Utah Dinosaur Excavation and Mineral Exploration

I have returned from another successful trip to my Utah dinosaur excavation.  I have been working at this site for 13 years, studying the animals that are buried there and how they got there.  Every year a group of students from Northern Kentucky University and Marietta College and volunteers from all over join us at this dig.  The site is called the Aaron Scott Quarry and is near Ferron, Utah.  Our main dinosaur at the quarry is the majority of a skeleton of a Barosaurus. The site is in the Jurassic Period.  In addition to the Barosuarus, we have a juvenile Apatosaurus, lots of teeth and some other bones of an Allosaurus, and isolated remains of Dryosaurus, Camptosaurus, Coelurus, and turtles, crocodiles, a small lizard called a sphenodont (related to a tuatara), and a few mammals.For an account of our adventures, you can see my posts on the facebook group Ruby Moutain5Rocks.  Here are some of the highlights.

Sites from the quarry:

Students and volunteers excavating the quarry
Small bones from the quarry
Bones are wrapped in plaster to protect them
Students and volunteers excavating the quarry

We camp at the site and it is such a beautiful place.  Here is the sunrise to the east and the reflection off the hill to our west.

We also take in some of the geological and cultural history of the area.

San Rafael
Students and volunteers at the Little Grand Canyon of the San Rafael
Spanish Trail
The Spanish Trail passes very close to our site. These monuments mark one of the places they passed through
The Fremont Culture carved these petroglyphs about 1000 years ago
Barrier Canyon
The Barrier Canyon Culture painted these pictographs about 2000 years ago

In the Thomas Mountain Range, volcanic activity was prevelent about 50 million years ago.  This deposited a lot of volcanic ash and lava flows and a great deal of mineralization is present as a result.   Some well known gemstones come from this mountain range including Tiffany Stone, Flowering Tube Onyx, Calcite Onyx (coming soon), Birds Eye Rhyolite (coming soon), and this trip we collected sunstones and hyalite bacon opal, which will soon be available.

Sunstones from near Delta, Utah
bacon opal
Hyalite bacon opal from near Milford, Utah

On the way home, we stopped at the Last Chance Mine in Colorado.  This area of the San Juan Mountains is again a giant volcanic field with several calderas. A lot of mineralization has taken place in this area including gold, silver, copper and zinc and it has been heavily mined.  The Last Chance Mine was a silver mine and the “waste rock” is sowbelly agate, or banded lace agate.  I collected a bunch of this material to make available soon as well!

Banded lace agate
Sowbelly agate
Volcanic ash from calderas in the San Juans

Overall, a very successful trip and I look forward to making all this new material available to you soon!