020620: Gastropods Part 3

A few weeks back I posted some images of  Devonian gastropods – all local, all approximately 387 million years old. Today’s images of gastropods are from a different place and a different time.

These go back a bit further to roughly 460 million years ago, during the Ordovician Period, and are found in the earliest reef system known today. The Chazy Fossil Reef is located on Isle La Motte, one of several  islands just below the Canadian border in Lake Champlain.

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Gastropods weren’t the only creatures inhabiting that reef. Crinoids, trilobites, cephalopods and other marine invertebrates rounded out the scene.

Since 1998 the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust  has worked to conserve significant sites of the Chazy Fossil Reef.

There are two preserves on the reef, Goodsell Ridge and Fisk Quarry. Specific information on visiting can be found here.

It’s a great place to visit any time of year.

Fisk Quarry during Autumn. Reach down for a fallen apple and find more gastropods. They do show up everywhere.

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Best wishes to all my ILM friends. I look forward to our next visit!

100616: Chazy Reef 2016

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Just got back from Isle La Motte, Vermont after retrieving my recent show. It’s always a pleasure visiting with all the fine folks at the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust. It’s also a pleasure to take some time sitting on the shore of Lake Champlain, relaxing amid the surrounding beauty

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The water was exceptionally low, something we’ve heard throughout the Northeast for months now. The receding shoreline has exposed usually submerged rocks, giving us a reason to walk the shore and explore.

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Aside from the odd apple tree (an escapee from one of the numerous orchards on the island), we found way too many fossils to even count. What a bonanza!

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Gastropods, cephalopods, and stromatoporoids.

For those unfamiliar, gastropods are the spirally ones, cephalopods are the straight ones, and stromatoporoids are the wavy ones.

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They are all marine invertebrate fossils from the Ordovician Period, roughly 480 million years ago.

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This southern part of the island, a world renowned geological treasure known as the Chazy Fossil Reef, is the world’s oldest ecologically diverse fossil reef.

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Information on the science and history of the Reef can be found at the ILMPT website. The story of the environmental battles that led to the preservation of the reef sites, “The Quarriers: A Conservation Tale,” written by Linda Fitch, can be found here.

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An important part of ILMPT’s mission is public education. Student groups from all over the region make visits to the Goodsell Ridge Preserve, where many fossil outcrops exist. The newly renovated barn, now the Nature Center is a focal point for students, educators, scientists, tourists, and the local population.

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I’ll finish for today with these two images, a sponge above and a gastropod below, new additions to the collection in the Nature Center. Plan a visit if you are in the area.

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Thanks for the visit.

1001: TR at ILM

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That’s Teddy Roosevelt Day on Isle La Motte. Every September, the inhabitants of this little island on Lake Champlain celebrate our 26th U.S. President, lifelong naturalist and champion conservationist. As the story goes, TR, while serving as Vice President, visited the island in September of 1901. While there, a phone call came for him (on the island’s only telephone at the time) informing him that President McKinley had been shot.

An important event in local history certainly, but it’s the “conservationist” issue that resonates with the island’s residents. Their tireless efforts to save and preserve Chazy Reef for all of us continues today as it has for the past twenty years. The island’s bedrock is formed by the oldest known fossil coral reef in the world – nearly a half billion years old! And scientists from the world over visit the site to peer into the planet’s deep past.

This year’s events, ranging from apple picking, cider pressing, demonstrations at the Historical Society, hayrides, etc. all culminated in a parade, led by TR himself, that ended at the newly refurbished Goodsell Barn, The barn, pictured below, was formally introduced to the public as part of the day’s festivities, and will serve as a nature center and education space.

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I was honored to be asked to display a show of my Chazy Reef fossil images at this opening. And, I am happy to say that this work will reside there permanently and serve as a backdrop for future events educational and otherwise.

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TR showed up and praised the local conservation efforts. He best described the importance of the day, stressing the importance of our collective role as caretakers of the planet.

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And it was a message well received and appreciated by all those present.

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It was a great turnout. Seems like the whole island showed up. It was a wonderful experience – small town America at its finest. Neighbors working together for a common (and very important) good. They should be proud of their efforts. Their desire and ability to preserve and maintain Chazy Reef deserves our great thanks.

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The day ended, as all good small town events do, with a potluck dinner back at the Fisk Farm compound, where the indefatigable Beth and Larry Welton (otherwise known as Tin Penny) provided additional entertainment. It was a very special day.

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In my free moments, while wandering through the neighboring Fisk Quarry, I came across more and more gastropod fossils Here are a few of the new ones.

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More information about Chazy Reef and its importance may be found at the ILMPT website

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Aside from the trip to Isle La Motte I’ve been on the road a lot lately. But I did find a little time to crack some rocks back at the studio. This one rather small rock had an interesting yield. Here are three images from that rock.

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And, one last note that I couldn’t resist including. From a recent stay on Paradox Lake in the Adirondacks – views from the porch on Sunday night and hours later the following morning.

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Thanks for the visit,

0827: Chazy Reef Revisited

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On our recent trip to Maine, Cindy and I stopped first in Vermont to visit friends on Isle La Motte, a beautiful island near the top of Lake Champlain. We were first drawn to the island a few years ago when we sought out the world famous, 480 million year old Chazy Fossil Reef. That visit, which resulted in a show of my Chazy Reef fossil images, also began several friendships that grow warmly with each passing year.

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So it was time for a visit. Dinner with friends, old and new; a visit to a terrific exhibit “A Walk Through Time” at the Goodsell Ridge Preserveand,of course, another chance to photograph some of the oldest fossils I’ve ever had the opportunity to encounter.

