Pennsylvanian Mire Forest
The following images show the people involved and the place we were
for this fossil forest discovery. (Click on image for a larger view.)
People and Places
The landscape of East-Central Illinois on the surface above the coal
mines where the fossil forest was found. You can see flat fields, corn
and soybeans, a deciduous forest here and there... but no rainforest
vegetation! We need to travel 250 feet underground to find our
Pennsylvanian age rainforest vegetation.
Coal is found "underground". Here Howard Falcon-Lang (University of
Bristol) and John Nelson (Illinois State Geological Survey) stand outside
the mine headquarters before putting on their safety equipment and going
through safety training, prior to entering the mine.
Howard, all dressed up and ready to go. In addition to Howard's hard
hat, cap lamp, reflective gear, SCSR (self contained self rescuer),
battery pack and rock hammer, he is also wearing metatarsal guard boots
and pants cuff straps. Don't forget your backpack, gloves, and lunch
From left to right - John Nelson from ISGS, Phil Ames from Peabody
Energy, and Scott Elrick from ISGS discuss a series of geologic and
John Nelson, in the mine and examining the coal "rib". In the "roof" you
can see "roof bolts", which are used to stabilize the roof rock and keep
it from collapsing into the area from which the coal has been removed.
The roof rock and coal "rib" have been sprayed with limestone rock dust,
used to help stop explosions from propagating in the mine. This is what
causes many of the walls of the mine to appear white in color. It looks
like John remembered his lunch.
Scott Elrick, in a mine in Illinois, examining a few thin stringers of
coal above the main coal seam. Part of the 'rib' or wall of the
passageway has come down, allowing us to see the black and shiny nature
of the coal seam and the dull dark gray of the roof shale normally
hidden by the limestone rock dust.
Bill DiMichele, caught in the act of wrapping a fossil sample in
newspaper. By the end of the day, Bill will fill that backpack to the
top! On Bill's left hip you can see the battery pack that powers his cap
Text by Scott Elrick, Image captions by Bill DiMichele, Images by Howard
Falcon-Lang, Bill DiMichele and Scott Elrick