On Islamorada Key sits a memorial to the victims of the Labor Day 1935 hurricane. The monument is built from spectacular samples of Key Largo limestone, some with reddish coloring from exposure. We also see aragonite-calcite rims on many corals as they’re being replaced.
As US-1 curves southwest onto Key Largo, there is a great outcrop exposed along the north side of the road. This exposure was being cut the last time we ran a field trip here. It’s interesting to see it has weathered to look very much as the Windley Key exposure in that time. We see the same fossils here too, as well as a corn snake taking advantage of the southern exposure.
After recovering from our morning on the water and a quick lunch, we’ve driven further down to Windley Key. The old limestone quarry here for the Overseas Railroad is now preserved as a state park. Lots of great exposures of large brain corals. Many are not in living orientation, implying high energy and transport to their resting place. The elevation of the quarry, 25 feet above modern sea level, also implies a higher sea level at the time of this reef’s existence. Also some great examples in conduits of overlying soil development, exposure features, from when sea level began to fall.
Quite an amazing first snorkel! Plenty of coral, broyozoans, and sponges, modern analogues to many of the fossilized specimens we’ve seen previously on this trip. Similarly we’ve seen the various depth zones and their corresponding fauna that match environments we’ve seen preserved in rocks. All around a lot of excited swimmers!