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Geological deposits

Posted by Heath Barnes  
Re: Geological deposits
May 20, 2012 07:12PM
> HEATH I agree with you that I should have read
> the beginning of your posts stating that you were
> doing your work in Northeast England. And I will
> take it at face value that all the folks with
> legal, property and paleontological interests in
> your work have been notified and are aware of all
> your diggings and excavations etc. I guess it
> is just that the trained amateurs and
> professionals that I know and have worked with
> just do some of their blogs, postings and pictures
> a bit differently than you have. I note that Becky
> C above seemed to agree with me. I will now
> step back and just observe this thread as it

Bob i hope you change your mind as all input is as ive said greatly needed and welcome, as for my blog there is also two seperate statements one basicaly saying ime not very good at this blog thing but please bare with me, the other that i use the blog as a record for myself, and sometimes just need to get something on there to record it, so your right its not the best but hopefully one day when i get to the bottom of what ive stumbled across ile sort it out.

> further develops; no more posts on this topic from
> me. Good luck.
> CHEERS.............BOB

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2012 07:15PM by Heath Barnes.
Re: Geological deposits
May 20, 2012 07:29PM
Norman yes all the material ie mineralised bone, fossils,Carboniferous limestone and Jurassic mudstone slabs, minerals, mercia mudstone, magnetic basaltic andesite, graphite, septerian nodule, flint burrow nodule, and unknown rocks in these images were all excavated from a 3metre square x 300mm deep section of the packed gravel bed.

Edited 2 time(s). Last edit at 05/20/2012 07:34PM by Heath Barnes.
open | download - DSCF1241-001.JPG (113.3 KB)
Re: Geological deposits
May 20, 2012 07:52PM
The image above is ok but the zoom quallity is poor on this site why i don't know, but its fine on picas sorry.
avatar Re: Geological deposits
May 20, 2012 11:13PM

Wow! I’ve never seen a debris flow deposit like that! But don’t conclude anything rash from that statement. The material you are working was unquestionably deposited by a debris flow. Nothing else can deposit a sediment like that, and, at the same time, debris flows are quite up to the task.

I googled “glacial debris flow” and clicked on “images” for results. Lots of great photos of debris flow deposits, and they are usually associated with a story of some sort if you click on them. On the 3rd page of results I was surprised to find a photo that I uploaded to Mindat, photo no. 401791 (“Megaconglomerate in Gowganda Formation”).

Megaconglomerate in Gowganda Formation

Algoma District, Ontario, Canada

Also on page 3 of results is another photo (at showing a “Permian debris flow deposit in Death Valley” and listing characteristics of such deposits. Then I found this video of a debris flow in progress, accessed at

You gotta see that video. In so doing, you will see how a deposit such as yours forms, and why the bones you collected are so fragmental. The violence of the flow will be self-explanatory. If you were caught in such a flow, your remains would be in just as bad shape! And you will see why it is unlikely you can find bones in any better condition, or that what you find will be indicative of any particular setting.

One of the reasons we like to see professional work in excavating such deposits is that the matrix material will be carefully and systematically collected and examined, including sieving it back at the lab and examining the residue in each size grade under a binocular microscope to find other indications of what the ecosystem was like–looking for pieces of insects, worms, seeds, pollen, leaf fragments, rodent teeth and bones, lizard remains, fish scales–anything! Your deposit is not suited for that, however, because of its origin–it’s probably a mixture of a lot of things from several micro-environments, all jumbled together. I think people would look, however, but only to confirm that.

Quite a study you have, though. With the advice of experts, you should find out exactly what to do with it. I have worked with amateurs myself, and my experience has been generally favorable. With your interest level, you may find things that no professional would find, simply because they usually have other projects to take their time. I think you are doing well, and I congratulate you on your approach. I would be glad to look at anything else you wish to show.
Re: Geological deposits
May 21, 2012 08:50PM
Thanks for that Norman and your explanation makes sence to me but i would like to ask your opinion on something that puzzles me, from what i have studied and already new about this part of north east England, i believe there are two prime candidates for a flow like this one was about 3 miles to the north an ice damed lake, and a valley area to the south east ( the esk valley) but as ive mentioned before these deposits both the gravel bed and almost stoneless seperate aluvial layers that cover it, ive found to be the same in thickness and make up both north and south of the natural barrier that is the Cleveland dyke, i would have thought the dyke would have had an influance on the nature of the layers either side of it? i hope you get what ime trying to say. Again thanks for the help and i welcome any help or ideas any othe forum members have.
Re: Geological deposits
May 21, 2012 10:09PM
Heath Barnes Wrote:
> Thanks for that Norman and your explanation makes
> sence to me but i would like to ask your opinion
> on something that puzzles me, from what i have
> studied and already new about this part of north
> east England, i believe there are two prime
> candidates for a flow like this one was about 3
> miles to the north an ice damed lake, and a valley
> area to the south east ( the esk valley) but as
> ive mentioned before these deposits both the
> gravel bed and almost stoneless seperate aluvial
> layers that cover it, ive found to be the same in
> thickness and make up both north and south of the
> natural barrier that is the Cleveland dyke, i
> would have thought the dyke would have had an
> influance on the nature of the layers either side
> of it? i hope you get what ime trying to say. also
the gravel bed like the layers above are very orderly
ie more or less the same thickness either side of the
dyke? and were i have evcavated into the layer abve the
gravel bed its shown it to be as flat as a snooker table
so to speak.?

