Dinosaur Excavation and Taphonomic Research Project

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All alone in the moonlight
I can smile at the old days
I was beautiful then
I remember the time I knew what happiness was   
Let the memory live again.

Notes from the Field - The Latest News!


All times given are Texas time, [CDT (Cretaceous Daylight Time)]. Local time is actually one hour earlier [MDT (Mesozoic Daylight Time)].

Wednesday, 30 May
One day to go! Those who can, meet in the early evening to bring their things to be packed in the trailer—ready for an early start tomorrow.

Thursday, 31 May
This is the day the 2012 expedition begins!! The nominal "launch" time is 6:00am—the actual time was around 8:30am Two shuttle craft (vans) and the truck and trailer made up the caravan. The precious souls aboard were Dr. Art, Justin, Tyke, Tina, Mikie, Oscar, Dr. Erin, David, Rose, Tetsuya, and students Mario and Guilherme. As the day journey progressed, the expedition stopped in Denver to pick up Jay.

Friday, 1 June
Camp Cretaceous started humming with activity as participants arrived from Souhwestern Adventist University and other points. Arriving from other paths were Dr. Berney and Jean. And from the North Dallas region came Stephan, Dawnella, Cindy, Laura, Patrice, Byron, and Marcus.

Saturday, 2 June
Sabbath was a day of rest—it was good to get caught up on sleep after the long trip from Keene.
Sunday, 3 June
A number of the group left early to participate in the annual Crazy Horse Volksmarch—a 10 km hike up to the mountain sculpture and back. Those who stayed in camp (generally those had done the hike before) organized tools, supplies, and opened quarries. The most obvious difference was that the Hoodoo Hut had been demolished—for the past two years it had been essentially intact but dead. This opens the area in the North quarry that had been reserved for rainy days!

David S. arrived with his wheeled home in tow. In the middle of the afternoon Dr. Larry arrived with his wife Dr Cathy and grandson Matthew. They dropped him off and retreated to beds in Newcastle.

Stephen and Tanja were the next to arrive in the Cretaceous followed by Dr. Suzy and Jennifer and William. RuthAnn and Cheryl picked up Daniel on the way to camp.

Monday, 4 June
A full moon lit the night sky after the sun had set. As the moon was setting a strange notch appeared on the western edge—the moon was moving into the earth's shadow!

David S. drove back to the present.

Six quarries were opened, North under the supervision of Stephan; South commanded by Kathleen; Southeast led by Tyke; and a exploratory Unnamed quarry opened by Dr. Berney; and Rose cared for by Dr. Keith. As the day progressed, a realignment of our stars put Stephan with a group in TOE.

Karen and Blanca as well as Dr. Keith and Ivan arrived, Forrest was picked up at the airport. Unfortunately we lost Jennifer and William. Dr. Larry was suffering from a nasty bug. His personal medical caretaker arrived and immediately decided he need to be seen in a clinic, so off to Newcastle for the night.

Tuesday, 5 June
The day brought a Wyoming breeze! Most of the quarry groups found the wind sufficiently intolerable that all except Rose quarry closed down early. Dr. Cathy brought the ailing but recovering Dr. Larry back to Camp Cretaceous. In the late afternoon a rare celestial event took place—a transit of Venus across the face of the sun. The next transit will occur in 2117. Dr. Larry had brought a solar telescope that permits safe viewing of the sun and set it up. At first the clouds seemed prevent any possible view, but they cleared off about 1 hour before sunset, and those who wanted had the opportunity to see a celestial event that will not occur for another 105 years!

Wednesday, 6 June
The day arrived with a calm coolness that was so welcomed. It did heat up and the wind increased as the day prgressed but not to the extremes as the previous day. Good progress was made with some exciting finds.

Dr. Art ended the evening with an introductory lecture on dinosaurs.

Thursday, 7 June
After everyone was tucked in their beds, a storm moved over Camp Cretacious. The rain was intense but for the most part not in tents! The morning dawned overcast, calm, and cool—not cold!

After breakfast we all said goodbye to Marcus.

