Cretaceous Period

146 to 65 mya

Potomac Formation

Dark-red, gray, pink, and white silty clay to clayey silt and very fine to medium sand beds. Beds of gray clayey silt to very fine sand that contain pieces of charcoal and lignite are common. Deposited in a fluvial setting in a tropical to subtropical environment as indicated by abundant paleosol horizons. Ranges from 20 ft updip to over 1600 ft thick in southern New Castle County.

RI71 Internal Stratigraphic Correlation of the Subsurface Potomac Formation, New Castle County, Delaware, and Adjacent Areas in Maryland and New Jersey

This report presents a new time-stratigraphic framework for the subsurface Potomac Formation of New Castle County, Delaware, part of adjacent Cecil County, Maryland, and nearby tie-in boreholes in New Jersey. The framework is based on a geophysical well-log correlation datum that approximates the contact between Upper and Lower Cretaceous sediments. This datum is constrained by age determinations based on published and unpublished results of studies of fossil pollen and spores in samples of sediment cores from boreholes in the study area.

Moss Animals: Phylum Bryozoa

Bryozoans, sometimes referred to as "moss animals," are a type of simple colonial animal that mostly lives in marine environments (a few inhabit freshwater). Bryozoans feed by means of a lophophore, a small ring of tentacles covered with tiny cilia that are used to filter food from the water. Bryozoan colonies are protected with a covering of organic materials or calcium carbonate. Some calcium carbonate forms may be found as fossils in the Cretaceous strata near the C & D Canal.

Corals and Jellyfish: Phylum Cnidaria

Cnidarians are soft-bodied animals that include corals, jellyfish, and sea anemones. These soft-bodied animals have saclike digestive cavities and tentacles containing rows or stinging cells used for defense and capture of food. Many secrete calcium carbonate to support and partly enclose the soft parts; the most familiar of these are corals. The only members of the phylum found at the Canal are solitary corals. One of these corals, Micrabacia, may be the most common fossil found. Another common fossil found there, a solitary horn-shaped coral, has been given different names by different authors.

Sponges: Phylum Porifera

Phylum Porifera is a group of simple animals that includes the sponges. Porifera have no internal organs, nervous tissue, circulatory system, or digestive systems, making them the most primitive of the multi-cellular animals. To support and protect their soft bodies, sponges produce skeletons of calcium carbonate, silica, or a soft organic material called spongin. The most common fossil sponge in the Cretaceous sediments of Delaware is the genus Cliona. Cliona sponges lived on rocks and shells of the seafloor and commonly bored holes in these objects, in which it lived. To obtain food, the sponges filtered the water around them as it passed through tiny pores located on their outer walls. The sponge is common in the Mount Laurel Formation along the Canal.

Fossil Sites In Delaware

Delaware offers a few sites for fossil collectors, and the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and the Pollack Farm are the best. Other locations throughout the state also offer good hunting grounds for fossil collectors. Just south of Dagsboro, where Route 113 crosses Pepper Creek, the collector can find young (less than 2 million year old) marine fossils from the Pleistocene Epoch. At the state sand and gravel pit just south of Middletown on Route 896, plant impressions from the Pleistocene may be found.

What is a fossil?

If you think you may have found a Delaware dinosaur or any unusual fossil, the scientists at the Delaware Geological Survey at the University of Delaware, Newark campus would like to see it. It could provide important information on the geologic history of the First State.