> Again thanks for the help and i welcome any help
> or ideas any othe forum members have.
Re: Geological deposits
May 21, 2012 10:53PM

Hello Heath,
This is a great discussion! Just wanted to show you some of the Breccia we have in Northern Vermont. (New England, USA) I learned this from the brilliant minds here at mindat. The schist is mica, the cobbles are quartz.

Good Luck in your endeavor, this is a great place to learn, and nobody here laughed at me when I asked if it was kimberlite.smiling smiley

open | download - mindat 008.JPG (151.2 KB)
Re: Geological deposits
May 21, 2012 11:20PM
Hi Shelly nice image, i believe it shows fossil content if you look to the mid left side ? and thanks for the input
Re: Geological deposits
May 21, 2012 11:37PM
This piece i picked from the beck floor, i am sure that the beck gravels and rocks mineralised bones and minerals for the most part origionate from the gravel bed and were washed through at some time in the past. I have hundreds of very well preserved mineralised bones that i believe came from the gravel beds, thing is life was not supposed to have survived the enitial glaciation, if so where are my bones from?

Any way heres the peice i found today i believe it may be a coral or sponge ive not seen before? the material its made of seems dark where it can be seen and maybee crystals are to be seen? it does bubble a bit with viniger? and its heavy.
open | download - DSCF1245-001.JPG (106.9 KB)
open | download - DSCF1249-001.JPG (100.7 KB)
open | download - DSCF1253-001.JPG (97.6 KB)
avatar Re: Geological deposits
May 22, 2012 12:51AM

We (Jolyon and I) have already answered the question of where the bones came from. They were washed out from a deposit left by the last melting glacier. Maybe you can ask the question in a different way for me to see why you are puzzled by this. The debris flow occurred after the last glacier retreated, and it eroded deposits left by the glacier or its meltwater streams, in which the bones were left–possibly by flooding from a glacial lake, but that isn’t necessarily the case.


Your question about kimberlite was excellent! In looking at your photo, I see that the deposit appears to include ultrabasic rock fragments. They’re grayish green. Compare them with this photo of kimberlite that I posted on Mindat.

Here are two additional photos of the kimberlite that I did not post (maybe I should!?)

In your photo, if the over-all rock is schist (I can’t quite tell from the photo), then it looks like a metamorphosed kimberlite. However, I would not expect to find a kimberlite in Vermont. Now, this is really advanced geology, but it turns out that kimberlites “erupt” in cratonic regions such as the Canadian Shield (my photos), not in orogenic belts such as the Appalachians. I am impressed that you saw the textural and apparent compostional similarities, nevertheless. You’re good. You could be a geologist!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/22/2012 04:45AM by Norman King.
open | download - kimberlite, Catfish Lake-3r2.jpg (395.4 KB)
open | download - kimberlite, Catfish Lake-5r.jpg (416.7 KB)
Re: Geological deposits
May 22, 2012 08:34PM
Norman the simplest way i can put it is that before the last ice melted here ie the end of the devension period, the area is said to have been devoid of any mammal life forms, therefore the only way i can see an explanation as to where the animals they came from is a period of warming that allowed animals to return from the south, there are is as far as i know no evidence for this in this area other than what ive descovered here.
Sorry if ime missing something.

