Paper No. 2
Presentation Time: 9:15 AM


ATWATER, Amy L., Denali National Park and Preserve, P.O. Box 9, Denali National Park, Denali Park, AK 99755 and CAPPS, Denny, Denali National Park and Preserve, Denali National Park and Preserve, P.O. Box 9, Denali National Park, AK 99755,

GeoCorps America, a partnership between the National Park Service, U.S. Forest Service, and the Bureau of Land Management, has made it possible to vastly expand the knowledge of fossil localities within Denali National Park and Preserve (DENA). Since the discovery of dinosaur tracks in the park in 2005, GeoCorps participants have documented dozens of new fossil sites, created interactive maps with rich attributes, and maintained a database for the park’s paleontological resources. The database has allowed outside researchers and new GeoCorps participants to easily identify existing resources and plan projects. Using data collected in the past by GeoCorps participants and others, we were able to create a prediction model for fossil sites within the Cantwell Formation using a suitability analysis. DENA covers over six-million acres and the area that contains the dinosaur fossils is both large and difficult to access. This creates a need for a technique to assess the likelihood of finding fossils in a given area before sending researchers into the field. Fossil locality discovery has traditionally resulted from guesswork and from extensive field surveys. The recent increase in the availability of remotely-sensed imagery, utility of geographic information systems (GIS), and expansion of the park’s paleontological database enabled us to address the challenge of fossil site identification within DENA. Geospatial factors that are regarded as useful for finding fossils within the Cantwell Formation were analyzed and ranked on a scale from 1 to 4, with 4 representing the best score. We identified the 4 most significant geospatial factors in fossil sites within the Cantwell Formation to be vegetation coverage, slope, aspect and proximity to landslides. These different factors were then weighted and used to create a suitability layer for the Cantwell Formation within the park. Initial field testing indicates that the model accurately predicts fossil sites, though defining areas of high, medium, and low site density requires additional testing and data collecting by future GeoCorps participants. Continued field testing will allow us to refine the model. This suitability analysis will save government resources and reduce the exposure of researchers to the many hazards associated with the Denali backcountry.