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Full text of "... Report on the Geology of the High Plateaus of Utah, with Atlas"

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GATE OF MONROE. 



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DEPARTMENT OP THE INTEEIOB 

V. 8. aeoaKAfHlCAL AND OEOUMiCA;, SVKVEV OF THE KUCIY MODNTAIN HEOION 

^ J. W. POWELL, in cnARGB 



REPORT 



GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS OF UTAH 



WITH ATLAS 



By O. E. DtTTTON 

CAPTAIN OF UHDNANCS, V. B. A. 




WASHINGTON 

aOVEEMMEMT PBINTINO OFFICE 

1880 



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Washington, D. C, April 19, 1880. 
Sir: Herewith I have the honor to transmit a report of explorations 
and studies in Utah Territory prosecuted during the years 1875, 1876, and 
1877, in connection with the survey of Maj. J. W. Powell, under the In- 
terior Department This report is made in conformity with Special Orders 
of the War Department No. 90, May 13, 1875 ; No. 134, July 3, 1876 ; No. 
89, April 26, 1877, which require that the report be made to the Secretary 
of War. 

I respectfully request that the report may be forwarded to the hon- 
orable the Secretary of the Interior, with a view to its publication in con- 
nection with the survey work of Major PowelL 

Very respectfully, sir, your obedient servant, 

C. E. DUTTON, 
Captain qf Ordnance. 
Tlic Hon. Secbetaby of Wab, 

(Through the Chief of Ordnance, U. S. A.) 

[Indorsement.] 

Ordnance Office, War Depabtment, 

Washington^ April 20, 1880. 
Respectfully submitted to the Secretary of War. Approved. 

S. V. BENfiT, 
Brigadier- General J Chief of Ordn 

iii 



H ;;\ . . 




Wab Depabtment, 
Washington City, April 22, 1880. 
Sib: I have the honor to transmit herewith a report of Capt C. E. 
Dutton, of the Ordnance Department, of explorations and studies in Utah, 
prosecuted during the years 1875, 1876, and 1877, in connection with the 
survey of J. W. Powell, under the Interior Department. 

In accordance with the wishes of Captain Dutton I respectfully 
request that the report referred to may be published in connection with the 
survey work of Major PowelL 

Very respectfully, your obedient servant, 

ALEXANDER RAMSEY, 

Secretary of War. 
The Hon. Secbetabt op the Intebiob. 

[Indorsement.] 

Depabtbient op the Intebiob, 

April 23, 1880. 
Respectfully referred to Maj. J. W. Powell. 

GEO. M. LOCKWOOD, 

Chief Clerk. 



d 



PREFATORY NOTE. 



BT THE DIBECTOR OF T^E SUJBYET. 



Tlie Colorado Plateaus extend from southern Wyoming through 
western Colorado and eastern Utah far into New Mexico and Arizona. 
They are bounded on the north by the Wind River and Sweetwater 
Mountains, on the east by the Park Mountains, on the south by the Desert 
Range Region, and on the west by the Basin Range Region. 

The Plateaus are chiefly drained by the Colorado River, but a small 
area on the northwest is drained into Shoshone River, another on the north- 
east into the Platte River^ still another on the southeast into the Rio Grande 
del Norte, and finally the western margin is drained by the upper portions 
of the Sevier, Provo, Ogden, Weber, and Bear Rivers. The general eleva- 
tion is about 7,000 feet above the level of the sea — varying from 5,000 to 
12,000 feet. The ascent from the low, desert plains on the south is very 
abrupt — in many places by a steep and almost impassable escarpment In 
the Plateau Province an extensive series of sedimentary formations appear, 
embracing Paleozoic, Mesozoic, and Tertiary strata, but crystalline schists 
and granites are found in some of the deep cailons. 

A marked unconformity exists between the Silurian and Devonian 
rocks; another between the Devonian and Carboniferous; another, but 
not so well marked, between the Carboniferous and Mesozoic, and lastly 
an unconformity between Cretaceous and Tertiary is usually well defined. 
The Plateaus have been above the sea since the close of the Cretaceous 
period but during early Tertiary times extensive lakes existed through- 
out the Province. In Mesozoic and Tertiary times the Basin Province to 
the west was the principal source of the materials deposited in the Pla- 



VI I 



Vm GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

teau Province. In general, each formation is exceedingly persistent and 
homogeneous in its characteristics, but in passing from one formation to 
another in the vertical scale great heterogeneity is observed. To a very 
large extent the formations still lie in a horizontal or nearly horizontal 
position. The entire surface is traversed by faults or their homologues, 
monoclinal flexures, having in general a north and south direction. Fol- 
lowing any given line of displacement frequent transitions from faulting to 
flexure are observed. The method of transition is variable ; sometimes the 
flexed beds are found to be partially faulted so that the throw is part by 
faulting and part by flexure ; sometimes a great fault divides into two or 
more minor ones in such a manner that the entire throw is accomplished 
by a series of steps. Still other important phenomena are observed in 
these faults; to explain them, the terms throw smd upheaval e^re used as 
relative to each other. In the cases to be described the upheaved beds 
have their edges flexed upwards. This is explained in the following man- 
ner : First, a displacement occurred by flexure ; second, another displace- 
ment, reversing the first, occurred by faulting, so that the thrown beds of 
the first displacement were the upheaved beds of the second. The evi- 
dence of this reversed action is sometimes exhibited in beds deposited at a 
time intervening between the two movements; in this manner the beds 
last deposited are displaced only by the last movement This reversal of 
displacement along the same plain or zone is frequently seen. It is some- 
times by faulting and sometimes by flexure, thus giving rise to many com- 
plications in the positions of strata. The great displacements began in 
early Tertiary time, and are probably yet in progress. The evidences of 
the recency of some of these movements appear in the escarpments fre- 
quently seen along the line of faults where Quaternary beds have been 
broken at a time so recent that the escarpments have not been destroyed 
by atmospheric agencies, and further evidence is exhibited in the small 
amount of talus frequently found at the foot of a recently formed fault- 
scarp. By these displacements the region is divided into blocks with a 
north and south trend ; but this geologic characteristic serves only in part 
to divide the region into plateaus. 

The streams which traverse the region have their sources in the Wind 



PREFATORY NOTE. ix 

River Mountains on the north; in the Park Mountains on the east, and a 
number of tributaries come from the west. In their courses through the 
plateaus they run in cations. These cations are profound gorges corraded 
by the streams themselves. The "country rock" of the region is composed 
of sedimentary beds, nearly horizontal, as already stated. The region is 

also excessively arid, but the mountains that stand on the rim of the basin 

• 

precipitate a large proportion of moisture, and in this manner streams 
of comparatively large volume head in the mountains, run through the 
plateaus and descend rapidly to the level of the sea, while the country 
through which they pass is very meagerly supplied with moisture. Under 
these conditions the profound gorges have been cut, as the process of cafion 
cutting is more rapid than the lateral degradation of the country. In this 
manner every river runs in a deep gorge, and these cations further serve to 
divide the region into plateaus. 

The division is completed by lines of cliffs. These cliffs are bold escarp- 
ments hundreds and thousands of feet in altitude — ^grand steps by which 
the region is teri'aced. As the rivers corrade their channels more rapidly 
than general degradation is carried on, the stratigraphic conditions of the 
horizontal beds play a very important part in the method of degradation. 
Here degradation by surface erosion is less and degradation by sapping 
greater, and thus the walls of the cations retreat slowly in a series of steps 
by this sapping process. Softer beds easily yield to atmospheric agencies, 
while harder beds resist and stand in bold escarpments. 

Thus by faults and monoclinal flexures, by deep cations, and by lines 
of cliffs the surface is cut into a great number of plateaus. 

In addition to the Plateaus proper, there are mountains due to upheaval 
and degradation. The more important of these are the Zutli Range, to the 
south, and the Uinta Range, far to the north. The Uinta Range is carved 
from a broad upheaval having an east and west axis. On either flank of the 
upheaval there is a line or zone of maximum displacement where the 
upheaval is by flexure or by faulting. Between these zones there is a gentle 
flexure either way to the axis. Thus the upheaval is in part by general 
flexure from the axis as an anticlinal, and in part by faulting and monoclinal 
flexure, as in the Kaibab structure. Again there are small ai-eas which are 



X GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

zones of diverse displacement: these districts are broken into smaller 
blocks by faults and flexures, and often the blocks have been excessively 
tilted and warj^ed in diverse directions. On the flanks of plateaus and 
mountain systems of the Uinta type where monoclinal flexures occur mono- 
clinal ridges are frequently seen. The position of these monoclinal ridges 
is frequently varied by the occurrence of transverse faults. Where a great 
Kaibab, Uinta, or anticlinal upheaval is found broken by a transverse fault, 
that portion of the grand upheaval which has the greater amplitude will 
have its monoclinal ridges placed more distant from the axis of upheaval and 
that portion which has the less amplitude will have its monoclinal ridges 
nearer the axis. In this manner, by vertical movements in transverse 
faulting, the monoclinal ridges may be placed back and forth from the axis 
of grand upheaval in such a manner as to give the appearance of lateral 
faulting, i, e., faulting in a horizontal direction. 

