Utah’s Cedar Mountain Formation has yielded two new species of iguanodont, cousins of the famous iguanodon, the plant-eating, beaked-mouthed dinosaur known for its ability to walk on its hind legs.

Working on federal land in two eastern Utah sites, teams led by the Utah Geological Survey discovered the two specimens in 2004. It took years of careful fieldwork to extract the bones, which include a nearly complete skull, and prepare them for study.

The most carefully dated of the two was discovered near Arches National Park by Andrew Milner, of the St. George Dinosaur Discovery Site. It was estimated to be 124 million years old and dubbed Hippodraco.

The survey’s Don DeBlieux discovered the other specimen near Green River. This one was dubbed Iguanacolossus.



A state incentive program that gives cash to people who trade in their old, energy inefficient appliances is coming to a close.

Cash for Appliances, a popular program that has helped more that 12,000 people cut energy costs by upgrading to Energy Star rated appliances, has less that 10 percent of its funds remaining. The program is funded by the U.S. Department of Energy and operated by the Utah State Energy Program.

Applications for the program are available at and must be completed, signed and accompanied by all required documentation including model and serial numbers for all new appliances.



The biggest lungfish on record has been uncovered in an unexpected place – a drawer in the Nebraska State Museum in Lincoln.

Kenshu Shimada of DePaul University in Chicago was searching the drawers for specimens of fish teeth. For a while, the largest one he came across was the size of his thumb. Then he discovered a “humongous” one, 117 mm wide.

James Kirkland, state palaeontologist at the Utah Geological Survey, identified the tooth as coming from the upper jaw of a lungfish in the extinct genus Ceratodus, a freshwater bottom-feeder which used massive tooth plates to crunch shelled animals.

Lungfish are among our closest living piscine relatives. Kirkland and Shimada estimate the new Ceratodus was at least 4 meters long, beating the previous record of 3.5 meters for an African fossil. The largest living lungfish come in at almost 2 meters.


A wet and gloomy Monday, the sun nowhere in sight, was the setting for the announcement at Hillside Middle School that 73 solar panels will be installed atop 73 schools across Utah.

The solar photovoltaic arrays will be placed on the roof of at least one school in each of Utah’s 41 school districts to generate renewable energy for the schools and teach schoolchildren about energy efficiency and alternatives.

“I think it’s really cool that as a school, we can make a difference by being ‘green’ and not wasting as much energy,” seventh-grader Annie Connolly said. “It’s cool that we are different from other schools that pollute the earth.”

“This is an incredibly exciting day,” said Gil Sperling, a U.S. Department of Energy senior adviser for energy efficiency and renewable energy. “As far as I know, Utah is the first state in the country to systematically implement this kind of program.”

Educating students and teachers about energy is one of the main goals of the Solar for Schools programs.

“Solar for Schools gives us an opportunity to educate students about the role of energy in their lives,” said Elise Brown, renewable energy coordinator for the Utah Department of Natural Resources. “It is our hope that students who benefit from this program will go on to inform and inspire others about this very important topic.”

More than 200 Utah teachers will attend a class this year sponsored by the National Energy Foundation. They will learn how solar, wind and geothermal energies work, with a special focus on the implications of renewable energy in Utah.

Sperling said the Solar for Schools program has four major benefits — strengthening the economy by reducing dependence on imported oil, offsetting carbon emissions by the increased use of solar energy, creating jobs, and increasing awareness and education about energy efficiency.

The DOE estimates that over a 20-year span, the effect of the Solar for Schools program will be the equivalent of planting 11,000 trees.

“This program is about educating students, teachers, parents and the community at large,” Sperling said. “People are going to look at these panels and say, ‘This is what we ought to be doing.’ ”



If highway construction projects have taught commuters anything, it’s that even a single lane restriction can bring traffic to a crawl. Now imagine the impact on your commute because of a unexpected force of nature — like a strong earthquake, a blizzard, flooding rains or a tornado.

Along Utah’s Wasatch front, a fault spans 240 miles, and 80 percent of Utah residents live along its path.

The Utah Geological Survey notes the fault “has the dubious distinction of being one of the longest and most active normal faults in the world.”

Other areas of the country are also near fault lines. And along the Wasatch fault, several dozen freeway overpasses cross the main corridors near which the fault travels.

Other areas are more prone to conditions that tornadoes form in. And others live in the paths of hurricanes. Still, blizzards, fires and other storms can prompt evacuations or paralyze an area.



Dean Baker, a rancher and activist for the protection of water rights in west-central Utah’s Snake Valley, could become wealthy by selling his property to the Southern Nevada Water Authority. The principal communities in the Snake Valley, from north to south, are Callao, Trout Creek, Partoun, EskDale, Baker, and Garrison.

“People don’t understand me,” Baker said, referring to his refusal to sell.

What makes Baker’s property valuable is that it is a coveted water source. But after 55 years of ranching, Baker isn’t ready to give up his home or see his agriculture and livestock suffer because of underground pumping.

According to the Great Basin Water Network, the Southern Nevada Water Authority (SNWA), the water agency for Las Vegas and Henderson, Nev., proposes to pump up to 200,000 acre-feet annually from eastern Nevada and western Utah and send it through 300 miles of pipeline to support larger cities. This comes to about 65 billion gallons of water per year.

Ecologists and hydrologists estimate the water table will drop as much as 100 feet in the first 10 years of the pipeline, killing the current vegetation and wiping out the wildlife and livelihoods of the rural communities including the Snake, Spring, Cave, Dry Lake and Delamar valleys.



Homestead Cave is not much to look at, a modest opening in a knoll at the north end of Utah’s Lakeside Mountains. But it has yielded a paleontological jackpot for scientists reconstructing ancient Great Basin environments thanks to owls that spit up small-animal prey in the cave for thousands of years.

The piles of regurgitated pellets drew Dave Madsen in the early 1990s to this lonely spot on the Utah Test and Training Range west of the Great Salt Lake. Then with the Utah Geological Survey, Madsen and colleagues Don Grayson and Jack Broughton hoped the bones, known as “death assemblages,” would provide a record of the plants and animals that inhabited the surrounding area over the years.

What they found was scientific pay dirt that continues to yield dividends. Three years of excavation recovered undisturbed bones layered down at least 2 meters, representing what’s been on the owls’ menu for the past 13,000 years.


Just as a bank account dips when withdrawals exceed deposits, so the water table in the Cedar Valley Aquifer has been dropping over the past 70 years as discharge rates have exceeded recharge, and the losses likely will continue unless measures are taken to plug the problem.

That was the conclusion of a report delivered Thursday night to a meeting of the Central Iron County Water Conservancy District in Cedar City.

The report, compiled by senior geologist William Lund and his staff with the Utah Geological Survey (UGS), was commissioned by the conservancy district in 2009 after a ground fissure nearly 4 miles long was discovered snaking through a subdivision in the city of Enoch.


Some of Utah’s most scenic geologic wonders from slot canyons to glaciers are featured in the Utah Geological Surveys 2011 calendar.

The calendar, on sale for $4.95 at the Department of Natural Resources Bookstore at 1594 W. North Temple or online at, features more than 50 photos of Utah taken by staff members on assignment.

The pictures are accompanied by geologic descriptions and location information. Topics include igneous mountains, bridges, arches, the Green River Formation and geologic hazards.



Big cracks are forming in the floor of Cedar Valley. They’ve already undermined one unfinished subdivision north of Enoch, and they’re still growing. One is 2.4 miles long. If unchecked, they could threaten Enoch itself, not to mention local roads and buried utility lines.

This is not a Halloween story, or the movie “Tremors.” It’s scarier, in fact, because it’s real. Fortunately, the Utah Geological Survey knows what the cause is, and if the people who pump water from the many wells in the area can cooperate, the problem is fixable. But a solution will require both community spirit and self-sacrifice, because people will have to use less water.

Since 1939, according to the UGS report, more water has been taken from the aquifer below Cedar Valley than Mother Nature has funneled back in. The water table has dropped by as much as 114 feet. This has caused the underground sediments in the aquifer to compact. The fissures and sinkholes visible on the surface of the ground are evidence of subsidence, that is, ground settling. The ground has sunk by as much as four feet over a broad area of Cedar Valley.

This settling has caused about 4 miles of cracks or fissures in the ground, particularly in the area of Enoch (north of Cedar City) and around Quichapa Lake. There may be other fissures that are not yet visible.