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Mosaics in Science Program - Position Description
Public Land Name: Great Basin National Park
Position Title: Field Paleontologist
Agency: NPS
Position ID Number: 2012043
Location: Baker, NV
Position Description: The GeoCorps participant will be responsible for reconnaissance searching, GPS mapping, and photo documentation for paleontological resources in Cambrian to Devonian age rock units in the park’s backcountry. Specifically, most of the field effort will involve searching for fossil materials in bedrock and colluvium on steep, mixed soil and rock ridges and slopes. This will include finding, identifying, photographing, and capturing accurate GPS coordinates of marine invertebrate body and trace fossils on a site-by-site basis. Participants will make numerous one-day field traverses of target areas, taking field notes on physical conditions, relative fossil concentrations, and boundaries of each site; documenting each find by logging GPS coordinates, assigning field reference numbers, and photographing or drawing the feature(s); and capturing observations on other pertinent data. Some portions of the effort (up to 10% of the time) may consist of using a GPS unit to map contacts of key stratigraphic units and providing accurate locations of measured sections using GPS and topographic maps. Participants will use about 40% of the time to populate Excel spreadsheets that organize field observational data, as well as download and organize photographs for entry into the park’s geology database. Participants may prepare electronic renditions of stratigraphic sections to document particularly concentrated fossil zones, noting relationships of internal depositional features and fossil distribution. Participants may also occasionally assist the park Resource Management division in activities regarding outside researcher efforts or performing fossil salvage operations during maintenance or construction work. Additional assignments may include in-office management of collected geological specimens and related databases. This position is offered through a partnership with the National Park Service’s Geoscientists-in-the-Parks Program, and The Geological Society of America’s GeoCorps America Program. There is one position available under this description at this location during this season.
Materials to be produced by participant: Excel spreadsheets containing data on type of fossils, rock units, GPS coordinates, photographs, and field reference numbers among others. Original field notes that will be produced remain property of the NPS. Illustrations of stratigraphic sections keyed with fossil occurrence positions and field numbers may be produced. A final report is not required, but all field data gathered during the participant's tenure must be organized and reported.
Qualifications: The preferred candidate will be a graduate or upper level undergraduate geoscience student with completed course work in historical geology, paleontology, sedimentology, stratigraphy, and field methods & mapping. Additional course work in GIS applications to geological problems and experience using GPS units and post-processing software would make the candidate more competitive. Persons with M.S. or Ph.D. in a geoscience field are encouraged to apply. The participants should be able to work well both in the office and in the field with minor supervision, have good topographic and geologic map reading and orienteering skills, be able to effectively use moderately complex GPS units, and be in very strong physical shape so as to be able to perform assignments during several days per week of hiking cross-country in a rugged mountain environment. Computer skills in Microsoft Excel are required. Applicant must have a valid driver’s license and good driving record. Prior to starting this position a government security background clearance will be required.
Position Dates: May 11 – August 25, with slightly flexible start/end dates.
Position Duration: 12 weeks
Stipend: $2,750
Travel Allowance:
(For non-local candidates)
Housing Allowance: $0
Housing Details: Housing will be provided at no cost to the participant. Housing is furnished as a shared living situation (with generally 1-2 roommates) with a private bedroom, and communal kitchen (including cookware and dishes), living room, and bathroom. Shared laundry facilities are available free of charge. Access to private or after-hours internet is not provided, but may be purchased through a local provider. Cell phone reception may be intermittent. Some field work might involve remote backcountry camping, therefore applicants must also be prepared to backpack in rugged terrain. Backpacking and camping gear (backpack, tent, sleeping bag, stove, cooking utensils, etc.) can be supplied by the park. Personal camping gear may be used at participants’ option. While not necessary, it is highly recommended that the participant drive a personal vehicle due to the long distances between the park and sources of groceries and supplies. Park vehicles are not available for personal use.
Great Basin National Park contains 77,082 acres, of which approximately 50% is underlain by variably fossiliferous Early-Middle Paleozoic carbonate and siliciclastic rock units. The park lies within the heart of the Basin and Range physiographic province, straddling the mountainous crest of the southern Snake Range. Total relief in the park exceeds 7000 feet and includes the second highest point in Nevada at 13,063 feet above MSL. The terrain is generally extremely rugged and steep with vegetation ranging from desert sagebrush through pinyon-juniper hills and heavily forested alpine canyons and mountainsides, to bare and windy alpine tundra above tree line. Classical geologic areas such as the Confusion Range, Ibex Range, and the Sevier Basin are within a short driving distance.
Work Environment: Field work will be performed in an outdoor backcountry environment where the terrain is moderately-sloped to steeply uneven and rocky. Approaches are frequently covered with thick vegetation in higher elevations and unfriendly desert vegetation at lower elevations. Assignments involve tasks that include moderate to strenuous physical exertion (long periods of standing, hiking, or climbing). Weather is moderate, but summers are usually warm to hot, sunny, and dry with relatively clear conditions at lower elevations, while higher elevations may be cooler and occasionally cloudy and windy. Rain and thunderstorms occur occasionally, but light snow could fall at higher elevations even in midsummer. Sturdy footwear is a must and raingear is recommended. Much of the inventory area is on exposed ridges and slopes where weather might change rapidly. Data reporting will occur in an office environment on an assigned computer. Park headquarters are near Baker, NV, about 300 miles north of Las Vegas, NV, and 250 miles southwest of Salt Lake City, UT. The closest supply town is Ely, NV, 67 miles away. More options for supplies and entertainment are available in Cedar City, UT, about a three hour drive away.
# of current Applicants: 17

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: Gorden Bell
Title: Environmental Protection Specialist
Street Address: 100 Great Basin National Park
City/State/Zip: Baker, NV 89311
Phone: (775) 234-7540
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