Announcing a Late Jurassic –
Early Cretaceous Paleontology
Field Conference

Spring 2014 in Colorado & Utah


All Aspects of Mid-Mesozoic Stratigraphy, Chronostratigraphy, Paleontology, Biostratigraphy, & Paleogeography



General Background


The field conference will involve four day-trips to parts of the Colorado Plateau, and two days of lectures. The Morrison Formation is world famous for its Upper Jurassic dinosaur fossils and is one of the most extensively studied dinosaur bearing units in the world. Very significant sites are known in eastern Utah (including the world famous Dinosaur National Monument and Cleveland-Lloyd Quarry) and in western Colorado (the Fruita Paleontological Area and Mygatt-Moore Quarry). Given the extensive research given to these sites over the years this is one of the best understood areas of Upper Jurassic exposures anywhere in the world.


In contrast the overlying early/lower Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation spans roughly 35 million years, in comparison to the Morrison formation’s 7 million years. The Cedar Mountain approximately half the stratigraphic thickness, but represents about 5 times as much in geologic time, in comparison to one fauna in the Morrison in the Morrison, the Cedar Mountain contains up to 5 different faunas.  Because of this the Cedar Mountain may have more dinosaur species preserved within it than any other formation in the world.


These two formations are separated by an unconformity. This unconformity is generally thought to be on the order of 25 million years. However, research on the palynomorphs, ostracods, and charophytes, have suggested a much shorter time interval between the Cedar Mountain and Morrison Formations.


The Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation and overlying Lower Cretaceous Cedar Mountain Formation contain numerous quarries yielding vertebrate fossils in western Colorado and eastern Utah. Some of the most important include the Fruita Paleontological Area and the Mygatt-Moore Quarry in the Morrison, and the Dalton Wells and Gaston quarries in the Cedar Mountain.


Colorado Plateau’s Morrison-Cedar Mountain dinosaurs are contributing critical information about an important period of time in the history of terrestrial life in the Northern Hemisphere. Globally, this was a time of changing climatic conditions and exceptionally high atmospheric

 carbon dioxide levels causing “supergreenhousing” (a world with no polar ice caps and a sluggish, poorly oxygenated ocean), major restructuring of biogeographic migration corridors, and a complete restructuring of plant communities with the origin and rapid rise to dominance of flowering plants. The Utah Geological Survey, the Museum of Western Colorado, and researchers from a host of different institutions continue to discover and integrate new data from the Morrison and Cedar Mountain Formation into an increasingly robust history of eastern Utah and western Colorado during the Late Jurassic and Early Cretaceous. The density of biostratigraphic, chronostratigraphic, and paleoclimatic data make the Colorado Plateau a standard on which to resolve the geological and paleobiological history of the mid- Mesozoic in the northern hemisphere. Continued new discoveries only serve to show that Colorado Plateau has the most complete mid-Mesozoic terrestrial record in the world, and that there is still a great deal to learn.




Jim Kirkland, Utah Geological Survey, Salt Lake City, Utah (planning, advertising, outreach, website, field specialties, field book)


ReBecca Hunt-Foster, Bureau of Land Management, Moab, Utah (planning, advertising, outreach, website, field specialties, field book, facilities)


John Foster, Museum of Western Colorado, Fruita, Colorado (planning, advertising, field specialties, field book, facilities)


Scott Williams, Burpee Museum of Natural History, Rockford, IL (editing, outreach, field



Ray Lloyd Hatt, John Wesley Powell River History Museum, Green River, Utah (facilities)

Sponsored by:

Utah Geological Survey

Museum of Western Colorado

Bureau of Land Management

John Wesley Powell River History Museum

Utah State University, Prehistoric Museum

Utah Friends of Paleontology

Society of Vertebrate Paleontology