Giant Tracks From the Elk Valley Coal District Southeastern BC
received multiple reports of several dinosaur tracks being discovered
during road construction in one of the mines in the Elk Valley Coal
District run by Teck Coal. The mine in question was quite interested in
seeing the tracksite documented and were involved in reporting the
discovery of the site in the first place. Within 48 hours of receiving
notice of the existence of this site, PRPRC palaeontologist Rich McCrea
and technician Tyler Shaw drove nearly 1500km from Tumbler Ridge to work
on the high elevation site before freezing temperatures made this
impossible. The reason for the rush to document this site was due to the
fact that this was the first record of sauropod trackways to be reported
in Canada. Rich McCrea had reported in 2000 on some isolated tracks as the
first record of this major group of dinosaurs in Canada, but no trackways
were known until this report.
The mine employees were very helpful in providing safety instruction and daily access to the site. The mine even donated some much needed supplies (lumber and screws) for packaging up specimens for the trip back to the PRPRC.
PRPRC technician Tyler Shaw standing in front of the steeply inclined track face.
In addition to the main track face, a large three-toed theropod track was found and collected with the help of mine employees.
Ropes were needed to access the steeply inclined track surface. Here technician Tyler Shaw attaches a rope to one of several anchor stations.
PRPRC palaeontologist Rich McCrea begins the process of making a replica mould of a portion of a trackway after the team cleaned the entire track face. The process of moulding requires the application of multiple layers of expensive liquid latex over several days. One intense rainfall, or cold snap could wreck the whole effort.
This latex peel measured 10 metres by 3 metres and was visible from 7 kilometres away.
While waiting for the latex on the large replica mould to cure the palaeontologists would go prospecting for more tracks. This habit met with a measure of success with the discovery of a small theropod track.
Rock layers were carefully peeled back to reveal six footprints in this trackway.
Precious latex from a critically dwindling supply was applied to the small theropod trackway.
Once the latex had cured a decision was made to collect the original small theropod trackway specimen.
The theropod trackway specimen was cleanly parted from the surface. Note the number of fractures on the underside. The fragility of the surface is what prompted an attempt to collect the original specimen which would otherwise have fallen to pieces from exposure to the elements. otherwise.
Another good day as the 10m x 3m replica peel of the large sauropod trackway was successfully removed. The replica peel weighed well over 250kg and required nearly 45 gallons of liquid latex. The white residue left on the track surface was talcum powder that was applied to the latex peel to prevent it from sticking to itself during removal.