On the plateaus stand buttes, lone mountains, and groups of mountains. 

The buttes are mountain cameos, composed of horizontiil strata with 
escarped sides — they are mountains of circuuidenudation. 

The mountains are composed in whole or in part of extra vasated matter 
and may be classed structurally under three types. 

I. Those having the Henby Mountain Stbucture — where the locus of vol- 

canic deposition is below the base level of degradation. 

II. Those having the Tushau Structure — where the locus of volcanic 

deposition is at the base level of degradation. 

III. Those having the Uinkaret Structure — where the locus of extrava- 
sation is above the base level of degradation. 

In the fii*st, the mountains are composed in part of volcanic and in 
part of sedimentary materials. The volcanic matter exists as laccolites, over 
which sedimentary sti*ata have extended in great mountain domes, but such 
strata may have been carried away, more or less, by atmospheric degra- 
dation. In this class each mountain is a mass of volcanic material, with 
sedimentary beds upon its flanks, and often these sedimentary beds extend 
high up or even quite over the volcanic materials. 

In the second, the mountains are composed wholly of volcanic mate- 
. rials erected upon a base of sedimentary strata. The mass is composed of 



PBBPATOET NOTE. jd 

many outflows^ which are often separated by unconfonnities due to inter- 
vening atmospheric degradation. 

In the third, the mountains are composed in part of sedimentaiy and 
in part of extravasated materials. The sedimentary beds constitute the 
central masses, over which extravasated rocks are spread. The locus of 
extravasation being above the general base level of degradation, as the 
adjacent country was carried away by atmospheric agencies the underlying 
sedimentaries were protected and left as mountain masses. Usually the 
extravasation has been continued from time to time through a series of 
vents marked by cinder cones, and in a general way the earlier ones appear 
pearer the summit of the mountain masses, the later ones nearer the base. 
In this manner the several sheets are inversely imbricated ; that is, the 
upper edge of the lower sheet is placed on the lower edge of the upper 
shcQt " Table Mountains," with caps of lava, are the simplest forms of 
this structure. 

There are many varieties of each of these grand classes, and through 
them the systems of structure coalesce in such a manner that the charac-r 
teristics of demarkation are not absolute. 

The Colorado Plateaus may be divided into a number of groups, based 
on topographic and geologic characteristics, of which the High Plateaus 
constitute one of the most important The great tabular masses are com- 
posed of sedimentary formations of "early Tertiary and late Cretaceous age, 
nearly or quite horizontal and usually capped with formations of extrava-t 
sated matter. These lavas are of exceedingly complex arrangement. The 
period of volcanic activity was long, and between the outbreaks atmosr 
pheric degradation, local transportation, and 'deposition intervened. To 
unravel these complexities and discover the line of sequence has been ai 
task of great magnitude. Jn the earlier explorations: of tliis country undeJC 
the direction of the writer, the general sequence- of c sedimentary formations 
was discovered, \as well as the general characteristics of displacement^ 
many of it« principal faults had been traced, and the origin of the cliffs and 
cailons was known. All this was the result jo£ a series of reconnaissance 
surveys. But the principal work of the geological survey of the region still 
awaited accomplisjui^nt. It was necessary that, the sedimentary formations 



XU GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

should be studied in detail, that the great structure lines, the faults and 
flexures, should be carefully traced, and the displacements determined quan- 
titatively ; but the most important part of the investigation to be made was 
presented in the study of the volcanic formations, which are the chief char- 
acteristics of the group of High Plateaus. No systematic work had been 
done in this field. Our knowledge of it was chiefly confined to its geo- 
graphic extent and to a general belief that an extensive series of volcanic 
rocks would be found, and that the subject was of great complexity. At 
this stage Capt. C. E. Dutton, of the Ordnance Corps, was induced to under- 
take the investigation. Three seasons were devoted by him to field labor, 
and the intervening months were chiefly given to laboratory study of the 
materials collected in the field. With great labor and skill the work has 
been accomplished, and its results are presented in this volume, which will 
be found to extend our knowledge of the geology of the United States and 
to be an important contribution to geologic philosophy. 

To a large extent the sedimentary region embraced in the survey of 
which this volume treats is destitute of vegetation and soil and its rocks 
are so naked that good sections are obtainable on every hand. Again, the 
region is dissected by deep cafions. From both of these reasons the geology 
is plainly revealed. Every fault, every flexure, the relations of successive 
strata, unconformities, and all facts of structure are seen at once. But 
there are two sources of obscurity. First, some of the highest plateaus are 
covered with forests and vegetation. Second, the extravasated rocks are 
aggregated in a ipuch more confused manner than the sedimentary beds, 
and greater labor and care is required in tracing them, and after the utmost 
care uncertainties and doubts remain. Thus it is that in describing the 
structm'al geology of the region the details of examination do not appear as 
in reports on regions of country less favorable to geologic examination. 
To a large extent, also, the details of structure are omitted from the text 
and appear in the graphic illustrations which accompany the report. It 
has been the policy of the survey to relieve its reports to the utmost extent 
of burdensome details of verbiage, by presenting them, as far as possible, 
through graphic methods to the eye. 

The early reconnaissance of the country was in part made by Mr. 



PREFATORY NOTE. xiii 

E. E. Howell, whose elaborate notes were placed in the hands of Captain 
Dutton, and from time to time he has in his volume given Mr. Howell 
credit for the material which he has used. It was unfortunate for Mr. 
Howell that his labor was suspended prematurely, and that he was not 
able to elaborate a report upon the country studied by him. 

The geography of the district, as exhibited in the atlas accompanying 
this volume, was the study of Prof. A. H. Thompson, who was my assistant 
in charge of that branch of the work during the earlier years of explora- 
tion and survey. Through his skill and industry the geography has been 
represented with all the accuracy and detail that the adopted scale will 
permit. 

I am especially indebted to Brig. Gen. S. V. Bendt, chief of the Ord- 
nance Bureau, for the interest he has taken in the geologic and geographic 
researches prosecuted by the survey under my direction. Through the 
wise policy of administration adopted by him. Captain Dutton has been 
enabled to cairy on his labors as a geologist outside of the general oper- 
ations of the Ordnance Bureau. The contribution to science which he hero 
presents will abundantly justify the course pursued by his distinguished 
chief. 

To the Secretary of War and the General of the Army, the survey is 

indebted for assistance rendered in various ways — especially in furnishing 

subsistance to field parties from the commissariat of the Army, but chicsfly 

ill the opportunity given Captain Dutton to prosecute his researches. 

J. W.. POWELL. 
April 1880. 




PREFACE. 



In the. year 1874 my kind friend Prof. J. W. Powell proposed to me 
that I should undertake, under his direction, the study of a large volcanic 
tract in the Territory of Utah, provided the consent of proper authority 
could be entertained. Distrusting my own fitness for the work, I felt that 
it wQuld be better for him if his proposals were thankfully declined. In 

1875, however, he renewed the proposition in such a friendly and compli- 
mentary manner that a refusal seemed ungracious. I le therefore laid the 
matter before the Secretaiy of War, the General of the Army, and the 
Chief of Ordnance, all of whom gave their cordial approbation; and by 
order of the War Department I was detailed for duty in connection with 
the survey of the Rocky Mountain Region in charge of Professor Powell. 
The field which he assigned me to study was the District of the High 
Plateaus, and the investigations were made during the summers of 1875, 

1876, and 1877. The preparation of a report or monograph upon the dis- 
trict has several times been interrupted by the pressure of other official 
duties to which the writer has been assigned during the last three years. 

In submitting this work, the dominant feeling in my own mind is a 
keen sense of its many imperfections and a consciousness that it falls far 
short of my hopes and expectations. The defects have arisen in a great 
measure from want of experience in western geological field work prior to 
the inception of this undertaking, and especially from want of observation 
in the class of phenomena of which the work principally treats. Probably, 
also, the magnitude of the task proposed was too great even for much more 
experienced observers to accomplish within the time allotted to it. It 
involved not only a study of the immediate district under discussion, but the 
investigation of large areas surrounding it to which the district stands in 



XV 









I 



I 



:i 



I 



; 



, 



PREFACE. 



In the 3''ear 1874 my kind friend Prof. J. W. Powell proposed to me 
that I should undertake, under his direction, the study of a large volcanic 
ti'act in the Territory of Utah, provided the consent of proper authority 
could be entertained. Distrusting my own fitness for the work, I felt that 
it wQuld be better for him if his proposals were thankfully declined. In 

1875, however, he renewed the proposition in such a friendly and compli- 
mentary manner that a refusal seemed ungracious. I le therefore laid the 
matter before the Secretary of War, the General of the Army, and the 
Chief of Ordnance, all of whom gave their cordial approbation; and by 
order of the War Department I was detailed for duty in connection with 
the survey of the Rocky Mountain Region in charge of Professor Powell. 
The field which he assigned me to study was the District of the High 
Plateaus, and the investigations were made during tlie summers of 1875, 

1876, and 1877. The preparation of a report or monograph upon the dis- 
trict has several times been interrupted by the pressure of other official 
duties to which the writer has been assigned during the last three years. 

