Friday, 27 January 2012

Palaeontology panoramas - the bigger picture

One of the best things about field work is the places visit that demonstrate the wonderful geological diversity of our planet. Each location is like an open book ready to offer up apparently infinite amounts of information to those curious enough to look closer and ask questions.

Here are three panoramas I've assembled of places I particularly enjoyed visiting and working in. These images are made up of a sequence of photographs which I've stitched together using Adobe Photoshop, which has a rather nifty filter to do just this. I have adjusted the levels a little but otherwise the images are untweaked. Click on them to see larger versions.

First up is a panorama taken in July 2010 in the badlands of Montana. This 180 degree image shows the Hell Creek in the early morning, with clover on the gumbo banks (due to an exceptionally wet spring that year) and Sagebrush scenting the air. All that, and the rocks are full of fossils. Bliss!

Hot, remote and full of small, vicious bitey things but also full of luverly fossils: The Hell Creek Formation in Montana.
A wonderful spot.

Next is a panorama of Barnes High on the south-west coast of the Isle of Wight. This image shows rocks of the Wealden, mainly the red, green and grey clays of the Wessex Formation with the Vectis Formation appearing at the very top on the right of the image and thickening towards the left, over the orange-coloured sandstone which forms the cap of Barnes High; this is the junction of the Wessex and Vectis formations. The famous Hypsilophodon Bed lies just beneath this sandstone and reaches the beach further to the south. It was at this location that a partial large sauropod skeleton was found and the BBC returned to many years later with Live on Dinosaur Island to try and find any remaining bones missed, a task at which they unfortunately failed, although they cornered the market in pond mussels for the duration of the dig.

Here be dragons: Barnes High on the Isle of Wight, England as seen from the beach.
The top looks relatively flat in this image but it's actually a bit steeper in real life.

Next comes a vista of part of The Valley of Fire in Nevada. We were here on a tour from Las Vegas after the SVP meeting, and although we didn't find any body fossils we did find a trackway and indulge in some neoichology. This an area of spectacular scenery and wonderful geology and if you're in the area is well worth a visit. The landscapes within the park are quite diverse and never less than breathtaking. Yes, that is a wedding in progress near the car park. We came in that big pink jeep. Hmmm.

The Valley of Fire, Nevada. An astonishing place and only a couple of hours trip from Sin City.

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