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Valley of Fire Geology

The beautiful scenery of Logandale Trails tells an interesting story of oceans, tumultuous faulting, and shifting desert sand.  Imagine standing in this very spot over 200 million years ago at the end of the Paleozoic Era. You would be at the bottom of an inland sea watching limestone form.  As the Paleozoic gave way to the Mesozoic Era, more than 165 million years ago, the landscape was very different. The pressure of colliding land mass plates forced the limestone crust to thrust up.  All around you would be swamps and rivers. The swamps collected small, fine sediments leading to the formation of shale and mudstone. The rivers flowed through forests of pine trees much like present day pine, juniper and evergreen trees.  The conglomerate rock deposited by that river now contains fossil remains of conifer trees.

190-135 million years ago during the Jurassic period of the Mesozoic Era, you would be standing in the middle of a desert, much like the Sahara Desert of today,  Winds pushed around giant sand dunes that were, on average, 2000 feet thick. The red layers in the Aztec Sandstone you see are records of the shifting sand dunes.  The sandstone has red color from the oxidation of iron minerals in the sand.

Around 65 million years ago, the scenery changed dramatically as pressures from the colliding tectonic plates forced the older limestone up and over the sandstone in a thrust fault, making the gray mountains you see in the distance.  The geologic process we currently see in action is erosion. Wind and water have sculpted and created this amazing place we call Logandale Trails.

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