Sandstone and Shale Mushroom Patch

November 26, 2007


Provided by: Edward Nuttall
Summary authors & editors: Edward Nuttall, Stu Witmer

I call this photo "The Mushroom Patch." It was taken in the Bisti/De-Na-Zin Wilderness of New Mexico. "Bisti" is translated from the Navajo language as a large area of shale hills. "De-Na-Zin" is from the Navajo for "cranes" of which there are petroglyphs in the area. Located 30 miles (48 km) south of Farmington, the Bisti Wilderness formed 80-65 million years ago. As the inland seas retreated to the northeast, coastal swamps formed where today only barren badlands are found. Time and tectonic events have etched a fantasy world of strange rock formations and fossils. Weathering of the Fruitland Formation (interbedded sandstone, shale, mudstone, coal and silt) forms the many spires and hoodoos (sculpted rock) while the Kirtland Shale (containing rocks of various colors) caps the mushroom shaped landforms. Some of these spires exceed 15 ft (5 m) in height.

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