Check out this other article talking about the levels of Great Salt Lake that are approaching record lows. Andrew Rupke, a geologist and industrial minerals specialist here at the Utah Geological Survey, talks about the effects a low shoreline has on mineral density.

Dave Shearer sees the evidence of water levels dropping in the Great Salt Lake every time a boat has to be taken out of its slip at the Great Salt Lake Marina.


Another weekend gone by, and September on the horizon! Who got out into some cool geology this last weekend? Here’s an article for your Monday morning. While we cannot always avoid natural hazards and disasters, we can prepare to the best of our abilities. Check out this read for tips on reducing landslide risks around your home.

At the beginning of this month, a landslide in North Salt Lake destroyed one home and caused 27 others to be evacuated. People are rightly concerned about protecting their homes from disasters such as this. When things like this happen, we are all reminded that Utah is not immune to natural disasters. While we would drive ourselves crazy if we thought about the possibility of landslides and earthquakes every day, it is important to not live in complete denial either. We need to understand the risks and know what we can do to protect our homes against potential damage as best we can.


The Utah Geological Survey’s paleontology program has just complete a month of excavation at our Doelling’s Bowl dinosaur site in eastern Utah. This site is in the early Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation. The previous 3 seasons were spent excavating a sauropod (long-necked) dinosaur skeleton from an animal that had become mired in mud. While excavating this skeleton we discovered a lower layer that has a concentration of bones belonging primarily to a number of iguanodontid dinosaurs (plant eaters related to duck-billed dinosaurs). It is likely that these bones belong to a new species of iguanodontid and the bones collected this summer, including all of the bones of the pelvis, will help us to determine this by comparing them to those of other species of iguanodontids from this time period. Helping us in our excavations were a number of students and volunteers from the Utah Friends of Paleontology (UFOP).

UGS paleontologists, students, and UFOP volunteers excavate at the Doelling’s Bowl dinosaur site.

Paleontology volunteer Sue Marsland of Canada instructs young paleontology enthusiasts from England on how to make a plaster jacket to protect dinosaur bones during a visit to the excavation at Doelling’s Bowl.

UFOP volunteer and budding young paleontologist Ethan Cowgill of Salt Lake City spent 2 weeks assisting UGS paleontologists at Doelling’s Bowl. Here he removes rock in order to collect a dinosaur rib and shoulder blade.

An iguanodontid scapula (shoulder blade) sits above an unidentified bone that appears to have been damaged, possibly by trampling, before burial. The paintbrush is 2 inches wide.

A 4-inch-long tooth of a meat-eating dinosaur (theropod) in place at Doelling’s Bowl. Only teeth have so far been discovered from this dinosaur that is almost certainly from a new species of large carnivorous dinosaur.


How about another round of “Spot the Rock”? Who can tell us what mineral the yellow arrow points to in the image?

UPDATE: Answer Revealed

It is SELENITE! For those who guessed, Gypsum, you are technically correct. Though this crystal pictured, Selenite, is a specific type of Gypsum.

This selenite crystal was found in the the mud of a canal bank and U.S. Magnesium near the south shore of Great Salt Lake. Selenite is the name given to the crystalline variety of the mineral gypsum (CaSO4·2H2O). Gypsum is a common evaporative mineral. While gypsum is commonly mined for use in drywall (what interior surface of most building walls), the crystaline form of selenite makes it difficult to process and thus undesirable for use in drywall.

For what are arguably the most amazing crystals ever found, check out Mexico’s Cueva de los Cristales

Jim Davis, one of our geologists here at the Utah Geological Survey, talks about the Great Salt Lake levels, and the factors that contribute to their rise and fall in this 6PM KSL interview. Check it out!

Water levels at the Great Salt Lake are just a couple of feet above a record low set in 1963, and state geologists say it’s likely the lake will continue to evaporate.


The public will soon have a chance to see an extraordinary set of footprints left behind by dinosaurs 125 million years ago.


Colorado/Utah –Ben Otoo and Nicole Ridgwell are spending the summer living a dream as they scramble and climb among the remains of the long dead. These young paleontologists are photographing and mapping the world famous deposit of ancient bones at Dinosaur National Monument. Their work is part of a multi-institutional effort to bring together the vast historical and scientific information about this great dinosaur quarry and ultimately make it available on-line to both scientists andthe public. With over 1500 dinosaur bones to document, and each bone needing multiple photographs to show all the anatomical details, plus converting several large historic quarry maps with drawings of thousands of bones needing into electronic files, it is a busy, but satisfying season.


Dry winters are taking their toll on the Great Salt Lake, which is just a couple feet away from reaching its record low level, set over 50 years ago.


Town of Springdale, Zion Canyon, Washington County, Utah
Photographer: Tyler Knudsen; © 2013

Towering walls of Jurassic-age Navajo Sandstone guard the historic pioneer cemetery atop Moquitch Hill in lower Zion Canyon. The cemetery serves as the final resting place for many founders of the Town of Springdale.

Is Great Salt Lake headed for a new ‘great’ low? One of our geologists, Andrew Rupke, talks about what affects the levels and trends of Great Salt Lake. Check it out!

Is the level of Great Salt Lake headed for an all-time low?