In submitting this work, the dominant feeling in my own mind is a 
keen sense of its many imperfections and a consciousness that it falls far 
short of my hopes and expectations. The defects have arisen in a great 
measure from want of experience in western geological field work prior to 
the inception of this undertaking, and especially from want of observation 
in the class of phenomena of which the work principally treats. Probably, 
also, the magnitude of the task proposed was too great even for much more 
experienced observers to accomplish within the time allotted to it. It 
involved not only a study of the immediate district under discussion, but the 
investigation of large areas surrounding it to which the district stands in 



XV 



PREFACE. 



In the year 1874 my kind friend Prof. J- W. Powell proposed to me 
that I should undertake, under his direction, the study of a large volcanic 
ti'act in the Territory of Utah, provided the consent of proper authority 
could be entertained. Distrusting my own fitness for the work, I felt that 
it wQuld be better for him if his proposals were thankfully declined. In 

1875, however, he renewed the proposition in such a friendly and compli- 
mentary manner that a refusal seemed ungracious. He therefore laid the 
matter before the Secretaiy of War, the General of the Army, and the 
Chief of Ordnance, all of whom gave their cordial approbation; and by 
order of the War Department I was detailed for duty in connection with 
the survey of the Rocky Mountain Region in charge of Professor Powell. 
The field which he assigned me to study was the District of the High 
Plateaus, and the investigations were made during tlie summers of 1875, 

1876, and 1877. The preparation of a report or monograph upon the dis- 
trict has several times been interrupted by the pressure of other official 
duties to which the writer has been assigned during the last three years. 

In submitting this work, the dominant feeling in my own mind is a 
keen sense of its many imperfections and a consciousness that it falls far 
short of my hopes and expectations. The defects have arisen in a great 
measure from want of experience in western geological field work prior to 
the inception of this undertaking, and especially from want of observation 
in the class of phenomena of which the work principally treats. Probably, 
also, the magnitude of the task proposed was too great even for much more 
experienced observers to accomplish within the time allotted to it. It 
involved not only a study of the immediate district under discussion, but the 
investigation of large areas surrounding it to which the district stands in 



XV 



J 






Xvi GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

intimate relations. In the brief season during which work in such a region 
is practicable the investigation must be pushed with the utmost vigor and 
rapidity, and the greatest portion of the time must be devoted io acquiring 
a general and connected view of the broader features, while details cjinnot 
often receive the attention which their impoi*tance really demands. From 
the nature of the case, therefore, the work must be somewhat superficial in 
many respects. 

In preparing a monograph upon this district, it has been necessaiy to 
lay the greatest stress upon a few subjects of inquiry, and these would natu- 
rally be those which the facts most fully exemplify. It was impoi*tant, 
however, at the beginning to discuss it as a part of a gi-eat geological prov- 
ince, in which are found certain categories of facts possessing a peculiar 
interest, displayed in a remarkable manner, and of the highest importance 
to physical geology. The ''Plateau Country" of the west is, I firmly 
believe, destined to become one of the most instructive fields of research 
which geologists in the future will have occasion to investigate. Of its sub- 
divisions the District of the High Plateaus is one of the most important, 
and the relations of the district to the province were studied with great care. 
The results of those studies are set forth in general terms in the first two 
chapters. 

In the treatment of geological phenomena occurring within the district 
the investigation has been devoted chiefly to three lines of inquiry. The 
firat is geological structure — those attitudes of the strata and the topo- 
graphical forms which have been caused by the vertical movements of the 
rocks. The displacements which have occurred there are very striking 
both in respect to their magnitude and to their systematic arrangement. In 
their forms and modes of occuiTence they are pIso somewhat peculiar, 
especially when brought into comparison with displacements found in other 
regions. Ultimately such facts must take their place in that branch of 
geological philosophy which treats of the evolution of the eailh's physical 
features, the building of mountains, and the elevation of continents and 
plateaus; but at present the observed facts do not appear to group them- 
selves into the relation of effects to causes. The broader facts relating to 
structure are discussed in the second chapter. 



Fv^r'-..,, ^\. — .'—■ 



AUTHOR'S PREFACE. xvii 

The second and principal subject of investigation comprises volcanic 
phenomena. The High Plateaus are in chief part a great volcanic area, in 
which eruptions have occurred upon a grand scale. Tiio period of activity 
has been a very long one, its initial epoch having been not far from the 
Middle Eocene; and the eruptions have occurred with probably long inter- 
vals of repose throughout the remainder of Tertiary and Quaternary time, 
the most recent ones having to all appearances taken place only a few cen- 
turies ago. The variety of eruptive products is exceedingly great, all of 
the commoner kinds from the very acid to the very basic groups being well 
represented. The preponderating masses are trachytic, but rhyolites, ande- 
sites (including propylites), and basalts are found in great abundance. 
Perhaps the most striking masses were the accumulations of fragmental 
volcanic products — the beds of conglomerate and tufa, which occur in pro- 
digious volume, especially in the central and southern portions of the 
district. These proved to be extremely interesting, yielding many themes 
of inquiry and speculation. 

It would have been impossible, under the circumstances, to apply to a 
region so extensive, so varied, 9,nd so ancient, the exhaustive analysis which 
Scrope has given to the volcanoes of the Auvergne or Geikie to the volcanic 
rocks of the Basin of the Forth. Of all geological investigations the most 
difficult are those relating to volcanology. Where the accumulations are 
of great extent the student for a long time recognizes nothing but confusion, 
and the difficulty of evoking anything like order and a succession of events 
is about proportional to the amount of extravasation. And where the 
atmospheric forces have through long periods been at work destroying the 
piles which have been built up by eruption, the difficulty is still further 
augmented. Individual facts, indeed, are numerous and even bewildering 
by their number and variety. But we want something more than facts ; 
we want their order, their relations, and their meaning ; and it is rare to 
find the facts and relations so displayed that they are readily discerned and 
comprehended. It seemed best, therefore, to limit the inquiry to a very 
few questions. The one which was regarded with the most interest had 
reference to the Order of Succession of Volcanic Eruptions. Since the 
publication of Richthofen's ^* Memoir on a Natural System of Volcanic 

HP— 11 



XVlll GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

Rocks," this subject has been of peculiar interest to American students of 
western geology. The discussion of it as applied to the District of the 
High Plateaus will be found in the third chapter. 

The great conglomerates composed of fragmental volcanic materials 
also furnished an interesting subject of inquiry. There are many other dis- 
tricts in the West where similar masses are found sometimes in even greater 
quantity, and their origin and mode of accumulation became an attractive 
problem. That these formations are accumulations of ejected fragments 
seemed inadmissible, and the further the investigation proceeded the more 
untenable did this view appear to be. While great bodies of tufaceous 
matter are usually found surrounding volcanic orifices, the conglomerates 
in question do not conform either in the structure of the beds or in the dis 
tribution of their masses to those of ordinary tufti cones. At the present 
time there are now accumulating in the valleys between the great tables 
extensive <alluvial formations, which upon careful examination seem to cor- 
respond closely to the older conglomerates now exposed in the palisades of 
the plateaus, and the conclusion was reached that the ancient conglomerates 
and modern alluvia were produced by the same process. The discussion 
of these formations is contained in the tenth chapter, and the conclusions 
are embodied in the latter part of the third chapter. 

Another interesting subject was the metamorphism of clastic beds 
derived from the detritus of volcanic rocks, and it is treated in the latter 
part of the eleventh chapter relating to the East Fork Canon in the Sevier 
Plateau. 

Very naturally one of the most prominent objects of investigation was 
to find the localities in which were situated the vents or orifices from which 
the great eruptive masses were outpoured. In the case of the basalts, 
which are comparatively recent in their dates of eruption, there was in most 
cases no difficulty. But with the older rocks, the rhyolites, trachytes, and 
andesites, it is quite different. Some of the rhyolites show very plainly 
even to the most superficial investigation whence they came. Others do 
not. So powerfully have the destroying agents wrought upon the old vol- 
canic piles, and so vast is the mass which has been torn down and scattered, 
that the work of restoration is exceedingly difficult. The task of finding 



AUTHOiyS PEEFACE. xiX 

the old centers, however, is by no means impossible. In a considerable 
number of cases the larger and more important centers are still discernible, 
though some are doubtful and exceedingly indistinct. The obscurity prob- 
ably arises in many cases from the fact that while the greater accumula- 
tions of lavas outflowed from great central vents or from loci within which 
numerous vents were thickly clustered in close proximity, there were 
numberless -scattered orifices from which a few eruptions or even a single 
eruption took place. And these dispersed vents were probably scattered 
about in the intervals between the central localities of eruption. Such 
craters would in the lapse of ages be wholly obliterated, and their out- 
poured masses reduced to mere remnants Tlie general effect of secular 
decay has been to level the volcanic piles and build up the lowlands with 
the debris. On the other hand, the great faults have brought up to daylight 
masses of bedded lavas which otherwise would have been concealed, and 
erosion has in many places attacked the faulted edges of the upraised 
blocks and sawed deep ravines and chasms in which the igneous masses are 
tolerabl)^ well displayed. Thus we are enabled to gain information con- 
cerning the location of the centers of eruption which would otherwise have 
been unattainable. But the knowledge so gained is far less perfect than is 
desirable. 

