Hill Annex Mine Paleontology Project

Examining the roughly 90 million year old Cretaceous soils scattered across Minnesota.

These deposits lay hidden under our feet by a thick layer of sand and gravel, unless exposed by activity like iron mining. The Hill Annex Mine State Park, located in Itasca County, is scientifically historic for reports on these Cretaceous deposits labeled as the Coleraine Formation.

During this prehistoric period, Minnesota was on the eastern edge of a great seaway that extended from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean, cutting North America in two. As sea levels rose and fell, many different environments existed along this ocean shoreline. The Mesabi Iron Range was believed to be a giant estuary river system flowing from east to west.

Fossils from the deposits indicate a near shore marine habitat. They are represented by snails, shellfish, ammonites, bony fish, sharks, a few reptiles, and plant materials. This project aims to examine the historic science, preserve new material, and report a greater understanding of the Coleraine Formation.

View full project brief.

View 2015 season report.
View 2016 season report.

Help fund this project

While we are certain to preserve some of the fossil evidence, a greater portion of our project effort this year is centered on engaging the community about this unique natural resource. We hope to increase awareness and find support among the citizenry that this work is important to the shared history of our state.

Consider donating to this project as a vote in favor of the Hill Annex Mine Paleontology Project. Your gift will aid more than our fundraising. A robust community endorsement can strengthen our application for formal foundation and research grants.

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The Hill Annex Mine Paleontology Project is a volunteer research project, hosted by the Minnesota Discovery Center and supported by the Marjorie Bolz Allen Grant and the Science Museum of Minnesota.