Monday, June 7, 2010


The metal scaffold and plywood sarcophagus will certainly provide protection for the Carnegie Quarry and its fossil treasure trove during construction. However, the building of the sarcophagus structure itself presents threats. The final structure will be big, 150 feet long, 50 feet high, and 30 feet wide. Each piece of metal pipe, connector, decking, stairs, and sheet of plywood could do catastrophic damage to the fossils should it be dropped during construction. The same is true for the hammers, drills, and other tools used in building the enclosure. So how do we reduce these threats?

The answer is simple, if somewhat cumbersome. Everything is leashed. Workers wear harnesses and clip into the scaffolding as they build it. Tools are leashed to the workers. Pipes and plywood are leashed to scaffolding. The same is true when equipment is used to move people and materials into areas not easily reached by climbing. If something slips or is dropped, the leashes prevent it from hitting the quarry face.

The entire sarcophagus is large and very heavy and needs its own system of anchoring and stability. Remember, at some point the walls of the QVC will be partly removed and the building will be a very open structure. The top of the hill is subject to sudden, strong gusts of wind, and windstorms that can go on for days. So the scaffolding is anchored to parts of the building foundation and beams. The wide working platform above the quarry is suspended by steel cables that attach to anchors on the ceiling beams. In the end, we’ll have a large, stable, structure that will both protect the quarry and serve as a work platform.

Photos courtesy of Dinosaur National Monument

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