Fossil Trilobite Hunt in Western New York

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Fossil Trilobite Hunt in New York.

September 2003

18 Mile Creek, New York Fossil Collecting Site


During the 2nd weekend of September we took a trip to New York for a fossil Trilobite hunt. This was a change of pace from the recent Calvert Cliff fossil trips we have been taking. Instead of beach combing and diving, we would be using rock hammers and chisels to discover our finds.

I had been in contact with Roy of Times Scientific before hand. I havenít fossil collected with him all summer, so I thought it would be nice if we were all there at the same time. We were to all meet at the parking area around 8:30 on Saturday. Roy was actually there on Friday and had a full days collecting in before we arrived. In the lot, Roy showed us some of his better finds from the day before. He had some nice fossil specimens, including some complete prone trilobites. We were all hoping today would be just as productive.

After walking to the cliff exposures, we immediately headed toward the trilobite fossil bed we had worked with during our last trip. The erosion from Lake Erie and the weather had eroded new rock, and had exposed new trilobites for us. Even with Roy collecting on Friday, we immediately found some trilobites eroded partly out of the mudstone. I just canít imagine how many trilobites erode away before anyone can find them!

Roy ended up finding less than Friday, but he still had found a bunch of nice trilobites. Amy and I ended up with approximately a dozen enrolled specimens, and possibly 2 prone fossil specimens. The actual numbers will not be known until they are prepared with an air abrasive unit. Besides trilobites, we also found tons of horn corals, brachiopods, and crinoid pieces.

Fossil Exposures at Lake Erie
This pic shows the cliff exposures along Lake Erie.


Fossil trilobite from New York
This was my first find of the day; an enrolled phacops. One can see part of the head and thorax. Based on how it is enrolled, it probably also has a pygidium.

This bug will stay in the rock until it gets home, where it can be properly prepared with an air abrasive unit. If I were to try and chisel this bug out, the black calcite will most likely chip, or a segment will crack.
If you look directly to the right of the enrolled trilo, near the edge of the image, you can see a badly eroded phacops. After close inspection, I discovered this bug use to be a complete partially enrolled specimen, however erosional forces have almost completely destroyed it.


Fossils in the Lake Erie shoreline
This image is actually looking at the bottom of lake Erie a few feet off the shore. We are looking through about 3 inches of water. If you look closely, you can see nice specimens of athyris brachiopods and Horn Corals eroding out of the matrix.


Fossil trilobite from New York
Here, Amy and Roy are packing up all the fossils we found. Amy is spraying our fossils with a fixative that will protect them during the trip home. Once home, the fixative is easily removed with the air abraisive unit during the preperation process.


Fossil trilobite from New York
This image shows some of our finds. The bag is 3 layers high. On the top layer, one can see some possible complete enrolled phacops, some possible complete prone phacops, and what appears to be a complete enrolled greenops






UPDATE 11/03:
After almost 2 months, I finally finished prepping some trilobites. I got through 2 layers of the 3 layer bag. Here's a sample of some found:


Fossil greenops trilobite from New York
Here's a neat one. This enrolled phacops was my 1st find of the day, it's shown still in the rock at the top of the page in the 2nd picture. To my delight, while prepping it, I exposed a partially enrolled greenops on the other side.


Fossil greenops trilobite from New York
I was after greenops this trip. Although this ones head has some missing calcite, it's still pretty neat looking. It's partially enrolled, wrapped around the matrix.



Here's another greenops. It's small, and missing a small amount of calcite on its head. However, the rest of it is beautifully preserved.


Fossil phacops trilobite from New York
This enrolled phacops is sticking out both sides of the matrix. Amy likes how it looks in the matrix, so I'm leaving it in.


enrolled trilobite from New York
Of course, we found a bunch of matrix-free enrolled phacops. Here's a couple.


enrolled trilobite from New York
Although erosion got to this enrolled specimen before I did, I decided to keep it since it's right against a horn coral.


Fossil trilobite from New York
This prone phacops is almost definitely a molt, since the shell was so cracked up before fossilization.





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