what is this?

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    Is this alien?

    Eleanor Gardner

    Nope, not alien! This is a fossilized tabulate coral. From your picture, it appears to be one of the branching structures of some tabulate coral colonies. We can probably give you more detail if you know where you found it (?).

    Kent Crippen

    This came from the matrix that @vperez collected from Aurora, NC.

    Eleanor Gardner

    Given that this piece of coral came from the Aurora mine matrix, it means that the stratigraphic context is difficult to discern (sediments get jumbled during the overburden removal process). Therefore, it could be Miocene to Early Pleistocene in age. As to identification, it looks like the coral genus Solenastrea, which is found fairly frequently at Aurora.

    – What do you think? Am I in the right ball park?

    Lee Cone

    There are a number of different formations that make up the Aurora overburden.  The formation that I have seen the greatest amount of coral is the James City.  It would not be the layer that you want for pristine Megs, but it is rich in shells and coral and occasionally a great white.  Most of the coral is bright white after it washes and long branches and branched pieces can be found.  This material is Pleistocene in age.  There are other formations that can have coral as well.  This coral is more like what is pictured.  It is from the Pungo River Formation, which is Miocene.  If the pictured piece came from the piles of reject material in front of the museum, then as Eleanor said, it could be anything from miocene to pleistocene.  My guess, though, would be Pungo (miocene)

    Lee Cone

    Kent  @kcrippen just a little more information about your find.  The Pungo material is by far the predominant material in the AFM “pit” where Victor @vperez filled the bucket for you.  The James City Formation (Pleistocene) is at the top level of dragline overburden.  They then remove another 30 feet of overburden to get to the top of the Pungo layer, and the layer of Pungo that they mine is lower still.  That material contains an economically large enough quantity of phosphate to lift out of the mine and wash (blast with water) to “float” off the phosphate.  The rest of the material falls through and is termed reject material.  That is the material that is trucked to the “pits” at the museum and around town.  Though it is conceivably possible for any specimen from a higher stratigraphic layer to be mixed in, I feel that you could be very confident that it is miocene in age.  The good news that I have heard is that the reject that is being trucked into the “pit” has not been washed at all or is only washed once instead of twice.  That has resulted in much better finds recently by collectors at the museum piles.

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