Category Archives: Field Trips

Nov. 22 field trip

When: 8:00AM, Sunday, November 22, 2020

Where: Dumont Road, Nanaimo

Directions: Meet at Helmcken Park & Ride at 8:00am. COVID-19 protocols remain in effect; masks during meet and greet and travel via separate vehicles.

Exposure: Dumont Road is the site of two quarries containing exposures of the Late Cretaceous Haslam Formation, where beautiful white fossils of the the ammonites Canadoceras and Pseudoschloenbachia, numerous bivalves and gastropods and other diverse fossils have been found, along with occasional plant material.  The lower of the two quarries is now a motocross track and practice may be taking place so awareness and caution are needed.  The upper quarry hasn’t been excavated in many years, but preserves a slightly different fauna – perhaps younger? – than that of the lower quarry.

Equipment: Fossils are found in the rock and in concretions, so a good hammer or sledge, chisel, and protective eyewear are required. It’s a hillside, so expect to ascend and descend slopes with some significant elevation gain, with some uneven footing, but as sites go, it’s an easy walk. Dress for the season and bring lunch and water.

Contact: RSVP Jerri Wilkins, Field Trip Lead, via the VicPS Facebook page or via email.

Oct. 25 Field Trip

When: Sunday, Oct. 25, 2020

Where: Mount Tzouhalem 

Directions: Meet at Helmcken Park & Ride at 9 am. Carpooling optional/personal decision; masks must be worn if/while carpooling, social distancing mandatory throughout the field trip.

What will I be collecting? East of Duncan lies Mount Tzouhalem, a high point of land that overlooks Cowichan Bay. Much of the mountain is forested, and some of it is protected by an ecological reserve, but the northern side of the mountain has been subdivided and has many residential properties. At the top of the mountain an enormous area was cleared and landscaped to become a golf course, but the failure of the development means that the part of the hill is now being turned into housing as well. Fossils at this locality are characteristic of the older part of the Haslam Formation, including the typical ammonites heteromorphs (Haeuriceras, Eupachydiscus, and the heteromorphs Eubostrychoceras and Glyptoxoceras), and a wide variety of clams and snails. Along with the more standard fare, the exposures here have yielded some rarities, such as the crinoid Uintacrinus and the spiny ammonite Urakawites, which are unknown from most other Haslam localities. Preservation of shell is typically black in colour.

What should I expect? Access to Mount Tzouhalem is good, we can drive to within a few minutes’ walk of the best exposures, but because it is a hillside you should expect to ascend and descend slopes with some significant elevation gain. We will be targeting large piles of boulders created on a few locations on the hillside (because this tends to be where erosion takes place), so you could also be walking on slightly uneven footing. Because there is just so much of the mountain to explore, everyone should be able to find an area to suit them, and for this reason I can recommend Mount Tzouhalem to collectors of all ages and activity levels. Fossils are found in the rock and concretions, so a good hammer or sledge, chisel, and protective eyewear are required. Be aware that this is the site of a former excavation, so you should expect to be walking on rocks and boulders that can be slippery and treacherous.

Why should I come on this field trip? Fossils are not especially common on Mount Tzouhalem, either in the rock or in concretions, but because there is just so much rock exposed here we usually have some finds. The VicPS has been collecting on Mount Tzouhalem for several years, and with excavations no longer occurring there we may not find as much fresh rock as we used to, but there are still many fossils to be found. The diversity of the Cretaceous fauna at this locality, the chance to find a rare or unusual fossil, and the beautiful views of the Cowichan Valley always make Mount Tzouhalem an attractive choice for fall and winter collecting.

Contact: RSVP Jerri Wilkins via the VicPS Facebook page or via email.

Residential building activities present opportunities at Mount Tzouhalem in 2017. Image courtesy Jerri Wilkins.

Sep. 27 Field Trip

When: Sunday, Sept 27, 2020

Where: Chemainus River

Directions: Meet at Helmcken Park & Ride at 9am. Carpooling optional/personal decision; masks must be worn if/while carpooling, social distancing mandatory throughout the field trip.

Exposure: Cliffs along the deep canyon of the Chemainus River expose the black mudstones of the Haslam Formation, an ancient marine environment deposited in the Upper Cretaceous (85MY before present). Fossils can be found high above on the cliff face and loose in the steep piles of scree stretching to river level. Fossil are common in large and small concretions and in situ on this stretch of the river.

Many of the fossils of the Haslam Formation are representatives of extinct animal groups which have no modern counterparts. The ancient Haslam environment was a shallow sea populated by molluscs, fishes, and giant marine reptiles. Some of the fossils, such as clams and snails, are similar to their modern relatives, but others, such as the extinct ammonites, provide an excellent opportunity to explore changing life and environment over geological time.

Contact: RSVP Jerri Wilkins via the VicPS Facebook page or via email.

Field trip planned for July 19

Pandemic limited your digging to your garden? Relief is in sight!

A field trip is planned for the easily accessible Muir Creek by Jerri Wilkins for July 19.  Please read this information about this trip. Note both

  • the COVID-19 instructions to ensure we all stay safe and healthy
  • the need for you to be a paid VicPS member to join this field trip

This Muir Creek field guide prepared by the RBCM with additional info and the photos will help you to identify many of the Sooke Formation fauna.

To participate, please let Jerri know in advance by email or via the Facebook page.

Nov. 17 Field Trip

Jerri Wilkins will lead a field trip along some backwoods logging roads, so more driving than collecting anticipated. Clothing appropriate to backwoods is a must, as is food and water. This is a return to the site visited Oct. 20. Look to your email for a Vicps communication that specifies the targeted area.

Meet at Helmcken Park and Ride at 9am. Detailed directions and maps to be shared at that time.

Please confirm in advance if you plan to join the field trip. Message Jerri Wilkins via the VicPS Facebook page or via email at jlwilkins2@hotmail.com.

Aug 18 Field Trip

A field trip has been planned for Sunday, August 18th. VicPS members should watch their email for details.

Meet at the Helmcken Road Park and Ride at 9 am. Carpool to our destination. Return to Helmcken Road Park and Ride is expected to be late afternoon or early evening.

Please confirm in advance if you plan to join the field trip. Message Jerri Wilkins via the VicPS Facebook page or via email at jlwilkins2@hotmail.com.

June 30 Field Trip

A field trip has been planned for Sunday, June 30th. VicPS members should watch their email for details.

Meet at the Helmcken Road Park and Ride at 9 am. Carpool to our destination. Return to Helmcken Road Park and Ride is expected to be late afternoon or early evening.

Please confirm in advance if you plan to join the field trip. Message Jerri Wilkins via the VicPS Facebook page or via email at jlwilkins2@hotmail.com.

May 26 Field Trip

A field trip is being planned for May 26th. VicPS members should watch their email for details.

Meet at the Helmcken Road Park and Ride at 9 am. Carpool to our destination. Return to Helmcken Road Park and Ride will be mid to late afternoon.

Please confirm in advance if you plan to join the field trip. Message Jerri Wilkins via the VicPS Facebook page or via email at jlwilkins2@hotmail.com.

Thanks to Jerri Wilkins for arranging access to this site, which will be new to most members!