Our biggest dig ever!

Our 2016 Dig with the Experts program was — by far — the largest ever! With 165 diggers, we more than doubled our attendance from 2015. To accommodate the large group, we dug — in Dan Cooper’s words — “the biggest hole yet.” The weather on Saturday May 21 was perfect for collecting fossils: cloudy, 53°F in the morning and 69°F in the afternoon — with a slight breeze. We welcomed visitors from a dozen states plus a large group from Ontario.

Weeklong preparations included the use of an excavator to scrape off overburden and bring large blocks of the Smoke Creek trilobite bed to the surface. The blocks were placed into piles, broken into smaller pieces by Dan Cooper, and cordoned off from the rest of the quarry to prevent ambitious collecters from claim jumping.

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Dan Cooper gives a safety lecture prior to the start of the dig.

Once the dig was underway, collectors proceeded into the quarry to select a dig area and get cracking with hammers, chisels, and pry bars.

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A freshly excavated portion of our quarry.
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The dig is definitely a social event!
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Large pieces of rock are broken into smaller chunks along bedding planes; these chunks are then split again and examined for fossils.
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Dig with the Experts is a family event, too!
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Success! Beautiful Phacops rana trilobites.
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New this year: You Crack Me Up food truck served breakfast to hungry diggers all day.

We thank our experts — Dan Cooper, Don Bissett, and Jeff Aubrey — from the Cincinnati Dry Dredgers for making this program happen once again. We are grateful for Zoladz Construction for renting to us a brand new excavator — and an excellent operator — during the week of the dig. And, we thank our volunteers, interns, and staff for doing a tremendous job with the visitor experience.

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A drones-eye view of the dig.

Finally, we thank Butch and Jake Burkett for these wonderful photos and videos — including this spectacular footage from high above. You can check out the full Dig with the Experts Gallery here.

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