A lovely day to visit the Ordovician seas of Indiana

This year’s Paleoecology class field trip was to a familiar place: a roadcut outside Richmond, Indiana, exposing the Whitewater Formation in the gorgeous Upper Ordovician System. We call it the catchy name “C/W-148” (N 39.78722°, W 84.90166°). It was a beautiful sunny August day. Warm and plenty humid, with innumerable sweat bees to keep us company as we collected bags of fossils.

Here’s the happy class as we begin the three-hour bus ride to the outcrop. They are all well adapted to school bus travel with their pillows and phones.

Once at the outcrop we spread out and began filling bags with fossils. We hadn’t yet finished even our first week in the course before the trip, so the students had little idea what they were collecting other than what we could examine in a preceding lab. In a way this sort of naive collecting produces more diverse assemblages to study back home in Wooster.

Success! Everyone made it home safely, and everyone had a full bag of fossil delights.

Once we had the fossils in the lab we could begin the simplest preparation — washing them. Here our TA Hudson Davis shows how it’s done.

A washed collection from one student. It is great fun looking at 15 such trays at the start to see what treasures we have. Students will be preparing, identifying and interpreting these fossils for the rest of the semester, culminating in a lab report.

Here’s the class again, this time in our air-conditioned classroom. It’s going to be a great semester of paleoecology at The College of Wooster!

[Added on August 29, 2023. All specimens washed! Quite the collection.]

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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