Geologist Kate Zeigler

Photo: Geologist Kate Zeigler will speak on paleontological discoveries at Snyder Quarry, near Abiquiu.

by George Zamora

SOCORRO, N.M., May 5, 2004 – New Mexico Tech’s Joseph R. Skeen Library and the New Mexico Museum of Natural History (NMMNH) are teaming up to kick off a new ongoing series of “on-loan” exhibits and lectures at the university library, with an inaugural exhibit and lecture on a prehistoric New Mexico wildfire scheduled for Wednesday, May 12.

Kate Zeigler, a University of New Mexico doctoral candidate who works at the NMMNH, will speak on “Understanding the Formation of the Snyder Quarry: A Late Triassic Wildfire” at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 12, in the Skeen Library’s Tripp Conference Room. The lecture is free and open to the public.

Zeigler’s multi-media presentation will detail her extensive lab research and field work on the Snyder quarry, a paleontological excavation site located near Abiquiu, New Mexico, that has yielded fossilized remains of a wide assortment of prehistoric creatures, including phytosaurs, aetosaurs, therapod dinosaurs, reptiles, fishes, and bivalves.

Her talk (which also was the subject of her master’s thesis) will focus on the sedimentology of the quarry, which reveals that this unusual deposit of skeletal and plant materials is largely the result of a catastrophic wildfire that once swept through the area, quickly consuming both flora and fauna with its intense heat.

The related exhibit at the Skeen Library, which will include fossil specimens from the Snyder dig, as well as several large hanging panels with information on prehistoric wildfires, will be on display at the library for about three months.

Exhibits and lectures planned for ensuing months at the Skeen Library will cover a variety of historical, scientific, cultural, and contemporary topics and issues of interest to library patrons and others.

The next exhibit and lecture in the series, which is already in the planning stages, will focus on riparian environments and habitats along the Rio Grande.