The Utah Geological Survey’s paleontology program is midway through a four-week dig at the Doelling’s Bowl dinosaur site.  During the previous two summers, we excavated the bones of several individuals of a new species of sauropod (long necked) dinosaur. The most complete of these is an associated skeleton of an animal that became mired in mud, died, and was scattered over an area of roughly 10 square meters.  We know the animal was stuck because we recovered a lower leg and arm still articulated and preserved in place.  Most of the limb bones, multiple vertebrae, and parts of the skull and jaws have been recovered.

The goal of this year’s project is to expand the excavation area with the hope of finding additional parts of the skeleton.  Several important parts of the skeleton that had not been found included the humerus (upper arm bone) and the scapula (shoulder blade).  The team was successful after just a few days of work when we uncovered a scapula with a humerus lying right next to it.  Several vertebrae, including a string of articulated tail vertebrae have also been found and are being excavated.  Only a few elements of the skull, such as the maxilla (upper jaw), premaxilla (snout), and nasal bones, remain to be found in order to have a complete skeleton.

In addition to the Survey personnel, the team has several student interns helping with the dig, and has been joined by a class from the University of Utah’s biology department, volunteers from the newly formed Moab chapter of the Utah Friends of Paleontology, and interns from the Bureau of Land Management (BLM).

The excavation is being conducted under permits from the BLM.

Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area, Kane County, Utah
Photographer: Lance Weaver


Wahweap Bay at the south end of Lake Powell, Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Island in the Sky District, Canyonlands National Park, San Juan County, Utah
Photographer: Mike Hylland

Desert primrose blooms in thin, gravelly soil along the White Rim Trail. The Permian-aged White Rim Sandstone forms a broad, nearly flat bench above the adjacent Green and Colorado Rivers and below towering cliffs (visible in the distance) of the Triassic-Jurassic-aged Wingate Sandstone and thin cap of Jurassic Kayenta Formation. In the middle distance, Candlestick Tower consists of Kayenta Formation and Wingate Sandstone above sloping Chinle Formation (Triassic) on a base of Moenkopi Formation (Triassic), which overlies the White Rim Sandstone. The gentle tilt of the strata reflects their location on the southwestern flank of the broad downwarp of the Grays Pasture syncline.

The University of Utah is launching a new graduate program this fall to meet the increasing demands for experienced engineers with knowledge of the petroleum industry.

The petroleum engineering Master of Science degree will be offered through the U.’s Department of Chemical Engineering and is designed for students with a bachelor’s degree in engineering.


Lake Mountains, Utah County.
Photographer: J. Lucy Jordan

UGS geologists provide oversight and run downhole geophysical logs during ground-water monitoring-well drilling.

San Rafael Swell, Emery County, Utah
Photographer: Taylor Boden

Boulders of Cretaceous-age Ferron Sandstone, eroded from the top of a distant butte, have come to rest on the Cretaceous-age Mancos
Shale on the west flank of the San Rafael Swell.

Slickrock Trail near Moab, Grand County, Utah
Photographer: Jim Davis

Giant weathering pits or potholes like this one (about 16 feet across at the bottom) in the Jurassic-age Navajo Sandstone typically form along fractures and joints atop fins, knolls, and rounded domes. Potholes are created through a combination of physical, chemical, and biological processes that weather and erode the rock and are home to a remarkable array of ancient aquatic organisms.

Mexican paleontologists say they have uncovered 50 vertebrae believed to be a full dinosaur tail in the northern desert of Coahuila state.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History says the tail is about 15 feet (5 meters) long and resembles that of a hadrosaur or crested duckbill dinosaur.



Once in a great while, I stumble upon extreme weather video unlike anything I’ve ever seen. Today’s example? A large, violent debris flash flood that gutted a creek basin in southern Utah Thursday afternoon (south of Bryce Canyon National Park, about eight miles north of Lake Powell).




Grand Staircase–Escalante National Monument, Kane County, Utah
Photographer: Tyler Knudsen

The narrow defile of Round Valley Draw exposes layers of ancient petrified dunes of the Jurassic-age Navajo Sandstone. This is one of numerous slot canyons in Utah’s canyon country formed by the scouring action of infrequent but powerful flood waters.