PAESTA member Dave Curry came across an exciting prehistoric find on an exposed limestone outcrop while he and group of PAESTA members explored the Acid Mine Drainage (AMD) Remediation Project along the North Fork of the Montour Run. Members of PAESTA were exploring this site as part of the K12 Teacher Weekend field trip during the 2017 NE/NC Joint GSA Conference in Pittsburgh. This edge-on cross section of a Paleozoec horn coral was deposited in a warm, shallow sea sometime in the late Ordovician or Permian, some 251 to 488 million years ago. Horn corals, which are distantly related to jellyfish, are solitary corals that are now extinct, as they died out during the Great Permian Extinction (The Great Dying). This greatest of mass extinctions wiped out 96% of all marine species and 70% of all land species. Thanks to the Montour Run Watershed Association (http://www.MRWA.info (link is external)) and Karen Rose Cercone of IUP for organizing the trip!
Note: This fossil-rich limestone may have been unearthed (not in its original site of deposition) and moved during coal extraction in this strip and deep mining coal area.
Full Taxonomic CLassification:
Kindom: Animal (Animalia)
Phylum: Cnidaria (Coelenterata)
Subclass: Zoantharia (Hexacorallia)
Order: Rugosa (rugose means wrinkled, which describes the outside horn shape)
My 8th grade Earth Science students requested this image from the International Space Station's EarthKAM camera during the April, 2016 EarthKAM Mission. During the time of the photograph, a cool, clear high pressure system was situated over the northeastern United States, making for excellent viewing opportunities. If you teach science, the EarthKAM program is a free NASA resource you really should look into. More info can be found here: https://www.earthkam.org. The actual image is hosted on the EarthKAM servers, which are managed by the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. If you click the picture link, there are opportunities to download this an other images at various resolutions: http://images.earthkam.org/main.php?g2_itemId=588076 By clicking the "next image" and "previous image" buttons, you can sometimes view excellent overlapping images taken by the ISS as it orbited Earth at an astounding speed of 17,000 mph, close to 5 miles a second! There are at least two April, 2016 EarthKAM images which caught the PSU campus and surrounding countryside. Plenty of other excellent pictures of Earth from this and other EarthKAM missions going back nearly a decade. Check them out in the EarthKAM image galleries.
One of the more interesting things that you can do with these EarthKAM images is to compare them with the images hosted by Google Earth to see change over time. To make that easier, here is a Google Maps link to the EarthKAM image discussed in this post (works best with Chrome browser).
Succession is causing Hickory Run State Park's Boulder Field to shrink, albeit quite slowly, as trees take root amongst the rocks. The field, which is the size of ten football fields, is believed to have been formed during the last ice age.