Sand quarry to become fossil dig site

By |  October 3, 2015

Quarry workers and paleontologists have regularly found prehistoric fossils and dinosaur bones at the Inversand Quarry in Mantua, N.J.

“We’ve been seeing fossils there since we started mining almost 80 years ago,” says Tom Carrocino, Inversand’s president.

The Inversand Quarry mines greensand, which is used to clean well water. Over the years, Carrocino says paleontologists have discovered fossils at the site that have been placed in museums.

This month, Inversand and Hungerford & Terry Inc., its parent company, announced plans to sell the 65-acre quarry property for $2 million to Rowan University based in Camden, N.J. The university plans to use the quarry for paleontological research.

Carrocino says Dr. Kenneth Lacovara, a well-known paleontologist and geologist, joined the Rowan University staff this year to help develop the university’s new School of Earth and Environment, which will be launched as the university acquires the quarry property.

According to the Asbury Park Press, Rowan University plans to rename the Mantua site the Rowan University Fossil Quarry and build a museum on the property.

Before the quarry was sold, Frank Caligiuri, Inversand’s vice president of sales, says Inversand often allowed researchers from nearby universities to excavate fossils on quarry property.

“We had universities like Drexel and Rutgers come in for the finds,” he says. “We’ve had to close the quarry before to let them excavate the remains of rare dinosaurs.”

Caligiuri adds that Inversand has also invited people from the community to search for fossils and bones at the quarry site. For the past few years, he says the quarry opened to the public for a “dig day” in partnership with the city of Mantua. Caligiuri and Carrocino estimate thousands of locals have stopped by for those events.

Carrocino says Inversand had considered selling the quarry for research purposes for several years. He says the greensand mined at the site has been slightly less profitable in recent years.

“We were losing some money on the property,” Carrocino says. “It was worth trying to negotiate a sale. As a company, we’ve been interested in promoting the research of fossils and bones in the quarry.”

Carrocino says operations will continue at the Inversand Quarry for a couple months until it is fully owned by Rowan University in January 2016.

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