Sideling Hill – A Cross Cut View of the Fossil Rich Shale in Maryland and Pennsylvania

Fossils are plentiful in the shale deposits all around the mid-Atlantic states. Without getting technical, shells of a variety of marine animals are found in the shale, readily accessible via road cuts and rock quarries around Western Maryland, central Pennsylvania and West Virginia.

Sideling Hill is a wonderful example of the typical construct of the rolling hills of the area.

Sideling Hill Roadcut

The tight bands of rock layers, along with the HUGENESS of the roadcut are fascinating. The layers of the mountain are very interesting, consisting of alternating bands of shale and big bands of alluvial conglomerate. The top layer of shale is also coal rich, which is thickest on the north side of the road cut. You can see the dark layer towards the very top of the hill.

Sideling Hill Roadcut front view

The rest area used to host a Geological Center, a fun place to check out, a place to stop and view this geological wonder and find out a little more about the earth around us.

Sideling Hill Rest Area

The Geological Center is closed now, but the exhibits have been moved to Hancock Maryland.

Sideling Hill Geological Center

A short distance away in Pennsylvania, we found several shale deposits on the side of back country roads.

Typical Shale Road Cut in Pennsylvania

Any place you can find loose shale, if you flip over a few pieces, often, fossils will be found.

Shale Debris With Fossils

The shale from this area breaks up into small bits. That makes big matrix specimens very uncommon!

Rockhammer and Shale Chips

Brachiopod specimens are very common through out the area, along with tightly wound trilobite specimens.

Fossils shells found in shale deposit

Packing the specimens is a delicate job, so a roll of toilet paper for wrapping is always handy!

packing up fossils found in pennsylvania

Bi-valve fossils, Gastropods and many others, all found swimming around in the soup of the Devonian era!

fossil shell found in shale

At this road cut, randomly, a vug of quartz was found, breaking up into oddly shaped crystals.

quartz crystals found in shale deposit

So, do not be afraid to stop and check out any exposed shale in the mid-Atlantic states! Often times, simply flipping over some loose shale chunks will reveal a trilobite, a gastropod or a cluch of Brachiopods!

shale deposit with fossils

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Field Guide Review: Minerals, Fossils and Fluorescents of Arizona

Minerals, Fossils and Fluorescents of Arizona is a thick field guide to 90 locations across the state of Arizona, most still available for collecting in 2012!

Originally published in 2006, this book contains complete, easy to follow maps and directions to each location, along with colorful photos by Jeff Scovil.
For the absolute beginner, there is a nice chunk of informative reading in the front of the book, giving the basic information for several minerals, along with global mineral information like cleavage, hardness and luster. A bit of time is spent on rock formations and geologic conditions, which will help understand the basics behind why minerals are found where they are.

The copy we have has been used to travel to nearly half of the locations in the book. The book gives clear instructions for reaching a location, along with GPS directions, which are easy to punch into google maps while en-route to a location. In addition, each location pinpointed in the book has produced the material described and only once has there been claim markers up on a location showcased. We have collected Hematite crystals, UV minerals, Dendrites, Calcite, Selenite, and Serpentine. Several trips inspired by this book have resulted in fine specimens that are in our permanent collections.
Clicking the book cover will show you available copies for purchase on Amazon.
Book Cover of Minerals, Fossils and Fluorescents of Arizona by Neil R. Bearce
Check out eBay for copies of this book for sale and other minerals of Arizona

There are a lot of field guides to choose from, each with their own unique features. In addition to the easy to follow directions, colorful photos and the accuracy of the information presented, the book also does a great job covering the state, listing collecting spots all over the state, with close proximity to other states. For instance, the residents and visitors to Saint George Utah might be surprised to find that a deposit of Gypsum/Selenite is available in the hills stretching out into Arizona, available from the back roads connecting through Utah. More locations spill across into New Mexico and several of them are a perfect distance between Los Angeles and Phoenix.

Many field collecting guides are simply shelf filler, this book has a wide variety of information, collecting options and we can not recommend another mineral field collecting guide more.

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Fossil shells replaced by calcite found in the roads of Central Texas

The Central Texas counties surrounding Limestone County are full of beautiful ancient marine shells replaced by calcite, both massive and crystallized. Luckily for the collectors of minerals and fossils, hundreds of miles of low traffic roads in Central Texas contain a wide variety of ancient sea life replaced by calcium carbonate. They are up on the surface of gravel and dirt roads, as snowy white gravel, stretching down the country lanes.
Calcite replaced marine shell
red, yellow and blue flowers along the countryside of central texas
This area of collecting is centrally located between Interstate 35 and 45. Those highways run through Texas, connecting San Antonio, Austin, Houston and Dallas. In between this area, vast deposits of limestone of a very high quality are found and mined for agricultural and industrial use. It is often found as crushed aggregate used to cover the stone roads of back country Texas. Spiraling out of the central texas area like a web connecting new developments with well maintained farm routes, the white roads of Texas are often found to contain calcite crystals and calcite replaced marine shell fossils. Clams, Brachiopods, Turritella, Ammonites and other interesting shells are found, often with cores and voids filled with crystals of calcite.
Fossil on matrix from central Texas replaced by calcite.
Getting to a collecting location is simple! Simply pull up Google Maps and take a look at a satellite view of Central Texas. As you get closer, look out for maintained county roads, which you will see, are bright white. This white color is caused by this limestone gravel. Make a note of these roads to inspect and take a trip to Marlin, Mart, Rosebud, Franklin, Calvert, Madisonville, and Crockett. Since there is ample loose gravel, do not DIG into the road or bother to take tools with you. Loose Gravel. Mostly made up of calcite replaced shells. What an amazing collecting experience. Simply opening your car door will result in you finding a loose fossil. With smartphones, androids and iphones, simply using google maps while navigating will be all you need for a spur of the moment collecting trip. This area is a little over 3 hours from San Antonio, a quick 2 hours from Austin, Houston and Dallas. It is a PERFECT field trip in all weather besides tornadoes and snow!
google satellite view of a typical white limestone gravel backroad in central Texas
a photo of the loose gravel limestone roads and the fossil containing gravel that is scattered across Texas

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