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Move over Jurassic Park - its Armored Mud Balls that Rock!
A big thanks to all for attending our event with over 100 people! We appreciate your support of GHC and the rich history of Gill that we enjoy researching and sharing with you. Stay tuned for more upcoming events.
"The Deep History of Gill" - presented Saturday, April 29 from 1-3pm at the Gill Elementary School
We welcomed Greenfield Community College's well-known retired Geology professor Richard D. Little to explore the Jurassic armored mud balls that have been around for 200 million years. These armored mud balls are one of geology’s rarest sedimentary structures and are prevalent in Gill and the surrounding area. Little has been educating people on these rare structures found locally in Franklin County since the 1970’s. But the semi-retired geology professor can’t help wondering what will happen to them after he is gone?
According to Prof. Little, “the amusingly named armored mud balls are indeed an official geological phenomenon. They are formed by streams or beach waves rolling sticky mud into ball shapes becoming coated by pebbles. That is the armor. To be preserved in the geological rock record they must be quickly buried before drying and disintegrating. The fragile armored mud balls can then be gradually lithified (compacted and cemented) along with the surrounding sedimentary rock. This special series of events makes lithified armored mud balls extremely rare.”
Only found in 10 Locations Worldwide.
Prof. Little was “the discoverer of these features in Turners Falls in the early 1970s and wrote a paper published in the Journal of Geology about them (1982). Geological literature records only about 10 places in the world with lithified armored mud balls. [Most] all are in remote locations and probably [few] are visible today.”
According to New England Historical Society, “they have also been found in other places, including the base of the clay cliffs at Aquinnah on Martha’s Vineyard. Other U.S. locations include Washington, Montana, Wyoming and Indiana. And outside of the U.S., people have found them in Greenland; Spitzbergen Ecuador, Trinidad, France and Yorkshire, England.”
“But to date, people can only see them easily in Franklin County, MA. That’s where Richard Little first laid eyes on them. He noticed them in an old abutment to a bridge that used to connect Gill and Turners Falls, a village in Montague. The stone blocks used in the abutment had been quarried nearby.”
Prof. Little explains, “The dramatic Franklin County specimens are found in local quarried stone plus in accessible rock outcrops, such as at Greenfield’s Stop and Shop Supermarket parking lot and a Turners Falls Park. A church in Greenfield center has an armored mud ball in the quarried stone above the entrance. The most impressive examples are preserved and displayed in the Greenfield Community College Geology Path. These excellent specimens show well-formed balls from golf ball to basketball size all with obvious pebble armor.”