Although it may seem that an investigation of such importance ought 
to be easy, it is by no means so. The vastness of the masses displayed at 
any center of eruption is such that no conception of their totality or of their 
general aiTangement can be gained without a somewhat protracted investi- 
gation of a large area. But so i-ugged and formidable are the physical 
features that such an investigation is about as difficult an undertaking as ever 
falls to the lot of a geologist. 

The petrographic work has not been embodied in this volume. It has 
not yet been completed, though considerable progi-ess has been made. 
Yet if it had been practicable to obtain the means to prosecute this branch 
ot research to the end, and to publish the results in such form and with 
such illustration as the scientific student of the present day demands, it 
would have been done. It was originally intended to make a thorough 
series of chemical analyses of the volcanic rocks of this district. Many 



XX GEOLOGY OF THE HIGn PLATEAUS. 

hundreds of thin sections for microscopic investigation have long since 

been made. It was intended, also, to describe these rocks thoroughly and 

illustrate the microscopic characters with a large collection of colored plates. 

But the contemplated work was too costly for the very limited appropriation 

at the disposal of Professor Powell. A considerable number of chemical 

analj'ses have been made by myself, but petrographers have very properly 

adopted the habit of relying upon other parties to furnish their chemical 

analyses, and I have therefore omitted to publish them. My conviction is 

that the chemical analysis of volcanic rocks should, whenever practicable, 

accompany the description of microscopic characters, for it seems to me that 

the two lines of investigation are mutually dependent. It is hoped that at 

no distant day the contemplated work may be brought to completion in a 

supplementary volume, for the want of it is most deeply felt in presenting 

the present one. 

THE ATLAS. 

The atlas which accompanies this work has been prepared with great 
care. The first double sheet represents by contours the topography of the 
country. The primary triangulation is by Prof A. H. Thompson, and the 
topographical work by Messrs. J. II. Renshawe and Walter H. Graves, under 
Professor Thompson's supervision. Having been in immediate contact with 
these gentlemen during much of the time occupied by their field work, and 
having familiarized myself with their methods, I can testify to the great 
care and accuracy with which that work has been performed. The detail 
work has been done with plane-tables upon sheets on which the primary 
and secondary triangulations had been accurately plotted. These sheets 
were carefully filled up with details in the field, and when they were 
brought back to Washington contained the material which was used in the 
preparation of the final map. Whatever could be sighted from the stations 
occupied has been located by triangulation and plane-tiible sights and not 
by sketching. Messrs. Renshawe and Graves acquired great skill in the 
use of the plane-table, and worked with surprising accuracy and rapidity. 
Each of them covered more than 2,000 square miles in a season. 

The geological map has been colored by myself. The northern half 
of the sheet is for the most part held to be accurate in details. In the 



AUTHOE'S PEEFACE. xxi 

Pavant the Carboniferous is represented as occupying exclusively the west- 
ern side of the range. It is believed, however, that a few remnants of 
Triassic beds are to be found in that locality, but I am not able to desig- 
nate accurately their positions. On the northwestern side of the Tushar 
also I am informed that there are some Archjean rocks, of which the exact 
location cannot be specified. A portion of the northwestern flank of the 
Tushar and the western side of the Pavant I have not visited, and the geo- 
logical coloring is adopted in those portions as representing merely the 
dominant rocks. A considerable portion of the country lying south of the 
Wasatch Plateau is colored from data derived in part from my own observa- 
tions and in part from those of Mr. Edwin E. Howell. There was some 
difficulty here in fixing in the field the demarkation between the Tertiary 
and Cretaceous, since the two series are not always well distinguished either 
by lithological characters or by fossils. But if the horizon chosen was 
properly selected the delineation is believed to be accurate. South and 
southwest of the Markdgunt Plateau a similar difficulty occurred in sepa- 
rating the jura from the Trias, and the uncertainty here is somewhat 
greater. The boundar}^ between those two formations, as delineated upon 
the map, may, upon more thorough investigation, receive some notable 
modifications, though I believe it represents very approximately the truth. 
In the valley of the Pdria some slight modifications also may be necessary in 
locating with precision the same boundary line ; and again upon the south- 
eastern slopes of the Aquarius Plateau, around the net-work of canons 
tributary to the Escalante, the Trias and the Jura were utterly inaccessible, 
and the location of the separating horizon was infen-ed from the colors of 
the beds and the arrangement of the rocky ledges viewed from a distance. 
The colors and sculptural forms are most exceptionally characteristic in 
these two formations, and in this locality there is no possibility of mistak- 
ing them whenever they can be distinctly seen, whether from great or small 
distances 

The large area of the map devoted to the trachytes should be under- 
stood as meaning that in that area the trachytes are the dominant rocks. 
Commingled with them are the principal bodies of conglomerate and very 
extensive masses of andesite and dolerite. To define these intercalarv 



xxii GEOLOGY OF THE UIGII PLATEAUS. 

lavas and tlie conglomerates would obviously be impossible. With the 
foregoing exceptions the distribution of the strata is given with great con- 
fidence In the exceptional cases the eiTors are believed to be so small as 
not to sensibly impair the accuracy of the map. 

The relief map was prepared in the following manner: A plaster cast 
about five feet square was made, the horizontal and vertical scale being the 
same. The data for the cast were obtained from the contour map. The 
cast was then photographed, and a copy of the photograph was drawn upon 
stone. 

The map (Sheet No. 4), showing the an-angement of the faults and 
flexures, was designed to show at a glance the connection, relations, and in 
some cases the continuity of the greater structure lines of the High Plateaus 
with those of the Kaibab district around the Grand Caiion of the Colorado. 
The Kaibab or Grand Canon faults have been already worked out in an 
admirable manner by Powell. The importance of connecting the two dis- 
tricts by these common features is very great, and is not only essential to 
the present work, but will have, if possible, still greater importance when 
the geology of the southwestern part of the Plateau Province is discussed. 
Only the greater displacements are here given. There are very many 
smaller ones which are not so well known nor so well identified. Those 
which are given have been traced rigorously mile by mile so far as they 
are represented, excepting, however, the portions which extend south of the 
Colorado. The course of these faults south of the Grand Canon has been 
given to me by Mr. G. K. Gilbert, who has in part identified their existence 
in that region, though I presume that he would not wish to be understood 
as attaching a very high degree of accuracy to his designations, having 
made merely a preliminary reconnaissance in that region. 

The stereogram has been worked out with great care. It is the con- 
solidated expression of a very large number of sections made in the field, 
together with the results obtained by tracing continuously each fault along 
its course I'his mode of illustrating displacements is by no means all that 
could be desired and has some serious defects lint it seems to be a gi'cat 
improvement in the means of illustrating structure, since it groups the 
dominant features together in their proper relations. Probably the greatest 



AUTHOR'S PEEFAOE. xxiu 

value of it is the facility it affords the student of testing the accuracy of 
his work. He cannot commit a serious error in making his stereogram 
without knowing it. He cannot proceed far in his work without becoming 
conscious of the defects and gaps in his knowledge, and, best of all, he 
obtains an index pointing to the very localities which he must revisit in 
order to supplement the deficiencies. A stereogram is a laborious work, but 
it abundantly repays the labor expended upon it The writer who achieves 
one will know the structure of the objects he is describing in a way and with 
a thoroughness he could never hope for from any other means. Unfor- 
tunately this method of systematizing observation is of very limited appli- 
cability. Much disturbed regions and countries which have preserved very 
obscurely the records of their displacements are hardly capable of such a 
discussion. The stereogram cannot take the place of the ordinary geologi- 
cal sections, though it can embody in one illustration some of the most 
important features of a hundred or more. 

It is my pleasant duty to acknowledge the obligations which I owe to 
Professor Powell for the earnest support he has given me during the work 
of exploration and while the report has been in process of preparation. 
Every facility which he could supply has been placed at my disposal, 
whether in the field or in the office. But the greatest debt which I owe 
him is for the scientific advice and assistance he has given me. He has 
been not merely the director and administrator of his survey, but in the 
most literal sense its chief geologist. During the period of his field work 
in the Plateau Country (from 1869 to 1874) he had mastered with great 
rapidity and acumen the broader facts and had co-ordinated them into a 
system which was novel in many respects and which further research has 
proved to be perfectly sound. The geological phenomena encountered in 
that region are indeed governed by the same fundamental laws which prevail 
elsewhere, but the conditions under which those laws operate are altogether 
novel and peculiar, and the results which they produce are so singular that 
they seem at first anomalous and then mysterious. The geologist who is 
skilled in the conventional methods of investigation, the older applications 
of principles, and the routine logic which have long been in vogue, might 
well have been excused if he had found in this strange land little else than 



XXINT GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

paradoxes. But with Powell it was not so. His industry and energy in 
the collection of fiicts, his stubborn resolution and dauntless courage in over- 
coming the physical obstacles which nature has there placed in the way of 
investigation, would alone have secured his fame; but even these are less 
admirable than the analytic power with which he traced the facts back to 
their causes, and the synthetic skill with which he grouped them together. 
He has made the Plateau Country a most alluring lield of geological study, 
and evolved from it a new range of geological thought and philosophy. 
The principles and fundamental generalizations with which he wrought are 
indeed old and long established, but the facts being new and strange, it 
required in order to comprehend them, a sagacity and penetration analogous 
to that which is necessary for the citizen of one civilization to understand 
the ethics of another. Not only has he grasped the details of his subject— 
the salient features of the geological history, the stratigrai)hy, the erosion, 
the displacements, the sculpture, the structure, the drainage, the origin of 
the cliffs and canons of the Plateau Country — but he has woven all these, 
details and many others into a compact and consistent whole, in which each 
part of the scheme gives support and bond to all the others The pressure 
of administrative duties and the prosecution of other work which he could 
not avoid, chiefly ethnographic, have retarded the api)earance of the great 
work he has contemplated upon tlie Plateau Country; but those whose 
privilege it has been to continue the study of that region under his direc- 
tion, to consult with him daily, to benefit by his advice and thorough knowl- 
edge of the field are deeply sensible of the fact that their own work has 
been merely tributary to the broader scheme which originated with him and 
of which he is unquestionably the founder and master. 