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The Preserve, one half of the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust, is an 81 acre reef site with a Visitor’s Center and Museum. Also, there sits a newly revived and revitalized barn that will soon formally open and serve as a nature center. It’s an old beauty brought back to life by the skilled hands, strong commitment and deep love of the local folks. They are as much a treasure as is the actual reef. For it is only due to their efforts that this world-important science site remains preserved as a National Natural Landmark.

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The formal dedication and opening of the Goodsell Barn is set for September 19. I have been asked to produce a show for that opening. It is an honor and a pleasure to take part in the event. I’ll have more information on the show and related events soon. In the meantime, this is a selection of images, all taken at Chazy Reef, that I am busy printing and prepping for the show.

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And now, on to Maine.

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A few more images taken of the rock walls – those that are assaulted every day by the ocean tides.

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It seems like every day I was drawn to these rocks…

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…and every evening to our favorite place at sunset.

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We’re already planning for our trip next year! Thank you Eric and Betty!

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Once darkness fell we had company! They were no problem. They hid in the dark and didn’t eat much!

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Thanks for the visit.

0808: As Summer Races Along

IMG_2128_01_LR_10Corn every night from Story’s and an occasional ice cream from Circle W are two of the many things that make this time of year so special around here.

IMG_1257_01_LR_10It has been a very busy time for me in the studio lately. And I am happy to say that it’s getting even busier. So I’ll keep this pretty brief.

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IMG_1372_01_LR_10Last chance to see the Small Town Parade Show at the Saugerties Performing Arts Factory  (SPAF). The show has been extended through this weekend, August 10-11. All of us involved are most grateful for the response we received from the community at large. It was a great project for the eleven of us. Drop by if you can. Several of us should be around. including Rivka Katvan, seen below at the opening with her work.

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My main focus at the moment is my (rapidly approaching) show in Vermont. We hang the show next Thursday on Isle La Motte, as lovely a site for a show as any I have ever found. On this island sits the Chazy Fossil Reef, formed 480 million years ago. It’s a fascinating place, much of which has been saved thanks to the hard work of Linda Fitch and her associates. Their efforts led to the establishment of the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust, the organization that looks after things up there.

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The show is a collection of images I made from our visit over a year ago. The gastropod above is one of twenty five pieces that will be exhibited. I’ll try to have more on the show before we leave on Wednesday. In the meantime, I have a stack of prints and frames to attend to!

The opening will be held on Sunday afternoon, August 18 from 1-5 PM at Fisk Farm.

Fisk Farm is located directly north of the Fisk Quarry Preserve

3849 West Shore Road
Isle La Motte, VT 05463

I’ve been working on a number of gastropod images, so wouldn’t I start seeing them wherever I go – the other day in Woodstock, the wet sidewalk seemed to be weighing in!

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On another note, a stroll in Hudson the other day yielded this pair of color pieces.

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IMG_2161_01_LR_12It was the “ow” that caught my attention. It was speaking to me. The stroll was catching up with me – a herniated disc introduced itself while on my recent artists’ residency at Platte Clove – and it seems to want to hang around for a while. Despite it, that time spent up there was magical. And two of the images from that stay will be part of a show at the end of the month at the Catskill Center in Arkville. I’ll have more on that upon my return from Vermont. Here are the two that were chosen:

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IMG_1796a_01_LR_10Back to the framing for me. Thanks for your time today.

More images at www.artmurphy.com

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Chazy Reef – Part 2

It turns out that I came away from Chazy Reef with much more material than I had even hoped for. So, for today I’d like to focus on the Goodsell Preserve. Part 3 will wrap up with a focus on the Fisk Quarry Preserve. These two preserves comprise the land protected by the Isle La Motte Preservation Trust (ILMPT), an organization founded by local citizens in 1998. And, thanks to their efforts, in 2009 the Chazy Fossil Reef was awarded the designation of National Natural Landmark by the National Park Service.

The Goodsell Preserve

Fresh mown paths met us at Goodsell, allowing for an easy, relaxing walk through lush fields. The breeze off Lake Champlain and a warm early Summer sun made it ideal timing for our visit. The 81 acres are interlaced with paths connecting various reef mounds.

And it’s these mounds that contain some of the oldest fossils I have ever seen. Ordovician Period fossils such as gastropods, bryozoa, crinoids, cephalopods, etal. are present, sometimes only as faint outlines. No matter that they might sometimes be faint, given their age (approximately 450 million years old).

The Visitors Center on site is a converted and restored farmhouse (see last week’s blog for image). It contains, among other things, an instructive video about the two sites, and a collection of local fossils. The next five images are from that collection.

I should take a moment to stress, as I often do, that I am an artist and not a scientist. While I try my best to accurately identify that which I photograph, and I try my best to get good identification from those who know, I recognize that I often fall short where proper identification is concerned. So anyone out there who knows such things is most welcome to comment on any of the images. These next three are fine examples. Stromatoporoids? Algae? Sponges? Or just cool marbleized rock? Either way, the patterns are compelling.

I’ll leave you with one final image for this segment – the old barn at Goodsell, right behind the Visitors Center. The hope, according to Ms Fitch, founder and president of the Trust, is that it become an education center. Like everything else, that will take support. This is a national treasure, saved and protected by ordinary citizens, and united by common goal. They would love your support. Visit if Summer vacation brings you anywhere near. You will be glad you did.

Next week I’ll be writing about current news surrounding Gilboa and the world’s oldest forest. Then the following week back to the world’s oldest fossil reef in Part 3 – the Fisk Quarry Preserve.

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Thank you as always for visiting. More images at www.artmurphy.com