The Pipe Creek Sinkhole is the first Tertiary-age deposit ever discovered in the interior of the eastern half of North America!
Site Name: Pipe Creek Junior Sinkhole
Location: Grant County, Indiana
Geologic Age: Tertiary (Hemphillian) - circa 5 million years before present
The Pipe Creek Jr. Sinkhole occurs within limestone of a Silurian reef. The entire site is within the glaciated region of Indiana and was covered with glacial diamicton to an average depth of about 5 meters. Glacial diamicton has been removed, and limestone is being quarried from the site. It was during quarry operations that the sinkhole was discovered.
Unique Features:The Pipe Creek Sinkhole has yielded fossils of many vertebrate animals, including amphibians, reptiles, and mammals, as well as invertebrates, and numerous plant remains. The site represents the very first Tertiary Age continental fossil biota from the interior of the eastern half of North America.
Staff and volunteers of the Indiana State Museum as well as students and faculty from IPFW and Hillsdale College conduct systematic excavations of the Pipe Creek Sinkhole by establishing quadrats and digging trenches.
Some of the bulk material removed from trenches and quadrats is carefully washed through screens in the field to recover small bones and plant remains.
Reconstructing the Pipe Creek Sinkhole:
An artist's conception of the Pipe Creek Sinkhole 5 million years ago!
Dr. James O. Farlow is the project director for research on the Pipe Creek Sinkhole. He is also coordinating zoological studies with several other scientists specializing in various taxa.
Dr. Anthony Swinehart is coordinator of botanical studies for the Pipe Creek Sinkhole research.
Dr. Jack Sunderman from the Department of Geosciences at IPFW is project co-director and is coordinating geological studies on the Pipe Creek Sinkhole.
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