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Noob question

I've been trying to further an interest my son has by getting involved in this facinating hobby. Fossils, minerals, rocks in general; you name it, he's interested in it. So I've been trying to take a crash course and educate myself, at least topically to get up to speed. With that knowledge in mind, please be kind in response to my next simpleton question.

We live in West Virginia, and have been looking for some decent fossil hunting sites. I understand that we're looking for sedimentary rocks in general, and I think I've found a pretty good location, at least geologically to begin a systematic hunt that's fairly close to our house. The problem is that being so new, I'm having difficulty discerning the difference between the basic types of visible rocks. Some, such as limestone are fairly easy to spot, but the location that's giving me the most difficulty appears to be either slate, or shale. As I understand it, slate is metamorphic and was basically compressed shale. As such, slate is not a great type of rock to look for fossils in. So how do I tell the difference between shale and slate?

Also, does anyone know of any possible fossil/mineral hunting locales in the Martinsburg, WV area?

And for a final question, can you direct me to a site or a book that details basic fossil hunting techniques, i.e. what do we do when we find a decent speciment embedded in a rock formation?

Many thanks for everyone's time!

From LordManimal - March 18, 2008 at 18:22:11
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Message: 66242

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