South Dakota - Custer NF
Closed! Fossil Search and Rescue!
June 15–20; 22–26, 2015 (including weekends)
Must commit to one entire session; may participate in both
Join us for yet another "fossil-hunting" expedition at the Late Cretaceous Hell Creek Formation this summer! As with several of our previous projects, we will be operating in two phases: field and lab - volunteers are welcome to apply for one, the other, or both. During Week 1, we will spend our time in the field Searching (surveying for fossils) and Rescuing (excavating finds) within the Eastern Short Pines area of the Custer NF, located near Redig. The terrain here is rugged, and is full of steep slopes that can be treacherous (hard on the back and knees at times!). So, participant be warned: this area is beautiful, but it ain't for sissies! Excavation of fossil specimens will require participants to be able to sit for long periods, and will require a great deal of bending while we apply plaster and burlap to encase recovered specimens. We will provide all training in (or will hone) the proper paleontological excavation skills, and we will definitely get our hands dirty while using our "specialist equipment:" things like hammers, chisels, paintbrushes, etcetera.
During Week 2, we will move our efforts and our collections to the Paleontology Resource Lab at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T) in Rapid City. This laboratory portion will focus on the use of truly specialized tools and techniques designed to prepare and stabilize fossils and to ready them for accessioning and long-term curation at the museum. Volunteers will learn how to prepare and stabilize the fossils; getting them ready to be put into the museum collections. The Paleontological Resource Lab is very new and state of the art, and there are at least 18 work stations, though volunteers should be prepared to share the tools and equipment we use in lab, including the micro-jacks, air abraders, glues, and so on. Volunteers will prepare fossils and will be required to document the process. As with the excavation portion, all tools, supplies, and instruction will be provided.
The fossils we collect should be plentiful and very diverse, so there will likely be something to tempt even the most discerning volunteer's interests! There are also a lot of interesting and beautiful areas to visit while in the Black Hills in your time "off the clock," so we hope to see you for one or both sessions this summer!
Number of openings: 30 (15 per session)
Special skills: Field and lab training and equipment provided; volunteers must be physically capable of bending, sitting, standing, and/or kneeling for long periods each day, and in a variety of weather conditions (mostly hot!); previous excavation, pedestrian survey, leave-no-trace camping/hiking, fossil identification, curation, and/or other paleontological field, lab, and/or curation experience helpful, but not required
Minimum age: 12 years old, under 18 with a responsible adult
Facilities: Session 1: Volunteers will be camping (tents only!) in an open grassland with pine trees. At basecamp, a large 13 ft X 27 ft tent will serve as meeting and dining area (caterer will be based here for the duration), and includes solar generator, optional UTV, 2 "on-demand" hot water showers, cook stoves, pots, pans, etc.; caterer is optional, with a cost of $15/day/person. Otherwise, you may supply your food and there will be a cooking station for personal cooking. All supplies for locating and collecting fossils will be provided. Cell coverage at camp is very "iffy."
Session 2: Rapid City is a full-service community with hotels/motels, RV parks, restaurants, and a full range of other amenities; volunteers can also opt to reserve a dorm room at the SDSM&T: laundry facilities, cafeteria, kitchen, small refrigerators (available for rent); dorms ($35/night if providing own bed linen); communal bath facilities; volunteers responsible for own lodging, food, water, and transportation; selected individuals interested in booking dorm rooms shouldinform project leader at time of selection
Nearest town: Redig, 7 miles; Buffalo, 20 miles; Camp Crook, 25 miles; Session 2 based in Rapid City
Applications due: May 11, 2015