Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dino-sized outreach

Last week the Martindale lab did something new: we did outreach with dinosaur shoes.

The goal was to have children make a "fossil dinosaur trackway" that they could use to estimate their dinosaur's size (and thus what dinosaur they were) as well as their speed. This was largely the brain child of the awesome Dr. William Foster, who has done a similar outreach project with the Natural History Museum of London.

First, we cut out some dinosaur feet, covered them with cheap carpet and screwed them onto some crocks and sandals.

We soaked the bottom of these shoes in some (washable) paint and then  had the kids put them on and walk along a strip of paper.

Then they measured their steps and strides...

 ... and looked up what dinosaur they were and how fast they were walking.

We wrote everything down on these tracks and then the kids got to take their posters home as a souvenir!

Everybody wanted to be a dinosaur!

Fabulous job team, thanks everyone!

Thursday, September 1, 2016

Alberta 2016

My last trip of the year is a nice one... back to my homeland of Alberta for a little scouting in the Jurassic shales!

This locality is so beautiful, I love it!

The trip was pretty rainy but the views are still awesome!

Some mornings were very misty!

We managed to find some nice lobster fossils and even an octopode guard!

Lobster face

Lobster claw


As well as some buffalo!

This is the Bighorn Creek waterfall; the soft shales on top get eroded until you hit the Triassic limestones below that form the cliffs.

The view from on top is pretty lovely!

... and there is quite the view underneath the waterfall!

We follow the Red Deer river from our site all the way to Drumheller!

Wednesday, August 3, 2016


One of the gems of the Dominican Republic (pun intended) is Larimar.

Rough cut Larimar, photo from https://exploradominicana.com/ecoturismo 

Larimar is a blue variety of pectolite (a calcium-sodium silicate mineral) and is only found in the Dominican Republic. The Larimar mines are located in the Barahona region where the mineral occurs in localized volcanic chimneys. The gemstone was (re)discovered in 1974 by Miguel Méndez and  Norman Rilling who found stones on the beach. It was later discovered that these stones were transported from the Los Chupaderos area (where the mine is now located) by the Bahoruco River. The natives believed the stones came from the ocean and so Miguel named the stone Larimar for his daughter Larissa (LARI-) and the Spanish word for the sea (MAR).

Compare the colour of the beautiful waters around Hispaniola... Is it any wonder that people assumed these gems were from the ocean?

I got lucky and was able to polish some of my own larimar gems at this great little "museum".

Choosing the bits to make into pendants...

Locals making some beautiful stuff. Working conditions are less than ideal...

Here I go!

I think they look pretty amazing!

 These two are my favorites!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

Slovenian Karst and Nerdiness

Today we worked hard an played hard.... specifically, we got nerdy about Karst! The term Karst comes from the "Kras" region of Slovenia so we are in the perfect place!

Check out this amazing Karst!

Deep crevasses!

Nick is about 6'3"... he's pretty tall....

Until he jumps into one of the karst gullies

The scenery is lovely too!

View over the Vipava Valley

After the karst, we drove down to the Adriatic Sea to dip our toes in the Mediterranean. Here is the View over Isola, Slovenia towards Italy.

Mussels growing in the harbour!

Piran, Slovenia (an old Venetian city)

I was so proud of my student, after taking in the views, he had to stop and look at the kart pisoids in the boulders!

Tomorrow, we have to get to work cutting rocks. No more nerdy tourism sadly.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Slovenian field work 2016

This week we are in Slovenia collecting rocks for Nick's MSc thesis. It is so very different from Morocco, instead of Tagine, we have pasta and steak, instead of mint tea, beer and espresso, and instead of scorching heat, we have rain.... oh so much rain.

The snails and worms are very happy though!

As are the wildflowers!

There are some beautiful oolites in Slovenia; here is an intraclast-rich oolite!

The one similarity is the age of the limestones (Early Jurassic) and the fact that the scenery is stellar!

Nick and his section's namesake, Kovk town (pronounced "COKE")

Far over the misty mountains....

Trees snapped from a bad winter storm.

Hardground and brachiopods

Side view of the hardground.

I swear my equipment always breaks in Slovenia!

Far in the distance is the Adriatic Sea!

Stunning encrinites, those little star shapes are crinoid ossicles!

Better weather means nicer photos and happier geologists!

This part of Slovenia is very Austrian...

This is the traditional way to dry hay!

Sampling the limestones here is not easy. Nick is a trooper and has an impressive swing with a sledgehammer!

rock chips = cuts

We got stuck behind a logging truck, but watching "the claw" was pretty fun!

Classic karst!

Vipava Valley, many vineyards! :)