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The Paris Basin is situated around Paris, and has a diameter of hundreds of kilometres. While this basin comprises sediments from Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous, Paleogene and Neogene ages, it is most well-known for the Eocene (Paleogene period) formations outcropping throughout a large part of the basin. Outcrops of these Eocene formations are famous sites for collecting many species of bivalves and gastropods, predominantly from the Lutetian and Bartonian. Unfortunately, nowadays many collection locations have vanished or are closed for fossil collectors.
In the area around Fleury-la-Rivière you can still find fossils. Looking South from the village, you will see the Marne valley and the small city of Damery. Geologically, this area represents the eastern edge of the Paris Basin. On top of the Cretaceous limestones, there are sediments from the middle Lutétian (Eocene), approximately 45 milion years old. The Lutetian stage was named after Lutetia, the Latin name for the city of Paris. Hence, the Paris Basin is the original type area of the Lutetian.
As this site is in the Champagne region, vineyards play a prominent role in the region.The edges of the valley of Fleury-la-Rivière are covered by vineyards. Above the valley, are the forests on the ‘Plateau de la Montagne de Reims’. Fossil collectors dig holes in the forest to extract the fossils. The forest is part of the reserve ‘Parc naturel de la montagne de Reims’ and is managed by the ‘Office national des forêts’. People say it it forbidden to collect fossils on the ground of the community. In practice everybody still collect fossils here, including locals. You can walk all the way along the edge of the forest. The edge of the forest follows approximately the boundary between Lutétian and clay layers on top (Laon clay ?). Use a small shovel and a sieve where you see interesting layers exposed. The fossilerous deposits of Fleury-la-Rivière consist of a thick layer of sandy marls, that are sometimes relatively unconsolidated and sometimes more lithified. The sediment contains lots of shells and shell fragments. The preservation is exeptionally good. In one day of collecting here, you can find up to 100 species, if you also count the small specimens.
Some people dig holes up to 2-3 metres. They hope to find a large Campanile giganteum, but extracting complete specimens can be a challenge at tis locality. Local collectors extract the fossils by very carefully digging horizontally. Slowly digging down and using a brush to clean the freshly dug areas. Locals have collected impressing collections this way.
The danger on this location is limited, as the material is quite stable. Nevertheless: always use common sense! Do not dig horizontal holes, and do not dig too deep, and do not go alone. In the region around Fleury there are often other possibilities to collect fossils as well. Wine growers use limestone to improve the ground quality. Sometimes Lutetian material is used for this, presenting an opportunty to collect fossils on the fields. Of course the stratigraphy of these fossils is unknown, but collecting this way can be rewarding.
- Pommerol Ch. / Feugueur L., Bassin de Paris - Guides Géologiques Régionaux, Masson, Paris 3e edition, 1986
- Lapparent A.F. de, Région de Paris – Excursions géologiques et voyages pédagogiques, Hermann, Paris, 1964
- Gea vol. 5 nr. 1
- Cossmann M. / Pissarro G., Iconografie complète des coquilles fossiles de l’Eocène des environs de Paris, Paris, 1904-1913 These books are expensive, but you can sometimes get photocopies. In the beginning of the last century these books were sensational because of the real photographs in stead of drawings. You can download the Cossmann & Pissarro here (parts): http://www.cossmannia.com/
- Cossmanniana, periodical. Several special issues.
- Issues from the WTKG.
- Website from Nicolas Demassieux http://ndemassieux.aginux.com/
- The exeptional website of the M.N.H.N. in Paris : http://www.somali.asso.fr/fossils/index.php?lang_=fr
Photo 1 of 3
One of the pits in the forest near Fleury
Added by: onsmartin on 21-04-2014
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Fleury-la-Rivière is located in the French region of Marne (51), southwest of Reims and northwest of Epernay. The location is east of the village, near the edge of the forest.
The quarries in Fleury-la-Rivière and Damery once were fine fossil collecting sites. Now the quarries are closed or protected. If you are lucky you can find fossils in this area in temporary exposures (i.e. roadcuts).Drag the map and zoom in or out for the best view of this locality.
In sediments of the Paris Basin many kinds of bivalves and gastropods are found. The material from the Lutetian is characterized by a remarkably good preservation. You can find also other fossils like foraminifers, corals, shark teeth, fish remains, otoliths, bryozoa and scaphopods.
Gastropod from Fleury Clavilithes (s. str.) parisiensis (MAYER-EYMAR, 1877) h. 73 mm. © Photo: Johny Laporte
Gastropod from Fleury. Cryptoconus glabratus (LAMARCK, 1804) 29 mm. © Photo: Johny Laporte
Gastropod from Fleury. Pterynotus (s.str.) crenulatus tricarinatus (LAMARCK, 1803) h. 24 mm. © Photo: Johny Laporte
Gastropod from Fleury. Mitraria (s. str.) elongata (LAMARCK, 1803) h. 46 mm. © Photo: Johny Laporte
Gastropod from Fleury. Rimella fissurella (LINNE, 1767) h. 25 mm. © Photo: Johny Laporte
Gastropod from Fleury. Cryptochorda stromboides (HERMANN, 1781) h. 46 mm. © Photo: Johny Laporte
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Thanks to Johny Laporte for his contribution to this description.
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