Earth Sciences

Collections

  • Macginitiea wyomingensis

    Macginitiea wyomingensis

  • Crystalized gold

    Crystalized gold

  • Allosaurus and Stegosaurus

    Allosaurus and Stegosaurus

The vertebrate paleontology collection consists mainly of Cenozoic mammals, Jurassic and Cretaceous Dinosaurs, Cretaceous seaway fish and reptiles, and includes a number of complete skeletons. The paleobotany collection consists mainly of Cretaceous-Eocene leaves and is the second largest collection of its kind in the nation. The invertebrate paleontology collection's main strengths are Cambrian-Ordovician trilobites, Cretaceous seaway mollusks, and Eocene insects. The gem and mineral collection focuses on Colorado and includes a number of regional iconic specimens. The micromount mineral collection is the second largest in the nation and contains specimens from around the world. The rock collection includes historical and building-stone collections. The meteorite collection has samples from around the world with a significant fraction from Colorado.

History

The collections in the Department of Earth Science date to the founding of the Museum. Numerous important donations including the Campion Gold, and the Museum's first field expedition, were crucial to building the geological and paleontological collections in the 1910s and 20s. Between the 1930s and 1960s the Department's collections were the focus of numerous major permanent exhibits on fossils mammals, dinosaurs, and minerals. The Department's current structure was developed in the late 1980s with the hiring of Richard Stucky. The current staff represents the largest ever for the Department and includes four curators.

Research

Research in DES is specimen and field-based and focused on the Rocky Mountain region. There are six active researchers in the department who focus on Mesozoic and Cenozoic fossil plants and mammals; Paleozoic and Mesozoic reptiles, dinosauromorphs and dinosaurs; Paleozoic invertebrates; and stratigraphy and tectonic evolution of Mesozoic and Cenozoic basins in the American West. All DES researchers maintain active field programs.

Outreach

The Earth Sciences Department strives to effectively engage the general public and media. Efforts include citizen science, popular talks, tours, and articles, science documentaries, and the Paleontology Certification Program. In the last year, the Earth Science Department volunteers have logged approximately 35,000 hours, and staff has given more than 100 popular talks and tours. There have been more than 500 national and international news articles on Department-related research and there have been numerous national broadcasts by curators.

Service

The Earth Sciences Department provides access to the more than 200,000 paleontological and geological specimens in the collections to external researchers. Staff are active as editors with numerous professional journals and as committee members or past presidents of national organizations.

Search the Collections

Paleobotany Project

This Web-based collection of fossil plants from Colorado, Utah, and Wyoming caters to paleobotanists. Identify your own fossils and submit specimens to the Museum to be posted on the Web. Access the database.

Who we are

The Department of Earth Sciences (DES) focuses on specimen and field-based research in paleontology, paleoecology, and paleoclimatology of the Rocky Mountain region and the geology and mineralogy of Colorado.  The department contains seven recognized collections: mineral micromounts; gems and minerals; rocks; meteorites; and fossil vertebrates, invertebrates and plants. These collections are the core of two permanent Museum exhibits: Prehistoric Journey and Coors Mineral Hall. There are currently 11 full and part-time staff in DES and nearly 240 volunteers working on research, collections, and in the Prehistoric Journey exhibit.

Upcoming Events

  • TBD: Paleoclimates Caspar Ammann (NCAR) Date: 10/28/2014 Location: 3 p.m., Denver Museum of Nature & Science, VIP Room Free with Museum admission, no RSVP necessary. Part of the Department of Earth Sciences Fall 2014 Colloquium Series.
  • Reconstructing Ancient Colorados with Geologically Accurate Animations James Adson, Joseph Rogers, Eric Lobato, Paul Weimer (UC-Boulder) Date: 11/17/2014 Location: 3 p.m., Denver Museum of Nature & Science, VIP Room Free with Museum admission, no RSVP necessary. Part of the Department of Earth Sciences Fall 2014 Colloquium Series.
  • On the Trail of Colorado's Newest, Oldest Sedimentary Rock Formation: Eluded at Every Turn by the Tava Sandstone Christine Siddoway (Colorado College) Date: 12/17/2014 Location: 3 p.m., Denver Museum of Nature & Science, VIP Room Free with Museum admission, no RSVP necessary. Part of the Department of Earth Sciences Fall 2014 Colloquium Series.

STAFF

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    James W. Hagadorn, PhD

    Tim and Kathryn Ryan Curator of Geology

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  • umbraco.MacroEngines.DynamicXml
    Ian Miller, PhD

    Department Chair of Earth Sciences and Curator of Paleontology

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  • Scott Sampson, PhD

    Vice President of Research & Collections and Chief Curator

  • Joseph Sertich, PhD

    Curator of Vertebrate Paleontology

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  • Carla Bradmon

    Office Manager
    Carla.Bradmon@dmns.org
    303.370.6367

  • Tony DiCroce

    Lab Assistant

  • Tom Garner

    Lab Assistant

  • Dave Gilpin

    Lab Assistant

  • Logan Ivy

    Collections Manager
    logan.ivy@dmns.org
    303.370.6474 

  • Carol Lucking

    Assistant Collections Manager
    carol.lucking@dmns.org
    303.370.8266 

  • Tom Nolan

    Lab Assistant

  • Mary Stewart

    Lab Assistant

  • Virginia Tidwell

    Lab Assistant
    virginia.tidwell@dmns.org
    303.370.8278 

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