A day of geological exploration in the Negev: Matred Formation fossils and bonus petroglyphs

July 8th, 2013

8_OscarSilicifiedRingMatred070813MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL–Our third stop in our geological journey today was 19 km north of Mitzpe Ramon (N 30.76084°, E 34.72020°) at another outcrop of the Matred Formation (Middle Eocene). We again had silicification, but no corals this time, The silica replaced the original limestone in a very strange way, producing these dark rings. Since silica is harder than limestone, the surrounding unreplaced limestone erodes faster, leaving the silicified rings in relief. They look anthropogenic, but they’re entirely natural. Again, mysteries abound.

9_SilicifiedBivalvesMatred070813In this close view of the silicified limestone are numerous bivalve shells that were replaced with silica just like the matrix. They appear to be a random distribution of shells with no preferred orientation.

10_SilicifiedFossil070813There are two fossils here replaced with silica. We’ll let the readers guess what they are.

11_Petroglyph070813These curious rings of black rock on the top of a hill attracted local peoples. Over the centuries (no one knows exactly how many or when) they carved numerous petroglyphs through the patina on the rock surfaces. We will also entertain guesses as to what is represented here!

8 Responses to “A day of geological exploration in the Negev: Matred Formation fossils and bonus petroglyphs”

  1. Luke Blairon 08 Jul 2013 at 3:22 pm

    Camelus dromedarius!

  2. Mark Wilsonon 08 Jul 2013 at 10:39 pm

    Nailed it, Luke!

  3. Katherine Marencoon 09 Jul 2013 at 3:17 am

    Irregular echinoids!

  4. Mark Wilsonon 09 Jul 2013 at 7:34 am

    Yes, Katherine! The big one. But the little fossil above it is much more difficult. A clue: Eocene.i

  5. Katherine Marencoon 10 Jul 2013 at 12:50 pm

    Hmm…a marine mammal vertebra? (Seems a little small, though.)

  6. Mark Wilsonon 10 Jul 2013 at 2:31 pm

    Hi Katherine: This one is too difficult from an image alone. Nummulitid forams!

  7. Luke Blairon 10 Jul 2013 at 8:11 pm

    Could swear I see hinge teeth at the very top and a shell wrapping around.

  8. Mark Wilsonon 10 Jul 2013 at 11:40 pm

    That big hole, though, is the periproct. Nice try, Luke!

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