Excitement is mounting....a few days from now, and it's South Dakota bound!
This field season, we get to use a top of the range Leica LiDAR unit (a C10 laser scanner)....it even comes with it's very own, branded, rain jacket! I love this kit. It's the attention to detail that Leica does with all its equipment that makes it so damn functional in the field. The new LiDAR unit will allow us to spatially map in 3D and in glorious colour, the whole of our field site to sub-millimeter resolution. Woof! This means that any samples we collect, which will mostly be rock and sediment this year, can then be later placed into a 3D framework. This literally provides a 3D virtual field map of our entire site, so we can re-visit the location again and again, but from the comfort of our office... where there are fewer mosquitoes, snakes and less sunburn.
We are also testing a portable x-ray fluorescence unit in the field for the first time. This wonderful piece of technology provides us with valuable elemental data from in-situ sediment samples, as well as information on our beloved fossils. The sensitivity of the unit allows us the luxury of pre-screening the elemental inventory of fossils....before we have to drag them all the way to Stanford (SSRL) to be scanned at the Synchrotron. This will hopefully save us both time and research money (which is always scarce!). The great thing about the unit...it looks like a large hair-dryer....so, we will look quite mad to anyone who comes across us, in the middle of no-where, styling the dirt of an outcrop!
We have also just gotten our supply of USGS 1:24,000 maps that cover the new field site. I love maps...precious things that are works of art in their own right. I have just spent the last few hours pouring over the maps and checking boundaries, access, etc. Nothing can be left to chance. The downside of my beautiful maps...by the end of the field season, they will be torn, tattered, scribbled upon and throughly used...but, totally invaluable.
As with last year, I will endeavor to write something every day about our fun and games in the field. Stay-tuned over the next few weeks to share the highs, lows, frustrations, excitement and hard work that is fieldwork with dinosaurs in the Late Cretaceous.