Posted by: paulgarner | July 20, 2010

Grand Canyon: Hermit Trail

Before leaving Sedona, we had the opportunity to drive up the Schnebly Hill Road to examine another geological section. We collected samples of three of the four members of the Schnebly Hill Formation exposed by the roadside: the Bell Rock, Fort Apache and Sycamore Pass Members. Then we sampled the section of Coconino Sandstone above the Schnebly Hill. The Coconino here was poorly lithified and formed slopes instead of the more usual cliffs. At another locality outside Sedona we saw the Rancho Rojo Member of the Schnebly Hill Formation, the lowest unit in the formation. However, we didn’t collect samples, having already done that at Red Tank Draw back in 2007.

Then it was on to Grand Canyon, where we met with Leonard Brand and two students studying with him this summer. Together we hiked the Hermit Trail down to the contact of the Coconino Sandstone with the underlying Hermit Formation (there’s no Schnebly Hill here). Making our way back up the trail, we studied the various cross-bedded packages that make up the section and the stratigraphic distribution of the fossil vertebrate tracks found within some of them. We also collected over fifty strikes and dips, a substantial addition to our growing database. It was very helpful to have Leonard Brand with us, because he has been studying the Coconino Sandstone and its vertebrate tracks for much longer than we have. Fortunately the storm that appeared over the north rim of the canyon passed us by, meaning that rain didn’t stop play!

Tomorrow we’re hiking back into the canyon, this time down the Hance Trail.

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