"Scenic view from atop Twin Rock" by U.S. National Park Service , public domain

Florissant Fossil Beds

Junior Explorer - Geology of the Gold Belt Byway

brochure Florissant Fossil Beds - Junior Explorer - Geology of the Gold Belt Byway
This publication was produced by a collaboration between the Bureau of Land Management (BLM) Royal Gorge Field Office, the National Park Service (NPS) at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, the Gold Belt Byway Association and the Geocorps America program of the Geological Society of America. The activities and content address Colorado Academic Standards (CAS) in Earth and Life Science. Written by Michael R. Johnson Illustrated by Paige A. Latendresse Updated by Andrew Smith Public Lands Belong to You! The BLM is a federal government agency that takes care of more than 245 million acres of land. Most of these lands are in the western part of the United States. These lands are America’s public lands, and they belong to all Americans. These public lands are almost equal in area to all the land in the states of Texas and California put together. The BLM manages public lands for many uses. The lands supply natural resources, such as coal, oil, natural gas and other minerals. The lands provide habitats for plants and animals. People enjoy the big open spaces on public lands. BLM lands also contain evidence of our country’s past, ranging from fossils to Indian artifacts to ghost towns. On BLM lands, fossil bones, teeth, turtle shells and other vertebrate fossils must be left where they are, but clams, snails and other invertebrates may be collected. When in doubt, leave it be! Junior Explorers The BLM’s Junior Explorer program helps introduce young explorers like you to the lands and resources the BLM manages. This guide to the Gold Belt Tour National Scenic Byway will help you to understand what rocks and fossils tell us about Earth’s past. You will also visit several spectacular locations, and learn where to find even more. Earning Your Junior Explorer Badge You can work through the activities with an older sibling, parent, or an adult you know. If you are 9-12 years old, you can try them on your own. Each explorer should complete the number of activities that match their age (for example, 10 year olds complete 10 activities). At least one activity should be a special Onsite Activity (at Florissant or Skyline Drive). When you complete the activities, check them against the Answer Key in the back of the booklet. Then say the Junior Explorer pledge on page 28 and sign the certificate. You can take the certificate to the Visitor Center at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument, or bring it or mail it to: BLM Royal Gorge Field Office | 3028 E Main St., Cañon City, CO 81212 | phone: 719-269-8500. 2 Be a Scientist! Rocks and fossils are a record of the past. Geologists are scientists who know how to read rocks like a book to learn about the ancient surface of the Earth. Paleontologists are scientists who find fossils, and learn about life on Earth long ago. In this guide, you will learn how to read the rocks and study fossils just like those scientists, and then you can tell the story of how Colorado has changed through time! Maps can show not just where to go, but also what you’ll find there. Each site in this book has a certain color that matches the age of the rocks at that site. Color each site with its special color as you read about it. *Adults! Detailed directions to each location can be found in the back of this book. 3 7 Gold Belt Byway You will visit seven different places in this book that you can also see in person. These sites are part of the Gold Belt Tour National Scenic Byway, which is named for Colorado’s rich mining history. But these rocks have more than just gold to offer! Visiting BLM Lands Many of these locations are on public lands managed by the BLM. You are welcome to visit, but please remember that these lands belong to all of us! As you read this book, you will learn that there are rules for collecting fossils on public lands. Be sure to follow those rules so others can enjoy the land too! Fun Facts Each of the seven places in this book has its own story to tell. Florissant National Monument The Florissant Fossil Beds were discovered in the 1860s, but only became a National Monument in 1969 after a campaign led by scientists and environmentalists like Estella Leopold, Beatrice Willard, and Vim Wright. Shelf Road The narrow, winding, Shelf Road was the first road connecting Cripple Creek to the Arkansas River Valley. Imagine