Glacial polished dolostone on Schoolhouse Beach, Washington Island, WI.
Of his bones are coral made:
Those are pearls that were his eyes:
Nothing of him that doth fade
But doth suffer a sea-change
Friday night I met with a group of geologists, educators, and fossil enthusiasts to celebrate the authoring and publishing ofThe Mazon Creek Fossil Fauna by the Earth Science Club of Northern Illinois at the home of Charles and Susan Shabica. My husband and I hosted a similar party at our home for the publication of the Richardson’s Guide to the Fossil and Fauna of Mazon Creek by Charles W. Shabica and Andrew A. Hay. Charlie and our family have fond memories of our times with the late Andrew Hay and Don Auler. Our family enjoyed Mazon Creek events and many rock club field trips with Andy and Don. Don Auler, whose illustrations fill Mazon Creek books, also came to our home to teach our 4 children how to paint.
Charlie and I began to swap stories about our time on Cumberland Island as we visited with Susan who was putting the finishing touches on her homemade lasagna. Charlie, a coastal geologist who taught for Northeastern Illinois University, has led geology groups on Cumberland Island and I have recently circumnavigated it by kayak. Cumberland Island is Georgia’s largest and southernmost barrier island. Its 9,800 acres of designated wilderness include pristine maritime forests undeveloped beaches.
Although the earliest records of the coastal environments in parts of the southeastern United States have been lost due to the continuing rise of the sea, in 1970 an extensive shell midden area with Spanish and historic Indian ceramics was found. The center of the site is 3.6 miles from the NW tip of Amelia Island. The shell midden runs almost a mile along the island’s edge with its south end on the Old Thomas Carnegie family estate of Dungeness on Cumberland Island. (4)
Before making my way up to Northport Pier, I hiked the trails at Cave Point Park. It is here that you can witness sea caves being formed today as bedrock dolostone is being eroded by crashing waves.
About 5,000 years ago, Cave Point defined Clark Bay, but when the water levels rose the point was submerged and became a sand bar. This slowed down water currents, causing the sand that water carried to deposit southwest of the point. The accumulating sand created the Whitefish Dunes and Clark Lake.
All of the Door Peninsula is a classic example of a cuesta with an escarpment on the northwestern shore of the peninsula. An escarpment is a steep cliff edge of a cuesta (Spanish for ‘slope;’ the land behind the escarpment.), which is formed from slightly tilted layers of rocks. The steep cliff face forms when crumbly rocks, such as shale, are eroded from beneath erosion-resistant rocks like limestone or dolomite, which then break off to make the cliff face.
Beyond Washington Island is one of the Niagara Escarpment’s longest gaps as it stretches under the waters to Michigan and on to Ontario. The escarpment is a mere 160’ above the lake’s surface, surrounding Washington Island’s wave-battered exterior.
The Byron Dolostone is a basal unit of the Burnt Bluff Group in the Niagaran Series. It is a white to light gray, dense, very finely grained, even-textured, sub-lithographic dolostone that reaches a maximum thickness of 130 feet. Because the rock is so well stratified in even and regular beds, it breaks down into rectangular blocks. (9) These blocks weather into brick-like cobbles such as those on the beach at Schoolhouse beach in Washington Harbor on Washington Island
The earliest permanent settlers in Northern Door County fished, hunted, and traded with local Indians. In 1994 a dig at Nicolet Bay uncovered artifacts dated to the Early, Middle and Late Woodland and Oneota Native American cultures (400BC). Mixed villages of Potawatomi and other native groups occupied Door County and its islands through the mid 1800s.
Modern man is often out of touch with the natural world. We no longer interact with plants, animals, or the environment in ways that allow us to learn and apply scientific principles. What former generations knew about animals because they kept livestock or about the weather because they spent a lot of time outdoors we now have to learn from books.
Scientists take things out of their natural setting and study their parts and details. This fragmenting of something alive can strip it of its allure. A naturalist can study plants, animals, rocks, in their natural settings where he can appreciate its uniqueness, learning its habits, its patterns, and its interaction with other created things.
Forward by Charles W. Shabica, Emeritus Professor,
Northeastern Illinois University,
1. Mike Sula, The Vanishing Mother Lode, Chicago Reader; 7/1/04.
2. Elizabeth Harmon, Fossil Hunters Dig the Past in Illinois or out West, suburban residents seek bits of history, Arlington Heights Daily Herald; 7/3/03.
5. Roy Lukes, Caves Give History, Geology Lessons, Door County Advocate; 9/10/99.