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Gray's Reef 2007 Expedition
Mission info July 15 2006

Applied Isotope Studies - Paleontological and geologic structure survey

Dr. Scott Noakes
University of Georgia  

In the summer of 2006 numerous dives were completed on J-Reef in search of fossilized bone fragments often found at the reef.  Near the end of the diving season, a large mammalian (cetacean) bone section was discovered under an outcrop at J-Reef.  Due to the size and shape of the bone, it is thought to be a whale jaw bone. 

fossilized mastadon ribs
Fossilized mastadon rib fragments found near Gray's Reef. (Photo: Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary)
Scallops from the overlying outcrop has been previously dated to approximately 40,000 years old.  Approximately 1.5 m of the bone was excavated last fall before the end of the diving season.  This summer, dives need to be made at J-reef to assess the condition of the bone and continue excavation.  Additional time needs to be spent on the area around the bone to determine if any other related bones exist under the ledge.

A second priority for the cruise is to inspect, photograph, and measure the scallop outcrop identified at both sections of the USS Daniel (located near J-Reef).  Upon completion of the Daniel dives, a location selected between the Daniel and J-Reef will be selected and sand will be removed from the bottom in an attempt to identify the depth of the scallop bed.  This will help determine if the scallop bed is continuous from J-Reef to the Daniel and at what depth.

Continued dives on Gray’s Reef and surrounding live-bottom areas will be completed as a general reconnaissance for fossils and artifacts.  Last year some of the dives on the live-bottom areas identified fossilized scallops and bone fragments.

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