traveling that road with just a horse and wagon! Royal Gorge Royal Gorge was discovered in 1806 by Lt. Zebulon Pike, who thought the gorge was completely impassable. Today the gorge can be crossed by bridge, train, cable car, or zipline. Garden Park Area Cripple Creek and Victor When first mined in the late 19 to early 20th Centuries, the mines near Cripple Creek produced 22 million ounces of gold. That’s more than 100 elephants, and it would take 28 semi-trucks to move all that gold! Mining for gold continues in the area today! th The Marsh-Felch Quarry and the Cope Quarries were discovered in the late 19th Century as part of the “Bone Wars,” a race between Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope to find the most dinosaurs. Indian Springs The trace fossils at Indian Springs are the best in North America! Because they are so unique, the site was made a National Natural Landmark in 1979. Skyline Drive The rocks at the top of Skyline Drive were formed on an ancient beach. If you looked to the east in the Cretaceous Period (150 to 65 million years ago), you would be looking across a sea! 4 Activity - Public and Private Lands This book takes you to lands owned by many different agencies and people. There are different rules and laws for collecting fossils on public lands (BLM), national parks (NPS), city property and private land. Read the chart to learn the different rules, and look at the colors on the map to see who owns what land. Then, match each location in this book to its owner and rules. OWNERSHIP RULES LOCATIONS BLM You must have a permit from the BLM to collect fossil bones and teeth, but you may collect fossil ___________________________________ shells and plants. NPS You may not collect fossils or even rocks. ___________________________________ City of Cañon City You must have a permit from the city to collect fossil bones and teeth, but you may collect fossil ___________________________________ shells and plants. Private You must ask the landowner’s permission. ___________________________________ Florissant BLM NPS City Private Cripple Creek Victor Shelf Road This map is a simple picture of land ownership for the places in this book. Check an official map if you want to visit other places. Red Canyon Park Indian Springs Garden Park Royal Gorge 5 Skyline Drive Era Cenozoic Eon Period Today Quaternary Neogene Paleogene 65 Ma Mesozoic Cretaceous Jurassic Triassic 251 Ma Permian Pennsylvanian Paleozoic When a geologist studies a rock, it is like reading one chapter in a very long book. Usually, a geologist can only read one or two chapters at a time. How do they figure out what order the chapters go in? They use the Geologic Time Scale! The Geologic Time Scale is like a table of contents that allows geologists to figure out which rocks are older and which rocks are younger. Each location that you visit in this book has its own Geologic Age that you can use to put them in order. ologists ale – How ge c S e im T ic g into Geolo vast history order Earth’s f time. It acts like a ds o smaller perio r. time huge calenda lar period of u c ti r a p A – e . Each Geologic Ag gic Time Scale on the Geolo n special e has its ow g A ic g lo o e G color. eans “billions iation that m v re b b a n A Ga – .” of years ago illions that means “m n o ti ia v re b b Ma – An a .” of years ago Phanerozoic Geologic Time ow Words to Kn Mississippian Devonian Silurian Ordovician Cambrian 542 Ma Precambrian 4.6 Ga 6 Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument Paleogene Paleogene (34 Ma) Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument is famous for its fossils. These fossils belong to a smaller geologic age in the Paleogene called the Eocene Epoch. Some of the fossils you can find include spiders, wasps, birds, and even giant petrified tree stumps. Fossils are very difficult to make. An animal or plant has to be buried before anything comes along to eat it or step on it, and then survive millions of years of weathering and erosion. Even then, we usually only find the “hard parts:” bones, teeth and shells. The Florissant Fossil Beds are a very special kind of fossil discovery called a lagerstätten (LAH-ger-SHTAH-ten). This means they contain many Words to Know g in f a liv fossils that are very well-preserved, and even include fragile insect ains or signs o to Fossil – The rem ed rn been tu wings, leaf impressions and feathers! thing that have stone. ed to stone. . May Petrified – Turn ng apart a rock ki ea Br – g in er Weath g and shatterin ck a cr y b en p hap dissolving it. ing the rock, or ent by ying away sedim rr a C – n o si o Er ice. wind, water, or f very A rich deposit o Lagerstätten – fossils. well-preserved ONSITE Activity 1 – Visiting the Visitor Center The Visitor Center can show you a lot of fossils, and explain what they tell us about the past. As you explore the center, answer these questions about Florissant: How old are the Florissant Fossil Beds? What are “diatoms?” How was the climate of Lake Florissant different from today? What clues do paleontologists use to figure out past climate? What is a “regurgitalite”? What kinds of rocks preserve the fossils at Florissant? 