Spencer, my 8-year old grandson, Ramona Beshear, my scientist rock-buddy and I went down to between Preston and Buena Vista, Georgia yesterday on a rock collecting trip. It was an absolutely gorgeous day. The weather was perfect. Ramona and I had been to this location a couple of time, back some years ago. The collecting area is on a dirt road named Slaughter Road out in the country. Spencer didn’t do a lot of collecting but had a ball going up and down the red clay banks, counting how many deer tracks he could find, throwing rocks and sticks and in general acting like an 8-year old boy. He stated on the way back home “Pawpaw, that was the best trip ever!”
Ramona and I both have about as much of the material from this location as we need and mainly went there looking for fossil root casts and goethite pieces with sea-shell imprints in them. These are not plentiful at this location but they are there. I found one nice fist-size specimen of goethite that has shell imprints, called trace fossils. The imprints this specimen are of a thumb-nail size seashell, an imprint of a gastropod type shell and an imprint of a cephalopod. This was the prize of the day.
Ramona and I both found lots of fossil root cast that ranged from half inch to over one inch in diameter and from one-inch long to about three inches long. These fossils are composed of a dark brown limonite, with sand grains bonded to the outer surface. It’s my guess that the fossils found here are at least cretaceous age, or about 100myo. The root cast were formed when a tree died and rotted away. The roots in the sandy soil would have deteriorated away, leaving a mold-like cavity where the roots had been, and then the iron rich sediment would have seeped into the cavity, taking the shape of the cavity where the root had been and then hardening into the limonite stone.
The goethite found at this location is very plentiful. It is scattered in the ditches, road-way and banks for a mile or two up and down the dirt road. Seasoned rock collectors go to this locations and look for goethite specimens that have areas with mirror-like, glassy, surfaces, much like the botryoidal hematite specimens coming from Morocco.
The real glassy material is not plentiful but it is there. Seems like every time it rains here, there is more of the material exposed along this road way.
Goethite, pronounced “ger-tite”, is a principal ore of iron, along with limonite, hematite, and magnetite. It has the same chemical formula as limonite, which can be bright yellow. Yellow limonite is called ochre, which has been used as a pigment for paint and cosmetics throughout history.
I know I got more enjoyment from this trip than did my two companions, although Ramona and Spencer also had a great time. It’s a true pleasure to be with others on a collecting trip when they are thrilled to be there!