Track 2: DESIGN - PLANNING THE CONSERVATION OF HISTORIC PLACES / Volet 2 : Conception - Planifier la conservation de lieux historiques

Conservation assessment and experimental mechanical pinning treatment of petrified sequoia wood stumps at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument

Saturday, October 14
1:30 PM - 3:00 PM

This research assesses the structural decay of nine silicified fossil stumps on the Petrified Forest Loop at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument in central Colorado, and evaluates the use of mechanical pinning as a remedial conservation treatment. Condition assessment was established through an integrated review of archival documents related to the site’s excavation and display history, field examination, and petrographic analysis, among other laboratory material characterizations. The story of this Eocene-epoch fossil forest begins with the violent burial of a Sequoia affinis paleo-forest from a volcanic mudflow (lahar) and subsequent cycles of lacustrine submerging and desiccation which likely caused organic materials to alternately rot and silicify. These trees were once 300+ and would have rivaled the giants of coastal redwood & Sierra Nevada Sequoiadendron today, possibly being an ancestor of both. As part of the geological record, these stumps underwent immense pressure, mineralization, and seismic trauma. By the late-nineteenth century settlers and early paleontologists began to excavate the stumps, sometimes by dynamite, and pilfer wood alongside the area’s famous fossil-laden shale beds. A popular tourist site for collection and display, the site was ultimately acquired and protected by the National Park Service and today is one of the most important paleo-forest parks in the world. A highlight of visitation, many stumps are actively deteriorating as a result of complex mechanisms resulting in active detachment and loss. Reversible mechanical pinning offers a viable method of remedial structural repair to the stumps’ delaminating lamellar fabric with minimal compromise to their primary value as a significant paleontological resource.

Learning Objectives:

Evan Oxland, MSHP

Graduate
University of Pennsylvania

Evan Oxland has a Bachelor of Humanities (Carleton) Ottawa, an MA in History of Designed Landscapes (Bristol) UK, and an MSc. in Building Conservation (UPenn) Philadelphia. He has professional conservation experience in seven countries on four continents in roles ranging from stonemason, plaster conservator, business owner, heritage consultant, and as a recipient of a travel-research scholarship in Japan from ADAM Architecture. He is interested in conservation science, history of building technologies, and how human-venerated craft is balanced with the material analysis, diagnosis, and treatment of a conservators fabric-centered approach. He is an architectural conservator with the Province of Alberta.

Presentation(s):

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Keith Blades

Principal
Keith Blades Consultant in the Conservation of Historic Buildings Incorporated

Keith Blades Biography

Keith Blades commenced his career in the United Kingdom working with the Directorate of Ancient Monuments and Historic Buildings. [Now Historic England]

In over 40 years of practice in conservation he has worked with architectural firms and the Canadian Federal Government, where he set up a team of conservation masons for work on the Parliament Buildings.

He obtained an MA in Conservation Studies from the University of York and for the past 25 years has based his practice on a mix of consulting, teaching and practical work in the field of masonry conservation.

Presentation(s):

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Conservation assessment and experimental mechanical pinning treatment of petrified sequoia wood stumps at Florissant Fossil Beds National Monument



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