Rex Dalton, in Nature, noted that the 3.7 million year old fossil footprint tracks at Laetoli are in danger due to erosion caused by heavier than normal rainfall:
The protective layer now in place was constructed by specialists from the Getty Conservation Institute in Los Angeles. A layer of dirt had been placed over the footprints by researchers such as Leakey and White. But acacia seeds weren’t sifted out of the soil, so trees started growing, threatening to tear apart the layer of hardened volcanic ash. Getty conservationists Neville Agnew and Martha Demas removed the old layer and growth, covered the prints with a special fabric mat designed to limit water intrusion, then covered this with cleaned soil and rocks. This worked well until the past couple of years, when increased rains filled the surrounding run-off ditches with silt, leading to erosion exposing the mat’s edges. All agree that the mat needs to be covered swiftly, in case, for example, local tribespeople attempt to remove it for other uses. But a long-term solution is still up for debate.
Tim White and Terry Harrison think the trackways should be cut out of the hillside and installed in a museum. Others propose building a museum at the site. Let’s hope something is done before it is too late!