Over the course of the past two days I have spent over 20 hours trying to locate the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary, which is the physical remnant of the impact event that is believed to have contributed to the extinction of the dinosaurs. I have attempted to find known localities of the boundary over the course of the past week through the use of GPS and online mapping technology. Unfortunately it has been difficult to physically get to those locations, because we do not have permission from area ranchers to access their land. To respect those ranchers’ wishes, today we traveled north and west of Casper Wyoming to a little town named Kaycee. Just outside of this town we believe we have located a few instances of the Cretaceous/Tertiary or K/T boundary. Tomorrow we plan to once again travel to these locations and attempt to physically locate this boundary through the use of a handheld XRF, or an X-ray Fluorescence analyzer. This tool will allow us to locate this boundary in real time, instead of sending samples off to a laboratory, a process that is costly in both time and money. I look forward to examining these sites and examining the chemistry of the material that resulted from that famous impact event.
May 5, 2017
Today we spent the day fossil hunting at a site known for its Ammonite fossils. At this site I just happened upon this wonderful specimen of an Inoceramus. Inoceramids are an extinct genus of marine clams that lived from the early Jurassic to the late Cretaceous period. These ancient clams resemble modern specimens of winged clams of the genus Pteria. I just happened upon this specimen, which had apparently only recently weathered out of the surrounding outcrop of Pierre Shale, while everyone was looking for Ammonite and Baculites fossils. I can’t wait to see what new kinds of discoveries we’ll make in the coming weeks. If this type of specimen is indicative of the kind we’ll find on site, I’m sure those few weeks will be exciting ones.
Today I had fun, and learned a great deal about the techniques with which paleontologists locate and excavate dinosaur fossils. This is because today I visited a 7640-acre ranch near Lusk, Wyoming. While there, we were able to excavate in various Upper Cretaceous Period sites within the Lance (Hell Creek) Formation. It was at the first of these locations where Jessica Bowling and I discovered a Hadrosaur toe bone, and uncovered various other fragments of fossilized dinosaur bone with the help of J. P. Cavigelli, a scientist who works with the Tate Museum at Casper College. These fossils had to be meticulously uncovered as they were extremely delicate, crumbling within my hand if not handled correctly. This is thought to be because of the iron/sulfur rich material they were located in. This unique chemistry may aid in the decomposition of the bone as the iron sulphide within this material reacts with oxygen and/or water creating sulphuric acid. All in all it was fascinating and fun, as I’ve wanted to dig for dinosaur fossils since I was a small child.
May, 1 – May, 2
Over the course of the past two days we have traveled over 1,200 miles across the United States. Throughout the course of this trip, we have observed various landforms across the west. The rolling hills, visually striking mesa’s, towering buttes, the meandering streams, the great rivers, and the flat expanses of the great plains conjure up classical images of the old west. Images that fascinated me as a child. It has been at the University of Cincinnati Clermont College that I have learned about the erosional and depositional processes that have created these beautiful landscapes. I hope that the opportunity for first-hand observations of these geological features allows me to gain insight into past and future geological processes. Processes that continue to shape our country, and in the whole, our world.