Monday, April 19, 2010

Lecture at Montezuma Castle on the Verde Formation

I recently gave a lecture and did a book signing for over 100 people in front of an ancestral ruin in the Verde Valley called Montezuma Castle. The spectacular location of this cliff-side village draws many people to the banks of Beaver Creek, which was flowing with increased runoff from snow melt on the Mogollon Rim. The lecture covered the origins of the Verde Formation, a deposit composed mostly of white limestone that accumulated in a fluctuating lake that was being fed by numerous springs ans streams. An old idea was that this lake formed exclusively from blockage by a lava dam near the Hackberry volcano. But a more likely scenario is that the basin was formed in a tectonic sag, resulting from movement on the Verde Fault beginning about 10 Ma. The lavas may have had a small influence at specific intervals of time in blocking the Verde River but as we know from studies in the Grand Canyon, lava dams are usually short-lived phenomena. A special thanks to ranger Anne Worthington for setting this lecture up and to Jon Fistler of Western Parks and Monuments Association for arranging the book signing. Enjoy the pictures from this special day.

Also, these pictures were taken by my friends John Parsons and Bryce Babcock and are used here with their permission.

The venue for the lecture is in the NPS amphitheater with Beaver Creek running through the sycamore tress behind it....

....and Montezuma Castle in front. What a spectacular location to give a lecture.

The ruin is not actually a castle, nor was the Aztec ruler Montezuma (Moctezuma) associated with it. Rather, early pioneers gave it its colorful moniker before they understood its relation to the Sinagua ancestral group who built it in the early 1300's and abandoned it by 1425 AD.

Here I am making a point that the Verde Formation, into which Montezuma Castle was built, is a deposit formed in a tectonic sag as the modern Verde Valley was created.

My wife Helen greeting attendees after the lecture. Both Helen and Anne Worthington made supporting comments about the important role non-profit institutions like Western Parks and Monuments play in the enjoyment of these parks.

Wayne with attendee Ed Womack, who is also Helen's uncle and resides in nearby Clarkdale.

Signing a new copy of "Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau" for an attendee named Paul.

Signing a copy of the new 3rd edition of "Sedona Through Time"

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