2021 IN REVIEW
In September I finally got back to Thicksons Point in Whitby down by Lake Ontario to collect fossils in the Whitby Oil Shale. We had some out of town visitors for the Summer so I took them along. Here is a view of the Lake Ontario shoreline with the point in the background.
We parked at Thicksons Point and found a safe place to clamber down the steep embankment.
It was great to get a whiff again of that addictive oil smell as we cracked open the rocks. After a few collecting tips my visitors were quickly finding some fossils. Here is an orthocone fossil. See the cone shaped shell?
Dean and Peter splitting shale on a granite boulder.
Dean found some nice stuff here. An orthocone and several glabella from a Triarthrus trilobite.
Peter pointing to a couple of finds.
This orthocone is beautifully pyritized. Along with the presence of oil both are indicators of a quick burial.
I was a happy camper because this was the first time I found a complete trilobite in this area! The slab split apart as I pulled out out of the clay.
Trilobite 1 close up.
On the way back one more hit of the hammer revealed the largest orthocone of the day
The complete trilobite cleaned up not bad with a vinegar soak for about 4 hours.
Peter cracking open some glacial till rocks. The black ones are a tell tale sign that they are oil shale. There is actually no true Whitby Oil Shale Formation exposure here but plenty of glacially distributed rocks broken off from that formation to give us lots of fossil collecting action!
Also found early on were some crinoid stems.
Close up. Notice the pyritization! (bronze colouration)
Another orthocone and......
.......a tail or Pygitium of the trilobite Psuedogygites latimarginatus
Positive and negative impression of the same orthocone.
There were 2 on one slab actually. Can you find them? One complete and one nearly complete. Both the Psuedogygites trilobite. (Fossil right side, cast left side)
Trilobite 2. I'll soak the slab in vinegar to clean it up a bit as calcite has seeped into this split.
Close up. All in all it was a successful fossil collecting excursion.
Like this fossil site? We've added it as an alternative collecting site on the page, 7 ONTARIO GEOLOGICAL WONDERS. Click the link and scroll down to to wonder number 3, The oil shales of the Whitby Formation.
About twice a year I go on a CCFMS (Central Canadian Federation of Mineralogical Societies) dig but this time they asked me to participate in an exploratory dig to Queenston Quarry in August organized by the London Gem, Mineral & Fossil Society and led by Ashley Pollock. It’s exploratory because CCFMS wanted to see if it was feasible to run regular trips to the site. I was honored to be asked to be a part of it.
Arrival at the parking lot at Queenston Quarry. This quarry is semi active, the rest is on a rehabilitation plan.
Collecting in the Rochester Shale. These shales can yield some amazing marine fossils but sadly the fossiliferous part of the formation is deep into the quarry floor.
As is typical these upper formations produce some amazing mineral crystallization. Here are dolomite crystals.
The guys are on to something here!
Dolomite crystals in vugs (Cavities)
Sorry, I can't get enough of these crystals.
Ashley took home an interesting mineral shaped in small little balls. Mineral to be determined.
Peter found the first real good fossil.....
Off we go to the North half of the quarry where most of the rehabilitation is taking place. Here mostly the Lockport Formation is exposed. Formation names have nothing to do with evolution but have mostly to do with where the formation was first studied or where the large outcrops are of that particular rock.
Scanning the boulders hoping your eye will catch something glistening.
Peter found a nice clean specimen.....
With a bit of effort Aidan's mineral was removed from a boulder..
We all headed in our cars to the southern half of the quarry. It cuts through the Lockport, Decew, and Rochester Formations. A formation is a recognizable layer of rock that differs from the upper and lower rocks.
Up in the Lockport and Decew.
Some interesting gypsum nodules.
Fossils are scarce but here is a rather large coral.
Notable is the amount of stylolites found here. At first glance they look like fossilized wood but are actually though to have been created by earthquakes while the sediment was still soft. Great evidence of the earth's catastrophic past.
Checking out the specimens so far.
Closeup of Ashley's find. Most minerals were in hard dolostone so like this one it had to be cut out with a concrete saw.
.....A partial cephalopod (Orthocone)
A large vug with celestite crystals above the coin. Again anything in the hard dolostone will have to be cut or sledged out... the latter risking damage to the specimen. However a sledge hammer can open up new pockets of crystals. that were hidden by the rock.
A beautiful cluster of celestite crystals, reminiscent of the Dundas (Lafarge) Quarry days which used to yield countless crystals.
Taking a pause for show and tell time.
...a dolomite crystal cluster
......an amazing celetite crystal! At the end of the day I think the consensus was that this site wasn't feasible for a regular CCFMS trip because of the lack of fossils and sparse minerals. It is not kid friendly because of the very hard rock so at best a trip could be arranged for adults who are beginner and novice collectors. Despite the disappointment It was a great day to get outdoors and see other collectors and old friends again!