2015 GSA Annual Meeting in Baltimore, Maryland, USA (1-4 November 2015)

Paper No. 223-4
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


COOPER, Dee Ann, Non-vertebrate Paleontology Lab., Jackson School of Geosciences, The University of Texas at Austin, 17890 Nonie Lane, Lumberton, TX 77657 and COOPER, Roger W., Department of Earth and Space Science, Lamar University, 17890 Nonie Lane, Lumberton, TX 77657-6847, deeanncooper@yahoo.com

On recent geologic quadrangle maps (Cooper, 2011) within Big Bend National Park (BBNP), it’s just a long thin green line that extends for >80km from south to north. On still unrevised geologic maps within and to the west of BBNP, it would also extend >80km (an areal extent of 6,400 sq. km).

In the official explanation of the 2011 USGS Geologic Map of Big Bend National Park (Turner et. al), it’s described as “brown-weathering limestone and shale beds that contain Allocrioceras hazzardi Zone”. The study effected the formal subdivision of the Boquillas Formation into two officially recognized Members - the Ernst and the San Vicente and the unit is now recognized as an official Taxon-Range Zone. The demarcation of this lithologically and biologically distinct, ~87.3Ma, ~1.23m thick, globally correlative Lowermost Coniacian datum plane represents twenty years of work in Trans-Pecos, TX both within and near Big Bend National Park.

Was this work worth the blood, sweat and tears of field work in the high desert; the paperwork and documentation required to collect in a National Park and other Public and Private lands; the collecting, numbering, hauling and documentation of numerous specimens (now residing in the Non-Vertebrate Paleontology Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin); and countless hours of unsubsidized labor?

Quoting William “Strata” Smith’s own field notes (1/5/1796) …

“Fossils have been long studied as great curiosities, collected with great pains, treasured with great care and at a great expense, and shown and admired with as much pleasure as a child's hobby-horse is shown and admired by himself and his playfellows, because it is pretty; and this has been done by thousands who have never paid the least regard to that wonderful order and regularity with which nature has disposed of these singular productions, and assigned to each class its peculiar stratum.