In the early afternoon a storm moved over the quarry sites and the Camp Cretaceous. A line of shuttlecraft and other vehicles came streaming back from the quarries. At first we thought it would be a brief delay, but when the sky started spitting pea-sized hail, it was the end of the work day. The rain was torential, but at least there was little wind. Dr. Art and Rose were out on the four-wheeler and found themselves on the opposite side of a normally dry stream bed that now was a raging torrent of 5 ft deep water. They had to wait over an hour before it was safe to cross.

After the storm system passed, the sky cleared and the evening was absolutely beautiful! Dr. Art gave two lectures—the second to catch up on an earlier missed one.

Friday, 8 June
The sun appeared over the northeastern horizon in a clear, calm, but cool and humid atmosphere. A ground-hugging fog settled over the camp site turning the tents in a colony of brooding, sleeping Cabelasaurus dinosaurs emerging out of the mists of time.

This is to be a short work-day so the group can travel to the 21st century in Newcastle for laundry and to acquire groceries. After the intense rainfall yesterday, it will be interesting to see what the conditions in the quarries might be!

The miners all left for the quarries after breakfast and worship. The day was one of those idea ones—sunny skies with fluffy clouds and a gentle drying breeze—not too hot nor too cold! By lunch the first group returned to shower and prepare for the Newcastle run. Others returned from the mines in the next hour. When the first shuttlecraft was filled, it left. By about 2:00pm the only one left in camp was Dr. Larry. It is such perfect conditions for working, it is sad to see everyone leave the quarries for even a few hours.

The group with freshly scrubbed clothes, full tummies, and with supplies returned to Camp Cretaceous about 8:00pm.

After unloading and putting things away, the Sabbath was welcomed with singing and worship.

At the end of the first week of excavation, we have reached a total of 368 bones recovered.

Saturday, 9 June
The night was warm, and the sun appeared to rise in a cloudless sky. This is the one day each week the humans can sleep in and all took advantage of it!

Breakfast (at 9:00am) included the usual homemade biscuits with scrambled eggs (or tofu) and other tasty and filling choices. A group left for church at Hot Springs—Stephan was preaching, and after eating we said our goodbyes to Tanya.

Dr. Art presented the morning worship under the "big top." The breeze was perfectly cool under a blue sky—the only clouds were a few over the Black Hills to the east.

Several friends of Tyke visited for a few hours. As the afternoon passed some of the group went on a nature hike led by Dr. Art. Others read. Some slept. A few did both. There was no internet for the afternoon—fortunately smart phones could still permit communication with loved ones via voice or even e-mail. The walk up to ridge north of Camp Cretaceous was well worth effort!

A short shower late from an isolated cloud sent everyone scurrying for shelter. It moved off to the east where a bright rainbow appeared.

As the sun disappeared beneath the north western horizon worship brought Sabbath to an end. Sunset was glorious not for usual red color but because of the brilliant white backlit clouds against a blue sky framed by dark clouds. We welcomed Dr. Beth when Dr. Keith returned since the morning.

Sunday, 10 June
The wind picked up after it became dark and continued throughout the night lessening toward morning but never reaching the normal morning calm. The sky was overcast and cool as the ambient light gradually increased toward sunrise.

Cheryl, RuthAnn, and Daniel left the Cretaceous early on the way back to present.

The breakfast crew was somewhat short this morning as several of the group did not awaken on time. Maybe we shall send them to bed at 8:00pm the night before next time!

It was another perfect work day. Most of the remaining group was split between Rose Quarry and the Unnamed Quarry with several in TOE. Only three excavators were left in South and two in North for the morning. Mark arrived to perform some maintenence on the camp facility and to dissect the remanents of the Hoodoo Hut so it could be carted away. Mark was involved in building the Hoodoo Hut in 2000. It had served us well!

As the last quarry group was arriving back at Camp Cretaceous for dinner, Heidi drove in from the 21st century.

Dr. Art presented another moving lecture—plate tectonics!

Monday, 11 June
The camp slowly awoke under gray skies. It had been quite windy and noisy most of the night but not too cold. Those few up early enough enjoyed an colorful sunrise over the Black Hills. The rest enjoyed a few minutes or hour more of sleep!

