Coastal Erosion and Drawing

Coastal Erosion and Drawing

The Wasson Bluff site is designated under the Special Places Protection Act (1989) as a protected place that prohibits any collection of fossils or minerals without obtaining a Heritage Research Permit. The following work was carried out under Heritage Permit (2015) by Dr. TJ Fedak.

Status of the Cliff Exposures

The erosion of the coastal cliffs at Wasson Bluff provide an opportunity for discovery of new fossils, including new bones from Canada’s oldest dinosaurs.  The site is monitored regularly by researchers at the Fundy Geological Museum. The monitoring and collecting of fossil material is justified due to the extreme richness of the site and importance for representing the time immediately after the global mass extinction that occurred at the end of the Triassic Period.

  • Careful collecting of small vertebrate fossils provides an opportunity to establish a rich stratigraphic record of the animal diversity following the mass extinction event at the end of the Triassic Period.
  • The ongoing erosion of the sandstone cliffs exposes a rich fossil record, including bones of dinosaurs, lizards (Clevosaurus), mammal-like reptiles (tritylodont and trithelodont), as well as semionotid (fresh water) fish and hybodont shark teeth and fin spines.

Drawing and Mapping Fieldwork

To document the location (stratigraphic layer) of the fossils, researchers create drawings, maps and take photographs of the cliff. The location is then determined by measuring the height in meters from a base layer, such as the contact with the underlying basalt.

Recent field work has begun to establish a new map of fossil bearing layers. Future work will also establish a high-resolution digital archive of the surface exposures and ongoing erosional processes. The information will be of value for studies of fossil material as well as identification of features related to coastal erosion during a period of climate change and rising sea level.

Scientists that do fieldwork often draw research sketches when conducting research. Researchers also use sophisticated photography and 3D scanning technology to document and study the coastal cliffs, but drawing is an activity that helps researchers observe important details. Below is an example of a recent field sketch done to document the piles of erosional debris at the dinosaur research site.

Field Sketch and Photo

Move slider across the image to see a field sketch and comparable photograph of the dinosaur bone bed strata and erosion debris visible July 2015.

Caution Around Cliffs

The coastal cliffs in Nova Scotia are actively eroding and caution should be used when walking near cliffs. Large scale collapse of cliffs can occur, but injury can occur from even a small rock falling from the cliff. Learn how to practice coastal cliff safety. Stay away from debris piles at the base of a cliff, as these signal increased danger due to active erosion.

 

Parrsboro Highschool Geology

Parrsboro Highschool Geology

Today, I gave a talk to the Grade 12 Geology class at Parrsboro Regional Highschool. After I shared some information about a recent research discovery made at the Museum, one student asked “Do you know Don Reid? He’s my grandfather“.   I was impressed with the students in the geology class, they were all attentive and engaged. It is exciting to see the long tradition of interest in the natural history of the Bay of Fundy here in Parrsboro.

http://novascotia.ca/natr/meb/hazard-assessment/images/report-image-06.jpg

Photo from the DNR Website

It’s spring here in small coastal Town of Parrsboro.  Although it doesn’t yet feel like it with mountains of snow that still bury our buildings, fields and coastlines, the big melt is on the way. I reminded the students to stay away from the cliffs, especially during the spring of such a difficult winter.  It was helpful to remind the students that geology is an active process. Erosion of the shore very high when the deep frost line melts and the ground saturates with water during the spring rains.Several students expressed interest in volunteering at the Museum, and it seems likely some of them will become involved.

Students can develop valuable experience while volunteering at the Museum. Some may enjoy the thrill of working of fossils in the research lab, while others like being outside to assist with fossil prospecting or helping with a coastal monitoring research program. There are also opportunities for students to learn and develop digital skills (multimedia, animation) that will be useful experience for their future jobs.

Interested in the Student Volunteer Program? Contact the Fundy Geological Museum.

3D Study of Jurassic Dinosaurs from Nova Scotia

3D Study of Jurassic Dinosaurs from Nova Scotia

Fossil Research Lab Update : 1502-1
Fundy Geological Museum

3D Scan of Leg-Foot

The museum researchers are creating a 3D scan of the block containing the lower leg and foot of one of the Jurassic dinosaurs from Nova Scotia. After repositioning the tibia using a custom-made plaster cradle, the block is being imaged for photogrammatry scanning.

3d Scanning of Jurassic Dinosaurs from Nova Scotia

Here is a preliminary visual analysis completed with the 3D scan.

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3D Scan of Skull Block

After completing the 3D scan of the foot block, the skull block will be 3D scanned to study how the bones of the skull were displaced when the skeleton was buried. Below is an animation that shows how the skull bones appear to have been displaced just prior or during burial, 200 million years ago.

Visit Parrsboro to See More

When you visit the Fundy Geological Museum in Parrsboro, Nova Scotia, you have an opportunity to look into the Fossil Research Lab to see the fossils being studied. Real dinosaur bones are also on display in the museum’s gallery.

This winter the Fundy Geological Museum is changing some of the displays of the Nova Scotia dinosaur specimens. New specimens will be put on display in April 2015.

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