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May 29, 1998
(Mines and Energy)

Minister announces staff member is part of a National Geographic Society research project

Charles J. Furey, Minister of Mines and Energy, is pleased to announce that Mr. William Douglas Boyce, palaeontologist with the Department of Mines and Energy, is part of a research team that has received a grant (no. 6100-98) from the National Geographic Society to study 485 million year old snail fossils on the Great Northern and Port au Port Peninsulas.

"This project is an excellent opportunity to learn more about the geological history of the area through the study of fossils," says Furey. "Fossils are crucial in the dating of rocks, in the timing of major geological events and in determining ancient environments, which are important components in determining the mineral and/or petroleum potential of an area."

The project, "Lower Ordovician Gastropods of Newfoundland," is part of a continuing study of gastropods, the earliest snails. Western Newfoundland limestones contain some of the oldest and best-preserved gastropod fossils in North America, representing the earliest evolutionary radiation and diversification of this class of mollusk. The gastropods will be identified and compared with those that lived elsewhere in North America during the same time interval. Mr. Boyce will provide biostratigraphic control on the fossil collections with his knowledge of fossil trilobites.

The fieldwork for this project will be completed in June and July of 1998. Some of the areas to be studied include: the eastern end of the Port au Port Peninsula, Rocky Harbour, Port au Choix-Eddies Cove West, and Boat Harbour to Cape Norman. Drs. David M. Rohr (project leader) and Elizabeth A. Measures (co-investigator), geologists from Sul Ross State University, Texas are the other participants in the project.

"The last comprehensive study of Ordorican gastropods of western Newfoundland was conducted in 1865. This research will provide geologists with a better understanding of the early evolutionary trends within the gastropod," says Furey.

The Geological Survey Division, Department of Mines and Energy and the Department of Geology, Sul Ross State University are co-sponsoring the research.

Contact: Tara Laing, Communications, (709) 729-4890

1998 05 29 10:25 a.m.

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