Masthead banner of Park Science: Integrating Research and Resource Management in the National Parks; ISSN 1090-9966; link to current issue
Volume 29
Number 1
Spring-Summer 2012
Arrowhead symbol of the National Park Service, U.S. Department of the Interior
Home + About + Author Guidelines + Archive + Subscribe +  
Macro photo of marine invertebrate fossils from Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska. Paleoblitz
Uncovering the fossil record of the national parks
By Vincent L. Santucci, Justin S. Tweet, and Jason P. Kenworthy
Published: 4 Sep 2015 (online)  •  14 Sep 2015 (in print)
Inventory highlights
About the authors
+ PDF +

Over the past decade, a team of National Park Service (NPS) paleontologists and partners has been helping to uncover and record a 1-billion-year fossil record of life preserved throughout the National Park System. Fossilized remains or traces of ancient plants, invertebrates, vertebrates, and microbes have been documented in at least 237 national parks in this first system-wide paleontological resource inventory (fig. 1). Through intensive research and data mining that could be regarded as “paleoblitzes,” scientists have been collecting, compiling, and synthesizing baseline paleontological resource data, greatly expanding our knowledge and understanding of the scope, significance, and distribution of national park fossils. Additionally, this inventory work addresses provisions of the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act (2009) that enhance our abilities to manage, protect, interpret, and better undertake scientific research on park fossils.

The National Park Service initiated this system-wide paleontological resource inventory in 2001, based upon a plan to incrementally and systematically survey the 32 networks of parks in the Inventory and Monitoring (I&M) Program. As surveys progressed scientists wrote paleontological resource inventory reports for each I&M network, summarizing fossil resources for each park in the network. These summaries highlight park geology, known and potential paleontological resources, fossil specimens kept in NPS museum collections or at outside repositories, resource management issues, comprehensive bibliographies, and a list of recommendations for future work aimed at conserving these resources. In 2002, the first such report—for the Northern Colorado Plateau Network—was completed. Last December the Central Alaska Network was the final piece and now all 32 networks have been inventoried. As a result of this work, the number of parks in the National Park System identified with paleontological resources essentially doubled.

Return to top

This page updated:  10 September 2012

Page 1 of 3 • Next +
From the Editor
Information Crossfile
In Focus
Notes from Abroad
Field Moment
Masthead Information
Half Dome visitor use management
Using GIS analysis to help determine Civil War cannon locations in Manassas National Battlefield Park
Hot research/Cool science: An investigation of permafrost in a changing alpine environment
Live Interactive Virtual Explorations provide students with glimpse of life at the Old Point Loma Lighthouse in the late 1800s
Boston Harbor Islands All Taxa Biodiversity Inventory
The challenges of documenting biodiversity
Monitoring park landscape dynamics through NPScape: Saguaro National Park
Finding and acquiring NPScape products
Mitigating encroachment of park experiences
Developing an accessible methodology for monitoring visitor use patterns in open landscapes of Yosemite National Park
Understanding endangered plant species population changes at Eureka Dunes, Death Valley National Park
Related Publications + Explore Nature + + Privacy + Disclaimer + Contact Editor
Web Site Last Updated: 16 September 2015