Last week I travelled to Cape Otway to help find fossils. The dig went for a total of three weeks and I was part of the second week team. From the 7th to the 14th I and a group of volunteers and scientists from Museum Victoria worked our way through rock to find the hidden treasures inside.

Along with all the fun I had making friends, socialising and learning about geology and palaeontology I also experienced various stages of fieldwork – from excavation to preparing specimens for transport. Rocks with fossils in them were cut out of “the hole” for the rest of the team to select from and break. Once a fossil was found they were wrapped and labelled ready for transport back to the Museum.

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Senior diggers worked in “the hole” to extract rock for the rest of us to break. In week two it was Alan, John, Corrie and James. It was messy work in “the hole” the surface you were working on needed to be constantly washed so that you could see fossils that may appear in your next cut. Common tools used in “the hole” were the big and little saws, large and small chisels, shovels, mallets and containers to collect fossils in. Working in the hole I found one fossil.

Most of us spent our time breaking large rocks down into 1-2cm cubes. In this way we find any fossils the people in “the hole” missed. Through this method I found three fossils.

On the 9th I helped to wrap and label the fossils found that day. The steps I learned for this process are as follows:

  1. Write on the label who found the fossil, the date, which end of the hole it was found, and a short description of the fossil.
  2. Take the rock containing the fossil and cover the fossil with folded toilet paper to protect it.
  3. If possible tape the rock halves together with the toilet paper inside.
  4. Get some newspaper and wrap it around the rock.
  5. Stick the label on, making sure it is not over the newspaper edge.

Then at the end of the day Wendy and Alan number all fossils and enter them into the Field Catalogue.

I am so pleased to have had this opportunity to experience fieldwork with a group of the most fantastic people I have ever known. I think I am already hooked, here’s to next year!

Till next time!
DFTBA (Don’t Forget to be Awesome)

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