2004 Denver Annual Meeting (November 7–10, 2004)

Paper No. 3
Presentation Time: 8:35 AM


CORNELL, Sean R.1, CUNDIFF, Jessica2, COLLIER, Frederick2, CORBETT, Matt3, CAUDILL, Frances2 and HANKEN, James4, (1)Department of Geology, Univ of Cincinnati, H.N. Fisk Laboratory of Sedimentology, 500 Geology Physics Bldg, Cincinnati, OH 45221-0013, (2)Department of Invertebrate Paleontology, Musuem of Comparative Zoology, Harvard Univ, 26 Oxford Street, Cambridge, MA 02138, (3)Dept of Earth and Environmental Sciences, Northeastern Univ, 360 Huntington Avenue, 14 Holmes Hall, Boston, MA 02115-5000, (4)Department of Herpetology, Harvard Univ, 26 Oxford Street, Room 109C, Cambridge, MA 02138, cornelsl@email.uc.edu

At a time when funding for museum-based collections is scarce, repositories are developing new ways to extend the scope of their activities and research agendas beyond the confines of their own museums. Many repositories are developing educational outreach programs, field trips, and other initiatives to extend their services to influence a larger audience. In this regard, the Department of Invertebrate Paleontology at Harvard’s MCZ has developed a new and unique way to showcase one of their classic, century-old, invertebrate paleontology collections. Through the construction of an interpretive website that documents both a fossil collection and the geological background of the collection locality, the MCZ has developed an innovative tool for advertising their own collections, and enhancing educational opportunities for a wider audience.

Having grown up in the vicinity of Trenton Falls, Charles Doolittle Walcott, Paleontologist and discoverer of the famous Burgess Shale, became acquainted with the fossils as a youngster. His abiding interest in collecting these fossils inadvertently established a legacy in North American Geology. Walcott's extensive invertebrate fossil collections from the Ordovician Trenton Limestone combined with nearly two centuries of geological research at Trenton Falls represent a significant contribution to natural history and the history of geology.

Given the substantive number of fossil specimens and extensive publications on Trenton Falls, this initiative, funded by NSF, provides an overview of aspects of the sedimentary, stratigraphic, and paleontologic history of this world-famous locality. Through the documentation of specimens and the geologic summary of the collection site, readers are presented with a virtual fieldtrip from which they can take away an appreciation for the locality itself and the historical development of Trenton Falls. They can also benefit from a series of geological "primers" on aspects of sedimentology, stratigraphy, and paleontology, as well as many illustrations describing key processes and important concepts such as paleogeography, tectonics, paleoclimatology, etc.. Although the website was initially intended for a college-level audience, the development of the site assumes only an introductory understanding of physical geology.