Fairmead landfilla Mid irvingtonian locality in madera county, california

Under the direction of curator/collections manager Dr. Robert Dundas, California State University, Fresno oversees the management of the Madera County Paleontology Collection (MCPC), which houses the fossil specimens from the mid Pleistocene Fairmead Landfill locality. The San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation manages the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County, which displays specimens from the Fairmead Landfill fossil site. The Foundation also oversees the paleontology mitigation program at Fairmead Landfill, monitoring the site to collect any fossil specimens that may be uncovered during excavation by heavy equipment operators.




In May 1993, while excavating for a new five acre expansion cell at the Madera County Fairmead Landfill, north of Madera, California and just southwest of the junction of state highways 99 and 152, a Madera Disposal Systems crew encountered vertebrate fossils. Because the land is public property owned by Madera County, the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) requires that scientifically significant fossils be protected. Shortly after the initial discovery and at the invitation of the Madera County engineering department, J. Howard Hutchison and Robert Dundas of the University of California Museum of Paleontology (UCMP) at Berkeley travelled to Fairmead Landfill to assess the find and recommend an appropriate course of action in order that Madera County adhere to state regulations. The UCMP recommended that fossils be salvagaed and preserved as they are uncovered by landfill excavation activities. Paleontological monitoring has been ongoing ever since.

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All three mid to late Pleistocene formations of the eastern San Joaquin Valley occur at Fairmead Landfill; Turlock Lake Formation, Riverbank Formation and Modesto Formation. At the site, fossils occur in the upper unit of the Turlock Lake Formation.

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The Fairmead Landfill locality preserves a diverse middle Irvingtonian biota. Vertebrates include pond turtle, desert tortoise, colubrid snakes, salamander, frog, waterfowl, and twenty-seven mammalian species. Invertebrates include a snail and a bivalve. Plant macrofossils are represented by molds of cocklebur. Fossil preservation occurred under a range of taphonomic conditions.

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Fossil discovery center

An educational partnership between Madera County and the San Joaquin Valley Paleontology Foundation

After years of planning and development, the Fossil Discovery Center of Madera County grand opening occurred on October 13, 2010, which was National Fossil Day. The 5,700 square foot exhibit facility showcases the Fairmead Landfill biota and other aspects of the area's natural history. The center is located across from the southeast corner of Fairmead Landfill at 19450 Avenue 21 1/2. To get to the center, exit State Route 99 at the Fairmead (Avenue 21 1/2) exit; several miles north of Madera and just south of the junction between State Routes 99 & 152. Click on the link below for the Fossil Discovery Center homepage for further information about the facility and activities.


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