I must, also acknowledge my indebtedness to Mr. Edwin E. Howell 
for some very important material which has been embodied in this work. 
In the year 1873 ^Ir. Howell was attached to the survey of Lieut, (now 
Capt.) George AI. Wheeler, of the Corps of Engineers, and under the able 
and (energetic direction of that oflicer he rapidly traversed a large portion 
of the Plateau Country. His brief but very instructive report is con- 
tained in Vol. Ill, Geology, Surveys West of the One Hundredth Merid- 
ian, Lieut. George M. Wheeler in charge. In the year 1874 Mr. Howell 



AUTHOR'S PEEFACB. XXV 

joined Professor Powell's survey and rapidly traversed the District of the 
High Plateaus and portions of the region southwest of that district. Dur- 
ing that year he succeeded in fixing the geological horizons of the chief 
sedimentary beds there occurring, and also began the study of the struc- 
tural features of the northern part of the district in the Wasatch Plateau 
and in the Pdvant In the following winter he withdrew from the survey 
in order to engage in business, and left copious notes of his observations 
and drawings of geological sections which I have had the privilege of con- 
sulting. His drawings of the sections made by him in the northern part 
of the district are embodied in this volume. He is entitled to high praise 
for the ability and accuracy of his work, and it is much to be regretted 
that he was induced to abandon geological fieldwork. 

I am also indebted to Mr. G. K. Gilbert for many valuable suggestions. 
He has traversed this district several times on his way to and from his 
own field of research and has given me information which has often proved 
of great utility. 

The atlas has been lithographed by Mr. Julius Bien, of New York, and 

bears abundant evidence of his great skill and intelligence in that kind of 

work. 

C. E. DUTTON, 

Captain of Ordnance. 



i 



OONTEISTTS- 



CHAPTER I. 

Page. 

General considerations relating to the topograpuy and geological history of the 
High Plateaus and their relations to the Plateau Province of which they form 

A J ART 1 

Situation of the High Plateaus. — ^The several ranges and intervening valleys. — Relations of High 
Plateaus to the Plateau Province at large. — Geological history of the province. — Its lacustrine 
strata. — Its emergence and desiccation. — Its erosion. — Its drainage system. — Origin of its 
X>eculiar features. 1-24. 

CHAPTEE II. 

Structural GEOLOGY of the High Plateaus 25 

Faults and monocliual flexures. — ^The principal faults described. — ^A discussion of their age. — 
Ancient displacements. — Parallelisui o^ faults to the ancient shore Ijne. — A comparison of 
the structural forms prevailing in the Park, Plateau, and Basin Provinces. 25-54. 

CHAPTEE III. 

Volcanic phenomena presented in the district and a general discussion of them 56 

Initial epochs of eruption. — Order of succession of cniptious. — Richthofon's law of succession. — 
Fragmental volcanic rocks. — ^Tufas. — Volcanic conglomerates. — Origin of the clastic beds. — 
Metamorphism of tufas. 55-^1. 

CHAPTEE IV. 

Classification of the volcanic rocks 82 

A discussion of principles of classificatum and the objects to be gained. — Classification primarily 

- in accordance with chemical constitution. — Correlations between chemical constitution on 

.■♦^^ the one hand and mineral and physical constitution on the other. — Lithological texture. — 

Correlation between texture and geological age. — Von Cotta*s view adopted. — ^The porphy- 

ritic texture. — ^Acid and basic rocks. — Subdivisions — rhyolite, trachyte, andesite, basalt. 

82-112. 

xxvii 



XXviii GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

CHAPTER V. 

Speculations conceriong tiie causes of volcanic action 113 

The probable locus of volcanic activity. — Volcanism inconsiBtcnt "witli the notion of an all-liqnid 
interior. — Localization of the [)henoniena. — Incleiwudenceof vents. — CouipariBon of lavas with 
metamorphlc rocks. — Synthetic character of basalt. — Dynamical causes of eruptions. — Local 
increments of subterranean temperature. — Mechanics of eruption. — Application of hydrostatic 
principles. — Explanation of the sequence of eruptions. — A compound function of tempera- 
ture, density, and fusibility. — Discussion of the hypothesis. — ^Exceiitions and anomalies. — The 
ultimate cause unknown. 11!)-142. 

CHAPTEE VI. 

Sedimentary formations of the District of the High Plateaus 143 

The Paleozoic. — The Shiudrump or Lower Trias. — The Vermilion Clifis or Upper Trias. — ^The Ju- 
rassic. — The Cretaceous. — The Eocene. 143-159. 

CHAPTEE VII. 
The Wasatch Plateau 160 

Its structure. — Strata composing its mass. — ^The great monocliual. — Gunnison Valley. — Salina 
Cafion. — The Jurassic Wedge. — San Pete Plateau.— Sedimentary beds of the Wasatch Mono- 
cline. — Bitter Creek, Lower and Upper Green River beds. 160-168. 



CHAPTEE VIII 
The Tushar 



169 



Sevier Valley from Gunnison southward. — General structure of the northern part of the range. — 
Its intermediate character between the basin and ])lateau types. — Rugged character of tho 
northern portion. — Bullion CaFion. — Rhyolitic eruptions. — Southern portion of the Tushar. — 
The great conglomerates. — History of the range. — Alternations of volcanic activity and re- 
pose. — The Tushar fault. — Succession of eruptions. 109-187. 

CHAPTER IX. 

The MarkXgunt Plateau 188 

General description. — Dog Valley and its eruptive masses. — Bear Valley. — Little Creek Peak. — 
Tufas and conglomerates. — General surface of tho Markl^gunt. — Succession of eruptions. — 
Basalt fields. — Panquitch Lake and recent basaltic outpours. — Sedimentary formations. — Out- 
look from the southern verge of the plateau. 188-210. 

CHAPTEE X. 

Sevier Valley and its alluvial conglomerates 211 

Upper Sevier or Panquitch Valley. — Panquitch Canon. — Circle Valley. — Origin of Circle Val- 
ley. — Modes ofaccumulaticm of conglomerates. — Alluvial cones. — Identity of origin of tho old 
conglomerates and the alluvia now accumulating in the valleys. 211-224. 



CONTENTS. Xxix 

CHAPTER XI. 

Page. 
8BVIER AND PaunsXgunt Plateaus 225 

General 8tructui*e and form of the Sevier Plateau. — Monroe Amphitheater. — Eastern side of the 
Plateau and Blue Mountain. — Northern lava floods. — ^The central portions of the plateau and 
their eruptive masses. — Volcanic conglomerates. — Southern eruptive center of the plateau. — 
East Fork CaQon. — Its tufas. — ^Their metamorphism. — Grass Valley, its structure and ori- 
gin. — Alluvial cones and tufas of Grass Valley. — The Paunsiigunt. — Lower Eocene heds. — 
The southern terraces. — Scenery of P^ia Amphitheater and Pink Cliflb. — Basaltic cones. 
225-255. 

CHAPTEE XII. 

The Fish Lake Plateau.— The Awapa.— Thousand Lake Mountain 257 

Southern extension of the Wasatch Monocline. — Grass Valley faults. — Summit Valley. — Fish Lake 
Plateau and the grand gorge. — Fish Lake. — Terminal moraines.— Succession of volcanio 
beds. — Mount Terrill and Mount Marvine. — Tertiary formations. — Origin of Summit Valley. — 
Moraine Valley. — Mount Hilgard and its rocks. — The Awapa Plateau. — Trachytes and con- 
glomerates. — Ancient basalt fields. — Rahbit Valley and its alluvial beds. — ^Tertiary strata.— 
Thousand Lake Mountain. — Jura and Trias. — ^The Red Gate. 256-283. 

CHAPTEE XIII. 
The Aquarius Plateau 284 

Distant views and 'the approach to the Aquarius. — Its grandeur. — ^Panorama from its south- 
eastern salient. — The Water Pocket Fold. — Inconsequent drainage. — ^The cafions of the £8oa- 
lante. — ^The great Kaiparowits Cliff. — Circle Cliffis. — ^Nav^jo Mountain. — Potato Valley. — Pre- 
Tertiary flexures and erosion. — Central faults of the Aquarius. — Ite lava cap. — ^Western wall 
of the Plateau.— Table ClifEl— Kaiparowits Peak. 284-298. 



