The Ordovician of New York has been a fascination of mine since reading of C.D. Walcott’s discoveries, there, many years ago. A couple of years ago, I was granted the opportunity to visit a newly discovered lagerstatten in the Lorraine Group of Upstate New York.
The site was discovered by an amateur paleontologist from the region. In his quest to better understand the geology and paleontology of New York, he found the site that we visited, and several others that have produced stunning soft-tissue preservation of annelids and arthropods.
The Martin Quarry is located in the Whetstone Gulf Formation of the Lorraine Group in New York about 60 or 70 km north of Beecher’s Trilobite Beds. The rocks were deposited in a deep foreland basin that formed as a result of the Taconic Orogeny during the early Late Ordovician. The Late Ordovician was a time of intense tectonic activity on the Laurentian continent. As a result, the rocks of the Lorraine are characterized by sequences of turbidites.
It is within the turbidites that the exceptional preservation of the fossils are found. Bedding planes reveal hash plates with numerous partial trilobites-among other critters, but within the beds, whole critters can be found. And, if one is in the right horizon, the critters soft parts are preserved in pyrite.
The first thing that I saw when walking up to the outcrop was this lovely cephalon. The site is known for its Triarthrus fauna, and I was expecting it, but… this was the first Triarthrus that I had seen in the field! I was stoked!
photo about 15cm wide
A nice ventral that is now part of the Peabody Museum collection
The guy that found this quarry developed
a revolutionary an innovative technique in the preparation of pyritized soft tissue recovery… his methodology, at first, seems counter-intuitive, and maybe destructive, but his results are telling.
Further reading and references:
EDIT: to add photos