The project will be conducted on a working cattle ranch in eastern Wyoming. Conditions in the camp are primitive, but certainly livable. You will be sleeping in your own tent. Bring a sturdy one with a low wind profile. You will need a sleeping bag adequate for temperatures down to freezing at night, and a good sleeping pad. A camp trailer can be accommodated if arrangements are made in advance, as there are a limited number of pull-through sites with connections. The camp station has running water and electricity, men's and women's shower and restroom facilities, a central kitchen and an outdoor meeting area and workspace.

We work in teams to rotate through tasks such as preparing breakfast and dinner, and supplying food to make individual lunches. Monday through Friday we work in the field, and Saturday and Sunday are for rest or for excursions to the many interesting sights in the area.

Southwestern Adventist University has applied for and been granted approval for four years, to manage and conduct research and excavation of the principal site, and to open exploratory quarries at several satellite locations. The site management specifies that participants be students or teachers who are comfortable with a Christian lifestyle and open to considering ideas of origin other than the traditional evolutionary paradigm. We welcome teachers and college students meeting these criteria who are interested in participating in this type of a program.

Dinosaurs are a focus of great interest and controversy from preschoolers to scientists. These animals ranged in size from smaller than a chicken to the largest creatures that ever lived on land. Bones of the last dinosaurs to walk the earth are found in the Lance Formation in Eastern Wyoming.. A thin layer of rock containing an excess of the transitional element iridium signals the upper boundary of Cretaceous rocks and the last recorded living dinosaurs. Speculation by some scientists and the popular media is that this layer represents fallout from the collision of a giant meteorite with the earth. The meteorite is presumed to have been responsible for the extermination of the last dinosaurs.

Other theories for the extinction of the dinosaurs abound. These theories all have one thing in common: a great deal of speculation about the catastrophic termination of the dinosaurs seen in these Upper Cretaceous rocks.

A new approach is needed that will allow us to find answers to some of the remaining questions. Why are there no dinosaurs above the Cretaceous/Paleocene boundary? Why are there no mass destruction deposits associated with a meteoric impact event purported to have sent a wall of water hundreds of meters high across the North American continent? What evidence is there that these beds were accumulated in a fluvial environment? Why are the dinosaurs in the Upper Lance Formation present in bonebeds? What are the geometry and extent of these beds, and what kinds of dinosaurs are found in the deposits? What is the taphonomic condition of the bones? These answers may be crucial to the unraveling of the mystery of the demise of the dinosaurs and other questions about this important period in the history of our planet.

To find answers to these questions, paleontologist Dr. Lee Spencer of the Earth History Research Center, sedimentologist Dr. Art Chadwick and astrophysicist Dr. Larry Turner of Southwestern Adventist University have begun taphonomic research on one of the richest Upper Cretaceous bonebeds in the world. This site in the Lance Formation in Eastern Wyoming contains the remains of hundreds and perhaps thousands of dinosaurs. The bones are in excellent condition, and their removal from the mudstone matrix is facilitated by the unconsolidated nature of the sediments. This fact underscores the importance of the work from another perspective. The sediments containing the bones are presently eroding away at a significant rate, and the bones are near the surface. Each year, precious information slips away without record.

To ensure that no information is lost, Drs. Chadwick and Turner have developed new mapping techniques that enable the location of each bone to be recorded permanently in a 3 dimensional computer matrix, using high-resolution GPS technology with an accuracy of less than 1 cm. The precise outline, position and attitude of a 3D photographic image of the actual bone can be viewed and manipulated in the computer even after the bone is removed from the site. The net effect is that after the quarry is excavated, the bones can be seen in the computer as though the mudstone had been removed from the quarry site, leaving only the bones visible. The precise relationship of the parts of various dinosaurs can be compared for taphonomic purposes. Sedimentary analysis can be performed in the computer on the orientation and distribution of the long bones. The shape, extent and thickness of the bonebed can be easily mapped and reconstructed and its origin can be considered.

Through lectures in the classroom and in the field, the student will become acquainted with the following areas:

1. the general nature and science of taphonomy;
2. the approaches and processes employed in the excavation of vertebrate remains;
3. the techniques for identifying the fossils; and
4. the procedures for preserving the remains after excavation.
Evening lectures will cover the basics of geology, the fundamentals of vertebrate anatomy and philosophical and scientific issues concerning origins. Lectures by Drs. Spencer, Chadwick and Turner will present a variety of perspectives on issues ranging from the origin of the universe to the geology of the Lance Formation. We will be giving consideration to the nature of scientific data and the significance of the research being carried out on the site. The faculty will also present talks on other related research projects they are involved in. Before you have finished, you will be able to identify basic rock and bone types and to find your way around the geologic column. You will have a new appreciation for the issues surrounding the history of the earth revealed through the eyes of geology. A final exam will provide additional incentive for study and an opportunity for you to express your educational outcomes.

The work this season in Wyoming will be challenging, hot or cold, windy or calm and wet or dry, but always exciting and rewarding ( click here for more details). You will learn field techniques of vertebrate paleontology to locate, uncover and preserve the fragile fossil material. You will participate in the excavation and recovery of vertebrate remains at one of several active localities at the site. You and your team will rotate between activities concerned with site construction, excavation and conservation, data collection and mapping, and screen washing ot the fine sediments derived from quarrying. Every day will be a new adventure.

This program is intended primarily for senior high school and college students and high school and college teachers. Those desiring college credit may register for GEOL 211: Field Methods in Vertebrate Paleontology for four hours of lower division college science credit. The tuition for this course is $392 if you register through Southwestern Adventist University (1/4 normal tuition). Teachers working towards their masters in elementary education in the sciences at Southwestern Adventist University may take the class EESE 504 Geology from Basics. Those teachers who wish only to earn CEU for their participation ($100 fee) may do so for three hours of credit where approved.

The program will be offered in June. Classes in the field are organized around research activities. Participants will depart from Keene (where convenient) on June 2, and return the first week in July. The CEU class (three hours) will be taught beginning June 3 and ending June 20. Teachers with special time problems may contact Dr. Chadwick regarding other options. Those indicating an interest in participating will be kept informed of the plans as we progress.

We can accommodate up to 30 participants for this field season. Estimated cost to each participant in addition to tuition and registration fees is $550. This amount includes the site fee paid to the research facility ($100), all food (except for days in transit), transportation from Keene to the field station and transportation in the field. Participants will be accommodated on a first come basis. For those coming in their own transportation for less than the four weeks, the following schedule applies for the non-tuition portion of the fees: A single week is $250 (we have to front-load the cost because we must pay the HRS owners $100 per person, regardless of the time resident). Two weeks are $350, three weeks for teacher CEUs are $450. Anyone wishing to stay beyond the four-week period will only be charged $550, regardless of the time of stay (up to the full season). A deposit of $100 will be required to hold your place. Please make checks payable to Southwestern Adventist University, and send to Dr. Chadwick at the address below.

Participants will provide evidence of coverage by a comprehensive health insurance plan, show documentation of current tetanus booster, and provide documentation of health problems and allergies. Smoking is prohibited; possession/consumption of alcoholic beverages is prohibited. Participants must also sign a statement agreeing to abide by the rules and limiting liability. Participants must wear eye protection while working in the quarry. Eye protection and a complete working toolkit will be provided (checked out) to participants. Each participant will be required to purchase a field notebook ($5).

Email: Art Chadwick, Director
Phone: 1-800-433-2240 ext 277 (toll-free U.S) or 1-817-556-4718.
Surface Mail: Department of Geology, Southwestern Adventist University, Keene, TX 76059