The photo below is an aerial photograph of the area surrounding the mouth of the AuSable River in upstate New York. The river bifurcates into two streams just prior to emptying into Lake Champlain, where they form two deltas (top of photo).
The entire area illustrated in the photo is covered by Recent sediment (less than about 15,000 years old) which has been deposited since the retreat of the glaciers. This area is a depositional environment, which can simply be defined (as the name implies) as an area or site where sediment is deposited. We can actually subdivide the area shown in the photo into three depositional environments - delta, point bar, and attached bar (this is actually further upstream in the mountains, but is included on the photo to make it easier to navigate around this site). By studying areas like the AuSable, we can create models (if you are unfamiliar with the concept of models in science see: Notes 1: What is Science) which allow us to interpret the environments in which dinosaurs lived.
First consider that depositional environments are dynamic and can produce the stratified sedimentary rocks in which we find dinosaur remains. (If you are not familiar with this, click on "From Sediment to Stratigraphy"). So, if we can determine which features (or groups of features) within certain depositional environments are definitely characteristic, we can then look for those features in sedimentary rocks. If we find those features in the rock, then we can safely say that since rock unit X displays features "a", "b" and "c" which are all characteristic of a certain depositional environment, then unit X must have formed under similar environmental conditions sometime in the past.
Using this page and its links, you can explore a number of modern depositional environments and determine their characteristic features. [NOTE: The following is not available at this time]. Once you have finished exploring, you can examine a number of dinosaur bearing rock exposures, discover their characteristic features and decide what types of environments the dinosaurs lived in!
By clicking on either the title below or the name on the photo above, you can currently explore:
have taken the Depositional Environments tour.