Shark Tooth Hill

Miocene

Shark Tooth Hill is an area just north east of Bakersfield. Nearly all exposures of the formation are on private land.
The Ernst family offers access to several quarries on their land. Reservations are required to access the quarries.
Both full day and half day excursions are offered. The full day cost was $70 per person.
All the information you need is found on their website --> Shark Tooth Hill



Oil Fields of Bakersfield

Shark Tooth Hill is an area just north east of Bakersfield. The area is also an oil field.




Road to the Quarries

You meet the owner, Rob Ernst at he front gate and he leads you to the quarry.




Environs of Shark Tooth Hill

The land is dry and dusty. In the summer months, it is very hot.
Attention to proper attire for the weather is advisable.





Ernst Quarries at Shark Tooth Hill

Facilities at the quarry include a regularly service porta-potty, several picnic tables and rustic camping.
There is no water, bring your own as well as lunch if you plan to stay all day.




Slow Curve Quarry

We worked the Slow Curve Quarry, which is noted for sharks teeth with a variety of colors.
Other exposures on the Ernst property have different characteristics.




Working the quarry face

The colored teeth are embedded in the face of the quarry in the bone bed.
The bone bed is about 18 inches thick at the base of the hummock and has a slight dip to the west.




Working the Bone Bed

The matrix resembles a densely compacted sand. Using a chisel, screwdriver or other instrument,
one carves away carefully at the face to expose the fossils.




First Tooth in Situ

Aggressive digging with big hammers and chisels may result in broken fossils.
We found it best to carve away the matrix while being on guard for teeth.
I exposed this one with my chisel ended rock hammer.




Curved Mako Tooth

The tooth was easily extracted from the matrix. It crumbles away easily.




A Red Tooth in Matrix

This tooth was found by breaking up chunks of matrix, dislodged from the face with a hammer and screwdriver.
The red color is the trademark of this quarry.




Mako Teeth, in Matrix

These are the best of the teeth we found by quarrying.




Bone Bed Concretions

In addition to loose teeth and other stuff, the bone bed is rife with large concretions.
These seem to have formed around the larger bone fragments. At the SLow Curve Quarry, the bone fragments
in the concretions are not well preserved and crumble easily. I am told that in some of the other quarries
the bones are more completely preserved.




Surface of the Overburden

The piles of eroding overburden surrounding the quarry are also rich in fossils.
May fossils can be found by simple surface collecting, requiring little effort and no tools.





Teeth found while surface collecting

We found more teeth while surface collecting than quarrying. The down side, is that the teeth
tend to be bleached of the colors and the roots are sometimes missing.




Small Fossils from the Overburden

Scanning the surface yields all sorts of small fossils from rays and skates including sections of
grinding plates, sections of the tail as well as turtle shell fragments etc.




Sea Lion Molar

This tooth was found while surface collecting within 30 yards of the quarry face.




Decomposing Concretions

These large concretions are interspersed randomly in the bone bed. Whole ones are removed to decompose on the side.
They seem to form around organic material associated with marine mammal bones or carcasses.




Small Bone Fragments

The surface surrounding the quarry is littered with small bone fragments in varying condition.




Larger Bone Fragments

Many of the larger bones come from the concretions.




Two of the better finds, after some preparation

Interestingly, when I reduced the matrix on the two teeth, I had a piece about 2" across left over.
I dissolved it in water and there were 5 more tiny teeth in that small bit of matrix.




Happy Hunters



Return to Shark Tooth Hill

In December 2013, we returned to Shark Tooth Hill, this time starting in the East Quarry.



First Shovel Full

Beginner's Luck was on my side as my first scoop into the sieve looked like this.



The Big One



Sample of East Quarry Teeth

I think we'll be going back!



E-Mail me: tngray@nautiloid.net



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