Calvert Cliffs State Park

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Calvert Cliffs State Park
Rickard's Cliffes
Maryland State Park
Calvert Cliffs, Calvert Cliffs State Park.jpg
The namesake cliffs of Calvert Cliffs State Park
Country United States
State Maryland
County Calvert
Elevation 112 ft (34 m) [1]
Coordinates 38°24′07″N 76°25′26″W / 38.40194°N 76.42389°W / 38.40194; -76.42389Coordinates: 38°24′07″N 76°25′26″W / 38.40194°N 76.42389°W / 38.40194; -76.42389 [1]
Area 1,311 acres (531 ha) [2]
 - Wildlands 1,079 acres (437 ha) [2]
Established Unspecified
Management Maryland Department of Natural Resources
IUCN category V - Protected Landscape/Seascape
Location in Maryland
Website: Calvert Cliffs State Park

Calvert Cliffs State Park is a state park in Lusby, Maryland (in Calvert County).[3] Calvert Cliffs is on the eastern side of the Calvert Peninsula and situated on the west side of Chesapeake Bay. On the 1612 John Smith map, the site is called "Rickard's Cliffes."[4] Smith gave them his mother's family's name.[5]


Calvert Cliffs, c. 1898

The park is known for the abundance of mainly Middle Miocene sub-epoch fossils, which can be found on the shoreline.[6] It contains the type locality site of the Early to Middle Miocene Calvert Formation. These rocks are the sediment from a coastal ocean that covered the area during that time. The age of the formation is (19-)18–15(-14) million years ago (Ma), i.e. it extends essentially over the Hemingfordian stage. This formation occurs in Maryland and neighboring Virginia.

In addition, rocks of the younger Choptank and the St. Marys Formations are exposed here. This makes Calvert Cliffs State Park extremely interesting for its paleoclimatology and paleontology, because the accessible strata provide a good record of the Middle Miocene Climate Transition and document a minor mass extinction event — the "Middle Miocene disruption". Fossil collecting and "rockhounding" are permitted on the beach, but access to the Cliffs is no longer open due to erosion.[3]


The Calvert Formation is notable for its plentiful fossil shark teeth. Especially popular among "rockhounds" are those from giants such as Carcharocles and the famous Megalodon[7] (which is often included in Carcharocles).

The ancestral baleen whale Eobalaenoptera harrisoni and the merganser Mergus miscellus were described from the Virginian part of the formation. From the uppermost layer, deposited 15-14 Ma, they represent the oldest known member of their family and genus, respectively. Some remains of a prehistoric loon (Gavia) from the lowermost parts of the Calvert Formation, dating back nearly 18 Ma, are the oldest records of that genus from North America, and among of the oldest worldwide.

Activities and amenities[edit]

Wetlands in Calvert Cliffs State Park

Calvert Cliffs State Park is mostly forested, but also includes some wetland areas, and a small pond open for fishing. Some 550 acres of the park are open to hunting upland game, turkey, and deer. The park is rich in biodiversity and is home to numerous species of plants and animals. eBird has records of at least 163 species of birds observed in the park.[8] The park's quarter-mile-long sandy beach is accessible via a 1.8-mile (2.9 km) trail. The park has a total of 13 miles (21 km) of trails for hiking only.[3]

Industrial neighbors[edit]

The cliffs are a short distance south of Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Plant operated by Constellation Energy. The large offshore industrial complex visible from the beach is the Dominion Cove Point LNG receiving station.


  1. ^ a b U.S. Geological Survey Geographic Names Information System: Calvert Cliffs State Park
  2. ^ a b "FY2013 DNR Owned Lands Acreage Report" (PDF). Maryland DNR. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c "Calvert Cliffs State Park". Maryland Department of Natural Resources. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  4. ^ "Smith's Maps". Captain John Smith Chesapeake National Historic Trail. National Park Service. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  5. ^ Kent Mountford (June 1, 2009). "Bay’s coastal cliffs are but shells of their former selves". Bay Journal. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  6. ^ "Calvert Cliffs, Maryland". The Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  7. ^ "Megalodon - Megatooth fossils found at the Calvert Cliffs of Maryland". The Fossil Guy. Retrieved December 10, 2013. 
  8. ^ "Bird Observations at Calvert Cliffs State Park". eBird. Cornell Lab of Ornithology. Retrieved May 31, 2011. 

External links[edit]