Saturday, September 24, 2016

Back to the Dig site for Science

This summer myself, my daughter Gloria and Eric Meitz from the U of Alaska Fairbanks spent 6 days in central Oregon in a scientific investigation of the Brisbois formation. This is part of Eric's classification paper on the Thalattosaur. By the way, the local pronunciation of the name is "Briz-Bo", not at all like the original French name.

One of the activities was to do a stratigraphic survey of the area immediately around where the 'Bernie Block' was found. First, after re-locating the original site, we cleared all the loose soil off a strip from the top to the bottom of the roadcut.

Her is my daughter Gloria "In-Situ"

 Here are Gloria and Eric looking at the lower end of the cleared strip.

 Here is the cleared strip. The squarish blocks at the top are a layer of 'indurated' shale (just harder shale). The rock layers are almost parallel to the surface of the roadcut, with the younger overlying layers on top as you progress top to bottom and left to right. The rocks to the right of my hat are the layer that the Bernie Block was located in, and the depression above the hat is where the block was. This layer is mixed up, not layered, and contains lots of 'clasts' (solid rocks). This is evidence that the 'Bernie Block' was transported to this site as a result of some sort of mass sediment movement and did not originate here.

Here is how we left the site. The white object on the pole is our Totem, a full-size 3D printed copy of Bernie's skull, along for the trip. Later on I gave it to Miriam Bernard as a thank-you gift.

After we excavated the site, we spent several days going around to every possible outcropping of the Brisbois formation on 5 different ranches. Unfortunately, we didn't find any more "Bernie Blocks'. It may end up that this one block is all we'll ever get. Although it's a somewhat depressing thought, the block itself is such a wonderful specimen that I'm always thankful that we found it.
Sincerely, Greg Carr