSED to fossil collecting (updated spring 2012)

The PCS Phosphate mine is private, and they do no allow fossil collecting at the mine. However, the mine tailings are used in the nearby area. These tailings contain fossils:

Alternatives to collecting at the PCS mine:

  • Gravel piles used for road fill at DPW sites around the Aurora area are often from the mine. These piles are usually from the Pungo River formation. Fossils can be collected from these spoil piles at any time. These piles have already been acid washed, so there will not be microfossils in these spoil piles. The pile near the intersection of rt. 17 and 33 no longer exists. However, the Aurora fossil museum now has 2 spoil piles to search through.

  • At the Aurora Fossil Museum. The Museum also has a spoil pile right across the street for visitors look through & collect fossils.

  • If you are collecting at a DPW site, I would recommend bringing a shovel and sifter to sift through the spoil piles. It will really increase the number fossils you find.

  • Recommended things to bring for fossil collecting at Aurora, NC
  • Plenty of water: It can get hot in the mine!
  • A snack: You will most likely be in the mine from around 9:00 3:00.
  • Kneepads: You may be crawling often.
  • A walking stick, or shovel/rake: The terrain is rough, a walking stick or similar object may aid in locomotion.
  • Small bags or containers: To place fossils in.
  • Large bucket: To place larger finds in, such as whale vertebra.
  • A small rock hammer or screwdriver: Incase there is a fossil in a large chunk of limestone matrix.
  • A backpack: To place everything in.

  • Recomended Books:

    Fossil Shark Teeth of the World, A Collector's Guide
    by Joe Cocke
    Copyright 2002
    Lamna Books
    Torrance, CA
    A great book for identifying all those teeth. This book is layed out "as simple as possible." It's ease of use and small size makes it great to carry during collecting trips.

    Seal/Dolphin ~ Phoca/Stenella: A Skeletal Comparison of Two Marine Mammals
    by John R. Timmerman
    Copyright 1997
    North Carolina Fossil Club Inc.
    This is a very good book if you want to attempt to identify the numerous bone fragments encountered at this site. You can get it by writing to:
    The North Carolina Fossil Club, Inc.
    P.O. Box 2777
    Durham, NC 27715

    Megalodon, Hunting the Hunter
    by Mark Renz
    Copyright 2002
    Lehigh Acres, FL

    A Great new book about megatoothed sharks. A nice read for anyone interested in megalodons. It has sections dedicated to megalodon evolution, extinction, pathologies, and locations of meg fossil-hunting grounds around the world.

    Links to other websites about Aurora, NC:
    The best site on the web! Dedicated to Lee Creek, and many other sites!

  • Aurora Fossil Museum
    The Aurora Fossil Museum

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