GSA Annual Meeting in Seattle, Washington, USA - 2017

Paper No. 261-2
Presentation Time: 9:00 AM-6:30 PM


WHITE, Lisa D., Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley, Berkeley, CA 94720, CLITES, Erica C., Museum of Paleontology, University of California, Berkeley, CA 94720, ROSS, Robert, The Paleontological Research Institution, 1259 Trumansburg Rd, Ithaca, NY 14850 and DUGGAN-HAAS, Don, Paleontological Research Institution, Ithaca, NY 14850,

Virtual fieldwork experiences (VFEs) provide novel ways to engage audiences in the physical features of an area through the eyes of a geoscientist, from identifying large structural features at map scales to zooming in on sedimentary structures and representative fossils at the outcrop scale. The EPICC project (Eastern Pacific Invertebrate Communities of the Cenozoic) has developed virtual fieldwork experience (VFE) modules to highlight the geological settings that serve as the foundation for the primary paleontological data gathered by the EPICC Thematic Collections Network (TCN) project,

The nine collaborating partners in the EPICC TCN are digitally mobilizing more than 1 million marine fossil invertebrate specimens from collections that span critical ecological and evolutionary transitions in the Cenozoic. VFEs increase the value of fossil collections by connecting the collections to their field sites, adding context and opportunities for public outreach.

The first suite of VFE modules is set in the Kettleman Hills near Coalinga in Central California. Gigapixel-resolution images, high quality panoramas, photographs and video clips, supported by explanatory text, bring to life a range of features to general audiences. The Kettleman Hills VFEs are divided into five modules: Explore Geology, Explore Sediments, Explore Fossils, Field to Museum, and What is a Fossil? Users can explore the modules in any order and with practically any level of background. Supporting guides are provided for teacher and student use, and a glossary of terms helps to supplement basic geological and paleontological definitions. Driving questions within the modules helps to make NGSS connections and better illustrate Crosscutting Concepts. Remaining modules planned will highlight EPICC field areas in the Purisima Formation in coastal northern California, marine terraces in southern California, and fossils in the Astoria Formation of Oregon. Bringing these unique and extraordinary places, some of which are no longer accessible to the public, to life creates special opportunities to engage the public in the scientific value of fieldwork and its connection to museum fossil collections.