7 How Do You Make a Fossil? The fish dies and sinks to the bottom of the lake. Its flesh rots away, but the bones stay behind. The bones are buried, and turn to stone over a very long time. The bones are later exposed by wind and rain, and can be discovered by paleontologists. � ONSITE Activity 2 – Amazing Fossils Usually, big, tough bones become fossils more easily than small, delicate bones. But at Florissant we find incredible fossils of fragile things like plant leaves and insects that leave paleontologists in awe. Which Florissant fossil is your favorite? Draw it to the right! Activity 3 – Going Back in Time The mix of insects, leaves and trees tells paleontologists that there was once a tall forest here, and the climate was warmer than today. The thin layers of rock tell geologists that there was a lake next to the forest with a volcano very nearby. Look at the pictures below, and cross out what doesn’t belong in a picture of ancient Florissant. 8 Paleogene (33 Ma) Cripple Creek and Victor are famous for their gold mines. Some of the historic mines went as deep as 3,350 feet below the surface. You can see the historic mining structures throughout the area, many of them accessible by hiking trails. To learn more about mining history of the area visit the Victor Lowell Thomas Museum or go to the Independence Mill Site to walk multiple interpretive trails and see historic buildings. ow Words to Kn s ck that form ro f o e p ty A nd. Granite – ls undergrou o o c a m g a m when with ink and white p lly a u s u is It spots. smaller black s when ck that form ro f o e p ty A ated Gneiss – eezed and he u q s re a s e it gran usually round. They deep underg . black stripes have pink and e d d ep en rock foun lt o m t, o H he – Magma it comes to t If . d n u ro rg e und called lava. surface, it is ck dimentary ro e s f o e p y t ck Breccia – A pieces of ro rp a h s , ig b f d made o squeezed an n e e b e v a h t tha . her. fused toget es up ion that com s ru t in f o e p all. Dike – A ty sheet like a w l like in a narrow luable meta ow line of va rr a n A – in Ve gold. u think Where do yo ! ld o G l’s o Pyrite – Fo ickname? it gets this n Fool’s Gold How Did the Gold Get There? The rocks here come from two different times in Earth history. The oldest rocks are pink, black and stripey rocks called granite and gneiss (pronounced “nice”) from the Precambrian (1.7 Ga). The youngest rocks, called breccia, come from violent, explosive volcanoes in the Paleogene (33 Ma). Granite and gneiss form deep underground. Eruptions blast the granite and gneiss into small, sharp fragments. These volcanoes also produced a mineral that geologists call pyrite. Miners called it “Fool’s Gold.” Real Gold In the mining district take care and stay on the trails! Historic mining openings can be dangerous! 9 Paleogene g Cripple Creek and Victor Hot magma dikes force their Hot water seeps into these cracks, way into the cracks left by the and deposits gold in veins. eruption. Activity 1 – Geologic Word Search Geologists and paleontologists use a lot of special words to describe rocks, fossils and minerals. Find some of these words here. Do you know what each of these words mean? BRECCIA CONGLOMERATE DIKE FORMATION GNEISS GOLD GRANITE LAGERSTATTEN MUDSTONE PYRITE SANDSTONE SHALE TRACE FOSSIL VOLCANO LIMESTONE L C S A N D S T O N E M A O J J B B O C I C U W G N E I S S R Q X D W H E G R A N I T E S V S F R L D D M G A T C H S O S O S V H E O S A C E R T M D H F N N L N O I M A E J D E S E O D D H A T R A C E F O S S I L T T A P Y R I T E O K I I E T V O L C A N O E D O N E L I M E S T O N E N Activity 2 – Nobody’s Fool Miners can use geology to help them find gold, but they still need a bit of luck. Enter the mine from the top to find a gold vein, but don’t waste time by digging for Fool’s Gold! 10 Red Canyon and Shelf Road Ordovician to Pennsylvanian (450 to 300 Ma) Red Canyon Park gets its name from the bright red sedimentary rocks of the