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Fossil Run

After feasting on turkey the day before, I'm taking a run with my daughter, Emilie to do some fossil hunting in the Latham Shale/Marble Mountain area near Amboy, CA. 11/23/07 Anyone interested in coming is welcome to tag along. PM me if you have an interest. It might be a fun thing to do with your kids. The agenda is to leave SoCal Metro area early AM (so we have a full day to play) and make the 2.5 (+/-) hour drive to Marble Mountain. Dig around looking for trilobite fossils in the shale for part of the morning, have a trail lunch, wheel around the area, maybe a little target practice for fun with .22's and then home in the evening.


The Latham Shale is a 60 feet thick formation formed by a tilted row of dark brown rocks. It is on BLM land and it's lawful to take invertebrate fossils that you may find. This area is not in the Mojave Preserve. It's SOUTH of I-40 - however the concept of treading lightly and treating the land with respect still applies.

Remains of trilobites, mostly cephalons (heads) and thorax segments are abundant. Slabs with complete specimens have been discovered by just splitting the shale found along the slope. The trilobite remains are mainly from the species Olenellus Clarki, animals that were more than 550 million years ago! The Latham Shale has also yielded other fossils, including some of the earliest articulate brachiopods (brachiopods with hinge teeth) known.
 

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Wow I wish I could go... we won't be back until the next day. James misses his girlfriend; he's pretty messed up. He was saying , "sixteen isn't really that old"....





 

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Looks like a nice outing Larry, wish I could go.

Those are great pictures of Emilie and James.
 

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Fossil Run

After feasting on turkey the day before, I'm taking a run with my daughter, Emilie to do some fossil hunting in the Latham Shale/Marble Mountain area near Amboy, CA. 11/23/07 Anyone interested in coming is welcome to tag along. PM me if you have an interest. It might be a fun thing to do with your kids. The agenda is to leave SoCal Metro area early AM (so we have a full day to play) and make the 2.5 (+/-) hour drive to Marble Mountain. Dig around looking for trilobite fossils in the shale for part of the morning, have a trail lunch, wheel around the area, maybe a little target practice for fun with .22's and then home in the evening.


The Latham Shale is a 60 feet thick formation formed by a tilted row of dark brown rocks. It is on BLM land and it's lawful to take invertebrate fossils that you may find. This area is not in the Mojave Preserve. It's SOUTH of I-40 - however the concept of treading lightly and treating the land with respect still applies.

Remains of trilobites, mostly cephalons (heads) and thorax segments are abundant. Slabs with complete specimens have been discovered by just splitting the shale found along the slope. The trilobite remains are mainly from the species Olenellus Clarki, animals that were more than 550 million years ago! The Latham Shale has also yielded other fossils, including some of the earliest articulate brachiopods (brachiopods with hinge teeth) known.
I was just thinking about the trip I took out there a few years ago with one of my Geology classes. That’s a great place for finding fossils; I picked up about ten of them in 30 minutes. There are also a few spots with the Craton showing. Craton rock is around 1.4 BILLION years old (if I remember correctly). This formed some of the first solid surface of the Earth.

There are also some cool Lava Tubes that can be explored including Glove Cave. Its really cool inside, it has "mini" lava tubes inside of it and a guest book in the back (I signed it back in 1999).

If you get a chance swing by Mitchell Caverns. They have a skeleton of a Giant Three Toed Sloth. The caverns have three of the rarest "drip" formations in the world. This includes the Coral Piper, which is one of only eight known in the world.

Anyways wish I could go but my damn job and sense of responsibility keeps getting in the way. Have fun!--slaverbro
 

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One reason I selected this particular place for the after-Thanksgiving field trip for my high-school age daughter is because there's like a 100% chance that she'll find cool fossils. We're bringing a geo-pick to work on the slate a bit in the hopes of finding something we can take home. For reference, there are plant fossils in the slate on the floor in my house. There are also--



Othosaurus fossils in the rock around my swimming pool. They're common fossils and don't have much monetary value - but the add to the character of the place.

The Amboy area also has some fun places to take the FJ.
 

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Uphill I wish I could go but we are camping for the holiday and I dont think I could convince the wife to leave everyone for a full day. I would love to take my 8 year old there, he would have a ball. He always talks about looking for fossils when we are out in the desert. Could you PM me the gps locations so I can do it on another weekend.
Thanks Mark Trentham
 

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Uphill,

That sounds like an exciting trip...especially if you're guaranteed to find fossils. If only I lived closer! You seem to be quite knowledgeable about fossils, are you a geologist?
 

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Looks like a fun one Larry. Alas, I can't make it. I'll put it on the calender.
 

