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Geology of the Carnegie museum dinosaur quarry site of Diplodocus carnegii, Sheep Creek, Wyoming

January 1, 2008

The holotype of Diplodocus carnegii Hatcher, 1901, consists of a partial skeleton (CM 84) that was recovered, along with a second partial skeleton of the same species (CM 94), from the upper 10 m of the Talking Rock facies of the Brushy Basin Member of the Morrison Formation exposed along Bone Quarry Draw, a tributary of Sheep Creek in Albany County, Wyoming. A composite measured section of the stratigraphic interval exposed adjacent to the quarry indicates that the Brushy Basin Member in this area is a stacked succession of lithofacies consisting of hackly, greenish gray, calcareous mudstone and greenish brown, dense, fine-grained limestone. The more erosion resistant limestone layers can be traced over many hundreds of meters. Thus, these strata do not appear to represent a highly localized deposit such as a stream channel, oxbow lake, or backwater pond. The Sheep Creek succession is interpreted as representing a clastic-dominated lake where high turbidity and sediment influx produced deposition of calcareous mudstone. During drier periods the lake's turbidity decreased and limestone and dolomite precipitation replaced mud deposition. Microkarsting at the top of some limestone/ dolomite layers suggests subaerial deposition may have prevailed during these dry episodes. The quarry of D. carnegii was excavated within the top strata of one of the numerous intervals of hackly, greenish gray, calcareous mudstone that represent an ephemeral freshwater lake. The quarry strata are directly overlain by 0.3 m of dolomite-capped limestone that was deposited shortly after interment of D. carnegii in the lake mudstones. The close vertical proximity of the overlying limestone to the skeleton's stratigraphic: level suggests that the animal's carcass may have been buried beneath the drying lake deposits during a period of decreased rainfall.

Publication Year 2008
Title Geology of the Carnegie museum dinosaur quarry site of Diplodocus carnegii, Sheep Creek, Wyoming
Authors D. K. Brezinski, A.D. Kollar
Publication Type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Series Title Annals of Carnegie Museum
Index ID 70030411
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse