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

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!

About Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a Professor of Geology at The College of Wooster. He specializes in invertebrate paleontology, carbonate sedimentology, and stratigraphy. He also is an expert on pseudoscience, especially creationism.
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8 Responses to A day of geological exploration in the Negev: Matred Formation fossils and bonus petroglyphs

  1. Luke Blair says:

    Camelus dromedarius!

  2. Katherine Marenco says:

    Irregular echinoids!

  3. Mark Wilson says:

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

  4. Katherine Marenco says:

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

  5. Mark Wilson says:

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

  6. Luke Blair says:

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

  7. Mark Wilson says:

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

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