A Geology Road Trip through North Carolina: Part 3, Barrier Islands

Well it took way longer to get to the third and final part of this little post series, but I guess that’s what happens when you’re moving ‘internationally’ while preparing for a conference. C’est la vie! Let’s get to it:

North Carolina’s coast is almost completely framed by a series of barrier islands called the Outer Banks. In a sense, NC gets *two* coastlines – the coastline opening onto the sounds enclosed by the barrier islands, and the coast that opens onto the angry angry Atlantic Ocean.

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The Wild Wild West

I’ve just returned from a Turonian dinosaur hunt in New Mexico! Dinosaurs from this age are extremely rare in North America (and globally as well). Sea levels were at their highest at this time and much of North America was either totally submerged under the Western Interior Seaway, or were rapidly eroding highlands that are gone today. In the United States, New Mexico is the place to be if you want to find dinosaurs from this age, so we spent two weeks checking out the Moreno Hill and Crevasse Canyon formations in the western edge of the state.

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Fossils in Disguise

 

As July progressed into August and we neared the end of our field season, it was time to start hauling blocks back to camp and closing down quarries. This is Suicide Hill, a spot I didn’t work at very much but which contains lots of juvenile Eolambia. Lindsay has a great system for bringing large blocks back to camp with people-power only, since we cannot use vehicles at many of our sites. We strap them with ratchet straps to a backboard (or what everyone else was calling a sled, but it’s a backboard guys! We were totally prepared for spinal injuries!). This way, 4-8 people can lift large jackets with relative ease and less potential for back injury. I think this jacket was somewhere over 500 pounds.

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Fortunate Son

Elsewhere in the Mesozoic, parts of the field crew were working away at Cretaceous dinosaurs in the Mussentuchit Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation. In may we worked at Crystal Geyser Quarry, which is in the Yellow Cat Member of the same formation and is about 125 million years old, in a part of the Cretaceous called the Barremian. In contrast, the Mussentuchit Member is about 98 million years old, or Cenomanian in age. The Cedar Mountain Formation is a giant unit of rock, and the dinosaur faunas changed dramatically throughout!

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Where the sun is hot, the moon is beautiful, and mysterious lights pass overhead.

I can’t believe that it’s been more than 2 months since we got back from our fieldwork in Utah and I’m only getting around to posting about it now, but I guess that means things have been hopping around here! We had spent a week at the Crystal Geyser Quarry earlier in May, but our main batch of fieldwork lasted for four weeks from mid July to mid August. We drove from North Carolina to near Emery, Utah, to set up camp and work in the Morrison and Cedar Mountain formations.

Camp was comfortable and cozy!

And there were some pretty nice views!

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Mad-packed with all nine essential nutrimites to fortify your X-Zone!

EXTREME MAMMALS is here!

So extreme! X-treme! Even more extreme than Extreme Blu!
I might find the name a little 90s for my liking (although I guess that Clone High reference I just made is circa 2002), but this is a must-see exhibit that shows off a whole lot of cool animals you probably haven’t heard of before. It’s an awesome mix of fossils, casts, life restorations of extinct mammals, skeletons and taxidermy mounts of unusual modern mammals, nice graphics, and fun interactive stations. Here’s a slice of highlights from the opening party I attended last Friday!

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