Saturday, November 16, 2013

Scientific core drilling at Petrified Forest National Park

 Over the next five years, a scientific team led by Paul Olsen from Columbia University's Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory, will drill as many as six coreholes to depths of 1.5 km across the Colorado Plateau, including one to 1,800 feet in Petrified Forest National Park, and carry out extensive field investigations as part of the Colorado Plateau Coring Project. The goals include detailed examination of sedimentology, paleontology, paleoclimatology of Triassic-age rocks.   [Right, drill rig in the Park.   Credit, NPS]    [update 11-18-13:   the original post based on my reading of one of the project pages, indicated all 5 coreholes would be drilled in the Park. Thanks to Bill Parker for correcting this and elaborating on the purpose of the drilling. See his comment posted below]

There are numerous online sites to track activity - Park paleontologist Bill Parker's blog, Chinleana (,  the National Park Services site (, and the CPCP Facebook (
and website (

The Park opposes core drilling in the Park by exploration companies looking at the potash resources that underlie the region.   As park paleontologist Bill Parker notes, the Park Service supports scientific research that furthers the scientific and educational value of the parks.    Federal law prohibits mineral leasing and new mining in or under park lands.


  1. Only one core is planned from Petrified Forest and it is only planned for 1800 feet. The other five will be done elsewhere on the Colorado Plateau. This is a non-commercial, scientific project that will give us important information about the geology and paleontology of the area during the Triassic Period. A mandate of the National Park Service is to encourage and support scientific research that furthers the scientific and educational value of our parks.

  2. Bill, thanks for this correction. I'm updating the blog post with your information.