Wednesday, July 6, 2011
OPENING THE SARCOPHAGUS IN THE VALLEY OF THE LIZARD KINGS
Well the day of joy has finally arrived! Just before the long 4th of July weekend crews began to take down the plywood sarcophagus which has hidden the quarry sandstone and its treasure of dinosaur bones for so long.
In one sense this is just a simple reversal of how the sarcophagus and its scaffolding framework was erected. However, this is fraught with just as many dangers for the fossils as when it was put up. Each sheet of plywood, each pipe and connector of the scaffolding, each layer of netting, fireproof blanketing, foam padding, etc. has to come off without being dropped.
Some work rules will reduce the danger. Each tool is on a lanyard so that it won’t go to the ground (or fossil face) if dropped. Every piece of pipe is held with two hands as it passed from one person to another. Each piece of plywood is hooked to a cable and lowered to the ground or into a basket on the end of a crane.
As the parts are taken off they are stored outside in the parking lot.
Some work is done on the scaffolding itself. However, higher, more difficult areas are reached by a crane with a terminal basket.
Taking this down will take less time than putting it up, but we are still looking at 2-3 weeks before all the plywood and scaffolding is down and completely outside the Quarry Visitor Center. At that point all the dinosaur bones will, for the first time in 16 months, be bathed again in natural light.