Fountain Formation. Sedimentary rocks can be made up of bits of older rocks that were broken up by weathering, or made from the remains of ancient life. The Fountain Formation was made by breaking down the Ancestral Rocky Mountains, a chain of mountains that grew and were eroded away long before the mountains you can see today! Pennsylvanian Ordovician The Shelf Road Climbing Area has even older dolostone rocks from the Ordovician Period. These rocks are the remains of an ancient coral reef. In fact, you can even see the corals still in the rock! Fossil corals look like honeycombs or beehives in the rock. In the picture below, some of the corals have been colored in. Can you see the rest? Where do you find coral reefs today? What does that mean for ancient Colorado? Fossil Coral ow Words to Kn at forms k – A rock th c ro ry ta n e ed and Sedim nt is deposit e im d e s n e h no w her until it is t e g to d e z e sque . ll, longer loose f rock or she o s it b n e k ro Sediment – B vel and mud. red like sand, gra hick layer of t A – n io t a Fountain Form gravel that was formed ced sand and . It can be tra rs e v ri t n ie c by an lorado! all across Co hat pe of rock t ty A – e n o . st Dolo cient oceans formed in an layers yer or set of wed la A – n io t a Form can be follo of rock that nces. for long dista 11 Red Canyon Park Shelf Road Activity 1 – What is a Formation? Geologists divide rocks into groups called formations that can be followed over long distances. You can follow the Fountain Formation to many other famous places in Colorado. Unscramble these other locations! Word bank: FLATIRONS, GARDEN OF THE GODS, RED ROCKS PARK, ROXBOROUGH STATE PARK DRE ORCSK RPAK _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ ROTINSLAF _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ BOOXORRGUH ETATS AKPR _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ DRANGE FO HET ODSG _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ 12 Activity 2 – Being a Good Steward Being a good steward means helping to keep the land preserved so that the people who come after you can have the same experience that you had. Stewardship means planning carefully for your trip, and then following the hiker’s motto: Take only pictures, leave only footprints. Make choices on the hike below to be the best possible steward! The rangers will let you know if you need to make different choices. Water, jacket, boots, map, snack Packing Hike on the trail Finding a Fossil Hiking Toys, video games, sports gear Hike off the trail Dig it out Take a picture Tell a ranger Meeting a Wild Animal Pet it Feed it Take a picture You should go back and make a different choice. Leave trash at your site Camping Leave fire unattended Pitch a tent Good job! You know how to be a responsible steward of public land! 13 Garden Park Area Jurassic (150 Ma) The Garden Park Area has produced a lot of dinosaur fossils from the Jurassic Period. You might say this is the real Jurassic Park©! The Marsh-Felch Quarry and the Cope Quarries were discovered at aboutthe same time by two rival paleontologists, Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope, during the "Bone Wars." They competed to see who could find the most dinosaurs, and fought each other with words, ideas and money. Although they made great contributions to science with all the fossils they found ( 136 new species of dinosaurs!), they weren't very good stewards; they destroyed many fossils that they couldn't collect just so no one else could find them. 0. C. Marsh E. D. Cope ~ ed \ayer5 ot rock. ~~~ ~~• OotcroP - Expo5 1· te water The \and. c irna . En\/\~_-. tking5 in a particular 11 andhv1n9 place. Activitf-) l - Dinosaurs of Garden Park Paleontologists know where to dig for fossils because the!:J can usuall!:J see bones sticking out of the rock face or ootcrop. Circle the skeletons of some of Garden Park's most famoos dinosaors hidden in the ootcrop on the next page! Once !:JOU Bnd all the dinosaurs. !:JOU can color the outcrop. Camarasaurus (cam-AIR-ah-SORE-us) Diplodocus ( dip-LAH-doe-kuss) Allosaurus (AL-oh-SORE-us) Campto~ ( CAMP-toe-SORE-us) Brachiosaurus (BRAK-ee-oh-SORE-us) Ceratosaurus (sir-AH-toe-SORE-us) .. ' ' - . ... . ~ - / \ 14 15 Activity 2 – Written in the Rocks When a geologist looks at an outcrop, she sees a story set in stone. Different types of rock tell of different environments in Earth’s history. Look at the chart below to learn what each type of rock means. Then, read what the geologist has to say about the Garden Park Area on the next page, and tell the story that