Tuesday, 7 July 2015

TW:eed Project Excavation – week 1

I am very excited to report that last week we started work on a fossil excavation to recover more tetrapod fossils! The site is situated at one of the small exposures on the River Whiteadder in the Scottish Borders, near the town of Chirnside. Lead by Dr Nick Fraser at the National Museums of Scotland, the team will be working on site for three weeks to record and excavate fossil-bearing rock samples.

This site is where ‘Ribbo’ was found by the late Stan Wood – a 90 cm long tetrapod fossil, the reconstruction of which is the blog wallpaper. It’s wonderful to return to this site again as I was here recording the sediments last summer with my field assistant Kirsty Summers. Along the banks the rock is very crumbly and difficult to extract in one piece. This time we have erected a temporary bund (dam) on the river, so more competent sediment below the water level is exposed and can successfully be extracted.

The excavation site is within the temporary bund and allows access to rocks below the water level

The rock exposure at this locality is 9 metres thick, but we are focusing on an interval of 1 metre thickness where most of the fossil specimens have been found. The sediment is comprised of siltstones that were deposited in pools and lakes on an ancient floodplain. Below you can see some images of these fascinating rocks.

The TW:eed team hard at work extracting rock samples

Levi Curry from the University of Leicester with a sample rich in plant fossils
One of the interesting sediments within the sequence: a laminated siltstone with large cracks, infilled by a fossil-bearing microconglomerate siltstone

Last week we had many visitors to the site from local people which was really great. For safety reasons I'm afraid you cant participate in the excavation, but we'd love to meet you and explain what we are finding.

If you are interested in the project then please do come along TONIGHT to a talk on the TW:eed Project by Jenny Clack. This will take place at 7.30pm in the Waterloo Arms pub, Allanton Road, Chirnside, TD11 3XH.

Until next time

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