Dinosaur Fossil Sites in Heilongjiang Province Flooded
The important dinosaur excavation sites located at the foot of mountains in Jiayin County, Heilongjiang Province (north-eastern China), are in danger of being irreparably damaged as flood waters have covered much of the area where palaeontologists and field scientists have been working. All four dinosaur dig sites have been immersed in flood waters since the Heilong river burst its banks last week. The water levels, a record high for this part of China, could damage the delicate fossil material, cause exposed fossils to break up and others to be washed away in sediments. The strata in this part of China has revealed a number of important Mesozoic vertebrate fossils, some found nowhere else on Earth. A fossil record of a rich ecosystem could be seriously damaged, with much material lost forever.
Ironically, much of the fossil material was deposited in the region as a result of the action of river water and periodic flooding, now nature seems bent on taken back what it once gave. A spokes person has stated that the losses caused by the flooding would be “inestimable”.
Over the last few years, the state has invested in a number of flood defences and water management systems near the fossil sites, but dikes built to arrest any flood waters have not been able to cope with the volume of water. Flooding has also inundated the nearby Heilong River Basin Museum. Water first entered the building on Saturday August 17th and parts of the first floor of the museum are now under over a metre of water. Staff and volunteers have been working hard to remove artefacts and specimens to the second floor in order to prevent further damage. The museum was built on an island in the river, but no one envisaged such high water levels. Some parts of the Heilong River Basin are now covered in several metres of water and the authorities are concerned that water levels could rise further leading to more damage to the Province’s infrastructure and the important fossil rich strata of the area.
Chinese state media has reported that at least 105 people have died and a further 115 are missing after floods and a typhoon hit parts of China. Heavy rain in the north-east of the country has been falling since Wednesday of last week and this has caused substantial flooding and devastation. Typhoon Utor hit southern China, making landfall in Guangdong Province and this has caused devastation and at least a further 22 people have lost their lives.
Described as some of the worst flooding seen in living memory, volunteers, officials and state workers are working hard to strengthen flood defences in those parts of the country affected.