Days Of Discovery In The Ione Basin

Western Foothills Of The Sierra Nevada

Amador County, California

The blue backpack at lower center rests on a productive fossil leaf locality in the Middle Eocene Ione Formation, Ione Basin, California. The productive zone extends along the hillslopes clear to the skyline at upper right. I discovered this fossil bed during extended hikes in the Ione Basin in 1992. Although this particular plant-bearing site has never been exhaustively quarried, a specific extension of the same productive horizon, known to paleobotanists as "Lygodium Gulch" (named after the common to abundant occurrence of a fossil climbing fern there) has yielded once of the most prolific and remarkable collections of fossil leaves known from the Eocene of the western foothills of the Sierra Nevada. In the image, the dark greenish, low-lying shrubs are the rare Ione manzanita, which grows in the wild only on the harsh mineral soils of the Ione Basin; the olive-colored shrubbery is the common white-leaf manzanita.

Please note: All fossil localities in the Ione Formation of Amador County, California, presently occur on private property; explicit permission from the land owners must be secured before collecting fossils there.

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