Archive for March 20th, 2016

Last day of fieldwork in Israel: More Jurassic enjoyment

March 20th, 2016

1 SU66 at Meredith 032016MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL — For my last day of fieldwork during this short Spring Break trip to Israel, I returned to Makhtesh Gadol to collect a bit more data from subunits 65 and 66 of the Matmor Formation (Middle Jurassic, Callovian). The above image shows part of my field site in the Meredith section north of the “British Road” across the top of the makhtesh. The yellowish marls are subunit 66, with the white limestone of subunit 65 peeking out at their base. The Matmor Formation is distinguished by this alternation of carbonates and marls, and the faunas in each sediment type are very different.

2 SU65 bivalve at Meredith 032016I did not do any collecting today. Most of my work was tracing rock units, photographing fossils, and taking lots of notes. Above is a nice bivalve in the limestone of subunit 65.

3 SU65 bivalve and bullet 032016Here’s another bivalve with a spent bullet for scale. (Dramatic effect. There is far less ordnance in Makhtesh Gadol than other places I’ve worked in the Negev.) Note that the bivalve is articulated (both valves are locked together), meaning it likely was buried alive. Almost all the bivalves in subunit 65 are articulated.

4 SU65 branching coral 032016There is one horizon in subunit 65 with a surprising number of branching corals. These look very much like the modern Acropora, but they’re not.

5 SU65 SU66 boundary at Meredith 032016This is again the boundary between the white and resistant subunit 65 and the yellowish and nonresistant subunit 66. I have no images of fossils to show you from subunit 66 because they weren’t very photogenic. They are relatively rare and consist mostly of small solitary and colonial corals and occasional oysters.

Thus ends my 2016 fieldwork in Israel! I learned a lot in these eight days of exploration and study, and I worked with excellent colleagues. I have some ideas now for a project that will place these Middle Jurassic rocks and fossils in a global paleobiogeographic and evolutionary context. Many future Independent Study projects are possible!

My neighborhood in Mitzpe Ramon, southern Israel

March 20th, 2016

1 My street MR 032016MITZPE RAMON, ISRAEL — Some images from the little town in the Negev where I spend my nights. I like being based here because my students and I are central to all of our diverse geological localities. It is also my friend Yoav Avni’s home. Plus, it reminds me of my hometown of Barstow, California, in its desert setting, diverse population, and edge-of-civilization feeling. (The architecture, though, is not at all the same!)

Hotel MR 031916I stay in the Ramon Suites hotel, which is very comfortable and reasonably priced. It is a short walk from here to the edge of Makhtesh Ramon.

2 Brooklyn house MR 032016Near the hotel is a building from Brooklyn! This is a Chabad-Lubavitch house. I’ll let this link to 770 Eastern Parkway begin the explanation. There are replicas of this house all over the world, each with the number 770.

3 Edge of town MR 032016The southwestern edge of town, with a new school and synagogue. The edge of the makhtesh is a few meters beyond the conical hill.

4 Skyline with New Hotel MROn the top of the skyline is a very fancy hotel well beyond my means. It looks cool, and strangely ancient.

5 Skyline with Makhtesh MR 032016A view to the southeast showing a wall of the makhtesh in the far background.

6 Water tower MR 032016The iconic Mitzpe Ramon water tower, visible for many kilometers. It is the most interesting thing I can see from my hotel room.

7 Childrens mural MR 032016A children’s mural on the outside of a school. Note the water tower on the left, the desert wildlife, and even a dinosaur. (No dinosaurs have been found here, alas.) This children’s view of their dry town is strangely watery.

8 Grocery store MR 032016Last and least, the town’s grocery store. Crowded and unfriendly. Always feels a bit Soviet to me, probably because as in that regime there was little choice where to shop. Still, they have kept me and my students supplied.