It was a pleasant day to work with a bit of a breeze. Late in the morning Everett arrived with some manufactured metal implements, tools, etc. for the camp. We appreciate his contribution to improving our camp life.

Dr. Art presented the evening lecture.

Tuesday, 12 June
The earth continued to rotate smoothly so the sun rose in the northeast—approaching its northernmost rising point—into a partially overcast sky. The 23-day old moon dominated the early morning sky for only a few hours. The night was a restful one—dawn was the normal calm and cool. Early the only sounds were the bird calls, but as 6:00am approached the cooking crew arrived in the building and the sounds of food preparation dominated. More and more humans were up and stirring as the time for breakfast apprached with its noisy announcement.

The day was a good excavation day—not too hot, breezy but not too windy; altogether pleasant! We made good progress!

Dr. Art presented a lecture on the Southwestern Dinosaur Project followed by a second lecture on saurapod dinosaurs.

Wednesday, 13 June
What will today bring? It starts with a clear, cool, calm atmosphere containing only a few wispy clouds around the horizon.

Sometime in the night Doug, Christy, Kierstan, Ethan, and Aiden arrived in their home on wheels. They were able to enjoy breakfast with the group. After morning worship Abby and Kay drove in for the day's experience.

Today we experienced a power outage from 1:00am to 4:30pm—it was a planned outage while the lines were being worked on. So, no electricity and no water and no internet. Fortunately the GPS and internal communications were powered independently.

It was a warm day with clouds and breeze increasing somewhat in the afternoon. We made excellent progress!

Dr. Art gave a whale of a lecture to end the day's activities.

Thursday, 14 June
Those hardy souls who will spend the entire 2012 excavation season at Camp Cretaceous will spend 27 intents nights—fourteen of those have now been completed!

The wind picked up in the middle of the night but abated as the dawn came. The early morning shows promise of another great day—gentle breeze under a partially cloudy sky!

Tina decided to leave early so the group said their goodbyes after worship.

It proved to be a warm day with little breeze, but not baking hot! Progress continued to be good. We are leaving many good bones in the ground and are tidying up the main quarries for Sunday's Open House

The evening lecture was delayed as most of the camp emptied when Linae and Linee invited the group to visit the cows and bottle feed a calf.

Justin had been goone all day and returned with Mary and Yddo as well as needed supplies—we were totally out of bubble wrap!

Friday, 15 June
It was a warm night. This is a short work day so everyone can get clean clothes for another week. After breakfast we bid goodbye to Dr. Keith, Ivan, and Beth.

Dr. Suzy left midmorning, but she planning to return in nine days. Dr. Art left for Rapid City to pickup Dr. Zuri.

In the early afternoon the camp emptied as everyone left to acquire clean clothes, eat a great meal at Isabela's, and visit the special event at the Anna Miller Museum. Stephen did not return with the group. We all got back to camp about 9:00 driving through a thunderstorm. The county road was in really great shape especially compared to previous years—no problems in driving!.

Sabbath was opened with singing. And all tired miners fell asleep snug in their beds with the gentle pitter-patter of rain on their personal bedrooms.

At the end of the second week of work, we had recovered a total of 1043 bones, teeth, tendons, and other interesting fossils.

Saturday, 16 June
During the night the rain moved on. As the thin waning crescent moon rose in the east the sky was partially cloudy, calm, and cool. By the time the sun established its dominance, the only clouds left were to the east and over the Black Hills. Everything stayed quiet since the cooking crew were not on duty at 6:00am.

Drs. Lee and Lucy arrived in the night. After breakfast Everett left for the 21st century.

Stephan presented the morning worship.

In the late afternoon it was decided to drive to Devils Tower. All but about a half-dozen participants loaded into the shuttlecraft and other vehicles and drove off. The group arrived back at Camp Cretaceous about 11:00pm. It will be interesting to see the state of wakefulness in the morning!

Sunday, 17 June
Today is the annual Hanson Ranch Open House—as well as Father's Day!

The day dawned calm and cool with the crescent moon, Jupiter, and Venus clustered in the sky rising before the sun.

