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Earth Sciences Aragonite

The Division of Earth Sciences encompasses paleontology, mineralogy and geology.

The Division cares for more than half a million fossils of extinct vertebrates and invertebrates, primarily from the southwestern United States with an emphasis on San Bernardino and Riverside Counties. Collections of particular interest include:

  • late Pleistocene fossils from throughout the inland valley area;
  • later Pliocene to late Pleistocene fossils from throughout the Mojave Desert, including Kokoweef Cave, Antelope Cave, the Fort Irwin region, the Piute Valley, Valley Wells, Daggett, and the Victorville/Hesperia region of San Bernardino County;
  • middle Pliocene to middle Pleistocene fossils from the San Timoteo Badlands along the San Jacinto Fault Zone in Riverside County;
  • early Pliocene and early to middle Pleistocene fossils from Murrieta and Temecula along the Elsinore Fault Zone in Riverside County;
  • middle Miocene vertebrate fossils and fossil trackways from in and around the Barstow Fossil Beds, type locality for the Barstovian North American Land Mammal Age;
  • later Jurassic dinosaur trackways from the easternmost Mojave Desert.

Fossils from these sites have greatly expanded knowledge of the prehistoric animals and plants in southern California thousands and millions of years ago.

The Regional Paleontologic Locality Inventory (RPLI) is a computer database with positional and contextual data for more than 3,000 fossils localities from throughout California and the southwestern United States.  For the protection of the resources, and in accordance with the guidelines of applicable agencies, access to the RPLI is  available only to qualified researchers.

Mineral collections are from the southwest: California, Nevada, Utah, Arizona and Baja California, with a strong worldwide component for comparison. Collections are organized by mineral chemistry (modified Dana system) and by locality suites. The Dana suites have strengths in carbonates, sulfates, borates, arsenates, phosphates, vanadates and molybdates. Localities are well represented in San Bernardino County, southern Nevada and Arizona. The mineral collection includes 55,000 specimens and 10,000 micromounts.

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