■■\ 



LIST OF HELIOTYPES. 



Heliotyfb I.— The Gate of Monboe. 

This picture represents the narrow gorge through which the drainage of the Monroe Amphitheater 
posses to join the Sevier River. It is sitnated in the western wall of the Sevier Plateau, near its loftiest 
part. The gorge is cut in a largo mass of hornblendio propylite, and forms a cleft about 20 feet wide 
and nearly 400 feet deep. In the background is seen one of the large hills within the amphitheater, 
composed of trachyte and augitic andesite. 

Heuotype II.— Coxglomeratb in the Tushar. 

The cliff here exhibited is upon the eastern flank of the Tushar facing Circle Valley. In.the face 
of the cliff are seen about 1,300 feet of conglomerate surmounted by 400 feet of lava. The bedding here 
is much less conspicuous than is usually the case in such formations. 

Heuotype III.— Tufa. — MarkXgunt Plateau. 

This material has been derived from the complete decay of lavas, and consists of aluminous 
silicate, accumulated as a deposit iu the bed of a small lake, where it was consolidated and subse- 
quently eroded. Such formations are not very uncommon on the Markilgunt and elsewhere. 

Heuotype IV.— Volcanic alluvial conglomerate on trachyte.— Panquitch CaKon. 

The beds hero exhibited ^vcro dcrivo<l from the break-up of older volcanic masses situated in the 
vicinity. At a former opocb the river flowed at a level as high as the summit of the caflon wall, and the 
upper portion of the conglomerate was eroded. An uplifting of the locality subsequently took place, 
and the river cut its cation, exposing the structure of the beds. It will be noted that the layers pre- 
sent an arrangement suggestive of false stratification or cross-bedding, since their x)lanes of stratiflca- 
tion do not conform to the surface of the trachyte below. This is the normal striicture of all alluvial 
cones. 

Heliotype v.— Metamorphosed tufas. — East Fork CaSon. 

The beds here seen are all water-laid and occur within the iuner gorge of the caQon. The upx>er 
member exhibited is a massive rock, with all the lithologic characters of an intrusive igneous rock. 
Some of the thin layers IjcIow have the same character. (See Chap. XI.) 

Heliotype VI.— Tufa and conglomerate.— East Fobk CaSJon. 

On the right are seen the continuations of the same beds as in the preceding illustration. The 
hill in the distance is com]>osed of the same rocks below with coarse volcanic conglomerate above. 

xxxi 



£ 



• • 



XXXii GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

Hbuottpb YII.— Pink Cuffs.— Lower Eocene.— PauxsIqunt Piatkau. 

The picture represents the sonthem termination of the PannsiEgant, and is a good example of the 
senlptnre which is seen in this formation around the rim of the Pluia Amphitheater for a distance of 
40 miles. The rocks are exquisitely colored. 

Heuotype YIII. — Cross-bedded Jurassic sandstone. 

Taken in Johnson's CaOon, on the road from Sevier Valley to Lower Kanab. Much finer instances 
may be seen in any of the deep caOons cut in this formation. 

Heuottpe IX.— Cross-bedded Jurassic sandstone. 
The same as the preceding. 

Heliottpe X..— The Bed Gate.— Lower Trias.— SuiNiRUHP. 

Taken at the southeast flank of Thousand Lake Mountain. The beds in the cliff are variegated 
in color, being banded horizontally, and the colors are very deep and rich. The sculpture is veiy charao- 
teristic of the formation. 

Heuottpe XI.— Phonoutx.— East Fork CaSoit. 



GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 



BY CAPT. C. E. DUTTON. 



CHAPTER I. 

GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS RELATING TO THE TOPOGRAPHY AND GEOLOGICAL HIS- 
TORY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS AND THEIR RELATIONS TO THE PLATEAU PROVINCE 
OF WHICH THEY FORM A PART. 

Situation of the High Plateaus. — ^The westernmost range comprisiug the Piivauty Tushar, and Marktf- 
guut. — Sevier Valley. — The second or middle range comx)ri8ing the Sevier and Pauns^gnnt Pla- 
teaus. — Grass Valley. — The third range comprising the Wasatch, Fish Lake, Awapa, and Aquarius 
Plateaus. — Structural features of the Park, Plateau and Basin Provinces. — The High Plateaus form 
the western district of the Plateau Province. — Relations of the High Plateaus to the Plateau Province 
at large. — Greological history in outline during Cretaceous time. — Interruption of continuity be- 
tween the Upper Cretaceous and Tertiary. — Unconformity between Cretaceous and Tertiary.— Early 
Tertiary history. — The lacustrine condition of the entire Plateau Province during early Eocene 
time. — Gradual desiccation of this Eocene lake. — Cretaceous-Eocene strata occupying its locus 
*" at the close of the Eocene. — Their vast bulk and gradual subsidence jKin passu with deposition. — 
The counterpart of this subsidence, viz, the elevation of the surroimdiug mountain chains. — 
Post-Eocene history. — Erosion. — Its conspicuous display and the certainty of its evidence. — The 
drainage system of the Colorado River. — Its origin. — Its stability of location. — Priority of drainage 
channels to structural featares. — Their persistence. — The methods of erosion. — Centers of erosion 
and the recession of cliffs. — The San Rafsvel Swell. — Vastness of the results accomplished by 
erosion. — Effect of the removal of great bodies of strata from large areas. — The erosion chiefly 
accomplished in the Miocene. — Summary of the relations of the High Plateaus to the Plateau 
country at large and to the Basin Province adjoining them on the west. 

The region to be discussed in tliis work is centrally situated in the 
Territory of Utah, occupying a belt of country extending from a point 
about 15 miles east of Mount Nebo in the Wasatch, south-southwest, a 
distance of about 175 miles, and having a breadth varying from 25 to 80 
miles. The total area of this field of study may approach 9,000 square 

1 H P 









• •, 






• , 



» • 












.-./ •. ' 2 INTRODUCTORY. 

• •• 
•• • 

miles If we examine the old War Department maps of the western half 
of the United States and those maps which have l>een derived from them, 
we shall find the Wasatch fountains laid down as extending southward 
with an increasing westerly trend until the range reaches a point near the 
southwestern corner of Utah. This deUneation conveys to the eye the 
general truth that along this belt of country there is a lofty and, in a 
qualified sense, a mountainous ban-ier separating the drainage system of 
the Colorado River from that of the Great Basin of the West. It would 
be impracticable upon a map of small scale to designate clearly the fact 
that the Wasatch as a distinct mountain range ends at Mount Nebo, 75 
miles south of Great Salt Lake, and that it is here overlapped en echelon 
by a chain of plateau uplifts which extend southward, gradually swinging 
around the southeastern nm of the Great Uasin. 

These plateaus are not a part, either structurally or topographically, 
of the Wasatch, but belong to another age, and are totally different 
in their forms and geological reflations. The extension of the name 
'^Wasatch Mountains" south of Nebo is a misnomer. The re^rion south of 
that mountain has nothing in connnon witlv the belt to the north of it, except 
the mere fact that it carries the boundary line between the two drainage 
systems: otherwise the two belts constitute one of the most decided of those 
strong contrasts of topography and gaological relations which are some- 
times presented in adjacent portions of the Rocky Mountain Region. Those 
who have studied these plateaus have recognized their distinct character, 
and it seems necessary to give effect to this recognition to the extent of 
employing for purposes of geological discussion a distinguishing name. It 
has seemed to me that for these puq^oses the belt of country which they 
occupy would be sufficfently characterizod by giving to it the name of the 
District of the High Plateaus of Utah 

These uplifts have certain analogies to mountain rangos, but in most 
cases are distinguished by their well-marked tabular character. 

component members of the groups of high plateaus. 

There are three ranges of plateaus within the district, and each range 
can be subdivided into individual tables. The westernmost range is made 



INDIVID PAL PLATEAUS. 3 

up of three component masses, or members — the PAvant at the north end, 
the Tushar in the middle, and the Markagunt at the south. The Pdvant 
is a curious admixture of plateau and sierra, the eastern side being tabular 
in form and detail, while the western side is a common mountain front, like 
many othei's found in the Great Basin. The Tushar is also a composite 
structure, its northern half being a wild bristling cordillera of grand dimen- 
sions and altitudes, crowned with snowy peaks, while the southern half is 
conspicuously tabular. The Markagunt is a true plateau, of the normal type 
and of great expanse, and though very lofty (about 11,000 feet), is in utter 
contrast to a mountain uplift. A narrow, and in some portions profound, 
valley separates the western from the middle range of plateaus. This is 
the Sevier Valley, bearing a small river of the same name, which collects 
the di-ainage of the greater part of the distiict and poure it into a wretched 
salina of the Great Basin, where it is evaporated. But the valley is an 
important one, because it is one of the principal highways of travel, and, 
still more, because it has already become the granary of Utah, and prom- 
ises to increase in importance as an agricultural district. 

