GSA Annual Meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, USA - 2019

Paper No. 96-4
Presentation Time: 8:45 AM


DOCKERY III, David T., Mississippi Office of Geology, Mississippi Department of Environmental Quality, P.O. Box 2279, Jackson, MS 39225-2279

Fossiliferous marine strata of the Jackson Group (Late Bartonian) at Town Creek in Jackson, Mississippi (Mississippi Geological Survey locality 001), were known by settlers in the early 1800s. Lyell was the first to recognize these beds to be of Eocene age. On March 19, 1846, Charles and Mary Lyell arrived at Vicksburg, Mississippi, on the river boat Magnolia; the following morning Lyell collected fossils of Early Oligocene age from the Vicksburg Group. As the Oligocene was unnamed at the time, Lyell placed these fossils as "newer Eocene." That afternoon, Lyell took the train to Jackson where he inquired of physician Dr. Gist, who had read Lyell's Principles and had a collection of fossils from the local area. Gist took Lyell to the bed of a small stream (Town Creek) where Lyell found an abundance of fossils (Wilson, 1998, Lyell in America, p. 246). The fossils were more like those of Claiborne Bluff in Alabama than those Lyell collected at Vicksburg. From this Lyell correctly recognized the westerly dip of beds, from the older Jackson bed (atop the Jackson Dome) to the younger Vicksburg beds at Vicksburg. In 2003, when a project promoted for flood control threatened to permanently flood the type Jackson locality, the U.S. Corp of Engineers received letters from paleontologists and Natural History Museums worldwide against it. A Jackson newspaper (Jackson Free Press, August 27, 2009) noted the letter from Oxford University Museum of Natural History Director W. J. Kennedy [and Assistant Curator Paul Jeffery] claiming the project would threaten a geological site containing findings of international interest. The site has not been flooded. Fossil mollusks from the site can be seen at: