Description: BYU is working with the Dinosaur National Monument to provide a central GIS mapping system of the Monument’s Carnegie Quarry, an archaeological discovery which contains thousands of dinosaur fossils.
Start: September 1, 2015
End: September 30, 2017
- Sponsor: National Park Service, Cooperative Research and Training
- Principal Investigator: Brooks Britt
- Website: http://www.nps.gov/dino/index.htm
Located on the borders of Utah and Colorado, Dinosaur National Monument has yielded tens of thousands of fossil bones since its discovery early in the twentieth century. The origins of the park began in 1909 with the discovery of the site by Pittsburgh’s Carnegie Museum. The Carnegie Quarry was made a National Monument 1915 to protect and maintain what is still one of the world’s largest dinosaur quarries. Although most of the bones were excavated and transported to various museums in the first half of the 1900s, over 1500 bones remain in place in the Quarry Exhibit Hall where visitors can see and touch for themselves the spectacular bones.
Over the past one hundred years, a substantial number of archives and individual maps have been created to document the fossils found in the quarry. Professor Brooks Britt, of the Department of Geology, currently leads a team of researchers to assist the National Park Service by combining all previous maps and historical data of the archives into a single web-accessible map that outlines the entire quarry and the specimens located therein. The creation of a universal map will be achieved through GIS technology, LiDAR, and photogrammetry to ultimately allow greater access to the quarry’s artifacts, history, and images through digital means with the help of AutoDesk.
Professor Britt and his team plan to execute the project in several stages. First, all hard copy maps of the quarry will be scanned to create digital copies of the archived data. These maps are historic, and some are as large as 39 square feet. The digital copies of the maps will then be converted using Geographic Information System (GIS) technology, a computer mapping system which digitally relates data to specific locations on the earth. One of the features of a GIS map is that multiple layers of information can be viewed at the same time. Someone viewing a GIS map containing a fossil in the quarry would be able to not only locate its specific location on the quarry face, but also view its history, archival information, fossil data, and photograph all at the same time, as well as any other information that the Dinosaur National Monument has available. Photogrammetric technology, or the use of photographs to chart and measure the locations of items, will be used to survey the face of the quarry, and all maps will be compiled into a single GIS map. Lastly, a database will be created for information to be directly linked to the individual fossils of the Carnegie Quarry. When information is inputted to the database, it will be connected to each of the fossil’s locations on the map. The GIS map also allows for updating of the database, and ensures the access of accurate and up-to-date information of the quarry.
One of the main goals of this project is to launch the GIS map online so that any and all can view the Carnegie Quarry and access its information, even without being at the Monument. Presently, only hard copies of the maps and other archival data are available. Most of this data is currently unaccessed by the public and the scientific network simply because it is in paper copy only. The GIS map will integrate all previous maps and data archived of the quarry into a single source and provide greater access of its information to curators, schools, historians, paleontologists, and the public through the internet. Basing the map on the internet furthers it reach to more people and expands its potential to enable greater knowledge and discovery in the future. The creation of this project will not only help the Dinosaur National Monument, but could also prove to be a pathway that other historians and researchers follow to enrich the history of additional archaeological sites.