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Sample Donation from the Kaiparowits Basin, UT

Upon request, I recently donated several hundred hand samples, filling 74 core boxes, to the Utah Geological Survey’s Core Research Center (UCRC) in Salt Lake City. These samples were collected during the summers of 1988 through 1993 as part of my Doctoral research at the University of Colorado – Boulder and had traveled from the Kaiparowits Basin in Utah to Boulder, Colorado; back to Salt Lake City, Utah; then to Mexico, Missouri; Rolla, Missouri; and, finally, Rexburg, Idaho; before finding a permanent home last summer with the UCRC (UWI/API # 43-017-70001-S000). In the mean time, the labeling had suffered from water and mouse damage, requiring many hours of cleaning, relabeling and repackaging before storage at the UCRC facility.

The samples are from the Upper Cretaceous Kaiparowits Basin of south-central Utah and represent a 2-km thick succession of fluvial strata ranging in age from Coniacian through Maastrichtian, including the John Henry and Drip Tank Members of the Straight Cliffs Formation, the Wahweap Formation, the Kaiparowits Formation, and the Canaan Peak Formation. It is an unusually complete collection, in that it includes a sample of every facies change, in both sandstone and mudstone lithologies, from the Calico Bed just below the base of the John Henry Member to the basal Pine Hollow Formation immediately above the Canaan Peak Formation, which is why the UCRC was interested in the acquisition. The Kaiparowits Basin was designated as part of the Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument through executive order in 1996, making a similar sampling program now impossible.

Though there were few working in the Kaiparowits Basin at the time these samples were collected, mostly Keith Shanley and Peter McCabe studying sequence stratigraphy of the Straight Cliffs Formation, Jeffrey Eaton cataloguing multituberculate mammals in the Kaiparowits Formation, and myself focused on the physical sedimentology and stratigraphy of the entire Upper Cretaceous section, it is today a hotbed of activity with researchers from across the country involved in a wide range of research. Particularly because a similar detailed collection could not be made again, it is hoped these samples will be of value to these ongoing projects.

In the near future, probably the current summer, additional contributions of invertebrate fossils, thin sections, and samples set aside for palynological or microfossil studies will be added to the UCRC collection. All materials are tied to the measured stratigraphic section at the end of my dissertation, which can be downloaded from

Samples as they have been packed for the past 24 years.

UT:Kaiparowits Basin Samples, UT Core Facility 01 16:08:24.JPG

Samples laid out on tables at the UCRC for cleaning and relabeling.

UT:Kaiparowits Basin Samples, UT Core Facility 02 16:08:25.JPG

The first sample collected as part of my Ph.D. work on July 12, 1988.

UT:Kaiparowits Basin Samples, UT Core Facility 18 16:08:25 (1st collected sample).JPG

These three photos show damage to labels from water and mice while samples were stored in an outdoor storage shed at our home in the humid climate of Missouri.  Out of the several hundred samples donated, only five or six were not identifiable by comparing label remnants to field notes and the measured section at the end of my dissertation.  Surprisingly, all three of these were properly identified and relabeled.

UT:Kaiparowits Basin Samples, UT Core Facility 23a 16:08:25.JPGUT:Kaiparowits Basin Samples, UT Core Facility 24a 16:08:25.JPGUT:Kaiparowits Basin Samples, UT Core Facility 28b 16:08:26.JPG