Friday, April 3, 2009

Fieldwork Friday #4

Sorry this is late - but it is still Friday (for  a few more seconds...)

What a week! We arrived home from our trip to the Marble Mountains Tuesday. I am home for a week and a half and then we are in and out of town until the second week of May! I should not complain - a little over a week of that is field work.

Our trip to the Mojave was wonderful! We could not have asked for better weather! A little background on the trip – we were in the Marble Mountains south of the Mojave National Preserve of California searching for trilobites in the late Cambrian Latham Shale. My husband has been working there since he was an undergraduate and is gathering data for a presentation he will be giving this fall at the International Conference on the Cambrian Explosion. Last year they collected 147 specimens. This year we collected close to 300 specimens. 

We met Dr. Andy Farke (curator of paleontology at the Raymond M. Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont, California) along the road on our way to the site. Andy worked out in the field with us the first day. I had a great time getting caught us with him. We realized it was out first time to do fieldwork together - and we were in the CAMBRIAN! What is the world coming to? We need to get out to the Cretaceous where we belong. ;)

We had great luck at our first site. The area was frequented by many hobby collectors while we were there and we had the pleasure to be seriated with gun fired from the camp below our pits (as their children ran loose on the mountain side trying to find trilobites). But everyone came away with a trilobite and no gun shot wounds, which always makes for a good day.

The second day we worked out first day’s area, and then moved to an area closer to camp. We had moderate success at this site. We worked pits that had been opened by others (minimizing any surface impact) and found an amazing amount of trilobite cephalons in the spoil piles. It appeared that many of the people who were working the area were looking for whole trilobites. I found 2 complete trilobites on this trip. The rest were cephalons (and some pretty nice ones!).

This area provided a nice view and we saw a nice variety of lizards (2 Chuckwalla’s!), a nice variety of spring flowers, some fun weird beetles, and 1 huge scorpion!! The weather was perfect with the exception of a strong wind we had our third night that threatened to take down our tents, and did take out our shade tarp. We all got a nice coating of dust and a free facial that day.

This trip was also our dog Tikka's first field excursion since we have had him. He is an Australian Shepherd/Border Collie mix, and an older dog. He enjoyed going out with us and stayed very close, enjoying any shade he could find. He did not even chase any lizards or bugs, just chilled out and watched us work, snapping at the occasional fly that would bug him. He did really well until the last day. We were returning to a quarry that was up a long shale covered, rocky hill and as soon as he saw where I was headed he sat down on the trail and refused to go any further. We decided, since it was the last day and he was so insistent on NOT going up that trail, to just let him hold down the fort at camp that day. He seemed to be feeling much better, although still sore, that evening.

All in all it was a great trip! Feel free to take a look at my pictures from the trip. I hope to take some pictures soon to share of the curation process and research the trilobites we collected will now be going though.

Olenellus (nevadensis?)

Mesonacis fremonti

Mesonacis fremonti

The brachiopod Paternia pospectensis (below)

Mesonacis fremonti

Olenellus nevadensis

© ReBecca K. Hunt-Foster. Please see the "Fieldwork Friday Rules" about the work I do and collection practicies.

No comments: