The Towne Pass Fossil Locality, California

Lower Mississippian Tin Mountain Limestone

An explorer of the Early Mississippian tropical sea in Death Valley stands at Towne Pass in Death Valley National Park. He is ready to hike the three-quarters mile to that "small" reddish brown patch at the base of the mountain at upper right. That's where excellent silicified (replaced by the mineral silicon dioxide) remains of corals, brachiopods, crinoids, and bryozoans--among other major groups--can be observed in situ in the Lower Mississippian Tin Mountain Limestone. Whitish-gray strata in upper left half of image (part of it is above the individual's head) belong to the Middle to Upper Devonian Lost Burro Formation. Before Death Valley became a national park in 1994, the locality existed outside of Death Valley National Monument on Bureau of Land Management (BLM)-administered public lands and was wide open for hobby collecting of reasonable amounts of common invertebrate fossils. This photograph, by the way, was originally snapped with a Minolta 35mm camera.

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