Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson

Special Event Permit Detail

Application Information

ID: 816   Event: A sequence stratigraphic and magnetostratigraphic study of the Morrison Formation, USA.
Application Date: 02/10/2014    Event Date: 05/12/2014   Thru: 05/18/2014
Contact 1 Name: Susannah Maidment
Address: Imperial College,
London UK 00000
Email: Send email
Contact 2 Name:


Event Information

Permit Type(s): Parks and Open Spaces
Type of Event: Research
Horsetooth Reservoir

Event type: Geological study and sampling

Latitudinal biodiversity gradients in deep time: A sequence stratigraphic and magnetostratigraphic study of the Morrison Formation, USA.

Modern day biodiversity is not distributed evenly across the surface of the Earth, but varies heterogeneously. One of the most pervasive of these heterogeneities is the latitudinal biodiversity gradient (LBG): species richness is high near the equator and decreases polewards. Despite over 50 years of work on the subject, the reasons for the LBG remain elusive. The current failure to understand the causative mechanisms behind the LBG impacts our understanding of major issues such as the spread of invasive species, controls of disease and their vectors, and how global warming will impact biodiversity. It is therefore extremely important to rigorously and quantitatively test potential explanatory factors.
For how long has the latitudinal biodiversity gradient existed? This fundamental question is perhaps the most important for elucidating the causative mechanisms behind the modern day LBG, but it remains unanswered. Studies have suggested that the LBG may be a modern phenomenon arising from a unique set of Cenozoic climatic conditions. Many palaeontological studies examining the LBG suffer from sampling problems that may mask biodiversity variation. In order to examine the presence or absence of the LBG in deep time, the effects of these palaeontological biases must be removed. A group of organisms with an excellent fossil record and a relatively stable taxonomy is required. Time-averaging and spatial averaging biases can be removed by examining these fossilized organisms in a single sedimentary basin in packages of time of relatively short duration. This requires that the stratigraphy in the basin be tightly correlated and robustly dated. The sedimentary basin must outcrop over a broad range of latitudes. The dinosaur fauna in the Upper Jurassic Morrison Formation fulfils all of these criteria and offers an excellent opportunity to investigate the latitudinal biodiversity gradient prior to the Cenozoic.
The Morrison Formation comprises a series of fluvial and alluvial sediments deposited during the Upper Jurassic. It outcrops from New Mexico in the south to Montana in the north, covering about 10 degrees in latitude and roughly 1,000,000 km2. The Morrison Formation has been the subject of intense research since the discovery of its diverse and well-preserved dinosaur fauna in the latter part of the 19th century. The stratigraphy of various quarries and outcrops is well documented. The Morrison palaeoenvironment has been reconstructed at several localities, taphonomic conditions have been analysed and the palaeoecological structure of dinosaur communities has been investigated. Despite this intensive study, correlation of Morrison outcrops across the formation has proven extremely difficult. Currently, there are no long-range correlations within the Morrison Formation, and substantial stratigraphic work must be carried out.
The aims of the project are to generate a time-stratigraphic framework for the Morrison using terrestrial sequence stratigraphy and magnetostratigraphy, resulting in division of the formation into temporal packages, digitally map all dinosaur occurrence data across the formation both in space and time, and use statistical techniques to examine correlations between biodiversity, latitude environment and time.

During May-July 2014, I will visit Morrison outcrops across Colorado, Wyoming and Montana, carry out sedimentary logging, and sample for magnetostratigraphic analysis. A large number of published sedimentary logs of the Morrison Formation already exist, and the locations of these logs have been collated in an ArcGIS database. My sampling will therefore focus on areas where published data is sparse or absent. I would like to visit Horsetooth Reservoir to examine the Morrison Formation in the area and carry out magnetostratigraphic sampling. A map showing possible sampling localites is attached.
At each outcrop I will:
• Measure the section
• Make lithological observations
• Interpret facies
• Take three core samples per horizon/facies

Impacts on other users
There will be minimal impact on the natural environment or other park users. Personnel involved include myself and a field assistant. Core samples are taken with a small motorized drill, so a small amount of noise will be generated. However, this will be short-lived and not very loud. Core sampling of hard sandstone layers will result in small holes (1”x2” approx) in the layer sampled. If it becomes necessary to sample less well-lithified mudstones, a small amount of trenching may be required to remove surface weathering. Trenches will be small (30cm x 30cm max) and will aim to expose fresh rock. Any trenches dug would be backfilled after sampling. Sampling in mudstones will only be necessary if there are few sandstones in the section.
I anticipate no conflict with trail users. Access to the areas will be on foot. Activities will be carried out during the week to minimize impacts on other park users.

I am covered by my institutional insurance policy for fieldwork and all necessary risk assessments are in place.

I am carrying out similar research on public lands across Montana, Colorado and Wyoming this summer. If everyone charges me a $100 application fee for a permit it will cost me many thousands of $ to carry out my research, which is purely academic in nature. I therefore ask for fees to be waived.

Emergency communication
I can be contacted at; or +447900195867. When I arrive in the USA I will also get a US mobile phone and can pass on the details of my number when I get it.

Estimated Participants: 2   Estimated Spectators: 0
   Mon. 05/12/2014: 1000 AM - 1700 PM
   Tue. 05/13/2014: 1000 AM - 1700 PM
   Wed. 05/14/2014: 1000 AM - 1700 PM
   Thu. 05/15/2014: 1000 AM - 1700 PM
   Fri. 05/16/2014: 1000 AM - 1700 PM
   Sat. 05/17/2014: 1000 AM - 1700 PM
   Sun. 05/18/2014: 1000 AM - 1700 PM


Additional Information Submitted by Applicant

1. Date Submitted: 02/14/2014
I have been asked to provide a personal liability insurance certificate specifically naming Laramie County for this 'event'. Since this is not an 'event' but a research project, I do not see the necessity in naming Laramie County. Attached is my University travel insurance policy that covers both me and my field assistant for the work that will be carried out. As you can see, this includes personal liability insurance of £5,000,000, significantly more than you normally require. I hope this is sufficient.

2. Date Submitted: 04/01/2014
I received the following from you:
3/31/14 Fee worksheet emailed today. There is no fee but the SIGNED fee worksheet must be returned for the special event to be approved.

I have not received the fee worksheet. Please could you email it to me again, and copy it to incase it is getting caught in a spam filter?


Reviewing Agency Comments/Status

Email the Citizen Information Coordinator regarding this application.

Parks & Open Lands

Status: Approved

Comments: 2/11/2014 Application has been forwarded to area manager for review.
3/31/14 Fee worksheet emailed today. There is no fee but the SIGNED fee worksheet must be returned for the special event to be approved.
4/3/14 signed fee worksheet returned. Thank you! Your event is approved.

Email Parks & Open Lands

Risk Management

Status: Approved

Comments: your "research project" is still an event and yes, Larimer County does need to be named as additional insured on all GL (or PL) policies. Had your project been more "invasive", Risk Mgt would have insisted upon this in order to protect the county's natural areas.

if you have questions, call 970-498-5963

Email Risk Management

Final Disposition


Please print your permit and have it available on event day.

Background Image: Cirque Meadows by Adam Johnson. All rights reserved.