NEPA Scene Staff

Boulders with 300-million-year-old fossils donated to McDade Park in Scranton

Boulders with 300-million-year-old fossils donated to McDade Park in Scranton
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From a press release:

Waste Management’s Alliance Landfill has donated two large pieces of the region’s distant history to the Lackawanna County Coal Mine Tour at McDade Park in Scranton.

Landfill Manager Glenn Kempa said the boulders, each with vivid fossilized images of ferns and tree branches that shaded Taylor and Ransom Township over 300 million years ago, were discovered during earthwork at the landfill.

“The team working on our site spotted these fossils during excavation. We decided to see if we could make these available for the public to see,” Kempa explained.

Lackawanna County Parks and Recreation Manager Bob Noone was contacted and the fossils were offered for display at McDade Park (1 Bald Mountain Rd., Scranton). Latona Trucking & Excavation, a site contractor in Pittston, agreed to donate transportation of the fossils to the park.

“We are very grateful for the donation of the two large boulders from Waste Management’s Alliance Landfill. The Coal Mine at McDade Park is the perfect location for these two pieces. The embedded fossil imprints on these boulders will certainly be something of interest for everyone to see for years to come,” Lackawanna County Commissioner Chris Chermak said.

Alliance Consulting Engineer and Project Manager Rob Sochvoka of ARM Group LLC said the prehistoric fossils are from the Llewellyn formation, a layer of shale and sandstone found between the region’s coal seams. He noted that Pennsylvania is one of the few places where highly detailed, and sometimes appearing white or yellow, fossilized plants can be found in contrasting black shale.

“These fossils were formed in the Paleozoic Era of the Carboniferous Period,” Sochovka said. “During this period, the Earth’s climate was much warmer and humid, allowing large trees and ferns to grow. The abundant amount of plant life increased oxygen levels higher than they are today. When the huge trees and ferns died, they fell into waters with little to no bacteria to help them decompose.

“The accumulation of dead plant life formed large peat bogs,” he continued. “Eventually, with the repeated depositions of sand, silts, and clay over these peat bogs and the weight and pressure of these deposits, the peat bogs turned into coal.”

The boulders each weigh about two tons.