Paper to be featured by The Geological Society of America during their 2004 Annual Meeting in Denver, CO.

FORIR, Matthew D., Paleontology, Nat History Museum of the Ozarks, Forir 2056 S. Moore Rd, Springfield, MO 56807, and CIAMPAGLIO, Charles N., Geology, Wright State Univ, 7600 State Route 703, Celina, OH 45822

The Riverbluff Cave Site was discovered September 2001 during construction of a new road in southwest Greene County, Missouri. Initial exploration of the cave system uncovered thousands of trackways, dung and coprolites, hair, and numerous bones of an extinct Pleistocene fauna. The remains are those of mammoths, short-faced bears, horses, peccaries, birds, reptiles, and rodents, many of which are undescribed species. The entire length of the cave, in excess of 2000 feet of passages, contains a thick, well stratified sequence of Pleistocene sediments. Preliminary investigations show the potential for thousands of bones to be recovered once cave excavations begin.

A second, and equally important component of the site, is the surface geology. The exposed surface above the cave has one of the finest exposures of fossiliferous Mississippian limestone in the area and contains a diverse echinoderm fauna. As in the case of the subterranean portion of the site, the surface has the tremendous potential of providing new insights into the paleontology and stratigraphy of southwestern Missouri.

During the development phase of the Riverbluff Cave Site it was decided that the site was to be used as an educational tool to provide K 12 educators an opportunity in which to conduct group and individualized research. As part of this approach, a collaboration between the Riverbluff Cave Site and Wright State University, Dayton Campus and Lake Campus, has recently begun. Currently, plans are underway which would allow middle and high school educators to begin research and field work to begin during the summer of 2005.

Fieldwork and laboratory work will include excavation, data collection, documentation, preservation of fossil material, curration of specimens, instruction on casting and photographic techniques, as well as preliminary work on individualized and group projects. Projects will include the taxonomy of animals found within the cave, analysis of dung and plant material, ecological reconstructions, behavioral analysis based on track and trace fossil evidence, and the stratigraphic analysis of both the subterranean and aerial exposures of the site. The data obtained from fieldwork and laboratory projects will make essential contributions to the ever expanding paleoecological picture that is emerging from this exciting site.

Session No. 188
Authentic Research Collaborations: Bringing Scientific Researchers, K12 Schools, and Other Community Groups Together in the Scientific Endeavor
Colorado Convention Center: 603
Tuesday, November 9, 2004
Paper No. 188-2
Presentation Time: 1:45 PM-2:00 PM

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