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Marmarth Research Foundation: In the Hell Creek Formation of North Dakota

Marmarth Research Foundation

In the Hell Creek formation of North Dakota

Life at MRF

A full breakfast is provided by MRF and is served between 6 and 7 AM. Volunteers are picked up from the front of the Bunkhouse at around 7AM. Each week MRF has multiple activities going on and the morning may be spent removing overburden, carefully going through the bone layer, or prospecting. Fossils deemed to be of no scientific importance and that do not belong to an established site can end up as volunteer souvenirs. At noon, everyone breaks onsite for a brown-bag lunch, provided by MRF.

Groups leave the field between 3 and 4 and usually get back to the bunkhouse in time for a shower before a buffet-style dinner is served around 5:30 PM. Evenings are mostly free, though some lectures may be given. Many participants use this time to prepare fossils or make casts in the lab.

We plan to have three excavation sites in simultaneous operation within two or three weeks into the season. Participants will have the opportunity to work at each of the sites being excavated during their stay.


Participants live in a two-story dormitory maintained by the Marmarth Historical Society that was formerly used by railroad workers. Each floor has a communal bathroom with showers. Sheets, blankets, pillows, and towels are provided. A coin operated washer and dryer are available.

The MRF Bunkhouse
The Bunkhouse

Other Activities

The preparation laboratory is open every evening from 7 to 10PM. Many participants assist staff in cleaning and repairing bones to prepare them for scientific study and/or museum display. Anyone interested in learning how to make molds and casts of fossils will have the opportunity to do so. We arrange visits to nearby museums if bad weather prevents fieldwork.

Talks by Visiting Researchers

One of the things that sets MRF apart from other volunteer opportunities is that it attracts numerous visiting/collaborating scientists every year. Most visiting scientists will give a powerpoint presentation after dinner that discusses their work in the region.
Learn more about lectures by visiting scientists at MRF...

Palatobaena cohen
Turtle Graveyard Excavation, 2006
Hell Creek Formation

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Palatobaena cohen
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