One of the improvements in the new Quarry Visitor Center is that the mezzanine will be wider. This will allow visitors to get much closer to the quarry at mid-height and so better see the multitude of bones along the top and center of the sandstone face. But nothing comes without a price, in this case smaller working space.
As constant readers will recall, last summer we removed the 14,000 pound moveable crane from the building because it was no longer safe to operate. In the new building we will use some sort of extending lift with a basket to reach the more inaccessible higher parts of the cliff for cleaning, conservation, and research. The widened mezzanine lessened the space available for the crane, so anything that can buy us some space would help with that problem.
The outer surface of the sandstone is irregular, with some portions jutting out further than others. Those parts that haven’t been excavated down to the bone layer jut out at ground level, like the toe of the face. Areas excavated all the way back to the main bone layer do not stick out. By removing the toe we can move the face back about 12 inches in the most critical areas, buying some room for the wheels and body of the lift to operate in.
To get this done, some of the bottom sheets of plywood of the sarcophagus were removed, providing access to the toe. Paleontologists Dr.Brooks Britt and Dr. Rod Scheetz, of Brigham Young University, helped us with the excavation.
With this work completed the plywood was put back up. Work continues in getting the glass completely installed in the walls. Once that is completed, the next big step will be the dismantling of the scaffolding and plywood sarcophagus, allowing sunlight onto the quarry face for the first time in 18 months.
Yes, he may be a paleontologist with a Ph.D. but Brooks still has to abide by the rules, or else.
Before becoming a paleontologist, Brooks Britt was the drummer in the moderately successful punk rock / Lawrence Welk polka music fusion band called The Provo Accordion Cannibals.
Photos: Brooks Britt, Rod Scheetz