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Finding Fossil Fish in Antarctica: Week 5

Snowmobile Training 570


January 7, 2019

Week 5 in Antarctica started with clear skies but strong winds creating dangerous wind chills. Winds dropped to more normal levels after a couple of days, and we’ve gotten several good workdays on the rock outcrops.

Some outcrops are on Mt. Ritchie, near our camp. To reach other outcrops we ride two-per-snowmobile and head out across the glaciers that separate the rocky mountain tops and ridges that protrude through the vast ice sheets.

Selfie from Alligator Peak looking east across the Skelton Neve.
Selfie from Alligator Peak looking east across the Skelton Neve.

We have found a number of fossiliferous layers within the 390-million-year-old stream deposits of the Aztec Siltstone. (Fossiliferous means limestone, made mostly of calcium carbonate in the form of the minerals calcite or aragonite, that contains an abundance of fossils or fossil traces.)

The fossils in these rocks may be of macroscopic or microscopic size.

We are building an interesting collection of fossil fish to curate and study at the Academy.

Happy New Year to all, and I look forward to sharing stories and pictures when I return.

Text and Photos by Ted Daeschler, PhD, Academy curator of paleontology and professor in the Department of Biodiversity, Earth and Environmental Science

Start reading from Week One of Ted’s Antarctica research expedition