Mid-Mesozoic Field Conference, Day 5: Hanksville area

May 7, 2014

I actually have no photos from Saturday morning. One of the vans had a flat tire, and we didn’t have enough reserve capacity in the other vans for everyone from the afflicted van to go on, so a handful of people had to go back to Green River. My talk wasn’t finished and I needed time to work on it, so I was one of the volunteers who went back to town.

1 - Crystal Geyser

Happily the flat got fixed pretty quickly and we were back out in the field by lunchtime. We met up with the rest of the convoy at Crysal Geyser, a cold-water carbon-dioxide driven geyser—basically a giant seltzer bottle—right on the shore of the Green River. They geyser goes off about twice a day at irregular intervals, and the water brings up minerals that stain the riverbank with shades of yellow, orange, red, and purple. We were there at the same time as a hydrologist who was studying the geyser, which explains the equipment set up around the geyser on the far right in the photo.

2 - Hanksville rock shop

After lunch we passed through Hanksville on the way to the Hanksville-Burpsee dinosaur quarry. We stopped for a few minutes in front of the currently-defunct Hanksville rock shop, which has big chunks of fossilized wood and several ammonites built right into the facade.

3 - strata

Some cool finely-laminated sandstone on the way to the quarry.

4 - Hanksville-Burpee quarry sign

The sign at the entrance to the Hanksville-Burpee quarry.

5 - Katie teaching

Katie Tremaine of the Burpee Museum explains some of the history of the quarry and what it’s like to dig there.

6 - channel sand

The quarry lies at the top of a massive channel sand laid down by a Jurassic river.

7 - the long view

One of my favorite things about the desert is the frequent absence of any clues about scale. More than once I have started out hiking to a feature that I thought was about a quarter of a mile away, only to find out that it was actually a mile or more away and much, much larger than I had originally thought. I like that—it’s nice to be forcibly separated from everyday assumptions.

8 - skyscape

We had very nice weather for the entire field conference. It was a little warm on Friday, but not sweltering. On Saturday and Monday, scattered clouds gave us a frequent break from the sun. And they looked pretty cool, too.

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