Monday, January 18, 2010

Geology Hike in Sedona

We have received a break in our winter weather (although the break is apparently over this week) and hiking in Sedona is a January past time here in Northern Arizona. I joined a few friends for a geology and archaeology hike not too long ago.

Part way up on a the side of a butte, we obtained a great view of the Permian strata in Sedona. Here you can see an obvious basin floor that is cut into the Hermit Formation. The Hermit is a relatively soft unit in this area and so forms a prominent bench. This is the same surface that the city of Sedona is built upon. The overlying red sandstone belongs to the Schnebly Hill Formation and this in turn is capped by (in ascending order) the Coconino Sandstone, the Toroweap Formation (obvious cliff in the upper right of photo), and the Kaibab Formation.

A fantastic rock monument along the trail within the Schnebly Hill Formation

The leader of our hike knew of this fantastic trackway in the Schnebly Hill Formation. You can easily see toe marks of what most likely was a reptile traveling along a sandy hill. Compression structures from the weight of the animal are also evident in this outcrop.

"Close to the Edge....."

Amazing Sinagua Indian ruins were seen everywhere along this route and their placement in such "edgy" locales was a matter of curiosity to me. The obvious answer is defense but climatic comfort in the stifling summer heat and visual appeal are also possibilities. The black-capped butte in the far distance is Casner Mountain, a 14 million year old (plus or minus) lava flow that caps the Mogollon Rim.

Another view of a "fortress" ruin.

Some of the pictographs were outstanding in this ruin. We also saw a roof beam that had been cut with a stone ax.

Silhouetted by an open door and looking at the red rocks

A large ruin complex. The ruins are built into alcoves that are preferentially carved at geologic contacts, where hard, porous layers overly soft, impervious layers. Before the dissection of the rocks, groundwater affected the cementing agents and allowed for this horizontal weathering pattern.

Marching along in geology paradise

The red bark on this manzanita bush intrigued me.


  1. Nice place for a hike Wayne. I'd have built my "fortress" with a view.

  2. Great entry to your journals Wayne! Kandi and I were just in Sedona at the beginning of the month..didn't have time for hiking. This entry really makes us want to get back! Thx for posting.

  3. Hello - Found your blog searching for news of the Flagstaff snow storm as my friend lives there and our CT news has shown nothing except the CA mud and Haiti. GREAT photos - gave me wonderful perspective of the storm's intensity.

    Also enjoyed your photos of just 5 days prior. We want to move to AZ but NOT where there could be as much or more snow than we receive here....

    Thanks for the postings/photos.

    Stay safe on those ledges......

  4. Wayne! Hi!!! I met you at a Pink Jeep lecture you were giving us. I have your books. I didn't realize this was your blog until now. Lovely photos. I can't wait to discover how to access this trail and see the amazing things myself first hand. Bravo!


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