Keepers Of Orange County's Past Exhibit Open Now!The Cooper Center is opening its vaults for a special exhibit at the Old OC Courthouse! Learn more about our history, 180 million years to present. Open 9-4:30 M-F.
Society of Vertebrate Paleontology Annual Meeting Field Trip, October 29, 2013
This one-day field trip will visit various paleontological sites in Orange County, located just south of Los Angeles. Although known more for beaches and shopping, Orange County is home to 180 million years of geological history. Most of the fossils in Orange County have been discovered as a result of paleontological mitigation during development since the early 1970s. Significant discoveries include late Eocene terrestrial deposits, a rich Miocene marine record that spans the entire epoch, and terrestrial Rancholabrean Pleistocene sites that encompass diverse habitats. Participants will also learn about the geologic history of the Los Angeles-Orange County basin. The trip includes visits to the Clark Paleontology Museum, which displays and houses local fossils, and to the new Cooper Center, a curatorial facility that is the main repository for Orange County's Fossils. Although not as rich or well explored as the Cenozoic, Orange County also is the site of some of the few dinosaur fossils from southern California, and one of the most productive of these sites will be one of the only pre-Cenozoic field trip stops in any SVP field trip this year.Date: Tuesday, October 29, 2013Time: 7am - 7pmPick Up/Drop Off Location: Westin Bonaventure Hotel and SuitesCost: $105 USD per personTrip Includes: Transportation via bus, breakfast snack, lunch, and field guideMaximum number of participants: 42
What to wear or bring with you: Dress appropriately for light hiking
Leaders: Lisa Babilonia (Clark Paleontology Museum), Meredith Rivin (The Cooper Center), Richard Lozinsky (Fullerton College)
Visit the SVP website to register.
Cooper Center Lecture SeriesClimate Change PanelSept. 26, 7:00p
Join us for a special panel presentation on climate change and how it will affect our lives in Orange County. Panelists include Dr. Matthew Kirby of CSUF, Dr. Jere Lipps of the Cooper Center, and Linda Marsa of Discover Magazine.
The field trip begins at the only museum of paleontology in Orange County, the Clark Paleontology Museum at Ralph B. Clark Regional Park. This small museum packs a lot of interesting specimens. Over the past million years or so, the area that has become Clark Regional Park has changed from a marine environment to a terrestrial environment. The park's rich fossil beds were revealed when the California Division of Highways excavated sand and gravel from the site for use in the construction of the Santa Ana and Riverside Freeways from 1956 to 1973. Many of the specimens on display were found within the park boundaries. We will explore the exhibit and the collections while have a light morning snack. On exhibit are many Rancholabrean megafauna, as well as a new wing focused on the pre-Pleistocene marine deposits of Orange County. Included are ammonites, an articulated 30' baleen whale, Alberionid dolphins, Imagotariine walruses, and an extremely large Palaeoparadoxiid desmostylian. Then, the field trip will travel across the street to fossiliferous marine outcrops to search for invertebrates and shark teeth.
A brief stop will take us by the Old Orange County Courthouse, the original courthouse of Orange County built in 1901. In their historical gallery, the Cooper Center has installed an exhibit entitled "Keeper's of Orange County's Past: Preserving our Heritage." This exhibit chronicles the long history of archaeology and paleontology in the county, and the effort of all the people who ensured that the rich history of the area was preserved for the future. It tells a rich story of the history of the area, the development of Cultural Resource and Paleontological Resource management through the mitigation of impacts by construction and development, and the birth of the Cooper Center. The Old Orange County Courthouse is also a favorite movie and television show set, and was used in Legally Blonde, J. Edgar, and as the exterior of Briarcliff Manor in American Horror Story: Asylum.
The infamous Orange County warehouse of fossils is now the Cooper Center! Over the past three years, a partnership with OC Parks and California State University, Fullerton, has ushered in a new era for the Orange County collections. Vast improvements to the collection include access to researchers, a fully equipped preparation laboratory, climate-controlled storage space, and a full-time staff. A backlog of 40+ years of collection in the county is now being addressed, and new improvements and discoveries are made every day. The field trip will stop at the Cooper Center for lunch, a lab tour, warehouse tour, and access to the collection. If you have a particular interest, please be sure to contact Meredith Rivin (firstname.lastname@example.org) to be sure that the specimens are accessible on that day.
The next portions of the trip will take us through Silverado and Santiago Canyons in the Santa Ana Mountains. This area is uncommonly rural for highly urbanized Orange County and much of it is designated open space, being part of the Irvine Ranch National Natural Landmark. It is home to coyotes and mountain lions, and the oldest rocks in Orange County at middle Jurassic age. Major developments in the area that produced fossils are the 241-toll road (Eastern Transportation Corridor) and the now closed Santiago Canyon landfill. Many other fossils have been collected by locals since the 1920s.
Our fourth stop will be at an outcrop of the Holz Shale Member of the Ladd Formation, one of the most prolific Cretaceous outcrops in southern California. Bivalves, gastropods, and ammonites are easily found in the outcrop, and it has also rarely produced sharks, hadrosaur dinosaurs, and a string of vertebrae belonging to a plesiosaur. All eyes to the outcrop to find those rare vertebrates.
Orange County boasts its own "red rocks" exposure of the late Eocene to early Miocene Sespe Formation. This particular outcrop hasn't produced fossils (yet) but is well worth the stop for the scenery. Trip leaders will be on hand to discuss the many important fossils found in the Orange County Sespe Formation, as well as the lithology.
After getting lost in the foothills of the Santa Ana mountains, it is a shock to emerge into suburban Orange County. However, the paleontology is under the feet of the millions of residents living here. We will take a rest stop at the Laguna Hills Community Center, which highlights many of the Miocene and Pleistocene finds in Orange County in their exhibits. Across the parking lot, a fossil themed playground includes a baleen whale skeleton, a reconstruction of the Topanga Formation, and many other fossil curiosities. Nearby Costeau Pit and contemporaneous Pleistocene sites produce bison, mammoth, and giant ground sloth. The famous "Pecten Reef," actually the Saddleback Valley limestone, records the middle Miocene global climatic optimum and has produced ninety-seven species of invertebrates, coralline algae, fish, shark, and marine mammals.
Highway construction in Orange County over the last twenty years results in the discovery of many important fossil sites. One of these includes the Laguna Canyon Road local fauna, the most diverse early Miocene marine mammal site anywhere in the world. The unassuming hill in this photograph is densely packed with the bones of cetaceans, sirenians, and desmostylians, in extremely hard sandstone of the Vaqueros Formation. When this road was widened in the early 2000's, over thirty skulls of marine mammals were recovered, along with hundreds of disassociated skeletons, shark teeth, and mollusks. This important fauna includes the latest occurring toothed mysticetes and the earliest specifically identifiable dugong from the eastern North Pacific.
The ancient Newport River, now filled by sea water during the last rise of sea level from -120m to the present level, was cut during the late Pleistocene low stand at 120m. The Newport Mesa was eroded during the last high stand of sea level at ~125,000 years ago and has been further uplifted by tectonic activity. The image shows the Miocene Monterey formation, here about 16-14mya. It contains some of the finest microfossils (forams, diatoms, radiolaria, coccoliths) found anywhere in California of this age. The Upper Newport Bay was filled with sediment by 4-5000 years ago as sea level rose and sedimentation increased in the shallow, newly forming bay. The image also shows the urban setting now of these fantastic fossiliferous rocks and young environments.
Enjoy the Orange County view of Newport Back Bay, the Pacific Ocean, and Catalina Island as the sun sets and we return to Los Angeles for SVP 2013!