As for the debrie flow what i was trying to say is if a flow hits an obstical as it would have ( the cleveland dyke) there would be a difference in the bed left behind on either side of the obstical yet ive found the gravel bed to be almost identical in depth and formation either side of the dyke.?
Re: Geological deposits
May 22, 2012 10:03PM
Heath, what was your source for the idea that mammals were absent from NE England before the retreat of the last ice age? Mammal remains from pre-Devensian periods have been found in the northeast, including the Cleveland-Redcar area. The area is also a well-known jumble of moraines, meltwater lakes, etc. (but perhaps not so well understood on a meter-by-meter scale that you might wish!). Many scientific papers/reports can be found on-line. Have you spoken to the paleontologist (Steve) at the Hancock Museum in Newcastle? It's hard to imagine that they would not be interested in your project...or the excellent finds you have made within a small excavation. Also, the Cleveland-Redcar RIGS group must surely be interested?? Becky
Re: Geological deposits
May 22, 2012 10:34PM
Becky ive never came across a referance for ice age mammals living in this area during the ice age? and yes the powers that be are quite happy to let me dig alone ! it is more complicated than that if ime honest, but the geologists ive mentioned that are kindly helping me are indeed from the rigs group, also ime sorry ive not mastered ploting on maps on a pc yet but these finds cover an area from the leven in the west to ormesby beck in the east aprox 5 miles x 2 that i can ime sure prove are the same deposits in at least 4 layers.
Becky along with the help of others its great to have someone on board with a first hand knowlage of the area, ive not looked at your profile yet nore anyone else, but if your not far away i would be very happy to show you or any other interested members these deposits, believe me ime not looking for plaudits just answers .
Re: Geological deposits
May 22, 2012 10:55PM
Becky/ Norman i would also for the record like to say i have stored samples of seeds, wood , bark, and clay deposits from variouse digs in the area ime studying, i do not just pick the shiny things! I have donated a large selection of mineralised bone and fossils to the local infants school, and have explained that this material is from beneath there own feet not from some exotic location , but would greatly love to give them more solid information, as i eventually plan to leave all ive found to the school and give the kids something to shout about!
Re: Geological deposits
May 23, 2012 09:00AM
Hi Heath, Mammals lived in northern England during inter-glacial periods. As you know, there have been multiple periods of glaciation in Britain, which have varied (even locally) in the extent of cover. Between periods of ice cover (including BEFORE the Devensian), mammals were found in the north. Also, remember that rock layers here are tipped downward, exposing at or near the surface rocks of many ages in the northeast. I haven't seen any rocks in your photos that could not be explained by glaciers scouring these layers, along with debris carried from beyond.

As for the Cleveland dyke acting as a barrier...I know its age, but do not know at what point it was partially exposed at the surface, so I don't know if it acted as a barrier during the Devensian or whether it was subsequently exposed by meltwaters (which were enormous), erosion, etc.

Thank you for the invitation - I would very much like to visit, perhaps later in the summer when our own work is winding down. (I'll contact you by PM sometime before.) I am most certainly NOT an expert in this field, but very much interested. In the meantime, I'll try to speak to a few people who are more competent (than me) in this area. The RIGS group should be able to access journal papers for you.

Heath, it is paramount that everything be labeled - date, exact locality, depth, horizon, etc. It doesn't matter if you cannot identify everything yet. Also, the sub-fossils need preservation!! Becky
avatar Re: Geological deposits
May 23, 2012 04:56PM

I agree with the comments Becky made.

I know nothing about the dyke, such as its lithologic composition, orientation with respect to current and ancient (pre-glacial) terrain plus strike and dip, directions of ice movement, runoff, and debris flows, or anything else, so I cannot comment on it. There would be nothing wrong with your simply describing its relationships to other deposits in the area, discussing this with your contacts, and moving on. After all, you can’t do everything, especially all at once.

I suggest you write out what your objective(s) is/are, and then limit what you expend your energy on. In the mean time, if you record your findings somewhere, people will have that information, and maybe those who have the knowledge and expertise can use it in their studies some day. Right now you need to decide if you are doing paleontology or any of its subdisciplines such as paleoecology or taphonomy, or if you are doing geomorphology or any of its subdiscilines such as glaciology.
Re: Geological deposits
May 23, 2012 09:02PM
Becky - Norman sorry i confuse myself sometimes with the amount of new material i try to get explanations for as Norman say in to much of a hurry, thing is i started reporting these finds nearly five years ago to the proffesionals. my first reported find although not excavated, a carved bone was viewed in several universitys but could not be explained, i then started finding more mineralized bone and stone tools, so i decided to get permition to start excavating and descovered the sequence of aluvial clay deposits above the gravel beds. Then i started finding the fossils and bones to me it was obviouse that the loose material in the becks must have origionated from the gravel bed, i tried to explain this to people but was basically patronised and even ridiculed to a certain extent, ime not the type of person to take this lying down so just worked harder on my excavations as i still am so please don't mistake my will to get to the bottom of these finds as some kind of arrogance or ignorance! i need all the advice i can get. Heres some of images of a stone tool i have that ime certain origionated from the gravel beds. ps why don't the vry smooth shiny bones ime finding not have scratch marks from being tossed between the rocks?
open | download - DSCF1301-001.JPG (96.8 KB)
open | download - DSCF1305-001.JPG (113.9 KB)
open | download - DSCF1309-001.JPG (104.9 KB)
avatar Re: Geological deposits
May 24, 2012 01:00AM

I understand all the things you mentioned about trying to get someone’s attention. But I guess you do have a few people there who will help you out. Keep in touch with them. Learn all you can so you sound like you know what you’re talking about.

