Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Geology of the National Parks Through Pictures - Dinosaur National Monument

My next post about the Geology of the National Parks Through Pictures is a fairly local park.

You can find more Geology of the National Parks Through Pictures as well as my Geological State Symbols Across America series at my website


Obligatory entrance sign.

"I hope that the Government for the benefit of science and the people, will uncover a large area, leave the bones and skeletons in relief and house them in. It would make one of the most astounding and instructive sights imaginable." - Earl Douglas, 1923

Earl Douglas discovered the quarry in 1909. 

And here is the main attraction. The fossil wall in panorama form. The Fossil Wall is part of the Carnegie Quarry that was the original quarry from which the park was built around.

The northern end of the fossil wall. The Fossil Wall is in the Morrison Formation, a rock unit that is the Late Jurassic in age, approximately - 155-148 million years old. The Morrison Formation represents a large variety of environments, with mostly terrestrial rivers and lakes containing the most fossils. It is thought by scientists that the dinosaurs of Dinosaur National Monument accumulated within a local river, where the animals went to get water, but a drought cause all the water to dry up and the animals died. This was then followed by a return of the water, burying the animals in sediment and preserving them for all time.

 And the southern end. Although dinosaur fossils are found in many different rock units, it is the Morrison Formation where most of the dinosaurs discovered in Dinosaur NM have been found.

View of the outside of the main exhibit building. The building is newly rebuilt (since the other one basically fell off the wall) and rests right on top of the fossil layer. The next picture is a shot in the opposite direction from the building.

Picture from the fossil wall in the northern direction (away from the building) where you can track the Morrison Formation fossil layer across the parking lot.

Closer up shot of the fossil layer from the previous picture. You can make out the Fossil Discovery Trail running along the base of the fossil layer towards the lower center of the picture (fossil layer is the dark layer just left of center).

View of the fossil layer looking back up at the building. Most of the best fossils were all up within the building but most people found it exciting to discover fossils "out in the wild". 

Departing dino shot. The Stegosaurus represented here is one of the many fossils that have been found within the park along with Camarasaurus, Diplodocus, Apatosaurus, and Allosaurus, among others. 


  1. There is a whole other world in Dinosar, that is reached by the road from Dinosaur, Colorado. It provides overlooks into the Green and Yampa River as it penetrates the Unita mountains It is called the Harpers Corner Drive. There are good views of the canyons. It is sort of off the beaten track however.

  2. I have actually driven out there a few years ago when the new fossil house was under construction, however it was so cloudy the only thing we could see was the cow we almost hit in the road.


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