Operation Fossil Find (Top Secret and Classified)

July 27th, 2009

Gunnison Plateau, Utah. July 26. Phil and Bill both left Utah a few days ago, with Phil flying to visit family in Colorado and Bill continuing his WooCorps job. So, I have a few days to myself to do some reconnaissance work for future I.S. projects for students and research projects for myself. I headed off to Rock and Dry Canyons with the OSU field camp. Although that was the area for their final mapping project, Terry Wilson (OSU’s structural geologist and field camp director) put me to work using my Brunton for the day. Both she and I had previously spent quite a bit of time measuring joints, veins, and stylolites at Rock and Dry for a structural analysis of the area, but a few days earlier, she came across some additional structural features. I spent a day out in the field measuring in order to determine if this would be a worthwhile addition to the structural research we already completed in the area.

Here is a view of the north-facing slope in Dry Canyon.  If you look closely, you can see the Flagstaff Limestone outlining the presence of a monocline in the area.

Here is a view of the north-facing slope in Dry Canyon. If you look closely, you can see the Flagstaff Limestone outlining the presence of a monocline in the area.

The above photo illustrates one of the conjugate vein sets that I spent the day measuring in the Jurassic Twist Gulch Formation. Measuring these conjugate vein sets perhaps next summer would add to our structural interpretation of the area.

While out at Rock and Dry Canyons, Terry stumbled upon a gorgeous vertebrate jaw embedded in a rather large block of the Colton Formation. So, the next day, we set out on “Operation Fossil Find”, the mission coined by one of the OSU TAs, Jason Kabbes. A group of us drove back to Rock and Dry Canyons, and the excavation began.

The photo above is the jaw that was found in the Colton Formation.  None of us out here are paleontologists, so naturally, we are still trying to identify the find.  By far, Terry's discovery is the best fossil that I've seen in the Colton Formation.

The photo above is the jaw that was found in the Colton Formation. None of us out here are paleontologists, so naturally, we are still trying to identify the find. By far, Terry's discovery is the best fossil that I've seen in the Colton Formation.

Operation Fossil Find team members are trying to strategize how best to remove the jaw and vertebrate bones.  All we had as tools were our trusty rock hammers and a 1/4" chisel.  But, the guys successfully removed the jaw from a piece of float, and it is now sitting in our Ephraim apartment, awaiting identification.

Operation Fossil Find team members are trying to strategize how best to remove the jaw and vertebrate bones. All we had as tools were our trusty rock hammers and a 1/4 inch chisel. But, the guys successfully removed the jaw from a piece of float, and it is now sitting in our Ephraim apartment, awaiting identification.

One Response to “Operation Fossil Find (Top Secret and Classified)”

  1. Mark Wilsonon 27 Jul 2009 at 10:15 am

    How very cool! A fantastic find. As an expert paleontologist I can assure you it is … ummm … from a carnivore. Yes, pretty sure! Looks very reptilian from this angle, but it is just a guess. Well done!

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