Setting up and splitting up in Utah

Our full team of 11 stared out the Utah expedition with two days of picking and shoveling at the famed Crystal Geyser Quarry (CGQ), tomb of an estimated 300 Falcarius utahensis skeletons.  I had worked the CGQ for five years during my graduate work and at the end of that time we had just begun hitting an area of the quarry where the youngest individual discovered (aged 1-2 yrs) was buried.  That same area also housed some of the best preserved materials from the site (although not the holotype braincase!).  In the years since, we had been working the alternate side of the hill periodically, but this year, with permission from the BLM, we reopened the original quarry in search of better specimens.  This meant removing 1.5 meters of carbonate lenses above the bone bearing horizon.  With just two days we managed to clear a 4 x 3 meter area for the CGQ team to excavate during the 2 week expedition.

Picking away at the overburden at the CGQ in 105 degree heat

CGQ is next to a beautiful, but dang hot, campsite in the Morrison Formation badlands.  The dark maroon hills surrounding camp radiate the days heat back on the crew all night, meaning sometimes the temperature doesn’t drop into the 80s until early in the morning. Nonetheless, the sunsets are some of the most spectacular and there is a river nearby when the mid-day temps soar into the 100s.

The Morrison Formation badlands surround our camp

After opening the site, the NCMNS team split into two, the crazy half of of the crew heading west across the Swell into an area of the desert we call the Cliffs of Insanity.  Here we’ve been doing some extremely rugged prospecting in the Mussentuchit Member of the Cedar Mountain Formation for four years.  Last year, a crew member found an extraordinary site and we needed some hardy souls willing to do the hike for a couple of weeks. Next up… meet the site we call Deep Eddy…