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Alabama Rocks Sylacauga Marble Specimen

Shark Tooth Mound before the bulldozer

Alabama Rocks


Alabama has a complex geology. From the coastal plain to the Piedmont. Sedimentary rocks dominate some areas. Metamorphic rocks dominate other areas. And igneous rocks are mixed into the various areas.

Montgomery is build on a swamp. Actually, the town was originally build on an outcropping of sandstone and limestone. However, over the years the town expanded into various less favored areas.

Montgomery is a good area in that from there you can go to quite a few different geological formations fairly quickly. The local Montgomery area has several easily accessible fossil beds. Unfortunately, because they are accessible, they are also picked over.

Shark Tooth Mound was known to many school children for the tall mound of sandstone topped with limestone. The field where the mound stood is still there and many shark teeth are still found. The mound itself had interbedded sandstone layers These layers showed that the mound was formed of sand dunes. It was an amazing piece of the ancient sea shore that washed Montgomery. Last year someone knocked it down. Watching people drive onto the field and up to where the mound had been to load truck loads of sand, it is fairly easy to figure out what happened. Someone decided that the mound was a cheap source of building sand. The sandstone was not hard enough to prevent that.

Interestingly, there were chunks of quartzite, a metamorphic version of sandstone embedded in the mound before it disappeared. These are odd in that there are flakes of mica embedded in them. The fact that they obviously formed in place, where the rest of the sandstone around them was very loose is an oddity that will probably never be explained.

Catoma Creek runs from one side of Montgomery county to the other side. Catoma Creek has several interesting features. There are many fossils along the creek. I have picked up pyrite nodules that are suspiciously like coprolites. Some of the kids call these "Dino Doo". Sharks teeth are sometimes embedded in these nodules as are small shells. The creek also has other fossils and people have pulled teeth that look like mammoth or mastodon. These are possibly from a sea cow. There is also a falls area with what is left of a coral reef that has hard sandstone. The sandstone has shells and quite a few sea urchin fossils.

On the east side of the city there are several creeks that have a loose type of limestone. Embedded in these creeks are large shell casts of nautilus and other shells. Some of these still have a little nacre left. Unfortunately, these when pulled from the matrix will slowly fall apart if not protected.

There are pieces of petrified wood in various areas. Some of this has quartz crystals either clear or smoky. Very beautiful and sometimes blinding if you find a large enough piece on a sunny day!!! I myself have found several pieces weighing nearly 80 pounds each. Most pieces found in this area seem to be larger for some reason. Some of the pieces are opalized, some are agatized, but I like the ones with the crystals best of all.

Near Montgomery is the town of Wetumpka. Wetumpka has the distinction of being located near what appears to be an astroblem, or meteor strike. As you drive up highway 231 into Wetumpka you climb the side of a hill. On the other side of the hill from Wetumpka is the place the meteor is suppose to have come down. The University of Auburn has been drilling holes trying to pinpoint the meteor, or at least find "shocked quartz".

Further along highway 231 there are some "bare" patches where local gravel companies have dug out the rock. The hill sides have places where the local Indians used to make arrows. Interestingly enough, on a recent field trip to hunt arrow points, several members of the club found kyanite crystals. These are not suppose to be found here, but...they were very nice crystals.

North of Wetumpka the road goes by the turn off to Lake Jordan dam. If you go down toward the dam, there is a dirt side road near the dam that you can go just below it. Many people fish for bass and cat fish below the dam, but if you go down there you can find some fairly nice almandine garnets. These are normally very dark, but have a nice crystal form. Some of these are about the size of marbles, but most are about the size of peas. You can find quite a few specimens in the rocks at the parking area without digging or breaking rocks... unless you want to.

Farther north of Wetumpka along 231, just after entering Coosa county, but before Rockford is county road 14. If you follow that to the west approximately 2 miles there is an area where beryl crystals and black tourmaline or schorl crystals have been found. The site is on the left hand side of the road, and can be readily recognized if you see a large gully that has a type of crumbly soil with large mica flakes. I have found some really nice tourmaline crystals here. Farther along 231 is the town of Rockford. Rockford has several interesting locations near it, including a quarry to the west about 2 miles that has some large mica "books" and is suppose to be a location for tantalite. To the east near the county land fill is the remains of a tin mine. Along the road past the tin mine is a nice location for yellow, red, and orange jasper and a type of agate that I'm calling zebra stone. The zebra stone is clear with white bands and swirls through it. Cuts beautifully. There are suppose to be beryl crystals in the local area as well as "gold prospects". There are garnet crystals there, but the ones I have found were small with lots of inclusions. The fact that I could SEE the inclusions is something. They are an orange-red color.

James Mallonee