I've been pretty busy lately with PhD commitments, so I'm changing Obscure Dinosaur of the Week to Obscure Dinosaur of the Month! To appease you all, I drew you a dino-eat-dino silhouette:
C'mon, that's pretty awesome effort for someone who has no spare time!
And I won! My presentation was titled "Diagnosis: Fossil", and I spoke about the CSI aspects of looking for clues at a 98 million year old crime scene. All of the presentations this year from the School of Biological Sciences were excellent, I had a lot of stellar competition! I'll be heading off to the UQ Faculty of Science 3MT Finals next Thursday, so wish me luck!
I spent a second day at the Exploration Data Centre (EDC), logging sedimentary structures and identifying facies: distinct rock units that form under different environmental conditions. From what I've identified so far, it appears to have been very low energy, with slow flowing rivers and lakes.
I photographed 300 m of core that I logged, which only took about 2.5 hrs. Sheesh! But it is extremely useful in case I need to re-define or re-examine particular facies.
Logging rock core from the Winton Formation near Isisford: the core starts at the bottom left of each tray, and progresses down hole to the right.
So all in all, I had a very productive 2 days at the EDC. The facility is well organised and maintained, and the staff are friendly and helpful, so I'd recommend it to anyone needing to examine drill core!
Once we reached Isisford, I spent some time with a fellow palaeo student wandering along the banks of the Barcoo River, while we waited for the weather to clear.
There was clear evidence of the height and energy of the water during the March 2012 floods:
We decided to stay at the race course just out of Isisford, with the ~1 km dirt track drive resulting in lots of super slow driving because of this:
If we'd driven any longer, the mud would have kept caking on, building up to near the wheel arch, and almost certainly bogging us! So, we waited some more for the sun to dry out the mud, and I took the opportunity to photograph the countryside some more.
All in all, although we didn't get to do any digging for dinosaurs, the field trip was pretty fun! And I definitely gained a deeper understanding about the power storms as an erosional forces!
Today was a day of action for me! I was at the Exploration Data Centre (EDC) in Zillimere, Brisbane today looking at drill core of the Winton Formation taken from near Isisford and Blackall in the 1980's. I wanted to see if there were any rocks/sedimentary structures similar to those in my dinosaur concretions. And, luckily, there are 2 or 3 contenders! I'll get those lucky bits of core thin sectioned, and then be able to make a finer scale comparison. This also makes up for the missed field sampling opportunities due to torrential rain during our July field trip.
I got to meet one of my co-supervisors face-to-face for the first time! He's based outside of Brisbane and we'd only ever spoken over Skype up until now. I also met up with his PhD student (and my main supervisor is his co-supervisor, which technically makes us academic siblings!)
So all in all, a very productive day, and hopefully a productive day tomorrow too!
Although we drove for 3 days to spend 2 days in Isisford waiting for the rain to stop, and then spent 2 days driving home again, it was a great road trip seeing all the central western Queensland sites!
Here's a pic of the luxurious Hotel Mitchell, complete with pink bedroom walls and uber sturdy staircase:
We visited the Tree of Knowledge in Barcaldine, where shearers used to gather and discuss policies and ideas during the strike of 1891. For this reason, it's considered the birthplace of the Australian Labor Party (ALP). The 200 year old ghost gum was poisoned in 2006 by vandals. It was then taken to a specialist to preserve it, and placed back at the original site underneath this structure:
Stay tuned for more photos later in the week!
About the author
Dr Caitlin Syme is a palaeontologist who recently finished her PhD at The University of Queensland, studying the taphonomy (preservation state) of fossil non-avian dinosaurs, crocodiles and fish from the Winton Formation, Queensland, Australia. Think forensic science or CSI for fossils, and you're on the right track!
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