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Mosaics in Science Program - Position Description
Public Land Name: White Sands National Monument
Position Title: Field Paleontologist [Diversity Internship]
Agency: NPS
Position ID Number: 2012075
Location: Alamogordo, NM
Position Description: Working under the supervision of the park’s Resource Manager, the GeoCorps participant will conduct an on-the-ground paleontological survey of the White Sands National Monument . The participant will examine exposed outcrops of the Otero Formation on the monument documenting and finding new fossilized track ways, as well as bones and teeth of both large mammals and smaller vertebrates and shells of invertebrates. All fossils discovered would be documented using a hand-held GPS unit to establish UTM coordinates (NAD 83 datum) and elevation, and would also be located within the local stratigraphic section of the Otero Formation, GPS equipment provided by the National Park Service. The participant will excavate fossils that are at risk due to rapid weathering using standardized data collection procedures and equipment; uses judgment to apply precedents and established techniques to new situations. This position is offered through the Geological Society of America’s GeoCorps America Program in partnership with the National Park Service’s Geoscientists-in-the-Parks Program.
Materials to be produced by participant: The final product will include a hand-drawn maps of fossils located within the local strata, original field notes, a GIS layer of clearly identified fossils and track locations point , and associated GPS meda data. Maps and computer access will be provided by the National Park Service.
Qualifications: Seeking applicants with a minimum of a bachelors degree in geology. Masters degree or higher or experience doing field paleontology are preferred. Professionals are also encouraged to apply. Substantial practical and technical knowledge of the methods, procedures, and technology of paleontology, and the skill to apply that knowledge with only general supervision in order to solve practical problems in a wide range of functions. Knowledge of sampling and data collection techniques, including operation of testing and sampling equipment, physical analysis methods, etc. Ability to follow detailed sampling and laboratory procedures, train others to accurately follow procedures, and recognize departures from established quality control/quality assurance guidelines. Basic understanding of the principles and techniques of geology and paleontology to support the broader natural resource function. Knowledge of research techniques and ability to perform research. Skill in using basic hand tools. Ability to communicate information in a clear and concise manner, including the ability to develop reports and present information. Knowledge of database management, word processing, and specialized software programs essential to natural resource management activities. Applicant must have a valid driver’s license and a good driving record. Prior to starting this position a government security background clearance will be required.
Position Dates: October- Decemebr, start/end dates flexible
Position Duration: 12 weeks
Stipend: $2,750
Travel Allowance:
(For non-local candidates)
Housing Allowance: $0 (free housing) or $1,500 housing allowance
Housing Details: The housing arrangement has yet to be determined, but will involve one of the following: 1. Free housing may be provided on site. OR 2. A housing stipend of $1,500 will be provided for the participant to use to find their own local housing. Agency staff would be able to provide general guidance to help the participant find suitable local housing.
This position is primarily field based and the participant will need to bring items such as hiking boots, hat, bottles, and other equipment appropriate for field work in hot, dry weather. Field work will be in rugged terrain, in areas inaccessible to motorized vehicles. Temperatures at the monument during the summer can be in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit. To accommodate work in these high temperatures, the applicant will be expected to begin field work in the early morning and return in the early afternoon. The monument is located 15 miles to the west of Alamogordo, New Mexico (population 30,000) and 50 miles east of Las Cruces, New Mexico (population 180,000). Regional airports are located in El Paso, Texas, 90 miles to the south.
Work Environment: The monument is located in the Tularosa Valley in southern New Mexico. A large lake was present in the Tularosa Valley during the latter part of the Ice Age (Pleistocene epoch) between 10,000 and 30,000 years ago, called Pleistocene Lake Otero (Allen, 2005). Sediments deposited by Pleistocene Lake Otero have been referred to a geological unit named the Otero Formation (Lucas and Hawley, 2002). The presence of a permanent freshwater lake in the Tularosa Valley during the Ice Age attracted herds of large ungulates, including mammoths, horses, and camels, that came to drink and feed on the nutritious grasses that grew along the shore of the lake. Freshwater organisms inhabited the lake itself, including fish, frogs, salamanders, and various groups of invertebrates including ostracodes, clams, and snails. In the last three years hundreds on previously unknown fossilized camel, large In the last three years hundreds of previously unknown fossilized camel, large proboscideans, and predatory tracks (possibly from a large cat or dyer wolf) have been discovered. Prior to this time, the fossilized tracks were not known to occur on the monument. Since the first discovery, many new tracks have been exposed as wind and rain removes the sand that is covering them, unfortunately once the tracks become exposed, they rapidly erode, and are gone within two years of being uncovered.
# of current Applicants: 9

If you have questions about the application and selection process, please contact Matthew Dawson.  If you have questions about any aspect of the position — description, qualifications, housing, dates — please contact the primary or secondary contact below. The Primary and Secondary Contacts will not accept application materials sent to them via e-mail, mail, fax, etc. See the full Mosaic program details at the Mosaics in Science home-page.

Contact Name: David Bustos
Title: Resource Manager
Street Address: P.O. Box 1086
City/State/Zip: Holloman AFB, NM 88330
Phone: (575) 679-2599
Contact Name: .
Title: .
Street Address: P.O. Box 1086
City/State/Zip: Holloman AFB, NM 88330
Phone: (575) 679-2599