I can say that some of your questions interest me. I taught paleontology for 20 years, and have never heard them. To wit, your new question was about how the bones could have been tumbled about with boulders and not been scratched. Well, I can’t answer that, because I don’t know what happens to bones that are tumbled about with boulders. Maybe they don’t get scratched much. I’m sure someone has done experiments to determine that, but that’s not my specialty so I am not familiar with the literature. The video, in the URL I sent recently, showed very large, angular boulders–some must have weighed a ton–rolling along in the debris flow. But your photos show rounded boulders. They may have been in a stream and were rounded before being picked up in the debris flow. Maybe rounded boulders of relatively soft carbonate would not scratch bone.

I looked again at your photo DSCF1233-001, and made copies of two of the bones which I insert below. I can tell you for sure that these bones were fractured by intense force. They are broken near the strongest part of the bone–near the condyles. And only even greater forces could have broken them closer yet to the condyles. And they are not broken at the epiphyseal plate (that’s technical--for those of you who know bones!). These are unusual. Long bones tend to break near the middle, not near the condyles. Thus, I conclude that the forces in a debris flow involving boulders weighing many kg could have done this damage. That’s not very scientific, but it’s as good as I can do.

I don’t know about stone tools. I suggest you look through publications showing stone tools, and see what you have. If nothing like this is shown, I would guess it is not a stone tool. You need to show these to an archaeologist. Now, don't ask me how I woud explain this if it is not a tool. That's not my responsibility. It is your responsibility to demonstrate that it is a stone tool. I mention this and put it in these terms because it is important, and will help you gain credibility when talking to professionals. In other words, don't challenge them. The challenge is yours!

Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 05/24/2012 02:39AM by Norman King.
open | download - DSCF1233-001a.jpg (9.6 KB)
open | download - DSCF1233-001b.jpg (14.9 KB)
Re: Geological deposits
May 24, 2012 10:31PM
Thanks again Norman for the advice and interest, firstly ive shown all of everything ive found to the apropriate proffesionals in the area, i photograph everything i find from first descovering it to the end product after cleaning, i do have one bone to pick ( excuse the pun) with your advice that is i respect anyone who shows respect for me but if i inform a proffesional? who gets payed via my tax about something ive descovered after moving tons of material to get at, remember for every 1 metre sq x 300mm section of gravel bed i get to break up and look at, i have to move up to 8ft of packed clay deposits from above it! And they tell me great we will keep an eye on your blog i don't think ime in the wrong to challange a system that believes this is correct way to act, 4 years ago i was acompanied by an archeologist to the area, i remember he said if only we new where to dig! ive now shown him and his entire department exactly where to dig in several different locations, ime still waiting!

As for the tool like ive said above ive shown all my finds to local proffesionals this piece i showed to 2 geologists they did not bat an eylid before saying it was used and shaped by man, i would not state it as a tool if i had not been convinced myself and been advised that it was. again thanks for the advice and interest.
Duncan Miller
Re: Geological deposits
May 25, 2012 02:32PM
Heath, as a retired academic archaeologist, albeit from a different part of the planet, I would like to respond to two aspects of your latest post.

First, state-funded archaeologists are not obliged to share your enthusiasm, no matter how energetically you pursue your research. They probably have structured research programmes of their own, and can't easily be diverted without losing their financial support. If you had funding to offer to contract archaeologists, which I quite understand you don't, it would be a different story. Academically employed archaeologists frequently are approached by enthusiastic amateurs and respond by being politely off-hand so that they can get on with fulfilling their personal teaching and research commitments. Understanding this reality may help you avoid feeling offended.

Second, geologists are not the best qualified people to know if a stone was naturally or artificially shaped. The appropriate people are archaeologists with experience in Stone Age artefacts. Many naturally broken stones may resemble artefacts, and sometimes it is only the context and the associated material that allows one to make a diagnosis. My advice to you is to keep in regular contact with the professionals in your immediate vicinity; and watch out that you don't get shunted aside when/if you do find something that ignites their professional interest.

Duncan Miller
Cape Town
South Africa
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