is written in the rocks! ROCK NAME Conglomerate WHAT A GEOLOGIST OBSERVESS “Pebbles are pretty heavy and hard to move.” THE STORY IN THE STONE “There was probably a strong river here!” Mudstone Coal “Mud gets left behind by floods, but then cracks as it dries.” “This spot used to be a floodplain!” “This rock is soft, black, sometimes shiny, and burns very easily. I’d better keep it AWAY from flames.” “Coal forms from buried plants, so I bet I am looking at a swamp!” “This rock feels like a mudstone, but it has thin layers.” “Those layers mean the water was calm and deep, far from shore. This is the ocean!” “Limestone and dolostone form big, blocky rock walls. Sometimes I can see corals or shells in the rock.” “Coral reefs today are found in quiet ocean waters far from shore. That means that limestone and dolostone are the remains of ancient oceans!” “I can easily see sand grains, but this is tricky. Beaches are made of sand, but so are river beds.” “I might be on an ancient beach, or in an ancient river. I should look at some of the other rocks for more clues.” “This might look like mud or sand, but look at these chunks of other rocks stuck in it!” “This rock is a sure sign of a volcano!” “This rock has big pink and black crystals in it.” “It used to be hot melted rock like lava, but because it was underground we call it ‘magma.’ The big crystals grew as the magma cooled slowly.” Shale Limestone and Dolostone Sandstone Ash Granite 16 Activity 2 – Written in the Rocks continued . . . Here’s what the geologist observes about the rocks and fossils at Garden Park. “The dinosaur bones in the Garden Park Area are usually found in sandstone. But there are also a lot of very colorful mudstones.” Mudstone Sandstone What did Garden Park look like in the Jurassic? Tell the story with words or by drawing a picture. 17 Ordovician (450 Ma) Fossils like those from Florissant and Garden Park are called body fossils because they are a part or the whole of an animal’s body. Living things can leave other signs behind for paleontologists to discover, like footprints or burrows. These marks are called trace fossils, and Indian Springs has some truly remarkable examples. The trace fossils here were made by jawless fish, and arthropods like sea scorpions, horseshoe crabs or the famous trilobites. Ordovician Indian Springs Trace-Fossil Site Sea scorpion Trilobite Horseshoe crab � 18 Activity 1 – They Went That Way! Different types of animals leave different marks in the sand or mud that can eventually become trace fossils. Match these tracks to the animals that made them! Look at the pictures on the previous page for hints. ow a Words to Kn t represents a h t il s s o f A hell, Body fossil – thing, like a s g in liv a f o rt pa bone or leaf. ts a hat represen t il s s fo A – il like a Trace foss g thing’s life, sign of a livin burrow. footprint or had not arly fish that e ry e V – h s fi by Jawless ws. They ate yet evolved ja od. sucking in fo shell and animal with a y n A – d o p ers Arthro e insects, spid lik , s g le d te join or crabs. hropod An extinct art – n io rp o c n, but s Sea like a scorpio d e k o lo t a h t were stinger. Some didn’t have a rson! full grown pe a n a h t r e g big out 251 Ma. They all died at rthropod th a n A – b ra c and a Horseshoe haped head -s e m o d a s a ous h t not poison u b – ty in o p long, day! re still alive to a y e h T il. ll ta – hat came in a t d o p ro h rt a m, Trilobite – An es. Some swa iz s d n a s e p sha e ate nts, and som some ate pla ut hey all died o T . ls a im n a r othe 251 Ma. A 1 B 2 C 3 Activity 2 – Fossils Are Signs of Life From trace fossils, paleontologists can learn things that body fossils can’t teach. Trace fossils can show how an animal moved, where it made its home, and even what it ate. Look at these fossils, and circle the trace fossils. Footprint Leaf 19 Trilobite Burrows Snail shell Precambrian (1.7 Ga) The Royal Gorge was carved by the Arkansas River beginning about five million years ago. The river now cuts as deep as 1,200 feet into the rock! The walls of the gorge are made of granite and gneiss, just like some of the rocks from Cripple Creek and Victor. These are the only rocks you will see at Royal Gorge today because the Arkansas River completely eroded What does all the layers that used to erosion mean be on top. again? Precambrian Royal Gorge see page 7 ow Words to Kn in rock. Fold – A bend reak and rock layers b n e h W – lt u Fa move. ws ure that sho t ic p A – n io as Cross-sect om the inside fr g in h t e m lf. o s n sliced in ha e e b s a h it h thoug ed its The strong forces that raised the Rocky Mountains also jumbled hat has forc t a m g a M – Intrusion ther rock. way into ano up the rock layers by folding and faulting them. Wind and water Activity 1 – Folds, Faults and Erosion have also removed parts of some rock layers by eroding them. It is not always easy to read the story in the rocks when they have been damaged in these ways. Fortunately, geologists have a set of rules to help them sort things out. 4 3 5 2 1. The oldest rocks are on the bottom. 