Saturday, June 22, 2013

Valley of Fire State Park-Part One

This May my dad and I took a road trip to California to see my sister graduate from college. We took our time and made some detours on the way there. One of those was to Valley of Fire State Park in Nevada. It is home to large outcrops of the Aztec Sandstone (time correlative to the Navaho Sandstone seen across the Colorado Plateau) and several settlements of past cultures. We drove in from the east entrance and stopped at the first outcrop with a sign.

As the sign says, it is indeed Elephant Rock.
The problem was the short trail to see it wound around so many other possible elephants, once you actually found this one, it wasn't nearly as impressive.  It was enough however to inspire us to see elephants in just about every other outcrop in the park.

That could have been an elephant in the left half of the picture...right?

On the way to the Visitor Center we saw the Seven Sisters outcrop which had a few little picnic sites situated within their crevasses.

There could be considered more than seven, but we'll go with it.
As we continued on, the mountains/hills to the left looked a little suspicious:

What are those red rocks doing under those suspicious grey upper layers?

I decided there had to be some sort of thrust or detachment fault in there and sure enough in the Visitor Center my suspicions were confirmed.  Those are grey Paleozoic carbonates and shales overlying the reds of the Mesozoic sandstones and mudstones.

Click for a larger image if you want to see the trace of the fault.
From the the Visitor Center we moved on to the White Domes Trail.  It's a short loop hike through some of the more colorful outcrops of the Aztec Sandstone.

The upper meters of the Aztec display beautiful mixtures of oranges, pinks and reds.
 The wind and water carved out some short, but deep slot canyons along the trail.

One of the slot canyons on the loop hike with a dad for scale.
 The area had been effected tectonically as there are a multitude of normal and reverse faults running through the park as well as the thrust fault mentioned earlier in the post. The evidence can be seen throughout the sandstones on this trail.

One small fault in the slot canyons. 

Deformation bands (DB2's for those in the know) displaying ladder structure.
And have I mentioned the colors yet?

Wonderful contrast of the pastels against the brilliant oranges and reds.

This ends the first portion of Valley of Fire State Park.  The second half, which was still the same day but would make for quite the long blog post, will be up in the next week!

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