Saturday, July 26, 2014

CRETACEOUS SUMMER 2014: Wind Swept Day at Camp Makela (blog #9)

SWEPT AWAY IN THE CRETACEOUS. High winds increased in intensity throughout Thursday morning (July 24, 2014), making it difficult to move throughout the badlands from outcrop to outcrop searching for fossil traces. In this photo, my beloved Ichnologist stands atop an outcrop documenting our fossil finds before the winds forced us inside. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Hallelujah for the Montana BIG SKY extending out before us from Camp Makela as Chiboogamoo and I walked into the Cretaceous to search for trace fossils. Hallelujah for refuge later in the morning in our camp's communal trailer from high winds sweeping through that BIG SKY and the resulting camaraderie in such close quarters!
50-MILE WINDS ENDED CRETACEOUS FOSSIL SEARCH. "Team Ichnology" was the first to retreat from the high winds to Camp Makela's food trailer. We were followed by the Egg Mountain Rubble Rousers. The Brandvold Bone Bed crew came in last since their dig site was cut into a hillside and protected by a large black tarp, which provided some protection from the strong winds. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
"Team Ichnology," as Chiboogamoo and I have been dubbed by our camp compatriots, continued our survey of the Two Medicine Formation's badlands moving from outcrop to outcrop. The delightful coolish morning temperature made it easy to climb rocky hillsides, steadying our feet as we peered down at the eroded rocks looking for plant root traces, tracks, burrows, and coprolites. 

Then the winds started. First, we continued our work, being pushed this way and that each time we reached the apex of a hill. As my hat began to refuse to stay atop my head and the grit blew into my eyes, which were already dried from the wind, it became distracting trying not to fall and to see clearly enough to find trace fossils.
TWO FOR ONE ICHNOLOGICAL SPECIAL. One of the "finds" Team Ichnology discovered on this windy Thursday morning was this hadrosaur track with vertical burrows. This trace fossil shows us that after the hadrosaur had stepped in a muddy fluvial sediment, its track was filled with sand. Later invertebrates burrowed in the sand filling the track. (photo by Chiboogamoo, aka Tony Martin)
Although our findings for the morning had been successful, the trace fossils were randomly scattered throughout the outcrops, with many outcrops offering nothing but highly eroded rubble bearing blank faces, absent of ichnological information.

BRANVOLD BONE BED CREW. Team Ichnology was in the neighborhood of the Branvold Bone Bed and dropped in to say "hello" to their Camp Makela comrades and see how their work was progressing. (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
Finally, as the winds continued to pick up speed, our prospecting for trace fossils became too difficult and felt somewhat dangerous as we kept losing our balance on the loose rubble, which felt like marbles under our feet. We decided to head back to camp after repeatedly doing the "Two Medicine Formation sleigh ride," as Lee Hall describes the quick precarious fall down the badlands slope. "Safety takes precedence over science," my Chiboogamoo exclaimed!

When the winds finally died down after dinner, many of us had to put our collapsed tents back up.
CHIBOOGAMOO TO THE RESCUE. My husband persevered throughout the day making sure our tent and all of our belongings did not blow away. Here he is after dinner re-staking it to be ready for bed time. Thank you honey! (photo by Hallelujah Truth)
As the sun set on this windy Thursday July 24th evening, we had savored calm blue skies with fluffy clouds for several hours. The fast winds were to return the next day.

That's Coffee with Hallelujah! SOUL BLOG with me! Stay tuned for for several more blogs from Camp Makela. Team Ichnology returns from Cretaceous Summer 2014 in three more days.

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