Natural History Society of Maryland: Looking for Fossils at Stratford Cliffs

Date: March 30, 2019

Time: 9:30 am - 3:00 pm

Location: Stratford Hall, 483 Great House Road, Stratford, Montross, VA, USA

We are returning to Stratford Cliffs for some fossil hunting and hope you can join us!

Stratford Cliffs, located in Montross, Virginia (on the south side of the Potomac River, adjacent to Westmoreland State Park) is part of the Stratford Hall plantation owned by four generations of the Lee family (and is now cared for by the Robert E. Lee Memorial Foundation).

The estate encompasses 1900 acres of farmlands and forests on a high bluff overlooking the Potomac River. The Cliffs, which are part of the Calvert Formation, are a rare geological phenomenon. The Calvert Formation cliffs along the Chesapeake Bay and Potomac River rank among the most important fossil research sites in the Mid-Atlantic region. They were formed when land replaced an ancient sea. Fossils found here are composed of compacted marine plant and animal matter dating from the Miocene Epoch–approximately 17 to 10 million years ago.

Fossilized remains found at this site indicate a sea filled with primitive shark-toothed porpoises, salt-water crocodiles, sea cows, gopher turtles, rays, whales and sharks. Thousands of shark teeth found along this area attest to the frequency of the sharks, largest among them being Carcharodon megalodon, or Giant White Shark, with teeth measuring 7 inches or more.

Most of the land along the shoreline is privately owned, and public access is severely limited, so we are lucky to have this opportunity!

The driving time from Baltimore is an estimated 3 hours.

DIFFICULTY: This field trip is moderately strenuous (derived from the combination of the colder weather by the water and decent hiking). Depending on what storms have impacted the river, there could be washed up trees and debris on the beach, as well as broken glass. There could be a few scramble spots.

COST: Payment in advance is REQUIRED. Please pay online at http://marylandnature.org/events/ (scroll down to get to the event)
$30 NHSM Members / $40 Non-NHSM Members / $15 Children

Additional information about location, what to wear, and what to bring will be provided to attendees closer to the trip date.

OPPORTUNITY: A volunteer is needed to assist with participant sign-in and collecting waivers. If you would like to volunteer the event cost is waived. Please contact Emily at eglaeser@marylandnature.org for more information.

Photo credit: Virginia State Parks | https://flic.kr/p/9r2BgB

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