The Roar of the Bay

The Roar of the Bay
The Roar of the Bay

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Playing With Power Tools

I'm the type of person that needs to keep busy. Down time such as in Winter causes me to be in a sad and depressive deposition. I've been thinking that picking up a hobby such as carpentry would help me break the monotony and make me use that time to be more productive. In April I went to Home Depot and got myself a whole whack of tools. Miter saws are the bizzneesssss. They're amazing to use (Compound Miter saw that is).

Drills, sanders, circular and jig saws, brad nailer: I went kinda nuts. Got the rest of what I needed and pushed on.

Rough sketching

First things I wanted to do is to maximize the use of my brother's side yard. The area is small, but with a few strategically places planters, we could make use of the empty space. They were my first projects so I didn't really want to spend some dough on material (besides the power tools) if I would somehow have the tendency to f@#$ up. So by using wood from wood pallets, I would be recycling wood and repurposing it for other more practical things, such as planters and raised gardens.

Recycled wood from pallets

First thing on the list was a 3' x 6' raised bed to go along the South/West facing fence. This would be used to plant cucumbers, carrots, and a whole bunch of goodies. The second, smaller planter would be 2' x 2' and would accommodate my tomatoes and some onions.

Side walls for the 3x6 planter

Added the other sides

When I built the first planter, I designed it so that 3 1/2 inches would stick out and anchor down in the ground. That way the weight of the dirt inside the box wouldn't shift the whole thing.

Mom supervising. No pressure!

Stapled the weed barrier and tipped the planter on top of the prepped area. Fitted and aligned the box to the holes and tapped the corners with my hammer to get them leveled.

The second, smaller planter took me less to build. It got easier after the first one. Both were finished sometime last week.

Yesterday was a rainy day and I usually struggle with rainy weather, especially when the barometric pressure is super high. I wanted to keep busy so I went to the shed and spent the day building this little fella.

This 3 tier planter is 30 inches wide and each planter is a little over 6 inches in height (each). I built the whole thing yesterday from scratch. Precut, predrilled, good set of plans. Boom, awesomeness made of recycled wood. I drilled some holes in each planter for drainage and set all three on a frame. Miter saw made angle cuts kids play. So far everything measured up and were perfectly leveled. I found building and constructing things therapeutic.

Brace in the back for added strength

I have a whole lot of things to cross off my to-do list. I'll keep you posted on my new project(s).


- Keenan

Sussex Field Work (January 2015)

Sussex is an interesting region in terms of geology and paleobiology. An amalgamation of different formations crisscrossing the larger Moncton Basin, this area was the target of study by local and foreign interests. Sussex is known for its potash mines, but one shouldn't forget the importance of the rich fossil localities doting the region. One such discovery was probably evidence of Canada's oldest forest, which is of significance.

Matt Stimson, along with other professionals in the field, did some work in the area. I've had the chance to assist on occasion in a few field trips. The work done in this region is still ongoing and soon to be published. This time around we decided to target an area I've never gone or attempted to go yet. I'm used to quarries, but this time we would be spending the day at a road cut.

Me and my braids

Matt getting ready

It was a few days after the Christmas holidays so it was kinda cold. The wind was nippy but we were lucky that ice hadn't formed yet on the ledges and that snow hadn't blanketed the area. The day started kinda grey but by the afternoon, the Sun had come out. It was a welcome event as the wind was freakin' cold.

We made our way to the center cut. Traffic wasn't much of a factor as you can see cars coming from miles away, and plenty of space to park my car off the road.

Area of Research: The rocks here are comprised of several units of interbedding sandstones and mudstones. Within these units, some several meters thick, are shale layers. Within these layers are indications of both plant and aquatic biota. Traces of fish material, scales, teeth, bone, are contained in some of the layers, forming some small limestone lenses and strata. Other areas along the cut feature plants. In all this mix, there are trackways. The work in the area is ongoing so all the data hasn't surfaced yet until publication sees the day.

The cut showed signs of faulting, backed by folding.

This looked promising

We found many invertebrate trackways such as diplichnites and rusophycus. Most were very well preserved, even though exposed to the elements. From traces to scales and teeth, the record showed a high level of activity, condensed. The work goes on.

We reached a spot where we encountered plants. I don't remember if these were referenced or cataloged previously. The preservation was fair, and we were able to find a good number of specimens. The New Brunswick Museum lab will have new specimens to work on by the end of the day.

One of many specimens

Root system

Plant specimen showing shoot/stem and leaves

We've covered only a small portion of the area. Different zones have been targeted for future study. Having done work for the past Summers, I can see why Sussex and its surrounding localities have been visited. The amount of fossils in the around is astounding, especially when talking about trackways.

The work continues...

- Keenan

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Clifton (June 2014)

As I promised myself, this has now become a yearly trip for me. As I'm getting ready to head out soon, let's reminisce on a previous trip that happened on one, if not THE hottest day of June of 2014. one comes down from the wave breakers near the wharf of Stonehaven

I checked the weather for that day and I knew it was going to be a hot one, but I never anticipated what hot was in this area. I've prepared but soon to find out I could have been more careful. But I digress. Moving on.

