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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For other uses, see Painted Desert.

Painted Desert is the name for a broad area of badlands located in Northern Arizona in the United States. The desert stretches from the Grand Canyon National Park into the Petrified Forest National Park and runs roughly astride and just north of the Little Colorado and the Puerco Rivers. Much of the area within the Petrified Forest National Park is protected as the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area.[1] Another, smaller protected area is the Little Painted Desert County Park found just north of Winslow. Much of the Painted Desert region is located within the Navajo Nation. The Navajo and the Hopi people have lived in the region for at least five hundred and one thousand years, respectively. The popular name for the desert comes from the Colonial Spanish who are said to have named it El Desierto Pintado due to its brightly colored landscape.[2]

Contents

Geology

Painted Desert, Arizona

The desert is composed of stratified layers of easily erodable siltstones, mudstones and shales of the Triassic Chinle Formation. These fine grained rock layers contain abundant iron and manganese compounds which provide the pigments for the various colors of the region. Thin resistant lacustrine limestone layers and volcanic flows cap the mesas. Numerous layers of silicic volcanic ash occur in the Chinle and provide the silica for the petrified logs of the area. The erosion of these layers has resulted in the formation of the badlands topography of the region.[3][4][5]

In the southern portions of the desert the remains of a Triassic Era coniferous forest have fossilized over millions of years. Wind, water and soil erosion continue to change the face of the landscape by shifting sediment and exposing layers of the Chinle Formation. An assortment of fossilized prehistoric plants and animals are found in the region, as well as dinosaur tracks and the evidence of early human habitation.

Accessibility

Much of the region is accessible only by foot or unpaved road though major highways and paved roads cut across the area. The towns of Cameron and Tuba City, both within the Navajo Nation, are two major settlements.

Gallery

See also

References

  1. ^ Wilderness camping at NPS
  2. ^ Did you know? (bottom of page), NPS
  3. ^ Chronic, Halka, Pages of Stone: Geology of Grand Canyon & Plateau Country National Parks & Monuments, Mountaineers Books; 2nd ed., 2004, pp. 131 - 134 ISBN 978-0898866803
  4. ^ Baars, Donald L., Navajo Country, University of New Mexico Press, 1995 pp. 47 - 53 ISBN 0-8263-1587-9
  5. ^ Baars, Donald L., The Colorado Plateau: a Geologic History, University of New Mexico Press, 1983, p. 163 - 168 ISBN 0-8263-0599-7

External links

Little Painted Desert County Park, seen from Highway 89

Coordinates: 35°04′30″N 109°47′24″W / 35.075°N 109.79°W / 35.075; -109.79

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