California Department of Resources Recycling and Recovery (CalRecycle) 

Solid Waste Facilities Engineering Support Services

Impact of Paleontology on Landfill Operations: Fairmead Landfill

Fairmead Landfill, is a municipal solid waste landfill located approximately 20 miles northwest of the City of Madera, in Madera County.

Fairmead Landfill Excavation Site During excavation of a new cell, the scrapers were removing clay dating from the Pleistocene era. The discovery was made in clays 42 feet below the soil surface. As the scraper passed over the site, discolorations and fragments of bone surfaced. Monitors spotted the fragments and the work was suspended until experts could be called in to examine the exposed material. Further excavation soon exposed a significant assemblage of large mammalian bones.

Pleistocene era mammallian fossiles discoverd at Fairmead Landfill For northern California, the collection is as important as the fossils found in many Southern California sites. It also represents a natural species representation for this region.

The collection appears to represent a natural distribution of species, unbiased by any forces to distort the species distribution.

Many of the fossils recovered from the excavations remain at the Fairmead landfill site in the administrative offices of the landfill’s operator. Many of the other fossils recovered from Fairmead have been transported to the University of California, Berkeley department of Paleontology.

Pleistocene era fossils recovered from Fairmead Landfill.More information can be obtained from the paper “The Fairmead Landfill Locality (Pleistocene, Irvingtonian) Madera County, California: Preliminary Report and Significance”, in Paleobios, Vol 17, Numbers 2-4, pages 50-58, September 13, 1996.

More on fossils in landfills can be obtained from the paper: The Importance of Landfills on Paleontologic Resources And The Need for Expediting the Recovery of Fossils

Paleontology Home

Last updated: May 12, 2005
Closure and Technical Services, http://www.calrecycle.ca.gov/SWFacilities/TechServices/
Mike Wochnick: Michael.Wochnick@calrecycle.ca.gov (916) 341-6318