Friday, August 17, 2007

Last Things First...

Well, the 2007 field season has come to a close. I know that there are some big holes in the play-by-play, but a family emergency brought me out of the field a little earlier than planned and I've spent the past two weeks or so sorting that all out.

I brought the van back early last week loaded to the gills with plaster field jackets and gear which wouldn't be needed to close the site down. Mackenzie and Sara stayed behind to help close the site down and returned with Dr. Storrs, to my knowledge, sometime late on Sunday evening (Aug 19th). There were several bones exposed and leaving them behind, even if under protective winter jackets, just wasn't an option so they made sure that everything came out before leaving.

I will be providing a final tally of fossils collected, which included some REALLY nice finds, in the next few days and will then go back to recap some of the week-by-week finds and activities including a great week with CMC's Youth Program during Week Three. I'd like to take this opportunity to thank the CMC Board of Directors and senior leadership at Museum Center for their continuing support of this worthwhile project, including allowing me to tag along (and hopefully contribute) this year. On behalf of myself and Dr. Storrs, I'd like to thank Sally, Emily, Lynette, Susan, Ian, Bill, Kim, Tom and John for attending the Field School this year and for their efforts in the quarry. An additional thanks goes to the field crew who volunteered a good portion of their summer to making this enterprise a success: Dale, D.M., Angela, Mac, Sara, Sam, Gary and Mike. I hope that each of you can make it out again next summer as we try to teach Sara a few more camp stove recipes (and yes, vegetables ARE a food group) .

In addition to the backtracking I will do in the next few days, we will continue to update the blog throughout the year in preparation for next year's Field School. There is a possibility that we will have a "teachers only" week, pending some grant funding, so be on the lookout for details.

Thursday, August 09, 2007

The Hiatus...

I apologize for the extended hiatus. Technical and travel issues have prevented posting, but will resume soon...

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Pictures: Week Two in the Beartooths

(click photos for full-size images)

Me, with a sinus infection standing at 9100 feet, with a two-week beard and eyes about ready to explode from the pressure.

The classic U-shaped valley carved by a glacier. This is the Rock Creek Valley.

This is an example of a mafic dike (black intrusin in the center) created when magma forced it's way up through the granite rock which forms the Beartooth Mountains.

Here's Dr. Storrs, a sometimes solitary figure, surveying the Beartooth Plateau, somewhere over 10,000 feet.

Here's the Week Two group, looking into the cirque at the head of the Rock Creek Valley. This is where the glacier which carved the valley would have originated.

Here's Tom, trying to get a great shot. He's a few feet from the edge of what is about a 500 foot drop. This cirque serves as a training facility for the US Olympic Ski Team.

In the distant center, you can see the "Bear's Tooth", the namesake for this mountain range.

The Week Two group and Glenn at Vista Point, somewhere around 9100 feet, observing the various features found in the Rock Crek Valley.

August 1, 2007

Today's Mother's Day Site (MDS) temperature: 96 degrees

Back in the field for a full day at the quarry. I did make it out, though decided to come back to the YBRA this evening (hot meals, soft bed and warm showers...who could blame me?). We awoke in Red Lodge to temperatures in the mid-50's, and evidently, it got pretty cold out at the camp site as well. While the temperatures did rise into the mid-90's, a constant breeze (and our new shade tents) made it fairly comfortable. Everyone is making excellent progress on their fossils, with some excellent new discoveries today including a fairly nice skin impression found by Bill and Kim.

Back at the YBRA, after an all-you-can-eat ice cream sundae dessert, John, Tom, Kim and Bill took part in a hotly contested game of horseshoes. After nearly two hours, John & Tom came out on top by a score of 20-19 (we think), though Bill and Kim were making a bit of a run at the end.

Prospecting was pretty productive. Mackenzie found some rather large pieces of what appears to be a long limb bone (species unknown), and another nice stash of petrified wood. The crew also found some trace fossils from a small animal or perhaps an insect crawling in the mud and leaving a trail behind. More turtle pieces were also recovered.

Angela and Gary have been working on some pretty interesting bones which, in the Mother's Day Site tradition, are overlapping one another making for slow progress. Sara and Sam are working in and among some somewhat complex areas but are making nice progress. Mike has been working a few nice pieces but has really stepped in to help the DFS participants with some tips and pointers. I continue to move from one area to another, trying to expose the starts of bones for others to work on, though I would like to at least get one out of the ground myself before the week is over. Glenn is working on the large block of cervical vertebrae that we started working over a week ago, although the new air compressor and tools is making that move a little easier now.