2. Sedimentary rocks always form in flat, wide layers. 3. Intrusions and faults are younger than the layers they cut. These drawings show several rock formations in cross-section. If we could slice into the Earth and look at it like layers in a cake, this is what 1 we would see. The numbers show the order in which the rocks formed, from oldest (1) to youngest (5). Only after they form can the layers be folded or cut by an intrusion or fault. 20 Activity 1 – Folds, Faults, and Erosion continued . . . In this diagram, the layers are all tilted and folded. Since rocks usually form in flat, wide layers (rule 2), the folding must have happened last. 8 7 6 3 5 2 4 1 Practice reading the rocks by ordering the layers in these next drawings from youngest to oldest. Block 1 Youngest _____ A _____ B _____ E Block 3 G H _____ D I E _____ C F D Oldest C Block 2 E F F G I F G G I D C B H A D Youngest _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Oldest 21 A E D B C B Youngest _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ _____ Oldest Skyline Drive Precambrian to Paleogene (1.7 Ga to 60 Ma) Skyline Drive wraps around a narrow ridge of rock called a hogback. At the top of this hogback you can look west at mountains made of Precambrian rock, or east across the Cañon City Basin. There are two smaller hogbacks in the basin that are made of limestone. Limestone rocks form underwater, which means Cañon City (the red dot in the map below) used to be in the middle of an ocean! Geologists call this ocean the Western Interior Seaway because it covered the middle of North America during the Cretaceous Period. ow f Words to Kn rrow ridge o a n h ig h A – Hogback rock. can ere sediment h w a re a w by Basin – A lo surrounded collect, often mountains. rm, away – A wa Se r o ri te In d the Western that covere shallow sea a in North Americ f o rt a p le d mid 0 to us Period (10 the Cretaceo 75 Ma). Cretaceous Jurassic Pennsylvanian Ordovician Precambrian 22 Activity 1 – The Story of Colorado STORIES Geologists can put an order to the story told by rocks by looking at big stacks of rock formations. When you look at all the layers exposed at Skyline Drive, you are looking at exactly _____ such a stack. Use the stack of rocks to help the geologists put their stories in order. Look back at the chart on page 16 if you need a hint. 1)“These rocks tell me there was strong river here, carrying some pretty big pebbles downstream.” _____ 2)“Ooh, I wish I could have been here in the past. I would have been floating in a nice warm ocean. And look at these neat corals!” 3)“I think I’m in the sea, too! But this rock has a lot of muddy layers in it.” _____ 4)“I’m on dry land here. See these cracks in the mud? Oh, there might have been a river nearby, too!” 5)“It’s a good thing I packed sunscreen, because I’m on a nice sandy beach! I can tell because some of these other rocks are from deeper water.” _____ _____ 6)“Even though this rock is on the surface now, it formed deep underground. I’m glad it isn’t still melted. Ouch!” _____ 23 ROCKS In the rocks at the top of the hogback you can see some very exciting trace fossils: dinosaur footprints! The dinosaurs left their prints on an ancient muddy beach just like you might do walking along the shore or a riverbank. You can also find tracks and burrows from worms, arthropods and clams nearby. Remember you are on the road. WATCH OUT for cars! ONSITE Activity 2 – Following in Their Footsteps Footprints may not be as unique as fingerprints, but paleontologists can still tell a lot about the animal that made them. We can count its toes, look at the shape of its foot, and even tell how heavy it was by how deep its print is. Draw the dinosaur that made the footprints at Skyline Drive. ONSITE Activity 3 – More Than Meets the Eye Geologists and paleontologists will spend hours and even days studying a single outcrop. There are a lot of clues they might 1 2 3 4 miss if they aren’t careful about their observations. Make these special observations at the top of Skyline Drive! Be sure you observe any CARS COMING UP THE ROAD! 1.