After breakfast Cindy packed her personal bedroom and drove away from the Cretaceous.

The first order of work in the quarries was to clean and tidy the quarries in anticipation of the visitors. The day was warm with a gentle cooling breeze. There was a good turnout with interested folk arriving from 11:00a to almost 6:00pm. Dr. Art gave an introductory talk in the camp building and then they came out to the quarries. Tomorrow we will finish processing bones that had been left "in the ground" as display of work in progress.

For once the rule about length of showers was relaxed—participants could take as long as they wanted—however, the hot water heater was not functioning so any showers were cold water! Al, Verne, and a number of "helpers" partially restored the device in short order so we had some although a limited amont of hot water.

There was no lecture in the evening as Hanson Research Station board members Drs. Art and Larry accompanied by Dr. Berney and Justin attended the annual HRS board meeting. They returned to Camp Cretaceous about midnight!

Monday, 18 June
The sun arose in an almost cloudless sky. The night had been warm and calm—nothing to disturb sleep! The breakfast crew arrived about 6:00am to prepare another delicious source of human fuel for the beginning of another work day.

Today we lost Doug, Christy, Kiersten, Ethan, and Aiden as their time in the cretaceous came to its planned end.

The morning work proceeded well. We made some adjustments to quarry assignments. After noon Ben rode in on his two-wheeled vehicle and set up his tent. The wind pickup up sending stinging fine grains of sand to annoy workers. As compensation the cloud cover increased to provide shade just as the lightweight portable shelters had to be taken down due to the wind.

Dinner prepartion was delayed a short time while the water heater was brought back to a fully functional state and the water restored.

After dinner Dr. Art presented two lectures.

Tuesday, 19 June
New Moon!

In a clear Summer sky the sun Rose. We have been here almost 3 Weeks, almost 21 days!! It is someone's birthday—I wonder who it might be!

Justin left with Mary and Yddo to deliver them to the 21st century. He will return with Janette and Simon—Simon can see what big brother Forrest is up to!

The day was not terribly hot with a wind that permit enjoyable working!

Just before noon Rose's Father, Leon, drove into camp. The primary mission of his trip was to surprise Rose. While Dr. Art and Rose were off exploring in the four-wheeler Leon started working in North Quarry. The mobile explorers were called to North Quarry. Rose looked around at the bones until she finally realized she knew the excavator working just in front of her!

After a dinner of homemade enchiladas with all the fixin's, a birthday celebration party honoring Rose's 21st year broke out!!

Dr. Art discussed the Grand Canyon during the evening's lecture.

The cloud cover had increased throughout the evening and about the time the lectures were over the first sprinkles arrived—only sprinkles to lull the tired workers to sleep!

Wednesday, 20 June
Summer Solstice!

The day light part of the diurnal cycle arrived with a calm but cloudy sky. As the morning progressed the cloud cover dissipated but with a nice breeze to keep working conditions cool and pleasant.

We gained 8 workers in one fell swoop: Cathy and Jeff brought Amanda, Angel, Adrianna, Ciera, Nathan, and Alena. After an orientation we put them to work in the North Quarry. Later Elizabeth joined South Quarry for the day.

In the evening Drs. Art, Larry, and Berney, and Justin left for a meeting. There was no Dr. Art lecture for the evening!

Thursday, 21 June
Another clear dawn. As the sky brightened the stars faded. Jupiter was a brilliant announcer of the impeding sunrise. The herd of sleeping Cabelasaurs slowly resolved from indistinct dark shapes into ordinary tents as the glow to the northeast signaled the sun's soon arrival. Not a sound was heard in the Camp except for the low hum of the refrigerators and the bird calls outside. Infrequently the door opened and a human came in—infrequent at first but then more and more often as the camp came alive. It was a bit chiily.

After breakfast and worship Leon said goodbye to the group and drove away—Rose was sad to see her father leave!

The day was a warm one—clear sky with only a little wind to take the edge off the heat. However, great progress was made!

After dinner Dr. Art discussed his research on paleocurrents. Darkness covered the camp as the sun sat in a clear sky with a gentle breeze.

