Paleobotanist Howard Schorn looks on as our backhoe operator gears up for another plunge into the ever-expanding fossil trench, Middle Eocene Ione Formation, Ione Basin, California. The complete entrenching process lasted roughly a half hour--enough time for the backhoe to have scooped up great quantities of fossiliferous, leaf-bearing shales from the Ione Formation, dumping them all around the perimeter of the quarry. Now, all Howard and I had to do was sit around and methodically split the shales to expose fossil leaves stained a beautiful reddish-brown (due to the mineral iron oxide) on a brilliant white matrix of feldspar and biotite-rich 45 million-year-old shale. Image was snapped on July 30, 2002.
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.