Let’s Go Fossil Hunting In Newport!
Winter months are the best time of year to find fossils on the beach
Although fossils can be found strewn about and partially buried on Newport’s beaches throughout the year, winter months are the best time to find them. Winter storms churn up a variety of interesting objects from the bottom of the ocean, send all kinds of debris to the beach on wild waves, and scour and rip rocks and fossils loose from sediment layers. Low tides that occur just after rough winter weather tend to reveal the largest bounty of fossils ready to be discovered.
Many kinds of fossils can be found on local beaches, and most were eroded away from 15 to 20 million year old layers of sandstone and volcanic ash from the geological creation known as the Astoria Formation. Fossilized clams, scallops, and snails are common, but periodically mammal bones from whales and dolphins, fish or shark teeth, and even turtle shells appear on the beach. Petrified wood and fossilized leaves also surface from time to time.
Incomplete fossils, or fragments, are more common than complete fossils. They can be found in chunks of sandstone and other kinds of softer rocks. Take the time to study pieces of sandstone when you find them on the beach; they may contain pieces of fossils that are not visible from where they are positioned in the sand.
One of the best places to search for fossils is just north of Newport at Moolack Beach. You can easily enter Moolack Beach from Beverly Beach State Park, and you’ll have the most luck walking along the sand and surf toward Otter Rock or searching in the shallow waters of Coal Creek, which enters the beach just south of the parking lot.
When you head down to the beach at the first low tide after a winter storm, make sure to be aware of your surroundings. Sneaker waves can move in very quickly after a storm, so always keep an eye on the incoming waves. All fossils and other beach rocks can only be legally collected from the beach itself, so don’t dig into or disturb surrounding bedrock or search on the cliffs that overlook the beach.
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