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Geocache Description:

Walk down the stairs or the walkway to sit under the shade of a large Cottonwood and try to see how many fossils you can identify.


Since 1820, researchers have reported more than 600 different species of fossils at the Falls of the Ohio State Park, however, two-thirds of those reports accidental repeats of the same fossils. Still, having over 200 species of identifiable fossils from a single location is still quite impressive. The area does host an exciting assortment of brachiopod, coral, crinoid, and other marine invertebrate fossils, many of which are only found at the Falls.

Your adventure at this location will allow you to try to locate and identify some of the many diverse fossils found within 30 feet of the given coordinates. On four different field trips to the area, our high school class members were able to find and record 37 different fossils in the rocks near the base of the large cottonwood tree. There are no doubt many more to be found, and you can help us locate them all.

To claim this EarthCache, all you need to do is find the given coordinates, and:

  1. take a close-up shot of a fossil at the site
  2. Optional, but very welcome--you may like to add a photograph of your gps (or yourself and your gps) "pointing" out the fossil
  3. try to identify the type of fossil (just “type” --not the specific species!)
  4. log your find, giving the coords where you found your fossil in the log if you like*

*If you prefer more mystery, you can email us with the coordinates and ID.

Feel free to tell us more in your online log.

  • Did you visit the other EarthCaches in the area?
  • What was the water level the day you visited?
  • Did you see any loose fossils?
  • Did you join the guided tour of the fossils given by volunteers on Fall weekends?

Remember, it is against federal and state law to collect fossils at the Falls of the Ohio State Park.

Types of fossils found at the Falls of the Ohio State Park

To help you with your identification, look at the images below for general shapes. Click the links for more information.

Brachiopods are marine animals that have a shell made of two valves, which usually differ in shape and size. Brachiopods are closely related to the bryozoans. Brachiopod comes from Latin and means "arm" + "foot" and bryzoan means "moss animal"

Crinoids are a sort of sea lily, an animal which attaches itself to the ocean floor, has a columnar stem and a flowery type of head. Crinoid comes from a Latin phrase that means "like a lily"

Molluscs - A group of that includes the gastropods and the cephalopods--including snails, clams, squid, and slugs. Mollusk comes from the Latin for "soft"

Cephalopods were squid-like creatures with tentacles which occupied a tube-like shell. Cepalapod means "Head-foot"

Gastropods-include organisms such as slugs, snails , and limpets. Gastropod means "Stomach-foot"

Stromatoporoids-were spongelike reef-building creatures. They used to be grouped with the corals, but now we think they were more like sponges. Stromataporoids form in mat-like mounds.

Cnidarians the Greek word “cnidos,” means “stinging nettle.” All cnidarians have specialized cells that can inject poison into their prey. Corals are a branch of the Cnidarians

Good sites to learn & see more:
College Virtual Lab Trip
Fossil ID #1 (brachiopods, crinoid, bryzoan)
Fossils ID # 2 Horn coral and cephalopod
Fossil ID #3 various named fossils
Fossil ID #4 various named fossils
Fossil ID #5 various named fossils
Falls of the Ohio Brachipods
Falls of the Ohio Mollusks
Falls of the Ohio Crinoids & Blastoids
USGS information on the Devonian period


The Jeffersonville is subdivided into five zones, each with characteristic rock types.
The coral zone, the lowest level, contains three distinct phases which grade into one another. The lower layers contain many upright branching corals, large corals, and both mat-like and mound-like stromatoporoids. As levels increase, solitary corals and branching-coral fragments appear, supporting formation as a coral bank below effective wave base.
The Amphipora-zone sediments in southern Indiana grade northward into pelsparite deposited in shallow waters over the Geneva platform and continue into laminated dolomite. Regression of the sea during deposition of upper sediments displaced the facies southward, reflecting shoaling over a bank. Fragmental Amphipora and matlike stromatoporoids are the dominant elements.
The Brevispirifer gregarius zone contains grain-supported biomicrite grading northward into mud-supported biomicrite during a containing regressional period. Laminated beds continued to accumulate in the shallow shelf lagoon with periodic exposure of the flats producing mud cracks. Charophytes in brackish-water on the flats, supplied oögonia to marine sediments to the south. Brevispirifer gregarius and echinoderms are the dominant faunal elements.
The fenestrate bryozoan-brachiopod zone intertongues northward with the laminated beds of the shelf lagoon.Fenestrate bryozoans, echinoderms, and brachiopods characterize this zone. Corals and stromatoporoids reappear as significant components, indicating a second major transgression of the Jeffersonville sea.
The Paraspirifer acuminatus zone is the most widespread of the zones and consists of grain-supported biomicrite and biosparite. These sediments are linked genetically to the same transgressive phase as the underlying fenestrate bryozoan-brachiopod zone sediments.
PERKINS R.D., (1963) Petrology of the Jeffersonville Limestone (Middle Devonian) of Southeastern Indiana. Geological Society of America Bulletin: Vol. 74, No. 11 pp. 1335–1354 (Modified for brevity).

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