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SideTracked EarthCache - St James's Park Fossils EarthCache

Hidden : 02/12/2015
2 out of 5
1 out of 5

Size: Size:   other (other)

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Geocache Description:

A Traveler's EarthCache at St James's Park Tube Station.

About SideTracked Caches

This cache belongs to the SideTracked series. It's a distraction for the weary traveller, but anyone else can go and find it too. More Information can be found at the SideTracked Website.

About EarthCaches

An EarthCache is a special geological location people can visit to learn about a unique feature of the Earth. Visitors to EarthCaches can see how our planet has been shaped by geological processes, how we manage its resources and how scientists gather evidence. More Information can be found at the EarthCache Website.

About SideTracked - St James's Park

St James's Park Tube station was opened on 24 December 1868 by the District Railway (DR, now the District line) when the company opened the first section of its line between South Kensington and Westminster stations.

The station has been reconstructed twice. In the first decade of the 20th century the original DR station was reconstructed in conjunction with the building of Electric Railway House a headquarters building for the DR's owners the London Electric Railway. The station was then rebuilt again between 1927 and 1929 as part of the construction of 55 Broadway the company's new headquarters building designed by Charles Holden and featuring statues and carved stone panels including ones by Sir Jacob Epstein, Eric Gill, and Henry Moore.

The platforms feature the green, blue, black and white tiling scheme first used for the reconstruction and extension to Morden of the City & South London Railway (now the Northern line) also designed by Holden and opened between 1924 and 1926.

In 1949, the Metropolitan line operated Inner Circle route was given its own identity on the tube map as the Circle line.

The separate Palmer Street entrance and booking hall were rebuilt as part of a further redevelopment in the 1960s. Together with 55 Broadway, the station is a Grade I listed building. It is also the nearest Tube Station to Buckingham Palace and sees a great many tourists and visitors to London travelling through the station.

A Traveler's Earthcache

Just across the road and down a little way from the main entrance to St James's Tube Station, you will see a large building with verticle strips of a grey stone. If you look at the stone, especially near the cache coordinates, you'll see it's covered in fossils. However, they are not the gastropods and shells that you normally see on this type of stone. They are pretty amazing, and of a sort I had not seen before.

Fossilized Red Algae

Red Algae is the organism with the oldest fossil record that still exists as a living modern taxon. The oldest Red Algae fossil is Bangiomorpha Pubescens, a multicellular fossil from arctic Canada, that strongly resembles the modern Red Algae Bangia despite occurring in rocks dating to 1.2 billion years ago. Examples of Red Algae can be seen throughout the geological ages.

Red Algae are important builders of reefs, and living examples can be seen on reefs around the world today.

They can build reefs because calcareous Red Algae have an ability to secrete calcium carbonate. This means that they have a better Phanerozoic fossil record than many other groups of algal protists, and because these are often associated with petroleum deposits there has been a great deal of attention focussed on these fossils. Despite this attention, we still do not fully understand how the rhodophytes precipitate calcium carbonate; the mechanism is not as well studied as those in bone and shell deposition.

Algae are very important fossils in helping geologists and paleontologists to understand the ancient environments of depositions and ecosystems that existed in the geologic past. The kind of algae present in a rock can give the geologist some idea as to the depth of water in which the rock was deposited.

Due to its pretty red colour, Red Algae is also very poular as an aquarium plant. It is quite possible that those of you with pet fish may have modern examples of Red Algae living in your homes!

To log the Earthcache

To log this cache, you need to have a close look at the stone and the fossilized Red Algae that it contains. Then, send me a message through my geocaching profile either by clicking my name at the top of this cache description, or by clicking my name below:
It would be appreciated if you could send the answers by e-mail. The new messaging system on this website doesn't always let me read your messages.
In the message, please write the name and GC number of this geocache, which dates you visited and logged it, and also include the following:

1. Describe the appearance of the stone (particle size, colour, ...).
2. Measure one of the bigger fossils you can see, and describe its shape and form.
3. Can you identify the type of stone the fossils are contained in?
4. Which geological period do you think they came from, and approximately how many years ago do you think the Red Algae became fossilised?
(There is a large potential time period here, since these fossils could have come from many different geological periods. Try to age the fossils by thinking of when this type of stone is likely to have formed.)
5. Attach a photograph of yourself and/or your GPS with the fossil you described and post this image on your cache log (this is optional but encouraged).

That’s all you have to do. I hope this geocache was an enjoyable break in your journey.
You do not need to wait for a reply. Log the cache as soon as you have sent the message, and I will get in touch. :)
It would also be very appreciated if you could log a photo of yourselves in front of the fossils, and/or photos of the fossil you found. The photos are completely optional.

Please do not give away any of the required information on your logs.


Based on an idea given to me by Loony Londo.

Congratulations to bjstover for the FTF!

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Ybbx ba gur fvqr bs gur ohvyqvat

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)