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.

Keenan wearing a toque with braids
Me and my braids

Matt Stimson getting ready to hit the field
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.

Matt Stimson walking along the road cut on the Sussex highway

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.

View of the fossil bearing road cut along the Sussex highway in New Brunswick

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.

Sussex road cut showing signs of faulting and folding
The cut showed signs of faulting, backed by folding.

Matt Stimson checking the folding and faulting of the Sussex road cut

Matt Stimson inspecting closely folding along the Sussex road cut

Close up view of folding and faulting of the Sussex road cut

Layers of rock where trackways were found along the Sussex road cut
This looked promising

Invertebrate diplichnites and rusophus trackways found at the Sussex road cut

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.

Matt Stimson getting closer to fossil bearing rock

Fossil plant bearing rock at the Sussex road cut

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.

Close up for a plant fossil
One of many specimens

Fossil plant root system
Root system

Sunlight shining on fossil plant

Plant speciment showing shoot, stem and leaves, with scale for size reference
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

Disclaimer: In New Brunswick under the 'Heritage Conservation Act', fossils discovered must not be destroyed or removed from sites where they are found without a permit. It is every one's civic duty to report any finds to the New Brunswick Museum ( This encourages the contribution these finds could make to science not just in the province, but on the global stage. You must also seek permission if you are to enter private land.


  1. That is pretty sweet! Very cool finds, and love the pics. Though it looked a little chilly. :)


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