Another Kind of Surface Design

Sometimes you just have to visit the beach.

The Iowa River’s treacherous flooding from one year ago caused water to cross over the Coralville Dam’s spillway for only the second time in its history. (The first time was during the floods of 1993.) Before that first flooding, this hillside was like any other in the area- tree covered ravines with plenty of deer and poison ivy. In just a few days, that first flood exposed a swath of Devonian-era limestone that seemingly should have taken decades to accomplish. Scientists were fascinated to see the array of sea life (crinoids, coral, shells and fish) from several epochs, all in fossil form.looking towards the dam

On this beautiful day following a spell of muggy, intense heat, we ventured to the Fossil Gorge, as it’s become known, to view the interpretative display designed by Will Thomson of Armadillo Arts and commissioned by the Army Corps of Engineers and local volunteers, . Will is joined by visitor George Stanley, a paleontologist at the University of Montana, and family members Michael Burt and Nancy Westvig, owners of our local Fired Up! paint your own ceramics place. What’s really wonderful about this site is its open-air museum quality, where families and hikers can touch the strata of rock formations, experiencing it first hand in an outdoor setting.

This coral fossil was found in the ledge outcropping shown in the photo above.
George Stanley photographing crinoids. These are just the stems of a long “sea flower” with a wide base, like a kelp bed, only these are from the animal kingdom.