An Exploration Hike

To the Fossil Creek Area

Supai Group Outcrop

Updated 2/8/09


There are two primarily localities, and several small sized outcrops of the Permian/Pennsylvanian Supai formation on the Mogollon Rim, and several localities near Midgley Bridge in Sedona. On the Rim, we have the Christopher Creek uranium mine which has produced some superb plants such as Walchia conifers, Pecopteris ferns, pyritized clams, annelid shells, and shark coprolites. The second major locality is all along the length of Fossil Creek near Strawberry. Here we have found Walchia, cordiates leaves, some ferns, and of course the rarest of rare - Permian petrified wood. This is also a unique locality in that we have found unaltered Permian wood inside coal balls in the shales, most of it still floats in the water.

On this expedition, we wanted to re locate the outcrops, and survey for others to visit on a future trip. We collected some neat plant material and of course the icing on the cake - a small handful of petrified wood.

Heading down to the Supai Click on the Thumbnails for a larger size
  Going down the hiking trail toward Fossil Creek, the Supai formation outcroppings are seen ahead as a gray band in the red Schnebly Hill Formation.
  A bit icy at the top, and very steep. Dawn hikes ahead through the red sandstone beds of the Schnebly hill formation, Sycamore Pass member which consists of primarily eolian sandstones, some sandy shales, and occasional shales.
  Up ahead you can see the limestone band below marking the Permian Fort Apache formation, and above the Sycamore pass member of the Schnebly Hill formation forming dramatic cliffs.
  Closing in on the gray Supai outcrops, which continue in isolated outcrops all along the Fossil Creek Canyon.
  A coal seam along the way once we got into the Supai. It is very fissile, and breaks apart very easily.
  At our coal shale locality, the white cliffs contain carbonized remains of plants from the Pennsylvanian / Permian boundary. There is debate what the actual age is, however we are inclined to lean toward late Permian due to the type of plant material found here.
  Dawn searches for the Permian petrified wood found here. This is the ONLY location in Arizona we have ever found Permian wood.

   At another hill side site, we found more Permian Wood, and of course some great scenery!

The Fossils From the Survey trip

  Numerous specimens of Cordiates leaves were found here. They are strap like leaves from a tall primitive seed fern like tree.
  Cordiates on left, with part of a Calamities Suckowi impression on the right. The Calamities are much less abundant here than in Christopher Creek.
  Cordiates leaf carbonized impression.
  Carbonized limb impression from unknown plant.
  Part of Calamities Suckowi impression, it is about 2 inches across.
  Two calamities stems side by side.
  Mold from which we pulled a calamities limb cast from - see two pictures down.
  The trips most important find for plants, a Walchia conifer frond. This was one of the very first conifer trees to inhabit the earth.
  These are all limb casts, 3 dimensional copies of the original limbs, flattened by compression a bit. The one on the lower right is coated with azurite, a blue mineral based on copper.
  We found plenty of copper carbonates here, mainly malachite and azurite.
  From the coal seam along the way on the trail, we pulled these nice specimens, about three inches long each from the outcrop. It is very delicate, and falls apart very easily. This is a very low grade coal. I did not find any plant impressions in the shales above the coal however.
  Close up of the coal sheet I pulled out of the bed.
  In side view, the coal can be seen to be very fissile and breaks apart along some thin bedding planes. It is almost like paper in consistency.
  Another amusing find was these manganese nodules. They were very hard and were metallic inside. They also were much heavier than any other rocks around. We find these typically in marine sediments, but here we are not sure why.
  I cracked open this manganese nodule, and you can see the metallic interior. It feels like a chunk of iron.
  Found at the outcrop as well were blades of Selenite, clear gypsum crystals which formed in the coal layers.
  The main prize found here are small handfuls of Permian petrified wood! No other localities on the Rim have we found Permian wood. It is permineralized with silica, and contains all of its original cell structure preserved in excellent detail.
  Strangely enough, we also found a travertine cave deposit along the trail, tertiary in age with fossil aquatic reeds in them. This might have been the Supai limestones dissolving and percolating through the soil to form these deposits. The lime may have also come from the overlaying Fort Apache Limestone.
  Fossil reeds in the travertine.
  This could be a Cordiates leaf, but it has a central axis so its identification is in doubt.
Some microscope images and close ups
  Petrified wood with some yellow limonite, and a layer of smoky quartz on top.
  Individual cell structures can be seen in this higher powered zoom in the wood.
  Some of the wood had inter layers of quartz between the wood.
  Some of the wood was completely crystallized in the center.
  Stunning yellow coloration in this fine piece of Permian wood.
  Typical piece of Permian wood, about 1.5 inches long. Mostly browns and yellows were the colors.
  High powered close up of the Malachite copper mineral we found in the coal beds.
  Close up of the Azurite copper mineral in the beds.
  Stunning blues in the Azurites!
  The Coal had small shiny mica like flakes embedded, It fell apart in small flake like pieces.
  Microscope close up of the manganese nodule split open, showing the metallic appearance.
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