Tlie second range of plateaus consists of the Sevier Plateau on the 
north and the Paunsagunt Plateau on the south. The Sevier Plateau is 
80 miles in length and only 12 to 20 in width. Its great elongation and 
the bold sculpture of* its fronts would assimilate it to a mountain range, 
and such it seems to be in some portions of its extent as we look up to its 
grand pediments from the valley below. But its structure and topography 
are seen to be conspicuously tabular when viewed from lofty standpoints. 
It is cut in twain near the middle by a tremendous gorge, which carries the 
East Fork of the Sevier River, which dmins the plateaus to the eastward 
and southward. 

The Paunsdgunt Plateau is a flat- topped mass, projecting southward 
in the continuation of the long axis of the Sevier Plateau, bounded on 
three sides* by lofty battlements of marvelous sculpture and glowing color. 
Its terminus looks over line after line of cliffs to the southward and down 
to the forlorn wastes of that strange desert which constitutes the district of 
the Kaibabs and the drainage system of the Grand Canon of the Colorado 
River. 



4 INTRODUCTORY. 

■ 

Between the second and third range of plateaus is a second valley 
parallel to that of the Sevier. This is called Grass Valley. It is long 
and rather narrow, walled upon the west by the long barrier of the Sevier 
Plateau and upon the east by the battlements of the third chain. It is 
treeless yet not wholly barren, for it is situated at that altitude where the 
possibility of agiiculture is extremely doubtful, and where the grasses are 
rich enough for profitable pasturage. It carries the drainage of portions of 
both the second and third chains of plateaus, and the streams uniting from 
north and south near the southern end of the valley burst through the 
profound gorge of East Fork Gallon in the Sevier Plateau and join the 
Sevier River. 

The third range of plateaus begins nmcli farther north than the others. 
The northernmost member of it is the Wasatch Plateau, which overlaps the 
southern end of the Wasatch Mountain Range en echelon to the eastward. 
It is a noble structure, nearly as lofty as the summits of the Wasatch Mount- 
ains, but is a true plateau, or rather the remnant of one left by the erosion 
of the country to the east of it. It has not been studied as yet with the care 
and thoroughness it deserves, because it lies too far from the more compact 
district to the southward; is, in a certain sense, an outlier of the main 
group. Its southern terminus is walled by great cliffs, which look down 
upon a broad depression separating it from the next member of the range. 

This next member to the south is the Fish Lake Plateau. It is small 
in area, but one of the •loftiest (11,400 feet), and is a true table Its length 
does not excTeed 15 miles, while its breadth is about 4 or 5. Its southeast- 
em escarpment looks down into a profound depression nearly filled by a 
beautiful lake about 6 miles long and rarely picturesque. This plateau is 
difficult to separate from the next member, the Awapa. Indeed, it is nearly 
confluent with it. The Awapa is of less altitude, and this constitutes the 
principal reason for separating it. This plateau feebly slopes to the east- 
ward, somewhat after the manner of the half of a watch-glass. Its extent 
is very great, being 30 miles in length and nearly 20 in breadth. It is 
quite treeless, though it stands at an altitucle where timber usually flour- 
ishes luxuriantly; and the scarcity of water combines with the monotonous 



THE THREE GEOLOGICAL PROVINCES. 5 

rolling prairie of its broad expanse to make it as cheerless and repulsive a 
locality as can well be conceived. 

But south of the Awapa stiinds the grandest of all the High Plateaus, 
the Aquarius. It is about 35 miles in length, with a very variable width, 
and its altitude is about 11,600 feet. Its broad summit is clad with dense 
forests of spruces, opening in grassy parks, and sprinkled with scores of 
lakes filled by the melting snows. On three sides — south, west, and east — it 
is walled by dark battlements of volcanic rock, and its long slopes beneath 
descend into the dismal desert in the heart of the "Plateau Country.^' 

THE THREE GEOLOGICAL PROVINCES. 

For convenience of geological discussion. Professor Powell has divided 
that belt of country which lies between Denver City and the Pacific and 
between the 34th and the 43d parallels into provinces, each of which, so far 
as known, possesses structural and topographical features which distinguish 
it from the others.* The easternmost division he lias named the Park Prov- 
ince. It is characterized by lofty mountain ranges, consisting of granitoid 
and metamorphic rocks, pushed upward and protruded tlirough sedimentary 
strata, the latter being turned upwards upon the flanks of the ranges and 
their edges truncated by erosion. The general transverse section presented 
by these ranges, on the assumption that the sedimentaries prior to uplifting 
extended over their present loci,f is that of a broad and extensive anticlinal 
sometimes profoundly faulted parallel to the trend, the sedimentary strata 
which may once have existed being removed by erosion. The intervening 
valleys still retain the sedimentary series, including the Tertiary beds. 
This form of mountain structure, with its resulting topographical features, 
gradually passes as we proceed westward into another type, arising from the 
decreasing frequency of the greater displacements or difi'erential vertical 
movements of the earth's surface; but such movements as have occurred 
have been vast in extent and involve greater masses, though the displace- 
ments have been fewer in number. Great blocks of country have been 
lifted with a singular uniformify with comparatively little flexing and with 

* Geology of the Uiiitji Mouutuins. J. W. I*ow<'ll. 

t TliiH a8MUUii>tiou uiay be regarded an gcuerully true for Pulsuozoric oiid Mesozoic bods, but uot for 
Ccnozoic. 



6 INTKODUCTOllY. 

little disarrangement, except at the fault planes which bound the several 
blocks. These divisionaHines are sometimes sharp, trenchant faults, some- 
times that peculiar form of <lisplacement to which Messrs. Powell and Gil- 
bert have given the name of monodinal •flexures,* but most frequently the 
dislocation is a combined monodinal Hexure and a fault or series of faults 
with all shades of relative emphasis. If we look soh;ly at the amount of 
energy disi)layed in the vertical differential movements, we shall probably 
reach the conviction that it does not fall much, if any, below that required 
to build the most imposing mountain ranges ; yet within the limits of any 
one of the ffreat blocks into which this country has been divided the strata 
have preserved their original attitudes with a singularly small amount of 
warping, flexing, and comminution. Sometimes the blocks are slightly 
tilted, causing a slight dip, and in the immediate neighborhood of a great 
dislocation a single flexure of the beds is usually seen; but, on the whole, 
the amount of bending and undulation is very smnll. This small amount 
of departure from horizontality of the beds as they now lie has played its 
part in the determination of the toi)<)graphical features as they appear in 
the landscape, and justifies the name which has been ap[)lied to it with one 
accord by all observers — The Plateau CoUiNTKY. 

West of this province lies a third one — the Great Hasin. Its topog- 
raphy and structure are characterized by jagged ninges c>f mountains, 
ordinarily of very moderate length, and separated by wide intervals of 
barren plains. These ranges are usually monodinal ridgi^s produced by 
the uptilting of the strata along one side of a fault. Sometimes the faults 
are nmltiple; that is, consist of a series of parallel faults, the intervening 
blocks being careened in the same numner and direction. This repetitive 
faulting is of frequent occurrence. Other modifications, and even difierent 
types of structure, are presented; but there is throughout the Great Basin a 
striking predominance of monodinal ridges, in which one side of a range 
slopes with the dip of the strata, while the other slopes lie across the 
upturned edges. The forms impressed upon these masses by erosion are 
rugged, bristling, and sierra-like, and their peculiarities are aggravated by 

* Mr. .Jiikcfcj deHcrilx's ii gn'at ilcxurc of siiiiilur iialiiiT in Inland uiuUt llio name nniclinal iloxnro, 
nliich name is (5viden<ly dercctivc in efym«d<);jy. Tin* natnre of* inontK'linal llexnien is mobt ably dla- 
cu88<rd l»y Proti'ssor Powell in Ex])l. oiColora<lo Kiv<'r, l!5t»l)-lf>72. 



BOEDER LINES OF PROVINCES. 7 

the fact that before these " mountains were brought forth " the phitform 
of the country from which they arose had been plicated, and the plications 
planed down again by erosion. The Basin area is the oldest of the West,* 
its final emergence being of older date than the Jurassic, and most probably 
as ancient as the close of the Carboniferous. 

Between the Plateau and Park Provinces there is no definite boundary. 
Gradually as we proceed westward from the easternmost ranges of the Rocky 
system the valleys widen out, and the country gradually expands into a 
medley of terraces bounded by lofty cliffs, which stretch their tortuous 
courses across the land in every direction, yet not without system.. The 
boundary separating the Plateau Province from the Basin is, on the contrary, 
tolerably definite, and in some portions of its extent remarkably so. It 
lies along the eastern flank of the Wasatch, south of the Uintas, as far as 
Nebo ; thence along the Juab Valley, in the Pdvant Range, as far as the 
Tushar Mountains. Here for a time it is concealed by immense floods of 
old lavas, and is not seen for a distance of 50 miles. It reappears near the 
southern end of that range, continuing south-southwest along the western 
base of the Markagunt Plateau, near a string of Mormon settlements scat- 
tered along the route from Beaver to Saint George, and follows the great 
fault which makes the Hurricane Ledge to the Arizona boundary. Here 
an offset carries it to the westward to another fault which walls the Grand 
Wash, and it then extends southward to the mouth of the Grand Gallon 
of the Colorado and crosses the river. Here is the maximum westing of 
the Plateau Province. A few miles south of the crossing it swings back 
to the southeastward, and continues beyond the explorations of this sur- 
vey. This boundary is frequently very sharp and distinct, and throughout 
the greater portion of its extent the breadth of the doubtful or transitional 
zone lies wholly within the limits of a narrow valley or a narrow moun- 
tain range. The Pdvant is a range of which the eastern side presents 
conspicuously the features of the Plateau type, while the western side pre- 
sents those of the Basin type The Tushar Range shows a distinct plateau 
form in its southern half, while the northern half is masked by floods of vol- 
canic rock. From Toquerville to Parowan the Markagunt Plateau faces 

* I refer ouly to lurgu areas. There may bo, and pi-ubably are, 8Uiall aread of equal or greatijr 
antiquity. 