____A dinosaur footprint 2.____A dinosaur handprint (Hint: The hand is smaller, and shaped like a crescent moon.) 3.____A dinosaur that stepped in another dinosaur’s footprint 4.____A track that wasn’t made by a dinosaur at all 5 5.____A conglomerate (Pebbly rock - Remember what a geologist observes?) 24 Activity - Geologic Time in the Gold Belt Byway We have now finished our trip along the Gold Belt Tour National Scenic Byway, and seen rocks from many – but not all – geologic ages. What do you think happened to the rocks from those missing ages? Put the sites in order by matching their colors to the Geologic Time Scale on the left. Flip back to each site in the book if you need a hint. Which site has the youngest rock? Which site has the oldest rock? How do you know? Era Period Cenozoic Eon Paleogene Indian Springs Garden Park Area Mesozoic Jurassic The Royal Gorge Florissant Fossil Beds Pennsylvanian Paleozoic Phanerozoic Cretaceous Cripple Creek Area Red Canyon Park Ordovician Skyline Drive Trackway Precambrian 25 Career Profile: Herb Meyer Paleontologist, Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument What does a paleontologist do? � As a paleontologist, I study fossils to learn more about ancient life on Earth and what it tells about climate change and evolution. Paleontologists excavate fossils to make new discoveries, and we try to find new ways to protect the fossils so they won’t fall apart. � What are some of your favorite parts of your job? � I like writing about fossils, and one of my books is called The Fossils of Florissant. I also like working with paleontologists in other parts of the world, and working with university student interns, even though my job is not at a university. And of course it’s always exciting to split a rock to expose a fossil that has been hidden for the past 34 million years. � Why did you become a paleontologist? � I became interested in collecting rocks and minerals when I was in grade school, and knew I wanted to be a geologist. Paleontology is a part of geology, and by the time I was in high school, I was working on a project to study fossil leaves. What did you do in school? � The most important classes for a career in paleontology are geology and biology. I earned three degrees from the Paleontology Department at the University of California at Berkeley: a bachelor’s, master’s, and Ph.D., all in the field of paleontology. � What skills are important for your career? � I think that writing and photography are two of the most important skills. These are needed so that the information we learn can be written and illustrated for scientific papers and books. What advice do you have for Junior Explorers? � I started by joining a rock and mineral club for kids. Our club was sponsored by adults who took us on field trips to collect fossils. You can also visit museums and sites such as national parks and monuments where fossils are found. There are also summer camps that teach paleontology, geology and biology. � What do you like to do when you aren’t at work? I’ve always like to go on camping trips, and when you’re out camping you’re often close to the places where fossils are found. I also like to travel to places all over the world. What other careers are there in paleontology? Other places where paleontologists work are for universities, museums and different government agencies. Paleontologists also work for oil companies, where they use fossils to help discover oil, and for consulting companies, where they help determine whether activities such as digging pipelines will affect fossil resources. 26 Career Profile: Geologists from the Newmont Cripple Creek Gold Mine From left to right: Scott McAnally, David Greene, Dale Hernandez, Saru Siebenater, Andi Dillard, Paige Cybulski, Dominic Pyanoe, Erik Munroe, Jeremy McComas and Jake Brown What does an (Exploration Geologist, Geotechnical Geologist, Ore Control Geologist, and Geology Managers) do? Exploration Geologists look for new resources that can be mined. Geotechnical geologists study the characteristics of the rocks to make sure miners are working in safe areas. Ore Control Geologists define and map what areas of the mine contain enough metal to be worth mining. Geology Managers make sure the mine has the right geologists, with the right training, in the right jobs to accomplish the work that needs to be done while also proposing and managing budgets What are some of your favorite parts of your job? Geology is challenging and t

also available

National Parks
USFS NW