Preserving Zion’s Fossil Record: Building Digital Archives

Project Need: $78,000

A Jurassic initiative is unfolding—one that bridges the gap between our present and the ancient past. Building on the success of a past Field Guide project, this research is the next phase of an extraordinary endeavor: using advanced 3D imaging technology to digitally record and share the park’s preserved dinosaur tracks and paleontological treasures. The goal is not only to protect already known sites but also to uncover new sites hidden in the intricate details of the canyon walls, as past research has done.

Connor Bennett, a Scientist in the Park intern passionately involved in the fieldwork, shares his awe-inspiring experience: “Being out here, capturing images of fossils, is like peering through a window back in time. It’s not just about the science; it’s about connecting with Earth’s ancient history, feeling the weight of time in your hands.”

Park Physical Scientist and program manager Robyn Henderek underscores the significance of this work. “Our research and imaging are pivotal,” she explains. “Not only do we get to preserve these invaluable fossils against the threats of erosion and time, but we also create detailed models that can be shared with other parks, scientists, and the public. It’s about making these glimpses into our planet’s past accessible to everyone.”

Zion’s unique geological formations hold records of a mass extinction event and house fossils not found anywhere else. The park contains a crucial scientific archive that sheds light on the history of life on Earth. Past funding has uncovered numerous new paleontological sites, offering additional insights into Zion’s past.

These irreplaceable resources revealed and hidden, are threatened by natural erosion, underscoring the urgency of the Zion Forever Project’s mission. The advanced 3D imaging technology will allow for the detailed documentation of these fossils and ensure their preservation for future generations to study and admire. The first phase of this program, which funded the equipment acquisition, commenced in 2022. Today, the rangers are moving into action and capture mode.

Your support can help safeguard these precious windows into Earth’s distant past, ensuring that Zion continues to enlighten today’s scientists and inspire the future scientists of tomorrow. Join us in preserving these invaluable resources and take pride in contributing to a legacy of exploration and discovery.