California Geology Magazine September 1990 | Sequoia Sempervirens | Rock (Geology)


. ;
Petrified Forest

Secretary lot RasOUTces
DI\lIlrlmenl 01 ConsenralJOn RANDALL M WARD
O,v,akInol MI ...s& Geology JAMESF DAVIS
SI81e GooIog'!I
In This Issue I
MAIL ORDER FORM .. ,........................ . , 215
Grapllocs and Oesogn:
PubioeatlOf\s SUpefVI$Ol':
Don Dupias
LouISe Huckaby
Jell Tamberl
Cover: Circa 1870 photo of a fossilized tree trunk In the Petrified Forest, Sonoma
County. northern CaJilornia Coast Ranges. This parlt. has been a popular ttlUnst
attraction Since the 18OOs. ·Petrified CharUe: the onginal owner of the Petrified
Forest is to the back and nght olthe log with illS pet goat. Remains of several
well·preserved fOSSIlIZed redwood Irees that were buned by volcaniC debris
dunng the PlIOCene Epoctl have been unearthed and are on display in the
Petnfied FOl"est An artlde aboul th,s par1l. starts on page 195. Photo by Taber.
counesy 01 the Les Youngs Photo CollectIon.
1.,S,..."StrMl. Room 1,.1
sacr_. CAgsal.
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Seplembel' 199ONoIume 44/Number 9
CGEOA 44 (9) 193·216 (1990)
I Announcement I
South Coast Geological
Society Field Trip
The South Coast Geological Society is
hosling a flekl trip to the Colorado Exten-
sional Terra,n and Whipple Mountains of
southeastern C31ifomia The trip wiD be led
by Greg Davis on October 26. 27. and 28.
1990. information and further
details are cwailable by writing
Sooth Geological Society
clo John Foster
Department of Sciences..
California State Univers,ty
Fullerton. CA 92025
or caB, (714)449-7096
California's Fossil Forest
Sonoma County
Division of Mines and Geology, Sacramento
Franz Valley
Road Sl. Helena
Mark Wast
Figure I lOCOT'on maps 01 1M Pelrilie<! Fore.1.
There ore over 5,100 notive of
pion!! in Coli/ornia-more Ipeeie. thon in any
other .tole. Thi. ,tote i. fortunote to hove such
diversity dimDle, geology, geography,
ond the force. of evolution combine to form"
variety of pflysicolenvi,onments. The 1I0roi
history of California 'pOnl ten. of million. of
year •. Fo••il remains of plonh provide in,ight
inlO how the environment, lond.cope. and li/"
in on<:e,I,gl Coliloroio changed over geologic
'ime, Thi. article describe. one of the finur
of" Pliocene perrilted fore,l in the
world. Thi. oncient fore,t i, located in the
no,thern Coliloroio COOl! Roog,,' ond ho.
been 0 populo, lou".' olt,oclion "nee 'he
I BOO•. Vi,i'on 10 lhe Pel,ilied Fo,est con
envi.oge lor them.elve. how moje"ie
,edwood Irees once lo,esred this oreo
mo,e Ihon J million yeo.. ogo . editor.

o 10
eriods of intense volcanic activity characterized the
region northeast of San Francisco Bay during the
Pliocene Epoch. During periods of volcanic quiescence
soils formed, forests grew. and now extinct zebra-like
horses. hyena-like dogs. and giant tortoises roamed the
region (Stirton. 1951). This area had a cooler and more
moist climate than it does today. Here. an ancestral
forest was felled and buried in volcanic ash almost three
and a half million years ago. This well preserved
petrified forest is a rare example of Pliocene flora in
The fossilized forest was reportedly discovered in the
1850s (Hoover. 1937) but lay undisturbed until 1871
when Charles Evans found the fossilized trees and began
excavating them from their hardened volcanic ash en-
casement. Petrified wood was found scattered along a
strip of land 17 miles long by one mile wide on the west-
ern side of the ridge that defines the Napa/Sonoma
County line in the vicinity of Calistoga (Caton, 1873).
Today a part of this strip of land is a privately owned
park (Petrified Forest) where visitors can see the re-
mains of an ancient redwood forest (Figure 1).
F't.oto 2 lJrM;orthtng _ follill_ In 1930 Excovohng ....... fo..illree...
(ltd.-. rhe YOkonic: matrix hoI hardened 10 sollCl .oek
1'f>oIo (DUtIes,. 01 If.. '.",',«1f ..esl Mu_

PhoIo 1 Sleoeopt.o!o 01_ oIlhe rrees in the Perr,F;ed Forl!l.l, c;reo 1870s
PeI,iloed Fottil .... p<»e wlm Perrilted Chorlie, who 10 lhe "gll!"";!h
hi, pel goot hIm. Sle<eophoto. __ populor during the !ole 1800s
onc! eorly 190Ch They ore mode by JokIng two pholographs 01 ,lightly
different angles onc! plcxirog r+.em.ide by.ide When Ylewed precisely, the
bra,n combin.u the two photo. 10 produce 0 tIlr_dimensionai image !hot
appean life·lik. Normolly, s*eophoto. are viewed wim 0 stereoscope. which
tonsish oIlWO rnognifying len5el "I' in a loIdillQ metol frame HoweYI!r, it i.
pouib!e wim prOd'C' to view thi. kind 01 photo poir "llleoKopicolly wimour
rhe u'<l of a .lereoKope
Look lor w.reroll«ond. at (I dilron! objed, tl,en I>oId the well illuminated
stereophoto in your line 01 ",iew on greo in the photo tho, contrOl1s
with ItI .,mounding, ond "ore The three dimensionol image wil! be
blurred or li"I, !wI olter (I .!Io'l while it should come into foeu•. Photo by
rober. courtesy of the I". Youngs Pharo COI/KrjOn
Charles Evans began excavations of the partially ex-
posed fossil trees in 1871 and was soon charging visitors
50 cents to see the unearthed logs (Photo 1). Known also
as Charles Edwards and Charles Peterson. he was popu-
larly dubbed "PetrifIed Charlie." His Petrified Forest be-
came a tourist attraction luring people from nearby Calis-
toga Springs. a popular hot springs resort. Among these
visitors was the noted author Robert Louis Stevenson who.
by 1890. had immortalized Petrified Charlie in The Sil-
verado Squatlers (Stevenson. 1974):
-The proprietor was a brave old white-faced Swede.
He had wandered this way. Heaven knows how. and
taken up his acres-I forget how many years ago-ol/
alone. benl double with sciatica. and with six bits in his
pocker and an axe upon his shoulder. Long. useless
years of seafaring had thus discharged him at the end.
penniless and sick. Withouf doubt he had cried his luck
at Ihe diggings. and gol no good from thaI: without
doubl he had loved the boll/e. and lived the life of Jack

"l1li Photo 3 Excoyoting the "Monarch" Of "Tunnel
Tlee" (note mon wOfking ot the for end of the
tunnel). The exposed length 01 thil log is obout
100 f.....l, only (Ibo<"t holl 01 the eltilTl(lted totol
length pholo courtesy of Ihe Pelrified Forest
Photo 4 Museum ond nolure Slore in the Ollie
8ock.. house tOOl W(IS built in 1915
ashore. Bur or the end of rhese ad·
venlures. here he came: and. Ihe
place hilling his fancy. down he sat
to make a new life of iI. far from
crimps and rhe salt sea. ~
Asked by Stevenson if he was sur-
prised at finding the petrified wood on
his land. Charlie replied:
~ 'Surprised? No! Whar would
I be surprised about? What did I
know about perrifactlons-following
the sea? Perrlfacrion! There was no
such word in my language! f knew
about putrefaction. though! f
thought II was a slone: and so
would you, if you was cleaning up
pasture. .~
The Hand-Book of Calistoga
Springs. or, Lirtle Geysers. published
in 1871. briefly describes the Petrified
Forest and includes a detailed article
on Ihe same subject by Yale College
Professor. O. C. Marsh (Anonymous,
In the book. An lIIustrared History
of Sonoma County, California. pub-
lished in 1889, an unknown author
summarizes the declarations of thou-
sands of visitors to the Forest who
·pronounced il not only one of the
great wonders of the world. but 'one
of the prettiest places' in the hills of
California'" This account gives in-
structions for reaching the site by
stagecoach and concludes: ~ N o East-
ern or European tourist can truly say
that he 'has done Califomia' unless he
has seen the Petrified Forest
mous, 1889).
The Petrified Forest changed owner-
ship several times after Petrified Char-
lie sold it around 1880. Ollie Bockee
purchased the property in about 1910
and she immediately began further ex-
cavations to uncover some of the par-
tially buried trees (Photo 2). A tunnel
was dug to expose the trunk of a fossil
redwood Ihat julled from a hillside
{Photo 3}. The tree was found to have
a partial length of over 100 feel.
Bockee donated a 5.560-pound petri-
fied log to New York City. shipping it
via the Panama Canal (Anonymous,
1953). She improved her properly by
building an eight room house and a
souvenir shop, and by installing tele-
phone lines (Photo 4). The park con-
tinued to grow in popularity.
In 1951 Jeanette Hawthorne inher-
ited the Petrified Forest and installed a
coffee shop and picnic grounds. The
follOWing year over 23.000 people
from all over the world visited the
park (Anonymous. 1953).
The Petrified Forest today is ill
popular tourist attraction where visi-
tors can observe for themselves the
enormous preserved trunks of ancient
trees and contemplate what this area
must have looked like when these
giant redwood trees were alive (Photos
5 and 6l.
Photo 5. 5e<:tion of fossilized ,ed""ood t'ee in the Petrified Fore,t, author fa, ":01". The'" t,ee, ore
so ""ell preoerved that ..:ienti," ""ere readily able to identify them a, Sequoia langsdorlji. Same of
the fossilized ,ed""ood t,ee, in the pork ""ere over 2,000 yeor. aid ""hen they ""ere buried
Fossil remains of 17 other plant
species were also discovered in the
locality of the Petrified Forest. The
most common of these species include
/lex sonomensis (holly), Persea cool,
ingensis (an avocado tree), Pseu'
dotsuga sonomensis (similar to the
Douglas fir). and Quercus bockeei
and Quercus lakevillensis (oak trees)
(Axelrod, 1944).
The Petrified Forest lies at an eleva-
tion of approximately 900 feel. Dur-
ing the Pliocene this forest grew at an
elevation at least 500 feet lower than
where it is today (Axelrod, 1944).
Subsequent regional tectonic uplift
raised the fossil forest to its present
elevation. Lower elevation plants in
this area today include oaks and
grasses that can survive in the hot.
dry summers of Sonoma County,
The Petrified Forest of Sonoma County was the subject
of the first scientific publication describing and identifying
Pliocene plants of western North America (Marsh, 1871:
Chaney, 1944). Tertiary plants, except for those of the
Pliocene. are well represented in the fossil record of North
America. The relative lack of fossil vegetation from the
Pliocene in western North America indicates thai major
climatic and topographic changes resulted in conditions
that were less favorable for abundant plant growth and
preservation (Chaney. 1944).
Fossil remains of several redwood trees are exposed at
the park. These trees are identified as Sequoia langsdorfii.
an extinct species closely related to the present day coastal
redwood, Sequoia sempervirens, Sequoia forests are pres-
ently restricted to areas of moist climate in California and
Oregon. Fifty million years ago extensive redwood forests
grew as far north as Alaska. Other Tertiary fossil redwoods
are found in numerous locales throughout the Northern
Hemisphere including Greenland, Siberia. Manchuria,
Europe, and the eastern United States (Chaney. 1934).
In addition to the fossilized redwood trees found in the
Petrified Forest. the abundance of another evergreen tree.
Abies sonomensis (an ancestral equivalent of the lowland
fir) and of a type of red huckleberry tree, Vaccinium son·
omensis, indicates that a cooler, more moist climate ex-
isted in this region during the Pliocene.
photo 6. A fossilized ,ed""ood t,ee named 'Oueen of the Fa,e.t" i. about '"
feet in diamete' At the far end on oak tree ha, grQW'n belYieen .octian. of
this fractured fossilized log Photo courtesy of Ihe PelrjFi,.J Foresl Museum
How did the Petrified Forest come to be as it is today?
Since its discovery several hypolheses have been advanced
10 account for the origin of the Petrified Fares!. All of
these various hypotheses suggest that volcanic forces were
responsible for the preservation of this ancient grove.
", .. The visitor. however learned.
can only gaze in puzzled silence.
and admit his inability to penetrate
into the mysteries of the remote
post. .. "
One embellished account in the Hand-Book of Colis·
logo Springs. or. Uttle Geysers offers Ihis version (Anony-
mous. 1871);
-Much has been written concerning the origin of the
wonderful forest. which (for want of a beller theory' may
have been submerged in distanl ages. by rhe eruplions of
some volcano, ... which. discharging warer and ashes.
couered all this pori of Ihe country. flowing ouer the loll
foresls and sealing them In an eternal tomb. The ero-
sion of counlless cenluries gradually exhumed and left
them in Iheir original form. but turned 10 Slone - every
Irunk and branch remaining as 01 the lime of Ihe cOlas·
Iraphe. BUI il Is nOI here proposed 10 inflici any crude
speculations upon the reader. &ientific research is
baffled in its attempls to explain this marvel of nature.
The lJisitor. howelJer learned. can only gaze in puzzled
silence. and admit his inability to penetrate into Ihe
mysteries of the remote post.·
AnOlher author was nOI al all baffled and offers this mal-
ter-of-faci accounl in Ihe following narralive (Benson.
"How it got Ihere is simple. First. there was a sudden.
lJio/ent mOlJement of the earth from north 10 south-o
mOlJement so sudden that it snapped off elJen these big
Irees at Ihe ground and hurled their tops toward the
norlh. ElJery tree Ihal fell painIS In the same direction.
Then a tremendous IJO/canic explosion blew off the top
of MI. SainI Helena and cOlJered the fallen forest with
IJOlcanic ashes. The healJY California rains seeped
through Ihe ashes. rotting the wood. As the trees rot-
ted. silica washed in to toke the place of the wood. In
lime. silica replaced 0/1 of the wood and formed petri-
fied trees.•
The Calislogan. a local newspaper. published this
scenario (Mack. 1930);
·One is so impressed with all these sights Ihat il
seems as If one Is standing on some eminence afar off
and sees thor towering mountain in Its rage. as It
erupted all that lavo, 01/ that rock; as it shook the sur-
rounding territory for miles. as these gianls. trembling
in the fastness of Iheir deep-sel rOOIS. swayed. quivered.
/'holo 7. The Petrified forest Rood cuts through 0 oection of the Sonomo
VolconiC1 0 lew miles WilSt 01 the Petrilied forest lnole the author at the
bollom l.fI/or scol.l The Pliocene Sonorno Vokonics is a un,'
composed 01 a serl.S flaw" tull. and broccio beds rhot ore locolly
interbedded wtth alluyial conglomerate, sandstone ond beds This
unit dominates the Sanamo, Moyacmo. and Howell mounlo,n, ond
O\Ier 350 Kju<lre miles fram the Petaluma,Coloti lowlond eo,lword
to lhe Howell Movnloin, ond fram Suisun Soy north beyond Mt. 51 Heleno
Mt St Helena is a prom,nent about 7 miles northeost oflhe Petrified
Fore.t It is nat 0 .olcono In,teod, " is composed 01 folded ond eroded
rocks 01 the Sanomo VolcaniC1
then gave way to fall with a deafening crash 10 be buried
by the dust and the debris of ages and to lie there. while
later came again the plenteous rains Ihot quenched Ihe
fires. cooled Ihe hot lava, and penetrating down through
the scoria. reached and embalmed the giant forms for-
ever through the chemical changes that rook place when
waler mixed with IJOlcanic ash. What a scene: whal a
desolation of devastation; nothing could haue lived if
through: nOlhing did.
The exposed fossil trees of the Pelrified Foresl lie near
the base of the upper member of a thick stratigraphic se-
quence called the Sonoma Volcanics (Photo 7: Fox. 1983).
This sequence consists of a thick accumulation of basaltic.
andesilic. and rhyolilic lava and ash flows. pyroclastic tuffs.
and diatomaceous sediments (Kunkel and Upson. 1960)
that extend over 350 square miles in Sonoma and Napa
The volcanic tuff sequence in the Petrified Forest has
been radiometrically dated at 3.4 million years (Evernden
and James. 1964). In the area of the park this tuff lies un-
conformably on top of Mesozoic Franciscan Complex rocks
(Fox and others. 1973). Elsewhere. the Sonoma Volcanics
unit lies unconformably above Cretaceous and Tertiary
rocks, and below Quaternary rocks. The Sonoma Volcanics
are interbedded with the Pliocene marine Wilson Grove
Formation to the west, and rarely the Pliocene terrestrial
Tehama Formation to the east (Taliaferro. 1951).
The Sonoma Volcanics accumulated over a period of
about ten million years (Howard. 1979). This volcanic ac-
tivity created thick sequences of lava. pumice. and ash that
blanketed the region. Erosive processes carved through the
volcanic layers and created an eroded and rugged terrain.
Some unconsolidated volcanic ash. saturated with rain-
water. turned to mud and flowed down slope. Silica in solu-
tion was leached from the volcanic debris and emptied into
lakes and swamps. This created an environment favorable
for the proliferation of diatoms. Trees of the Petrified For-
est flourished in soils that formed during periods of volcanic
dormancy. This ancient forest was buried by subsequent
eruptions. At the close of this period of volcanic activity, a
final sequence of rhyolitic lava, ash. and pumice completed
the Sonoma Volcanics unit.
Mud Flow or Lava Flow?
One popularly accepted hypothesis suggests that follow·
ing a period of intense volcanic venting in this region, peri-
ods of heavy rainfall converted loose volcanic ash into vis-
cous torrents of mud that flowed from the northeast to the
southwest. toward the living redwood forest. The force of
a raging mud flow (lahar) may have toppled the huge red-
woods (Howard. 1979). Subsequent volcanic ash-falls bur-
ied the trees. Erosional processes eventually stripped away
thick sections of volcanic rock and partially exposed some
of the fossilized Jogs.
From field evidence it appears unlikely that the trees
were swept down by either a lahar or by a nuee ardente (a
violent gas-charged Java flow similar to the explosive erup-
tion at MI. 51. Helens, Washington in 1980). Unbroken
glass shards. and fossilized leaves preserved in curled and
twisted forms. have been discovered in the volcanic ash of
the Petrified Forest (Dorl, 1933). Had they been swept
away by a flow, the shards would likely have broken and
the leaves flattened or disintegrated. Moreover. bark re-
mained allached to the trees which would not be expected
had the trees been transported a great distance. or had a
great volume 01 abrasive volcanic mud flowed over them
(Photo 8).
photo 8. Close-up 01 beige-colored redwood tree bark replaced by silico.
MOS1 01 rhe rrees in rhe pork were preserved wirh rheir bark intocr,
Volcanic Blast?
Another plausible hypothesis for the origin of the Petri-
fied Forest is that the forest was leveled by a volcanic blast
and was subsequently buried by volcanic debris, The 1980
eruption of Mt. St. Helens in Washington blasted trees
down into a radial pattern with their tops pointing away
from the volcanic vent (R. Hoblit!. personal communica-
tion. 1990).
Detailed investigations revealed that the trees in the Pet-
rified Forest in Sonoma County point. on average. between
N35°E and N45°E; others point slightly west of north or
almost directly east-west (Dorl. 1933). This may indicate
that a sudden volcanic outburst. similar to that which oc-
curred at Mt. 51. Helens, leveled the trees or it may merely
reflect the orientations of the slopes on which the trees
grew. fell. and were buried more than three million years
It is generally believed that the volcanic ash that buried
the Petrified Forest emanated from the northeast. in the
general direction the tree roots point. Many tourists and
scientists alike have assumed that Mt. 51. Helena. a local
peak to the northeast of the Petrified Forest, was the
source of the volcanic eruptive debris that buried the trees.
Me. St. Helena is not a volcano. Rather. it is composed of
a number of volcanic flows that have been uplifted. folded.
and eroded (Bowen. 1951). Locating the actual eruptive
centers may be impossible because geologic procesSeS
have drastically changed the terrain in this region since the
Separate Volcanic Events?
Another hypothesis advances the opinion that the trees
in the Petrified Forest were buried by more than one
event. The author of the book. An lIIus/rated History of
Sonoma County. published in 1889, reported that the
trees are exposed in two tiers. This hypothesis was
strengthened by another researcher who described some
of the petrified trees lying 20 vertical feel above another
layer of trees (Dorf. 1933). If this multi-event hypothesis
is correct. such an irregular strata position may have re-
sulted from separate volcanic events. burying first one gen-
eration of trees, then another many years laler. This hy-
pothesis is supported by the existence of varied types of
volcanic ash covering the petrified trees (Dor!. 1933). If all
trees had been buried during a single event. the ash would
likely be of a more uniform lithology.
The preservation of the trees of the Petrified Forest is
due to a process called petrifaction. from the Latin. ··turn-
ing to stone." where the structure of the wood is retained
even at the cellular level. Rhyolitic volcanic ash. high in
silica content. is a matrix material commonly associated
with fossil trees. Over many years. silica in solution infil-
trates the wood and gradually replaces the organic compo-
nents. preserving them in structural detail. Most of the pet-
rified wood of Sonoma County is beige or light brown. Af-
ter millions of years the bark and wood grain remain re-
markably well defined (Photo 9).
The Petrified Forest Trail
1. Parking Area
2. Museum and Nature Store
3. 'The Pit Pine Tree" (redwood)
4. 'The Gully Tree'
5. 'The Petrified Woodpile"
6. "The Giant"
7. "The Queen of the Farest"
a. 'The Monarch" or "Tunnel Tree"
9. • Rocks of Ages'
10. "The Robert louis Stevenson Tree"
1 1. Rest Rooms
photo 9. Detail of fossilized wood groin from the Petrified Fore.t in
Sonoma County. The trees were quickly buried (which prevented decoy)
and remained undi,turbed for millions of yeors while alteration processe,
pre,e",ed the groin of the wood. 5ili<;0 in 'Olution leached from the
surrounding yokonic ash. permeated the wood, and slowly replaced the
organic material so perfectly that it i. po..ible to see the annual growth
rings, and even the individual cells under a microscope,
Map .howing lhe trail wilh locations of fossilized redwood tree,.
Their 'popularized" nome. are ,hown to the left.
The entrance to the Petrified Forest
is off of Petrified Forest Road, ap-
proximately four miles west of Calis-
toga (Figure L Photo 10). Visitors
walk a shady 1I4-mile-long loop trail
which leads to at least seven exposed
petrified tree trunks measuring up to
eight feet in diameter. Oaks,
madrones. bay trees and other repre-
sentatives of the living forest are also
marked. The trail ends at a gift shop
and museum.
The park is open to the public
from 10;00 a.m. to 6;00 p.m.
during the summer. Winter hours
are 10;00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. Gen-
eral admission is $3.00. with dis-
counts for seniors and children.
Reservations for group tours can
be made by telephone. For fur-
ther information call (707) 942-
6667 or write to Petrified Forest,
4100 Petrified Forest Road, Calis-
toga, CA 94515.
photo 10. Enlronce to lhe Petrified Fore.l, Coli'logo, Colifornia, View i. to the north from the
Petrified Forest Road rhol runs between ColislOgo and Sonro Row (see Figure'). The parle il>Cludes
rest rooms, parking, and picnic focilities The Pelrified foresr is registered o. Colifornio Hi.loricol
landmorle .915. In conlrost to the fossilized redwood trees of the Petrified Foresr, tre." living in the
parlc today include bloclc ook, coastol oak, white oak, volley oak, modrone, ond Douglo.lir.
Anonymous, 1871. Hand·book of Calistoga
Spnngs. or. lillie Geysers: Alta California
Book and Job Printing House. San Fran·
CISCO. California, 30 p.
Anonymous, 1889. An illuslrated hislOry of Son-
oma County, California: Lews Publlshmg
Company. 737 p.
Anonymous. 1953. The tale of lhe Petrilied
Forest 01 Calltornia: published by Pelnlied
Forest, Sanla Rosa, Calilorf1la. 36 p.
D. I.. 1944. The Sonoma tlora In
Chaney. A. W, editor, Pliocene 1I0ras 01
CalifornIa and Oregon: Carnegie lnstllu!ion
of Washington Publlcalion 553. p. 167-206,
Benson. A. L.. 1930, A gIrl who saw a fortune in
dead trees: Psychology MagaZine. Septem·
ber issue. p. 26·29.
Bowen, O. E. Jr.. 1951. Highways and byways
of particuiar geologic interest In Jenkins. 0
P . editOr. Geologic Guidebook ot the San
FranCISco Bay counties: California D,v,sion
01 Mmes Bulletm 154. p. 315·379.
Caton. J. D.. 1873. The Pelnfled Foresl of Call·
lor",a - leller 10 lhe Chica90 Tribune, Au-
gust 17. In Caton, J. D.. 1880, Miscellanies:
Houghton. Osgood. and Company. p. 348·
Chaney. R W.. 1934. Redwoods of the past:
Save-the·Redwoods League, 7 p
Chaney, R W.. 1944. Introduction, Chaney, R
W, edItor, Pliocene !loras ot CalifornIa and
OregOJ'l: Carnegie InstItution 01 WaShIngton,
Publlcallon 553, p. 1-20.
Dor1. E" 1933, Pliocene 1I0ras ot Calltorflla,
Dort, E. and Webber. I. E.. Slud,es 01 the
Pliocene paleobotany ot California: CarnegIe
Institution of Washington PublicallOn 412,
p. 1-112.
Evernden. J F" and James. G. T , 1964, Potas-
Slum·argon dates and the Teniary tloras 01
North Amenca; American Journal of Sci-
ence. v. 262, p. 945-974
K. F. Jf.. 1983, Tecton,c selliOg 01 late
MIocene, Pliocene, and PleIstocene rocks In
pall 01 the Coast Ranges north of San Fran·
CISCO, CalIfornia: U.S. GeologIcal Survey
Prohlsslonal Paper 1239,33 p.
K F. Jr, Sims. J. D.. Bartow, J. A., and
Helley, E, J.,1973, PrelimInary geologic map
ot eastern Sonoma County and weSlern
Napa Counly, Caillornia: U.S GeologIcal
Survey Field Studies Map MF-483
Hoover, M B" 1937, HiSlonc spots In Cal.lor-
",a, counties of the Coasl Range volume:
StaJ'ltord Un,verSlty Press. 718 p.
Howard. A.D, 1979, GeologIC hiStory 01 mIddle
Cahlornla: UniverSity 01 California Press,
Kunkel, F. and Upson, J. E., 1960. Geology and
groundwater in Napa and Sonoma valleys.
Napa and Sonoma counlles. Calltornia:
U. S. Geologic Survey Waler Supply Paper
1495.252 p.
Mack, I., 1930. Was petrified by volca",c ashes
in centunes past: CallSl0gan. June 20.1930.
p. 1.
Marsh, O. C., 1871, NOllce of a fOSSIl 10reSl In
the TertIary 01 Callfor",a: American Journal
of Science and Arts, v. 1, p. 266·268
Stevenson, A. l .. 1974, The silverado squaUers:
SIlverado Museum, S1. Helena. Caillorn,a,
115 p.
St<rton, R. A.. 1951, Prehlstonc land anImals 01
the San FranCISCO Bay regIon in JenkinS, O.
p.. ed'lor, GeologIC Guidebook ot the San
Francisco Bay countIes: California D,v,s,on 01
Mines Bulletin 154. p. 177_186.
Taliaferro. N L.. 1951. Geology of lhe San Fran·
cisco Bay counties in JeJ'lklns. O. P., ednor,
Geologic guidebook of the San Francrsco
Bay countIes: California DJVlsion of Mines
BulletIn 154, p. 117-150.
Self-Guided Geologic Tour in
Joshua Tree National Monument
Riverside County. California
DON DUPRAS, Geologist
Division of Mines and Geology
Joshua Tree National Monument is a
popular southern California tourist attrac-
tion, II is also a lavored area to teach be-
ginning earth science students about geo-
logic processes. The Geology Tour Road
log in this article is adapted Irom an eight
page self·guided tour brochure titled Geol-
ogy And Man (Wanrow. 1975), and is re-
printed in part with permission of the author
and the National Park Service. This bro-
chure can be purchased for $0.25 at
Monument Visitor Centers.... editor.
oshua Tree National Monument was
established in 1936 and contains
870 square miles. most of which is high
desert. The Monument encompasses
some of the most interesting desert geo-
morphic features in California. Rugged
mountains. prominently exposed granitic
monoliths. and exposed fault scarps re-
veal how geologic processes shaped.
and continue to shape. this stark desert
landscape (Photos 1 and 2). Much of
the Monument is above 4.000 feet and
steep mountain escarpments border this
region to the north and south. The
Monument is located about 140 miles
east of Los Angeles and is accessible by
highway from the north and from the
south (Figure 1).
Photo 2. Southward view illustrating typical
exposures of rounded and jointed White ....
Tank monzonite in the Monument. Photo ....
courtesy of the National Park Service.
Photo 1. View to the northeast along the main Monument road at Covington Flats showing
outcrops 01 the Cretaceous White Tank monzonite. Note the horizontal pattern of joints in
the outcrop to the left. Photos by author except as noted.
Photo 3. Joshua tree forest at the Monument.
Blythe I
Joshua Tree
National Monument
San h1ii.
Los Angeles

Figure 1. General location map of Joshua Tree National Monument.
The name, Joshua Tree National
Monument. is derived from the exten-
sive stands of conspicuous Joshua trees
that grow within its boundaries. Joshua
trees grow at elevations of 2.000 to
6.000 feet and have keenly pointed
bayonet-like leaves that bristle at the
end of large club-like branches. Until
young Joshua trees attain a height of
six feet. their trunks have leaves that
reach the ground. As the plant ages
and grows in height. these first leaves
droop. die. and become closely pressed
into a thatch-like mat that covers the
trunk and limbs. Some trees have
reached heights of 54 feet. The Joshua
tree is one of four species of yuccas
that are native to California (Vasek and
Barbour. 1988). Its unusual and some-
times bizarre shapes have made it a
symbol of the California high desert
(Photo 3).
Photo 4. View north across Queen Valley to the Pinto Mountains. This valley was caused
by extensive weathering of the underlying rock.
Much of the Monument is part of the
Transverse Ranges. however its eastern-
most portion extends into the Mojave
Desert. There are several distinct
mountain ranges within the Monument
(Figure 2). Valleys between these
mountain ranges were formed by two
different processes: (1) some valleys
were formed over geologic lime by ero-
sion. and (2) some valleys were formed
by down-dropped motion along faults
that formed basins (called "graben val-
leys"). Queen Valley. at 4,400 feet in
elevation in the central part of the
Monument, is an example of a valley
formed by erosion (Photo 4. Figure 2).
Pleasant Valley. located between the
Utile San Bernardino and Hexie moun-
tains. is an example of a graben valley
formed by faulting. Both valleys are
discussed in the Geology Tour Road log
(Figure 2).
The known geologic histoty of the
Monument spans about 1.5 billion years
and includes extensive periods of sedi'
mentaty deposition. igneous intrusions.
metamorphism. and erosion. The old-
est rocks in the Monument. the Pinto
Gneiss (pronounced "nice"'). have been
dated at about 1.5 billion years old and
contain deformed sediments. Since
these early sediments were deposited.
this region has undergone several peri-
ods of both tectonic uplift and submer-
gence beneath the sea. Although the
complete geologic histoty of this area
may never be fully known. scientists
have been able to decipher a partial
chronicle from the rocks that occur in
the Monument (Photo 5).
Photo 5. Outcrop of Pinto Gneiss. the oldest rock in the Monument.
Note the 2-inch diameter lens cap in the upper middle ot photo for
scale. This photo was taken at Stop 14 on the Geology Tour Road.
Pinto Gneiss
The Pinto Gneiss varies from prominently foliated dark
gray to a faintly foliated much lighter gray. The deformed
sediments and possible volcanic material included in this rock
provide the earliest geologic record in the Monument. Al-
though the absolute age of these sediments is difficult to de-
termine. geologists have radiometrically dated the Pinto
Gneiss at between 1.65 billion years old and 1.4 billion years
old rrrent. 1984). This unit originally covered a very exten-
sive area of ancestral southern California. After deposition of
the sediments. granitic intrusive rocks invaded this unit. meta-
morphosed it. and were subsequently incorporated within it to
form the gneiss we see today (Rogers. 1961; Wanrow. 1975:
Trent. 1984).
Igneous Rocks
At least four separate large igneous intrusions. called
"plutons." later invaded the Pinto Gneiss. The oldest intru-
sion occurred dUring the Jurassic Period, and the three
youngest intrusions occurred during the Cretaceous Period.
The exact dates of these regionally significant intrusions.
however. is not known. From abundant radiometric dates of
other California plutonic intrusions during this period. it is
estimated that these intrusions occurred between 186 million
years ago (Mid Jurassic) and 125 million years ago (Early
Cretaceous) ITrent. 1984).
Each of these four regionally significant plutonic intrusive
episodes is distingUished by a specific rock type. From oldest
to youngest these rock types include: (l) Twentynine Palms
monzonite. (2) Queen Mountain monzonite. (3) White Tank
monzonite. and (4) Oasis monzonite. Monzonite is a granitic
Iight-colored igneous rock that is predominately composed of
potassium feldspar and plagioclase feldspar minerals. Feldspar
minerals are aluminum silicates containing one or two metals
and are the most common rock forming minerals on Earth.
Feldspar minerals are nearly five limes more common than
quartz. Plagioclase feldspar minerals contain varying percent-
ages of sodium and calcium metals.
The oldest plutonic intrusion in the Monument is repre-
sented by the Jurassic Twentynine Palms monzonite and is
characterized by large crystals of potassium feldspar with
lengths of up to two inches rrrent. 1984). The second oldest
plutonic intrusion in the Monument is the Cretaceous Queen
Mountain monzonite.
Outcrops of the younger lighter-colored Cretaceous White
Tank monzonite are prevalent in the western region of the
Monument. Although this unit resembles the Queen Moun·
tain monzonite from a distance. it differs from the Queen
Mountain monzonite in several ways. The White Tank mon-
zonite is finer-grained than the Queen Mountain monzonite: it
contains small amounts of biotite and/or muscovite and. un-
like the Queen Mountain monzonite. it contains no horn-
blende (Trent. 1984).
The most conspicuous rock outcrops that visitors see as
they drive through the Monument are the bold White Tank
monzonite boulders (Photos 1 and 2). These conspicuous out-
crops provide an arresting landscape panorama. The rounded
and eroded rock outcrops in the western region of the Monu-
ment were formed by erosive agents along joint planes (sub-
parallel fractures) in the White Tank monzonite. This granitic
unit is feldspar-rich and quartz-rich igneous rock that has
characteristic joint sets that intersect at nearly right angles
(Rogers. 1961).
The youngest plutonic intrusive rock in the Monument is
the Cretaceous Oasis monzonite. Unlike the three older plu-
tonic rock units. the Oasis monzonite contains a characteristic
assemblage of muscovite and blood-red garnet minerals that.
although small, can be seen without magnification. The mus-
covite grains impart a glittery appearance to the rock on
sunny days (Trent. 1984).
[n addition to the regionally significant monzonite plutons.
numerous smaller igneous intrusive rocks occur throughout
the Monument. One of the most extensive of these is the
Gold Park diorite. Diorite is a dark colored granitic rock that
Joint patterns are easily observed in
the White Tank monzonite. Three
dominant joint sets produced spectacu-
lar rock forms in this unit (Photos 1 and
2). One joint set is oriented horizontally
and was caused by the release of pres-
sure when the thick layer of original
overlying rocks was removed by exten-
sive erosion [frent. 1984). Another set
of joints in the White Tank monzonite
occurs vertically and roughly parallels
the contact of this unit with surrounding
Unlike faults. no appreciable move-
ment occurs along rock joints. Joints
are fissures in rocks and commonly oc-
cur in recognizable patterns (Figure 3) .
Within the Monument. joints have often
formed parallel sets. and joints with two
or more parallel sets. called "joint sys-
tems." also occur.
trend east-west and are associated with
fault escarpments or "scarps." These
major fault scarps fonn a linear trend at
the base of mountain cliffs and were
proouced by fault movement. Fault
movement occurs as an up-and-dovm
motion. horizontal sliding motion. or a
combination of up-and-down and hori-
zontal sliding movement. Alluvial fans
and pediments. geomorphic features
formed by an accumulation of loose
rock material deposited onto broad val-
leys or plains. subsequently developed
adjacent to these fault scarps.
Mile o
Figure 2. Location maps showing some
.. geomorphic tealures in the Monument
and the route of the Geology Tour Road.
Joshua Tree National Monument

,-----11To Twentynine Palms
Jumbo Rocks Ell j
Geology Tour Road
Faults and Joints
Faults are fractures in rock where dis-
cernable movement has occurred. The
major faults within the Monument. such
as the Eagle Mountain fault that can be
seen along the Geology Tour Road.


>- w
a: !!f
""'" 0


'" \i>
o 7' //'-
..J Malapai
m Hill

is rich in plagioclase feldspar and con-
tains a small amount of quartz. Basalt
occurs at three places within the Monu-
ment: (1) near Pinto Basin where it
formed as an extrusive flow, (2) at Mal-
apai Hill where it cooled in place and
did not penetrate the surface. and (3) in
the Lost Horse Mountains where it
formed a volcanic dome and cooled to
form distinctive columnar joints (Figure
2; Trent. 1984).
The most recent of all igneous intru-
sive rocks in the Monument include nu-
merous dikes of various widths and rock
compositions. These dikes are com-
mon throughout the Monument and
cross-cut all of the previously mentioned
rock unlts.
:.-- Hidden Valley II
(A) Front view of a cross-section through
the monzonite after the overlying Pinto
Gneiss had eroded away about 20 million
years ago. As this overlying unit eroded
over geologic time, the release in
pressure from the massive weight of
gneiss caused the monzonite to form
extensive sets 01 joints.
(B) Following a long period of a much
wetter climate than exists here today, the
monzonite underwent an extensive
period of decomposition that was caused
by downward percolating groundwater
along the joints.
(e) With continued erosion, boulder·
mantled outcrops formed during the past
few million years.
with its accompanying brochure. Geol-
ogy And Man (Wanrow, 1975). provide
a step-by-step guide about geologic
processes that shaped the desert land-
scape we see today. The follOWing Ge-
ology Tour Road log explains the for-
mation of a fault scarp and a dry lake
bed, how granite weathers in the desert.
and how sand dunes and alluvial fans
(0) The White Tank monzonite today.
Figure 3. Schematic diagram illustrating
the formation 01 White Tank monzonite
outcrops in the Monument. Adapted from
Trem (1984).
Although the dirt road is readily ac-
cessible by car. you may prefer to ride a
dirt bike. It takes about two hours to
complete the tour by car. Park rangers
advise bringing drinking water. They
also recommend that you end the tour
at Stop 9 when the road becomes wet
during the rainy season.
rock units. The third joint set in the
White Tank monzonite is also vertical
but is approximately perpendicular to
the other vertical set. This system of
joint sets results in rectangular-shaped
blocks that can be obselVed along the
Geology Tour Road.
Monument naturalists designed an
18 mile self-gUided motor trail lour
along a dirt road that winds through the
most interesting geology in the Monu-
ment. The Geology Tour Road has 16
sign posts where vehicles can pull over
and stop (Figure 2). The tour, along
The numbered stops at the beginning
of each description correspond to num-
bered markers along the tour route.
Mileage starts at the intersection of the
Geology Tour Road and the black-
topped main Monument road. The tour
route is a closed loop that returns you
to the starting point.
Mileage Mileage RQADLOG
0.4 0.4 SlOp 1. WHY A VALLEY? Queen Valley
(elevation 4,400 feet) is one of two types of
valleys along the tour (Photo 4). This and Lost
Horse Valley to the west were formed by a
different rate of erosion between the satter rock
underlying the valleys and the more resistant
rock of the surrounding mountains. Because the
rock beneath these valleys is less resistant to
erosion than the rock forming the surrounding
mountains, it disintegrates sooner and forms
the low-lying plain you see at this stop.
0.8 1.2
The other type of valley. Pleasant Valley. (seen
later on the tour), is the resull of fault
movement that produced uplift to the north and
subsidence to the south.
Stop 2. A RAINBOW DIVIDES. This knoll is the
north-south drainage divide for the Monument.
Water drains from this point either to the
northwest via Quail Springs Wash. or to the
southeast via Fried Liver Wash into Pinto
Basin. The erosive force of running water plays
an important part in shaping the desert
Stop 3. NATURE'S GUTIER. Here. runofl
waler accumulates 10 !arm a wash. During the
summer months, intense rainstorms oflen
produce !lash floods along many desert
washes. Weathering processes physically and
chemically break down rocks into smaller and
smaller pieces. and eventually 'orm soil. The
loosened malenal is carried to lower elevations
by water and deposited. These deposits, called
alluviallans, will be seen later In the lour,
The increased soil mOisture along these
washes allows certain plants. such as the
Calltornia iuniper, to grow more vigorously here
than in the drier surroundmg desert.
Slop 4. OLD EROSIONAL lEVEl. Many 01 the
quartz monzonite boulders to the east altha
road bear a distincl groove or band about
seven leet above ground level. ThiS groove
indicates an old erosional level when the soil
surface remained at a static level for an
extended period of time. Weathered sand
grains from the granitic rock Wind· blasted the
rock and lormed the groove. Subsequent
erosion lowered the soil level. This example
iIIusttates how changes In climate produce
corresponding changes in the landscape.
Photo 7. Eastward view across Losl Horse Valley toward the
Lost Horse MountainS (Figure 2). Ryan Mountain. in the Ieh
background. illustrales how the light White Tank monzonl1e has
Intruded upward into the much older Pinto Gneiss. Note how
the exposed and more resistant monzonite at Ryan Mountain is
capped by the much darker gneiss directly above It.
Photo courtesy of rhe Nationat Park Service.
Photo 6. White Tank monzomte rock piles to the west of the Tour
Road at Slop 5.
0.5 3.7 Slop 5. ROCK PILES. White Tank monzomte
forms the rock Plies on both sides of the road
(Photo 6). This rock was once a deeply buned
molten mass called magma that forced ils way
upward into the overlYing much older Pinto
Gneiss. The magma cooled without reaching
the surface and crystallized to form a solid rock
mass-the White Tank monzonite. Erosion
over geologic time stnpped away Ihe darker
Pinto Gneiss exposing the monzonite outcrops,
The mountains to the west are composed
primarily 01 gneiss. Ryan Mountain (SA61 feel)
displays the contact between these two
different rock types (Photo 7). Harder. more
resistant areas within the monzonite form lhe
numerous rock piles. Many of these have well
defrned }oint systems (Photo 7). while other
eroded White Tank monzonile rock masses
have collapsed into jumbled Plies (Photo 6).
0.6 '.3
Stop 6. ROCK SCULPTURE. Aher the White
Tank monzonl1e solidilied. it was fractured by
regional geologic forces into joints. These
joints usually occur in two sets and intersecl at
nearly righl angles. These }oint planes acted as
zones of weakness and. over geologic lime.
erosive agents readily attacked the monzonite
atong these joints. The result is bouk:lers which
are roughly rectangular in shape. A massive
rectangular boulder to the east of the road
illustrates lhis type of erosion (Photo 8). Many
of these boIJlders weather into grotesque
shapes alld have been given such descriptive
names as the 'Skull" (found near Jumbo
Rocks) and Ihe "Trojan" and "The Ox" (found
along the Hidden Valley Nature Trail).
Photo 8. Massive rectangular monzonite
boulder (in center of photo) just 10 lhe east 01
Stop 6 is about 131eet hlQh.
Photo 9 Malapa1 Hili :).. mile due west 01 Slop 7. ThIs IllOIIld IS
eonposed 01 clark and formed as a mollen mass ot magma
tIat intruded through the SUIlOtXlding White Tank monzonite,
IIowever. I' did not reach ltle su1ace Extensive erosion ovel
geologic time has weatnered away tile less resistanl Whlte Tank
Photo 11 fI'IOI1ar hole dn\od into the
Wh.le Tank monzoMe at Stop 9. T_-inc:t1
Ions C;lP lor f,cale.
Stop 9. SQUAW TANK ArchaeologlC3l
reveal [hat nomadIC
IrIhabiled this aUla from about 1000 A.D. ul"l1l
the earl)' 1900s Squa..... TanI< a
campsite because ot the I'\Ilturlll water catch
basin Bow!-li"e mor1ars were hollowod mio tlo
quartz monzon,te and _,e IJ!Mld 10 gnnd seeds
and other bits 01 'ood irto meal Sev.,.al 01
these bedrock mortars ea.n be soen juSI f,oufl
01 me large rock In front 01 you (PhoIO 11)
A concrete dam just to the SOUheast. and
rndden In the wash. forms SQuaw Tank (Phclto
12). Ca!tlemen wit !hIS <V1d other smJar dams
to calch runcff water lor their callie dunng the
early 19005 M.1Iny 01 these small catchment
da'ns are Iocaled where natural pools 01 watftf
collected alter rams. 11 '''las 1'1 such places that
the Indians also OOlarned waler and illS logICal
to assume thaI they ca<nped al ttis spot
Deca!Jse OIIIMl natural catch·basln
Photo 10. Vl€W west across an alkNallan toward Lost
Mourulrls at Stop 8
Stop 8. ALLU.... IAL FANS You aro now
descending IltlIl'UVIollan (Photo 10). Notice
a Slmtlar Ian oXlending from 1110 mounlans ,nlO
tho vaJ;ey 10 the SOIIlh Thfi. fans aft
of sards, graV9k. cobbIft;. and
bouldel'5 produclid Irom me erosoon aI rocks at
"'OhM elevatIOnS Ths roell malenal ,s earned
by gav'ly and 'Iood watets to IowfK levels
When flood waters reach the alluvial tans. !he
larger. heaVl8r rocks drOP Irst and the bgh1er
gravels and sands are earned farther 0Ul Irto
the valley before they settle Alluvial lOIns
i1kJSlrate me constant changes In the desert
landscape. MountaJl'ls are constantly being
e'OdecI by geolo;lC processes as the erodecI
malenal is dep)$lted I" the aIVvIaJ lans
From Ins SlOP a 314 mle nalUIe D'al 10 the
base 01 Malapai Hill offers you an
to Inspect Oil oasaltJc lnrusio'l up close The
naum ..a. wallllakes about 45 ITNnu'es 10
ccmplele, A balanced rock occurs along the
nature lraa about 1/" mile weSI
Slop 7. MALAPAI HILL Throo quor'IC1r5 cI a
mile west of \tus point the tW'n peake of
Malapal HAl "'"iii about '00 leet above the
vOlley ס (Photo 0). The hM composed oj
bI;ck basal1 aocl IltSulled from a shallow
InJllCbon 01 bilSaltlC nagma wtliCh did not QUite
reach !he sorlace ollhe Earth It had reacned
lhe surface. a lava flow or volcano would have
reMlfled. bullhere IS no eviderce 01 such a
fIo...-. The MalaPai Hil basalllnlruded Whrte
TMlk monzorote a'ld is therelo'9 vounger,
A1lhouoh I1S true age 15 unknown. It appears
likely tha.t It was emplaced Cllnng the last lYIO
or ftIfee milton years. In CO'TlpatlSOll ID the
Plflto Grle ss. 'Atuch 1$ about 1 5 b1llon years
old, \t'Ie Malapa' hl1 basa1 IS a geologx;ally
recent rock 1;011.
Photo 12. Concrete dam al SlOP 9.
Cenler of dam is about 9 feel high.
DIKES. Notice the light-colored ballds of rock
cu"ing across many altha monzaMe boulders
in this area. These bands. called dikes. were
formed when molten rock 01 a dlNeren! l e ~ l u f e
Intruded Inlo joints In the already-formed
monzonite. Many of these dikes are composed
of a light-colored, fine-grained rock called
aplite. It is much harder and more resistanllO
erosion than the monzonite, and stands out in
relief when the monZOnite erodes. An excellent
dike that forms a wall can be found to the east
of the road a short distance beyond this stop.
Stop 10. PLEASANT VALLEY. As you rounded
lhe bend and viewed the expanse of Pleasant
Valley in front and 10 the right. did you notICe
lhe steep mountain 'ace 10 your lefl? This
steep easJ.!o·west trending mOtJntaln
escarpmenl is a fault scarp and was 'ormed by
movement along the Eagle Mountain 'ault
(Photo 13). A little farther to lhe eastth,s 'aull
combines with lhe much larger Blue CuI tault
also a east-west trending tault. which has a so·
mile trace stretching 'rom the western 'oot of
the lillie San BernardinO Mountains to lhe
eastern edge of the Pinto Basin. The Eagle
Mounlaln fault scarp IS part ot a fracture zone
that varies from 300 to 1.000 feel in width and
follows the base of the mountain before you
(Photo 13). North 01 the fault, lhe Pinto Gneiss
was hlted up relative 10 the landscape on the
south. Geologists call Ihls type 0' 'ault a
"normal" 'ault. The combination 01 up-lill and
down-drop created Pleasanl Valley. the second
type ot valley lhat you have seen (the first was
Queen Valley, a result ot dillerential erosion
between rock lypes),
The Blue Cut fault is named for the granodlorlte
(a combination ot granile and diOrite minerals)
that has a "bluish" linged color possibly caused
by Slressed quartz or stressed 'eldspar that
occurred along lhe fault zone. The Blue Cut
tault scarp and its associated blUish
granodiorite IS exposed on the mountainside
direclly to the west and across Pleasant Valley
Ptloto 13 View toward the southeasl aJong the Eagle Mounlain
fault zone thaI runs aJong the base 0' lhe mountains where lhey
meet the deser1 lIocr at Stop 10.
PETROGLYPHS, Petroglyphs or Indian rock
carvings can be seen abool 1SO feet to the
north 01 this stop (PhOlO 14), This ancient art
IS 'ound on rocks coaled with thIn "desert
varnish," a dark chemical deposit whICh forms
on desert rocks over lime. Indians chipped this
varnish layer away 10 expose lhe much lighter
rock beneath. These carvmgs may have had
some religiOUS meaning 10 lhe Indians, bUl this
is only conjecture. Some petroglyphs m Ihe
Monument may be thOtJsands of years old:
desert varnish has reformed on some
carvings-a weathering process lhat lakes
considerable time. ptease help prOlect this
prehistoric Indian art.
Photo 14. Indian petroglyph carved into desert varnish.
'0 6.8 Stop 11. DRY LAKE. This dry lake, also called
a desert playa. that you are now crossing is
evidence that a wetter climate eXisted here. A
penodic lake once lilled Pleasant Valley and
lacustrine (lake) sediments were deposited in
this lake to a depth of hundreds olleet. As the
lake evaporated, salts cryslallized and
precipitated out of the water. Several similar
playa lake beds In other parts 01 the California
desert are mined commercially for a v a n ~ l t y 01
salts, such as borax.
solUllons carrying these dissolved metals
migrated upward from lhe invading magma
through the surrounding older rock. As these
t1ulds cooled. the melals precipitated out and
were dePOSited along pre-existing Iractures or
fissures to form are vems. Quartz is often
associated With these veins and is used as an
Indicator for possible are deposits.
Pholo 15 Mine shafts al SlOP 12. Abandoned mine shafts and
adlts are dangerous and should be avoided: nOle the barbed·wlre
posts surrounding the shafl.
0.' 7.2
SAND DUNES. To the left, notICe the sand
deposits and the start 01 sand dune formalion.
This is typical at areas where there is a source
of sand (the playa), and an open tlal area
(Pleasanl Valley) where wind picks up sand
particles and cames them to lhe mounlaln
trant, which acts as a barner causing the sand
and silt to lall at lhe mountain base and form
sand dunes.
Stop 12. MINES. The mountain slopes In Iront
and to the north are honeycombed wllh tunnels
and shafts dug by miners looking lor gold and
other precious metals (PhOlO 15). There was
extenSive mining activity throoghout lhls area
during the lale 1800s and early 1900s. Very
few of the mines. however, proved lucralJYe:
the Lost Horse mine in the Lost Horse
Mountains (Figure 2) is one excepllon. Gold,
silver. copper, lead. and other metals at
economiC importance were deposited when the
inlfudmg White Tank monzonite magma cooled
and crystallized. Various gasses and lIQuid
Stop 13. CATTLE RANCHING. Here. along the
base at the alluvial lan, lhe soils are deeper
and more runoff water accumulates. The added
moisture allows for more vigorous plant growth
such as grasses. In the lale 1870s, ranchers
mlroduced Texas longhorns to this area
because of the lush vegetation. Over.grazmg
and a long droughl after 1932 led to the decline
of catlle ranching. The numerous cholla cacti in
lhlS area indicate thiS rangeland was over-
grazed. Grasses died from lack of nutrients and
were replaced by cactus. With the
establishment of the Monument in 1936. canle
grazing was eliminaled, allowing the range to
partially restore itself.
Slop 14. PINTO GNEISS. The banded and
folded rock to your lell. the oldest type of rock
in the Monument, IS PInIO Gneiss. Allhough ilS
absolute age is not known, it is thoughlto be
aboul 1.5 billion years old (Photo 5). Whereas
the basalt at Malapai Hill and the quartz
monzonite are Igneous rocks-the product at a
coaled magma-gnelss is the product of
metamorphism. Metamorphism with its Intense
pressure and/or heat causes physical changes
to occur in rock. The Pinto Gneiss was
onglnally sediments that were laid down In
ancient lakes Of seas, and have undergone
extenSive alteration due to the pressure 01
overlying material and heat caused by invading
magmas. This change resulted In the
realignment 01 the chemical constlluentS of the
'ormer rock to produce a completely dllferent
0.0 9.9
LICHENS. The bright splotches of color found
on many 0' the rocks are primitIve forms of
plant lile called lichens. The different colors
indicate different species. Some form a weak
carbomc acid that chemically breaks down rock
to form soil. These tiny plants form a very
important part of the erosional cycle.
road to the lell leading into the canyon is a
dead end road and not part 01 the Geology
Tour Road. A well in this canyon prOVided
water that was used 'or processing 01 gold ore
and lor canle. The well is now dry.
0.1 10.0 Stop 16. PANORAMIC VIEW. Aside from being
an outstanding picture point. this stop alfords
you the opportunity to review at one glance
many of the geologic processes seen along the
tour (Photo 16). Geology is the study of the
history of the Earth and is manifested by
constant changes in the landscape. These
changes Involve the building 0' mountams. their
destruction, and subsequent rebuilding. We see
evidence of mountain building in the mountain
range formed along the Blue Cut fault north of
Pleasant Valley. We see mountains formed by
the igneous intrusions at Matapai Hill and the
While Tank monzonite. And linatly. we see
geologic processes eroding these mountains
and depositing the eroded materiat onto the
desert lloar to produce playas, allUVial fans.
and sand dunes.
To return, contmue 2.2 miles to Squaw Tank
and Irom there 5.5 miles to the main Monument
road in Queen Valley. As you approach the
Squaw Tank area. notice the mountains to the
east which have an excellent contact 01 darK
Pinto Gneiss in contrast With the adjacent much
lighter White Tank monzonite.
Rogers, John J.W.. 1961, Igneous and
metamorphic rocks of the western por-
tion of Joshua Tree National Monument:
California Division 01 Mines and Geology
Special Report 68, 26 p.
Trenl. 0.0" 1984, Geology 01 the Joshua
Tree National Monument: CALIFORNIA
GEOLOGY, v. 37, no. 4. p. 75-86, April.
Vasek. F.C. and Barbour. M.G., 1988,
MOjave desert scrub vegetation in Bar-
bour, M.G., and Major. J.. editors. Ter-
restrial vegetallon 01 Cahlornia: Cali/or-
ma Native Plant Society, p. 857-858.
Wanrow, Elden K., 1975. Geology and
man: an 18-mile sell-gulding motor na-
ture trail: Joshua Tree Natural History
Association. 8 p. ~
Photo 16. View to the north across Pleasant Valley Irom Stop 16. Malapal Hill is to lhe lef\,
the Hexie MountainS and the Eagle Mountain fault zone at its base are to the right. The
White Tank monzonite is in the distance and the Geology Road can lust be seen as a light
wavy band in the middle.
A Page for Teachers
Mineral Crossword Puzzle
Minerals are the building blocks of lhe Earth's crust and in combinations make up the rocks. Minerals
have the following characteristics: (I) they are naturally occurring and inorganic; (2) they have chemical com-
positions and physical properties that are fixed or vary only slightly; and (3) they have a characteristic inter-
nal structure (called crystal lattice) determined by a fixed, orderly arrangement of atoms. Different minerals
have different properties (such as color. Iusler. hardness. streak. cleavage. specific gravity, and crystal form)
by which they can be identified. For basic information on minerals see Division of Mines and Geology Spe-
cial Publication 33. MMinerals and R o c k s ~ ($1.00), available from DMG. P. O. Box 2980. Sacramento. CA
The crossword puzzle can be used as a special interest activity alter the study of minerals. It is suitable for
grades 6 through 12. .. Puzzle courtesy of Carol Stadum. Department of Geological Sciences. California
Slate University, Fullerton. California.
transparent fleXible minerai with good
2. brown aluminum are
3. naturally occurflng inorganic mixture
4. minerai used to make plaster
5. a hole in a rock
7. German mineralogIst made this
hardness scale
8. soapstone
11. specific gravity
15. a mlTleral family with Silica and oxygen
16. minerai form determIned by atom
17. quartz;s this hardness
20. number seven on the hardness scale
22. the minerai form of nJst
23. rock salt
1. a metallIC liqUid native mineral
4 a round cavity lined with crystals
6. minerai used to make pendllead
9. a crystal tamlly that has all sides equal
and at right angles
10. naturally occurring inorganic compound
or element
11. hardest known mineral
12. rough broken minerai surface
13. thiS mineral fizzes In acid
14. the metallic or nonmetallic shine of a
18. fool's gold
19. powdered mineral color
21. oHidal California State Minerai
1 I

1 1
; 1

" 1 1
f--- - -
1 1
" 1
f--- -
f--- f---
I'" 1 I
r- f---
'" L-
I" I
See page 214 for answers 10 Mineral Crossword Puzzle. OX'
John Wolfe
John Edward Wolfe. Executive Officer of the State Board
of Registration for Geologists and Geophysicists. \Nil! retire in
October, 1990. John has been in state service since 1956
and has been an Exe<:ulive Officer with the Board since
1969. The Board is responsible lor licensing and overseeing
the professionalism of geologists. geophysicists. and engineer-
ing geologists in California. Applicants interested in the posi-
tion left vacant by John's retirement can request information
from the Board office at: Geology and Geophysics Board.
10210 Street Room A-190. Sacramento. CA 95814,
(From poge 213 .. .)
Alfred O. Woodford
Dr Alfred O. Woodford. long-time California geologist and
founder of the Pomona College Geology Department died on
June 29. 1990. He was 100 years old. Professor Woodford.
called "Woody· by his friends. did much to advance the sci-
ence of geology in California (see the May_ 1989 issue of
CAUFORNIA GEOLOGY). He wrote many articles and sev-
eral popular textbooks about geology. In recognition for his
work. Woodford received the Neil A. Miner Award. the high-
est honor bestowed by the National Association of Geology
Teachers. During his career he was president of the Cordille-
ran Section of the Geological Society of America. and presi-
dent of the National Association of Geology Teachers.
M Ilc AI

Answers to
13 Y P S U MI
\ilu G E R
1'1" A L 't
cf- .!!. 'b ENS I T YI c,;:::
'L I's I L I CAT E E R
U T-mJC M. 't; R Y SiT A L I c1
L OJ;" E 1. c1. T I
..!2. .Y =- U AI R T zl
..!!. rI R'G R
r!! I'i. I M 0 N I IT E
E T e1-
l'k A LIT E &
Groundwater Seminars
5 9.00
5 1.25
• '00
Proc. includ.s
postoge ond loles to>
For further information contact,
NWWA Education Department for pro-
gram information or the Registration
Department for registration information
at 6375 Riverside Drive. Dublin. OH
43017.(614)761-1711. 'X'
This one day course will address:
laws and regulations prompting environ-
mental site assessments. scope of envi-
ronmental site assessments. the preac-
quisition environmental investigation
report. responses 10 environmental
problems and minimizing the liability of
the consultant.
Ind.cote numb.r 01 copies
__SP41 80sIC placer mInIng. 1946
__5P92 CAllFOI1NIA GEOLOGY mogOllne 1948-1986.

__SR143 POrl 5, Mln.rolland cloulfic:otlon of the greoler Los Angeles oreo, c1ossificotion
of send on.d grovel resources oreos, Sougus-Newholl production·consumption
regIon ond Polmdole productIon-consumptIon region.
1987 (newl . . . • . . . . . . . . . . • . . . . . . .••..•.. 5 8.00
__511146 Port I, Mlnetolland clOSSlflCOtion: oggregote moteriols in the Son ftonc;sco-
Monlerey Boy oreo - projecl descriplion (1986)
__511146 Porl 2, Mlnerollond c1onificotlon: oggregole moteriols In the Soulh Son
Francisco 80y oreo. 1987 .
__SI1146 Porl 3, Mlnerollond c101S,ficotlon: ogg,egole malerio/s in the No"'"
Son fronclsco·Monlerey 80y oreo. 1986
__511146 Pori 4, Mlnerollond clon,ficotlon: oggregOle male"ols In the Mont".y Boy
region, 1990. (new) 520.00
__SR1S6 Mlnerollond dOUlfICOl!On of porllond cemenl concrele·grode oggregote
,n the Socromenlo-Folt!ield ptoduchon-consumplion region. 1987. (new) . • . .. 518.00
__51116J Surfoce ond g'Ol.Indwolet monogemenl in surface mlned·lond reclomOtlon.
1989 (newl ....
__1yeo' (12 ,nues) . . _...••.•....•.••.....•.
__2 yeors (24 issues) .•.. . .
__80ck issues Ispecify volum. ond monlh). IndiVIdual issues 51.25 lOch
__L,st of Avoiloble Publicotlon. .
November 9. 1990
Bally's Las Vegas
Las Vegas. Nevada
This seminar will emphasize monitor-
ing. sampling and remediation in the
vadose zone. Sessions will concentrate
on: soil pore-liquid monitoring. monitor-
ing for underground storage tanks. va-
dose zone monitoring concepts for
landfills and surface impoundments.
soil-gas monitoring. remediation using
Iandfarming techniques and real estate
transfer sites.
L _
• Environmental Site Assessmenl$
One-Day Course.
October 23-25. 1990
Sheraton Palace Hotel
San Francisco. California
• A Comprehensive Approach to
Development and Protection of
Groundwoter Supplies
Sessions will focus on: sources of
groundwater supply. maximum supply
that can be developed. groundwater
law. sources of contamination. chemi-
cal and physical characteristics of con-
taminants. groundwater vulnerability.
groundwater protection regulations.
and groundwater data and research
October 1-3. 1990
Ramada Renaissance Holel
Long Beach. California
• Theory and Application of Vadose
Monitoring. Sampling and Remedia-
• Theory and Practice of Groundwa-
ler Monitoring and Sampling-De-
signed for Newly Practicing Ground-
waler Professionals
The Association of Groundwater
Scientists and Engineers. a division of
National Water Well Association
(NWWA). will offer the following
November 6-8. 1990
Bally's Las Vegas
Las Vegas. Nevada
This seminar examines the monitor-
ing process and procedures for ob-
taining representative waler samples.
Instruction is given on, groundwater
monitoring system design. advantages
and limitations of various drilling meth-
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lor defining aquifer parameters. mate-
rials used in monitoring well installa-
tion. well development. selecting sam-
pling devices. sample frequency. mini-
mizing outside influences on sample
integrity. and vadose zone monitoring.
PO lOX 2980
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Available issues, current prices. and
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January 1934, (State MineraloglSl's Report
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(90 copieS available).
"AesurrecllOO 01 early surfaces In the
s.erra Nevada:
"Geology and lfUneral resources of north·
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October 1944, (SIale MlflflfaloglSl"s Report
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"Geology 0' the Ouartz Crystal mine near
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"StrategIC mICa:
April 1945, (Slate MlflflfaJogtst s Report XLII,
v. 41, no 2 5500 each (170 copes
"Quicksilver deposits ollhe KnollVllIe DIs·
tncI, Napa. Yolo and lake countJeS-
October 1945, (Stale Mlfl8faJoglSI'S Report
XU). v 41, no 4. $5.00 each (30
"Pine Creek and Adamson tungsten
mines, Inyo Count)' -
"Indelt to topographic quadrangles 01
"Flow-sheet 0' American Potash and
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July-October 1957, v 53, no. 3-4 $5.00
each (159 copies available).
-lead and Zinc In Califorrna -
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Jan-December 1957, v. 53. $10.00 each
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"Geology of the Island MountaIn Copper
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