Friday, 22 June
This day starts as another great day! The sky is clear with a gentle breeze. It is delightful to see a spectacular sunrise with low clouds that glow in shades of brilliant reds. However, it is a subtle joy to watch the direct sunlight strike the hill tops to the west then the shadows of the eastern landforms slowly approach across the grass until the shadow of the camp building takes on its familiar shape that creeps closer and closer.

Today will be a "town trip" day! The group is planning to leave right after breakfast and worship to visit the Mammoth Site in Hot Springs, SD, Mr. Rushmore, and possibly the Black Hills Institute in Hill City, SD. Of course, the chance to get some clean clothes and a dinner out is an attractive draw.

As the group left for the "town trip" Heidi accompanied them to Hot Springs, then back to her home. Ben departed shortly after. When packing was complete Cathy and Jeff drove away with their van full with Amanda, Angel, Adrianna, Ciera, Nathan, and Alena. Tyke, Kathleen, and Dr. Larry were the only humans left. Tyke and Kathleen set off to work on clearing a bone or two in the quarries. Dr. Larry remained as the sole inhabitant of Camp Cretaceous for a few hours to catch up on paperwork and some other tasks.

Clouds increased throughout the day—for the most part were high cirrus. The wind kept things cool. The first "mini-expedition" vehicle returned about the same time the two workers in the quarries decided to quit. Shortly thereafter as other vehicles started arriving a thunderstorm announced its presence with thumb-nail size hail—then the rain began! The sound in the building was deafening as the hail and rain impacted the roof. As the precipitation waned over camp the sun broke under the western clouds and a complete rainbow arch could be seen in the east—with a complete T Rex skeleton at one end, of course!.

We lost power, which took out food preparation and water and internet for about an hour. The camp had clear skies!

The last shuttlecraft arrived back to Camp Cretaceous late but safe and sound. They had to wait out the storm in Edgemont, SD as it moved to the east.

At the end of the third week, we had discovered, located, and catalogued 1435 fossils. Except for the 1965 total for 2011, this would have set a season record!

Saturday, 23 June
The night was windy, but otherwise restful. Sunrise came in a clear sky with a gentle breeze. Both Venus and Jupiter were clearly visible in the pre-dawn sky.

After the usual breakfast, Kathleen showed pictures of the school in Sri Lanka. A number of the women came to the morning worship dressed in saris that she had brought them. It was a delightful sari sight!

Dr. Art presented the worship talk on Psalms.

In the early afternoon everyone took part in the second Annual Expedition Picnic. This was a spot on the ranch in a sheltered ravine with several trees providing shade.

After eating there was time to sit and talk or take a hike or even snooze before the vehicles made their way back to camp.

Sabbath was closed with a time of singing.

Sunday, 24 June
It was a warm night, some wind, but pleasant sleeping.

Morning came with a brilliant Venus leading the parade of Jupiter and the Sun in the northeast.  It appears to be another great work day.  Slowly the sky turned bright as the earth rotated.  Silence was the hallmark of the morning except for the bird calls and the lowing of the cattle as well as the light rhythmic breathing from some of the personal bedrooms.

Close to 6:00am the first of the breakfast crew arrived, turned on the light, and began the organization to prepare another nutritious meal.  As time passed, others arrived and the camp became alive.  The smells of food caused most to begin to feel hungry—of course, some were hungry long before and some feel that 7:00 is much too early to get out of bed let alone eat!  However, we all want to get to the quarries to finish "that bone."  Yes, this is our last week in the Cretaceous!

After breakfast and worship we said our goodbyes to Dr. Zuri, Janette, and Simon (we get to keep Forrest).

Load up the vehicles.  Organize tools, buckets, water.  Travel to the individual work sites and start digging!

We found some muddy spots in the bottom of the quarries, but it was not a major delay with so much going on. The day was rather warm with a higher relative humidity than we have been used to. There was some high cirrus clouds to help, and as the day progressed the wind increased.

Dr. Suzy returned with Anna and Shane, arriving in time for dinner. Shortly thereafter Kathleen's family arrived and abducted her to the 21st century.

