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No. 106: Jul-Aug 1996

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Mud Springs Regurgitate Ancient Fossils

Mud springs in Wiltshire, England, may be the only ones of their kind on the planet. The Wiltshire mud springs are cold. They are not hot and steaming like those seen where geothermal heat is close to the surface, as in New Zealand, Java, and Yellowstone. They are also unique in their entrainment of subterranean fossils and bringing them to the surface.

"There is no explanation of the way the springs ooze a pale, cold, grey mud to the surface, forming blisters that spurt high into the air.

"Neville Hollingworth of the Natural Environment Research Council said: 'They are like a fossil conveyor belt bringing up finds from the clay layers below and then washing them out in a nearby stream.'"

The fossil conveyor belt yields bones of marine reptiles, oyster shells, and the remains of sea creatures that lived during the Jurassic, about 165 million years ago. Some of the bivalves still retain their organic ligaments.

Geologists wonder what forces squeeze the mud to the surface like toothpaste from a tube.

(Nuttall, Nick; "Mud Springs a Surprise after 165 Million Years," London Times, May 2, 1996. Cr. A.C.A. Silk)

From Science Frontiers #106, JUL-AUG 1996. 1996-2000 William R. Corliss

Science Frontiers Sourcebook Project Reviewed in:


  • "A sourcebook of unexplained phenomena is therefore a valuable addition to a collection of scientific literature. William R. Corliss has provided this in the past with his source books of scientific anomalies in several subjects, and now he has provided it for astronomy. He has done an excellent job of collecting and editing a large amount of material, taken in part from scientific journals and in part from scientific reporting in the popular or semi-scientific press." -- "The Mysterious Universe: A Handbook of Astronomical Anomalies", reviwed by Thomas Gold, Cornell University, in Icarus, vol.41, 1980

  • "An interesting, systematic presentation of unusual weather [..] This book is recommended for a general audience" --"Corliss, William R., Tornados, Dark Days, Anomalous Precipitation, and Related Weather Phenomena, Sourcebook Project, 1983.", revieweed in Choice, September 1983
  • "..the science is necessarily somewhat speculative, but Corliss's symthesis is based on reputable sources." -- "Corliss, William R. (Compiler). Lightning, Auroras, Nocturnal Lights, and Related Luminous Phenomena" reviwed by Joseph M. Moran, Univ. of Wisconsin in Science Books and Films, Sep/Oct 1983

  • "Before opening the book, I set certain standards that a volume which treads into dangerous grounds grounds like this must meet. The author scrupulously met, or even exceeded those standards. Each phenomenon is exhaustively documented, with references to scientific journals [..] and extensive quotations" -- "Book Review: The moon and planets: a catalog of astronomical anomalies", The Sourcebook Project, 1985., Corliss, W. R., Journal of the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada, Vol. 81, no. 1 (1987), p. 24., 02/1987