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Uphill,

That sounds like an exciting trip...especially if you're guaranteed to find fossils. If only I lived closer! You seem to be quite knowledgeable about fossils, are you a geologist?
Not close to a geologist or a paleontologist -- an amateur who likes to drive an FJ... and thinks that fossils are cool.

DIRECTIONS TO LATHAM SHALE

For those of you who may wish to make a run in the future:

Leaving from SoCal, take the I-15 to Barstow.
From Barstow, take the I-40 for about 40 miles to Ludlow.
From Ludlow take Route 66 for about 30 miles to Amboy.

There is not much in Amboy. There's an extinct volcano near town and it's a good landmark.

From Amboy, continue on (historic) Route 66 east for about 10 miles until you reach the Cadiz Road.

The intersection is at the town of Chambless (a ghost town). There is very little left of Chambles.

The mountain is 2 miles N/E of the abandoned store.

As you look at the mountain, the Latham Shale is located on the east slope of the third of four ridges extending S/E.

I'd like to give you road directions from there but you need to go cross-desert on the best of several desert roads you can find (completely passable to a stock FJ) to the mountain.

The shale is located on the east slope of the third ridge. You can drive close to that area in your FJ.

Latham Shale formation is a 50-80' thick formation below a very defined marker formed by a slope of dark brown rocks.

This spot is NOT A SECRET. People have been collecting trilobite fossils from here for some time. There are a number of quarry digs with pieces of shale laying on the slope. The fossil-bearing shale is pink, green and brown and it is distinctive.

It's not only spot in the Marble Mountains where Cambrian trilobite fossils can be found. There are also fossil beds in other areas not far from the Latham Shale, but they're not as easy to find (not as large). Taking your geo-pick and doing a walk-about with a canteen and a good pair of boots will land you in other areas where the rock formations are similar to the Latham Shale.

You're walking where a a warm ocean rested in the Early Cambrian age, in the Waucoban Stage, upper Bonnia-Olenellus Zone. The Latham Shale occupies the Bristolia subzone, oldest of the three subzones of the Bonnia-Olenellus Zone.

Outcrops occur not only in the Marble Mountains but throughout the Mojave desert in the Providence Mountains, Kelso Mountains, New York Mountains, Mesquite Mountains and in the Salt Spring hills area.

It the same ocean bed that is found in the Bright Angel Shale in Arizona and Pioche Shale in Nevada.

People drive through the Mojave, hurrying to the Colorado River or dashing interstate, rushing to get through this desolate land without understanding the ancient nature of the area or some of the "riches" that it holds for those with a bit more patience. (there is more to life than increasing your speed).

One of the problems with the Mojave Trail run is that in the Mojave Preserve, you are prohibited from doing precisely what we're able to do a few miles to the south in this case.

If you're coming, pack a lunch, bring extra water and something to dig with. Worst case it's a bit of a trail run and an excuse to get out of the city. Best case, it's somewhat magical.
 

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PM sent.

Cold turkey sandwiches on the trail - Oh yeah!
 

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PM sent.

Cold turkey sandwiches on the trail - Oh yeah!
I didn't get the PM, Vince -- but we're doing tri-tip for ThanxGiving so tri-tip sandwiches with some horseradish sauce...oh my!

PM sent.
 

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PokerDawg - Make sure you bring something to spit the shale a small hand held geologists pick works best. The Latham Shale is fossil rich, but it's still a big mountain of shale and you DO HAVE TO LOOK. There are not just trillobites but are tube worm fossils, plant fossils, "bug" (unscientific term) fossils, etc.
 

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Over two years later, I will get to take my 5 year old to this place next weekend. I've been wanting to make this trip ever since Uphill posted this. I'm glad to know it's 100% sure he will find something and share with his class the next week.
Please take some pictures and share them with us.
 

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PokerDawg - Make sure you bring something to spit the shale a small hand held geologists pick works best. The Latham Shale is fossil rich, but it's still a big mountain of shale and you DO HAVE TO LOOK. There are not just trillobites but are tube worm fossils, plant fossils, "bug" (unscientific term) fossils, etc.
Thanks, will do. I'm going to go to Harbor Freight this weekend to find something that looks like a pick especially something my 5 years old can swing. We will be patient and thorough.

Please take some pictures and share them with us.
I will for sure and vids.
 

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Thanks, will do. I'm going to go to Harbor Freight this weekend to find something that looks like a pick especially something my 5 years old can swing.
Be sure to get a rock hammer or a brick hammer, the steel is much softer than that in a tool hammer, and it won't splinter on rocks.
 
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