Dr. Art presented the lecture ridiculing the idea that birds might have been related to dinosaurs.

The day ended with a partially cloudy sky and a blustery wind.

Monday, 25 June
An overcast sky greeted the early morning risers. The wind had abated during the night but was not the dead calm we often experience in the early hours. As we entered the quarries, the working conditions were ideal. As the day progressed the overcast thinned out and the day heated up.

Several quarries were closed down for the season and winterized as we concentrated on clearing the few remaining ones.

At about 5:00pm the call came that a storm system was headed in our direction. The quarries were closed and everyone headed back to camp under dark gray skies. The storm hit us about an hour later—during dinner—with increased wind and rain and lightning and thunder. It was all over in about 40 minutes! Of course, it took longer for the slow drizzle to end.

No lecture tonight as the students are trying to study for their final exam.

Tuesday, 26 June
Another day similar to the preceeding ones arrives. It is amazing to realize that this season of excavation is winding down. The early morning sky was clear and calm. Dr. Art had announced last night that we would start early to take advantage of the coolness of the morning. The breakfast bell was rung about 5 minutes before usual! Worship ended about 10 minutes early.

The students ended their work in the quarries by lunchtime. They had the afternoon to study and prepare for the Final Exam for GEOL 240 in the late afternoon.

The work day was a hot one but with a wind to help cool things (only help), and large white cumulus ships sailing sedately across the sky bringing an occasional welcome shade! Quarries are being shut down. As of this evening only two remained open:  North Quarry and New Field Quarry. All the rest have been closed and winterized.

Linee came by to invite the group on a swimming expedition—most went. The camp is quiet except for two playfully noisy children.

Today was hot, ≈99° with about 8% relative humidity. It remained hot until the sun set.

Wednesday, 27 June
This is the last day in the quarries. After finishing a few bones, then the last two quarries will be closed for the season and winterized and attention will turn to shutting down the camp.

New Field was closed by about lunchtime. Tyke got up and out to North Quarry by about 6:00am. Dr. Larry arrived about 8:30. They worked on three large remaining bones. In the early afternoon work was interupted by a recording crew to use the quarries as a backdrop. By evening all bones were out and the quarry closed for the season. Just as the last bone was being processed and the North Quarry was being cleaned with buckets, tools, and other items sent back to camp or taken to the shed, the faithful table that had been used in the quarry collapsed.

In the afternoon the wall of ossuaries partioning off the bone processing area was packed in the trailer. The large bones were foamed to boards and wrapped with bubble wrap for transport. Camp was packed up and the big tent taken down in the evening. We lost internet connectivity early as Dr. Art decided to terminate the connection. All showers were to be taken in the evening—Dr. Art decided to have the bathrooms cleaned before night. I guess this means we all find a bush in the morning!

We celebrated Tesuya's birthday. We also recognized Dave's birthday a day early since we will all be leaving and separating on the actual day.

At the end of the 2012 season, we had recovered 1633 bones, teeth, etc. This is well above the approximately 1200 number we reached on several occasions but far below the 1965 we found in 2011.

Thursday, 28 June
Daylight arrived under overcast skies. Thus, it did not get light so soon as the past days. When the sun finally appeared it was a big red circle rising above the eastern ridge. It seemed odd to look out from the camp building and not see the big tent nor many of the familiar distribution of tents. Stephan, Dawnella, Laura, Patrice, and Byron departed about 7:45am slowly negotiating their big trailer home out to the road. Shortly thereafter Karen and Blanca departed with Dr. Larry and Tetsuya aboard to be dropped at the Rapid City Airport.

The plan was for Dr. Berney and Jean pulling their home on wheels and the caravan of three vehicles bound for Keene to depart by 9:00am.

Friday, 29 June
The caravan, less a couple of occupants dropped off in Colorado, arrived safely in Keene about 11:30am. Dr. Larry was on hand to greet them. After another hot hour spent in unloading the vehicles and cleaning them, personal items were found and removed and everyone dispersed for a hot shower and sleep! The 2012 expedition is officially over—now comes the beginning of processing the data, preparing and curating the bones, and preparing for next season!

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