Field Work Travelogue: Day 8 – Screening #NTCave15

I apparently over-did it a bit in the cave yesterday, so I spent today topside screen-washing sediment.

Screen-washing area, ready-to-go.
Screen-washing area, ready-to-go.

When screen-washing, the first thing you have to do is make sure your screens are clean, so you don’t cross contaminate samples. Our screens come in three different mesh sizes that stack together.

Screens, separate and stacked together.
Screens, separate and stacked together.

Add sediment to the screens, but not too much or it’ll clog the screens.

Adding sediment for screening. Don't add too much - It clogs the screens.
Just enough sediment.

You have to let the sediment soak for a bit. Luckily (and intentionally) wooden screens float.

They float. First, let them soak for a while.
Soaking the sediments.

A little bit of agitation gets the sediments to separate according to screen size. The littlest particles just fall right through.

Then, agitate the screens a bit to get the clay and silt to fall off the sediments that you're interested in.
After agitation.

The longest part of the process is getting the screens to dry. You put the screens at an angle so the water drains off. This takes an hour or more, depending on the weather.

Carefully put the boxes in the sun to dry. Put them at an angle so the water drains off.
Drying the sediments.

Sometimes you don’t have to wait for the sediment to dry before finding fossils. Today, I found claws, jaws, and teeth in the boxes.

A little claw.
A little claw.

Having multiple screens means you can wash multiple samples at once.

Samples from two different localities in the cave, drying in the sun.
Samples from two different localities in the cave, drying in the sun.

After a day of screen-washing, I’ve gotten a little more tan and feel pretty rested.

And, as Wyoming is wont to do, there was yet another lovely sunset.

Another sunset over Natural Trap Cave.
Another sunset over Natural Trap Cave.

Looking forward to another busy and productive day tomorrow!

Published by paleololigo

Scientist (Paleontology, Geochemistry, Geology); Writer (Speculative and Science Fiction, plus technical and non-technical Science); Mom to great boy on the Autism spectrum; possessor of too many hobbies.

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