PIT Crew Field Gear and Safety

Collecting techniques

The techniques used to collect fossils vary depending on the sediment or rock in which the fossils are to be found. For collecting in rock a geological hammer, a variety of cold chisels and a mallet are used to split and break rocks to reveal fossils. Since the rock is deposited in layers, these layers may be split apart to reveal fossils. For soft sediments and unconsolidated deposits, such as sands, silts, and clays, a spade, flat-bladed trowel, and stiff brushes are used. Sieves in a variety of mesh sizes are used to separate fossils from sands and gravels. Sieving is a rougher technique for collecting fossils and can destroy fragile ones. Some times, water is run through a sieve to help remove silt and sand. This technique is called wet sieving

Fossils tend to be very fragile and are generally not extracted entirely from the surrounding rock (the matrix) in the field. Cloth, cotton, small boxes and aluminum foil are frequently used to protect fossils being transported. Occasionally, large fragile specimens may need to be protected and supported using a jacket of plaster before their removal from the rock.If a fossil is to be left in situ, a cast may be produced, using plaster of paris or latex. Whilst not preserving every detail, such a cast is inexpensive, easier to transport, causes less damage to the environment, and leaves the fossil in place for others to enjoy. Fossilized tracks are frequently documented with casts. Subtle fossils which are preserved solely as impressions in sandy layers, such as the Ediacaran fossils, are also usually documented by means of a cast, which shows detail more clearly than the rock itself.
Safety is emphasized while fossil collecting and hard hats, safety goggles, steel toe boots, and protective gloves are used.

  • Try not to go collecting by yourself especially if you're new at it. Just in case an accident happens there will be someone there to help. Also it's great to have some one with you to show off the awesome fossils you find! If you ever do go out collecting by yourself let someone know where you'll be and when to expect you back.

  • Always check on the weather before you go collecting. NEVER collect in a thunderstorm. Be prepared for weather that is too hot or cold. Wear the right cloths and protect yourself from the wind and the sun.

  • When picking up rocks or digging holes always be aware of "creepy crawlies". Spiders, centipedes, snakes and other creatures may make their homes in the rocks and dirt that you find fossils in. So just be careful and look before you reach.

  • It's also a good idea to wear work gloves for protection.

  • When looking for fossils in or near creeks and rivers be sure to be careful around the water.

  • Never go alone and stay away from deep water!! Go with someone who is experienced at collecting fossils in the water.

  • Stay away from cliffs and rock slides. These are very tempting places to explore but they are also very dangerous.

  • When using tools like picks and hammers pay careful attention to what you are doing.

  • Always wear safety goggles when breaking rocks.

*Fossil collecting can be a blast but there can be some risks involved so please be careful and safe!!

To collect fossils, there are various legal realities that must be observed. Permission should be sought before collection begins on private land.[8] Hammering the rocks in national parks and other areas of natural beauty is often discouraged and in most cases is illegal.

The first expressly worded fossil-collecting code was published from the museum-home

of pioneering geologist Hugh Miller at Cromarty, on the Highland east coast of Scotland,

11 April 2008. It was introduced by Michael Russell, Minister for Environment, Scotland,

as part of celebrations honoring the bicentennial of the founding of the Geological

Society of London. The code supplements an existing draft drawn up by English Nature. [9]

The code advises fossil collectors to seek permission from landowners, to collect responsibly, record details, seek advice on finding an unusual fossil and label the specimens and care for them. Its principles establish a framework of advice on best practices in the collection, identification, conservation and storage of fossil specimens. The non-binding code of ethics for this field was drawn up by Scottish Natural Heritage (SNH) following many months of consultation with fossil collectors, landowners, paleontological researchers, and staff of Scotland's museums.[10]

Rock Hammer - I have 2 - one with the pointed end, and one with a chisel end. 3 lb Sledge/crack hammer.
Pry bar. For getting out rocks/concretions from the surrounding matrix.
Cold Chisels for splitting rocks.

Pack to carry finds out.
First aid kit. Basic things - something to make a sling / tourniquet, band aids for cuts, emergency blanket,... etc.
Safety glasses/goggles.
Work Gloves.
Good sturdy hiking or work boots - preferably with Steel toes. You'll thank me when that rock falls on your foot!
Cell phone, snacks, water. Make sure cell phone is charged.

Always tell someone where you are going. Make sure they know how to get to where you will be.
Always go with someone.

List of Websites of Safety and Plant ID: http://tpwd.texas.gov/education/resources/texas-junior-naturalists/be-nature-safe http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/landscape/poisonous-plants-resources/ http://identifythatplant.com/identified-plants/poisonous-plants/


http://kidshealth.org/en/kids/watch/#khsc http://www.scienceforkidsclub.com/poisonous-plants.html

http://aggie-horticulture.tamu.edu/earthkind/landscape/poisonous-plants-resources/ common-poisonous-plants-and-plant-parts/

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2015/08/27/how-to-recognize-poison-ivy-oak-sumac- and-treat-their-rashes/

web site that has wild edible plants for survival:

http://www.artofmanliness.com/2010/10/06/surviving-in-the-wild-19-common-edible- plants/ 

Who we are

The DPS is a group of professional and amateur paleontologists that want to exchange information, interact, and continue their education in paleontology.  We meet once a month on the second Wednesday evening of the month at Brookhaven College, Building H.


If you have a question, if you have a fossil that you cannot identify, or need a site investigation, contact the Fossil Bureau of Investigation for help.

Contact Us at 817-355-4693 

Why join us

We have fun.

We learn stuff.

We go cool places.

We find interesting things.

We make new friends.

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