If you've been keeping tabs on my previous Clifton posts, you'll remember that these layers are mostly perpendicular to each other, almost perfectly horizontal observed in short distances. The Sandstone tends to meet with meandering bodies of water. When you walk, you'll mostly see the rock layers as shown from the pic above, and then bam, you'll get to see this:

The lenses show bodies infilled with different clast size, forming sandstone and/or mudstone type filled channels. Here's what I see when I look at the photo above:

Close up

Water channels that move, in perpetual motion, migrating this way or that. Interesting features as one tends to keep a closer eye for any sign of trackways.

The strata in Clifton also contain in situ wonderful tree specimens that rival the ones at Joggins, at least in size. I can't recall if I've encountered one tree in Clifton that had been scared by flames such as in its almost twin in Joggins, but I'll have to make note next trek.

When you're lucky enough, you will get shale that can be split without destroying the whole sample. The fragility of some makes it tough to be able to conserve in one piece but it happens from time to time. The details on some of these plants are exquisite. There are a few other places in New Brunswick, such as Minto, where plants have been perserved in similar high contrast.

I haven't had the time to delve into naming different members of specific genus or families, but that will come soon enough.

This is an interesting fella

Calamite, annularia...

As the Sun started beating down on me and my water reserve severely depleting, I turned tail and made my way off the beach. These cliffs created a dead zone as no current was passing through and I could feel the full brunt of an almost 40 degree Celcius heat. By the time I had made my way up and recovered, I've realized how close I came to having a heat stroke. Hospitalization would have probably happened.

On my way back to Moncton, which was about 3 hours drive back South of the province, the heat had taken its effects on me and luckily my parents lived on the road on the main stretch. I stopped and rested for a while to try to recuperate and gather some semblance of strength and finished my trip. I think it is in the cards to bring at least a partner next time I go.

There is a whole lot to do in Clifton and there are many opportunities to explore in this locale. The main thing beside shining a spotlight in this geographical treasure trove, is to have locals made aware of how important this site is for not just New Brunswick, but for the entire scientific community. There is some work being done on some discoveries made in the recent years, but there is vast potential to make more. As long as there is interest, people will keep being drawn to this forgotten shore where once vast forests doted the land, offering life and shelter to its many denizens.

The search continues.

- Keenan

Joggins, Nova Scotia - October 2014

October of 2014 saw a few storms that rocked the coast of Joggins pretty good. In sites like these, the day(s) after a storm is the best day to see if nature revealed more of its secrets. I invited my friend Ray to come down South to Nova Scotia with me for a little trip and boom, on the road with good company!

For people that don't know what or where Joggins is by now (look up my previous posts or just search for it on the 'InTeRnEtS' via a search engine), you'll find out that this UNESCO site plays a crucial part in trying to understand our past, before the domination of giant diapsids, aka dinosaurs. This place touts having discovered some of the (if not the) oldest reptile ever found, which most remains are lodged inside fossil trees which Joggins is reknowned for.

The area that we usually like to walk to is a section along the Joggins Formation, located between Lower Cove and Shulie. The formations North/North East of the targeted section, Boss Point/Lower Cove, are older. The cliffs are set as classic layer position, although tilted for a few kilometers, where the older rock is at the bottom, and topped with younger strata.

There is a nice spot to park near the small bridge in Lower Cove. From there, you make your way down and start heading South. It only takes a few hundred feet before you start encountering the exposed cliff strata.

Calamite within another plant fossil(square on scale=1cm)

Walking a few meters more we noticed this while looking up...

As we saw some of the sandstone slabs and boulders slide down the cliff, or just hang there precariously, we came up upon this slab.

These had wonderful tetrapod tracks running on one side of the slab of sandstone, running from the bottom, and running off on the left side.

These prints are not bad, well preserved, and can easily make out the manus and pes (hands and feet) of the track-making animal. The average height of these prints are between 3 to 4.5 CM, with a width of 4 to 4.5 CM. I have many more photos that offer different angles and exact scale measurements, which I didn't post. And yes I realize that the scale on these 3 pics obscure an actual print. My bad.

Ray playing the role of the human scale

Trying to figure out from which layer this dropped from

Being observers without a permit, we had to leave the tracks untouched where we found them. Unfortunate as these are most probably shattered in pieces, carried by the strong tides. We that, we moved on.

The remainder of our walk is what is considered a typical Joggins walk, seeing trees, roots, plants, and the occasional fern.

Tree cast with coal

Close up


Mass of ferns

Tree cast


There might be changes coming and the chance to save these type of fossils could be made a little easier with positive collaboration with invested entities such as the Joggins Fossil Center. In the future, I and others will have to be more careful in capturing relevant data, flagging the specimen(s), record the coordinates, and try to flag someone who has the power to extract said so fossil(s). This way the chances to save something like the trackways found that day from the ravages of time and nature would be more favorable. Time will tell.

Till the next adventure!

- Keenan