Characterizing the Marine Invertebrate Paleontology of Shellabarger Pass to explain the Geological Evolution of Denali National Park and Preserve

Shellabarger Pass, located in the Kichatna Mountains of the Alaska Range in the southwest corner of Denali National Park & Preserve (DENA), contains a rich assemblage of Paleozoic and possibly Mesozoic marine invertebrate fossils that may hold the key to understanding the regional geologic framework.


area is one of the least explored areas in DENA because of its remote location.

However, reconnaissance fieldwork indicates that the area provides the best fossil preservation of the widest window of time, in the smallest area within DENA.

Therefore, we seek to enter into an agreement with a collaborator to inventory these invertebrate marine fossils and decipher the regional geology.

Most of Alaska, including this area, did not always belong to the North American continent.

Over the last few hundred million years Alaska has been built by accretion of crustal fragments, many of them originally deposited 1000s of kilometers away.

Recent resource assessment, stewardship planning, and legislative efforts call for inventory, condition evaluation, and protection of paleontological resources.

The Denali Resources Stewardship Strategy and the Paleontology Resources Management Plan both call for inventory and monitoring of fossil resources.

The Paleontological Resources Preservation Act (PRPA) of 2009 serves as explicit authority for the management, protection and interpretation of paleontological resources in parks.

The PRPA specifically provides the NPS with mandates to enhance paleontological resources stewardship.

It calls for the management and protection of paleontological resources using scientific principles and expertise.

Agency: Department of the Interior

Office: National Park Service

Estimated Funding: $25,000

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Edited by: Michael Saunders

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