United States and Canada Fossil Sites List
States > Counties
US And Canadian Fossil Sites -- Data for Fossils by StateThere are plenty of errors in the list. Some of the original material was incorrect or ambiguous. Errors were made transcribing some of it to index cards decades ago, and more errors transcribing that into the computer more recently. It has been spell checked, and checked for plausibility. Some of the hopeless material was deleted. In general, anything was kept that looked like it might be remotely useful to someone someday.
Many of the sites are closed to collecting or buried under shopping centers, highways, or housing developments. Closed sites will stay on the list, as they are sometimes reopened, and sometimes the same rocks and fossils will turn up 100 yards or 100 miles down the road.
In general, permission is required from somebody to collect fossil vertebrate material in the US. An exception is often made in practice for shark teeth and occasionally for disarticulated marine vertebrate bones, but that can't really be counted upon. Always ask. There are limits on the amount of petrified wood than can be collected on public land. Rules for collecting invertebrate and plant material vary widely especially in 'wilderness areas'. Permission is always required to collect on private property. Digging holes where you do not have permission to dig or are unfamiliar with the rules is almost always a bad idea.
Most of the distances are in kilometers and meters. For practicality, a meter is a bit over 3 feet (a yard), and a kilometer is 5/8 of a mile. Most of the English measurements: Miles, Yard, Feet, have been taken off the list, but some were probably overlooked.
Geologic Periods are shown as 'Period Middle, Upper or Lower' instead of the more conventional form of, for example, "Cambrian Lower" That's so that if the material is in a database or spreadsheet and is sorted, Lower Cambrian will sort out next to Middle Cambrian instead of next to Middle Cretaceous.
Locations such as SE1/4S32T17WR4N refer to the Public Land Survey System in the United States or the similar Dominion Land Survey in Canada. Read that as SouthEast quarter section of Section 32 Township 17W Range 4N. PLSS locations are often inaccurate. See This page for more discussion of locations described using Survey pts.
Fossils at sites are generally listed by genus. For a long time the software for handling the list had a limit of 255 chars/field, the fossil list for a couple sites ends in an ellipses (...) showing that there were more genera, but the list was shortened.
Some of the sites listed probably never existed in the first place, and other sites have been developed over and/or reclaimed out of existence. Many of the localities when found will be closed to fossil collecting, and of those that are not, many will prove to be unproductive. A few of the sites are accessible to large groups without special arrangements.
Ampersands (&) cause some technical problems related to the way the HTTP protocol underlying the Internet works. Most of them were eliminated, and replaced with 'and' or '+' whichever seems to fit better. In a few cases, they are in web site URLs, and can't be eliminated. I've followed the technically correct method of using & even within a preformatted block. Sorry if that doesn't render properly (as an '&') with your browser.
Many thanks out to Howard Allen of Calgary, Alberta who has been infinitely helpful with Canadian sites and also in working through many of the thousand or two questionable localities, genera, etc in the original list.
You might think that Counties would be straightforward. And they mostly are in 49 states and 4 provinces. In Alaska, the other 6 provinces and the Canadian Arctic, things are a bit more complex. See this page for more penetrating commentary on this subject and a complete, downloadable list of US and Canadian 'Counties'.
The formation field is checked against another local database. The formation database is based on the USGS Geologic Name Lexicon GEOLEX http://ngmdb.usgs.gov/Geolex/geolex_home.html and its Canadian equivalent http://cgkn1.cgkn.net/weblex/weblex_search_e.pl augmented by Google searching. Problems:
- GEOLEX and CGKN while superb are not complete.
- Formation names aren't necessarily unique.
- Formations are sometimes morphed over distance changing nomenclature and / or material.
- The same formation may differ its name in a different region
- A few proposed formation names weren't taken up by other authors, and were used only in a single paper or set of papers.
You can d/l the formation dbase in .csv format from FORMS.CSV.
- There are now latitude-longitude fields in the database. In a few cases, these are actual latitude-longitude pairs from the literature, topo maps, or converted from PLSS or DLS coordinates. However, most are obtained by automated screen scraping various web sites that will provide the latitude and longitude of towns and/or geographical features. Think of these latitude-longitudes as locations to put markers if a map interface is ever available, not as precise locations of the site. Someday, codes will be provided that indicate how precise the locations are.
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