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:
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.