Paper No. 3-10
Presentation Time: 10:30 AM
DIGITIZING ANCIENT SEAS TO ADVANCE STUDENT RESEARCH AND PUBLIC OUTREACH THROUGH THE SD MINES MUSEUM OF GEOLOGY
Recent digitization projects at the South Dakota School of Mines and Technology (SDSM&T) are improving accessibility of Cretaceous Western Interior Seaway (WIS) collections as well as Miocene to Recent marine invertebrate and microfossil collections. Such digitization efforts not only improve accessibility of collections data to broad research communities, they also reinvigorate the use of collections and their data in outreach, formal courses and student research projects. For example, students involved in all stages of digitization are contributing to a weekly web log detailing their experiences. Paleontology field course participants extended their experience by developing virtual field trips using georeferenced collections data. Students in an exhibit design course will develop public-floor exhibits showcasing digitized collection material. Digitized records are also being used in undergraduate paleontology classes for paleoecology labs, and specimens noted for repair during digitization will be stabilized in a fossil preparation course. In addition, triage of accessioned but uncurated Cretaceous specimens in the invertebrate paleontology collections resulted in a culling from research collections, with specimens repurposed for teaching (at SDSM&T and Oglala Lakota College) as well as outreach by the SDSM&T Museum of Geology and Paleontology Club. The digitation process culminates in undergraduate and graduate student research projects, including photogrammetry studies of excavation sites, investigations of the taphonomic and biogeographic trends within the WIS, taxonomic diversity of late Cretaceous sharks, and conservation paleobiology projects focusing on coupled Neogene paleoceanographic/paleoclimatic trends in the Pacific Northwest, and Neogene changes in tropical coastal biomes.