On the road to Wyoming

Tim and I left for Wyoming this morning, and so far we’ve had a rather eventful trip, with several blown fuses in the truck and a flat tire in Princeton, West Virginia. After a few cans of fix-a-flat, we had to rush to the local Wal-Mart, the only place we could find to replace the tire before it went flat again. But it wasn’t a total loss; behind the Wal-Mart was an outcrop of black shales, and we had an hour to spare. This being West Virginia, I figured there would be a good chance of finding fossil plants in a black shale, but I was wrong.

Instead, the rock is full of bivalve mollusks:

There may be several taxa present but the one below may be either Septimyalina (compare to this image) or Modiolus (compare to this):

Tim found this specimen, which might be a nautiloid cephalopod (I’m not as sure about this one):

According to the USGS map data on West Virginia, the rocks in this area are from the Late Mississippian Bluestone Formation, which is about 320 million years old. Specifically, this outcrop is probably the Pride Shale Member of the Bluestone, which has been interpreted as a rhythmite by Miller and Eriksson (1997).

It turns out that some beds in the Pride Shale do contain plant fossils, but we didn’t find any at this outcrop.


Miller, D. J. and K. A. Eriksson, 1997. Late Mississippian prodeltaic rhythmites in the Appalachian Basin: A hierarchical record of tidal and climatic periodicities. Journal of Sedimentary Research 67(4):653-660.
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2 Responses to On the road to Wyoming

  1. Brian Beatty says:

    As always, your trips are educational each step of the way. Thanks for sharing Butch, and have a safe trip!

  2. Pingback: Fossil Friday – Carboniferous mollusks | Valley of the Mastodon

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