Monday, April 1, 2013

The Mastodon Discovery

The Colorado River used to flood Austin a lot - even way before there was an "Austin."   Geologists have discovered six terraces of the Colorado River in the area, each underlain by alluvium (soil or sediments deposited by a river) up to forty feet thick.

In January of 1985, excavations related to the construction of the building at 301 Congress Ave. in Austin, TX resulted in an amazing discovery.  

At an elevation that is currently 40 feet above the Colorado River (Lady Bird Town Lake), an alluvial deposit was encountered.  This terrace is known as the First Street Terrace.  It contained fauna dating back to the Pleistocene Era.  Another 18 feet below this surface, mastodon bones were found with other bone fossils.  The archeologists involved named this The Avenue Site, and the remarkable fossil specimens that were found are on display in the back of the ground floor lobby area at 301 Congress Ave.

Next door at 315 Congress, the basement floor is occupied by a Jazz Club for live music.  It is appropriately named "The Elephant Room" after the adjacent mastodon bone discovery.

NOTE:  Although little information about this discovery is available on the world wide web, a technical document recording the discovery can be downloaded here: 

The Mastodon Fossil Collection
301 Congress Ave., Austin, TX 78701

Public lobby has display cases, open to the public during normal business hours.