8 INTRODUCTORY. 

the westward, looking across a valley floored with recent alluvium to typi- 
cal Basin Ranges lying to the westward. The district of the High Plateaus 
is therefore a portion of the western belt of the Plateau Province, and its 
western boundary is the trenchant one just described. 

THE PLATEAU PROVINCE AT LARGE. 

To the eastward of the High Plateaus is spread out a wonderful region. 
Standing upon the eastern verge of any one of these lofty tables where 
the altitudes usually exceed 11,000 feet, the eye ranges over avast expanse 
of nearly level ten-aces, bounded by cliffs of strange aspect, which are truly 
marvelous, whether we consider their magnitude, their seemingly intermi- 
nable length, their great number, or their singular sculpture. They wind 
about in all directions, here throwing out a great promontory, there reced- 
ing in a deep bay, but continuing on and on until they sink below the 
horizon, or swing behind some loftier mass, or fade out in the distant haze. 
Each cliff marks the boundary of a geographical terrace sloping gently 
backward from its crestline to the foot of the next terrace behind it, and 
each marks a liigher and higher horizon in the geological scale as we 
approach its face. Very wonderful at times is the sculpture of these 
majestic walls. Panels, pilasters, niches, alcoves, and buttresses, needing 
not the slightest assistance from the imagination to point the resemblance ; 
grotesque forms, neatly carved out of solid rock, which pique the imagina- 
tion to find analogies; endless repetitions of meaningless shapes fretting the 
entablatures are presented to us on every side, and fill us with wonder as 
we pass. But of all the characters of this unparalleled scenery, that which 
appeals most strongly to the eye is the color. The gentle tints of an east- 
ern landscape, the rich blue of distant mountains, the green of vernal and 
summer vegetation, the subdued colors of hillside and meadow, all are 
wanting here, and in their place we behold belts of fierce staring red, 
yellow, and toned white, which are intensified rather than alleviated by 
alternating belts of dark iron gray. The Plateau country is also the land 
of cailons. Gorges, ravines, caiiadas are found in every high country, but 
canons belong to the region of the Plateaus. Like every other river, the 
Colorado has many tributaries, and in former times had many more than 



RELATIONS OF HIGH PLATEAUS TO PLATEAU PROVINCE. 9 

now, and every branch and every twig of a stream runs in cailons. The 
land is thoroughly dissected by them, and in many large tracts so intricate 
is the labyrinth and so inaccessible are their walls, that to cross such regions 
except in specified ways is a feat reserved exclusively to creatures endowed 
with wings. The region at levels below 7,000 feet is a desert. A few 
miserable streams meander through it in profound abysses. The surface 
springs will not average one in a thousand square miles, for the cafions in 
their lowest depths absorb the subterranean water-courses. But in the 
High Plateaus above we find a moist climate with an exuberant vegetation 
and many sparkUng streams. 

RELATIONS OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS TO THE PLATEAU PROVINCE AT LARGE. 

It is impossible to gain any adequate conception of the broader and 
more general features of the High Plateaus apart from their relations to the 
Plateau Province at large. The geological history of the district is insepara- 
ble from that of the province of which it is a part, and that history is full of 
interest and instruction. Beyond Cretaceous time it is unfortunately vague 
and uncertain at present; and even during the Cretaceous our knowledge is 
limited as yet to a few salient facts too conspicuous to be overlooked, but 
of very great geological importance. We now know that during Cretaceous 
time the ocean stretched from the Wasatch to Eastern Kansas, Nebraska, 
and Dakota, and from the Gulf of Mexico far northwards toward the Arctic 
Circle. The area now occupied by the Great Basin was then a large island, 
or possibly a portion of some unknown continental mass. East of it proba- 
bly lay numerous islands. Around the southern border of this area the 
Cretaceous ocean joined the Pacific, covering the entire extent of the Plateau 
Province and more to the southwestward. We find throughout the plateaus 
vast bodies of Cretaceous stata which seem in a general way or collectively 
to correspond with those which have been studied and described by Meek 
and Hayden in the Great Plains of Nebraska, Dakota, Montana, Wyoming, 
and Colorado, and by Newberry in New Mexico and Arizona. Although 
the subdivisions of the Plateau Province have not been wholly con'elated 
with the marine Cretaceous of the other territories north and east, there 
can be little doubt that the series as a whole agrees in general. The lower 



1 INTRODUCTORY. 

member (Dakota group) can probably bo correlated very approximately, 
although presenting a somewhat different fauna ; but the upper members 
(2, 3, 4, and 5 of Meek and Hayden) cannot be so satisfactorily distin- 
guished nor subdivided in the same way as elsewhere, though it seems 
probable, in a high degree, that all these members are represented. The 
lithological characters show the same agreement, though not an observed 
correspondence of details. In one respect, however, there is a notable 
distinction. The entire Cretaceous series of the Plateau Province abounds 
in coal and carbonaceous shales, while in the more eastern exposures coal 
appeal's to bo confined to the higher members. 

CLOSE OF THE CRETACEOUS UNCONFORMITIES. 

The closing period of the Cretaceous mai'ks a change in the physical 
condition of the region. The ocean gave place to brackish waters. What 
orographic movements or what uplifts of broad areas may have accom- 
plished this change we do not know in detail, and it is at present impossible 
to form any very definite idea of the geography of the region during that 
period. We only know that the uppeimost Cretaceous strata have hitherto 
furnished only brackish-water fossils, and we naturally infer from them that 
the Cretaceous ocean was subdived into a number of Baltics or Euxines by 
the rearing of mountain chains and broad land areas around their borders, 
but leaving narrow straits communicating with the sea. The brackish- 
water fossils either mean that or they are at present inexplicable. These 
movements, however, involved no other changes in the physical condition 
of the country, for the deposit of shaly, marly, and arenaceous strata with 
seams of lignite went on as before, and continued through a long period 
until the accumulations reached in many places a thickness of nearly 2,000 
feet without any interruption which can be specified. These T'pper Creta- 
ceous beds are without much doubt the equivalents of the Judith liiver 
beds of Meek and Hayden and the Laramie beds of King. 

The continuity of deposition was at last broken. Resting upon these 
Laramie beds is a series of calcareous shales alternating with sandstones, 
which, through a thickness of 100 to 250 feet from the base, contain also a 
brackish-water fauna, but which as we ascend gives places to moUuscan 



UNCONFOKMITY OF CRETACEOUS AND TERTIARY. 1 I 

fossils of purely fresh- water types The junction of the two series is uncon- 
formable, and is often highly so. This unconformity is seen in many 
localities on both sides of the Uintas, along the eastern slopes of the 
Wasatch, and becomes oven more strongly pronounced to the southwest- 
ward. During the course of this work, localities will be mentioned where 
it is conspicuously displayed, the Upper Cretaceous (Laramie) beds being 
flexed at a high angle, the flexures planed off" by erosion, and the overlying 
series resting across the beveled edges, or even upon the Jurassic beds 
below. It was at this unconformity that Professor Powell drew the divid- 
ing horizon between the Tertiary and Cretaceous. Quite independently of 
any physical break, Professor Meek had chosen the division at the same 
horizon upon the evidence of invertebrate fossils, though that evidence was 
regarded by him as being too meager and the species too few and indecisive 
to justify an unqualified opinion.* Professor Marsh also reached a similar 
conclusion much more decisively from mammalian fossils from beds just 
above the unconformity which he referred approximately to the horizon of 
the London clay or the base of the Eocene, f The physical break which 
separates these divisions of time is of wider distribution and more emphatic 
than was supposed when first detected, for the Upper Cretaceous (=:Lara- 
mie) beds are often greatly flexed and eroded beneath the Tertiary, and 
these occurrences are frequent throughout the province. Very often, and 
probably in most of the exposures distant from the mountains, the contact is 
apparently conformable, for the obvious reason that neither series has been 
sensibly disturbed from original horizontality, or the disturbances have 
been of late occurrence, involving both series alike. The separation in 
such cases then becomes a purely lithological one, or sometimes none can 
be detected. The fossils do not indicate any break, since the base of the 
Tertiary and the summit of the Cretaceous are lignitic, and furnish only 
brackish-water moUusca, which are indecisive and have a very great vert- 
ical range in nearly all the species. 

* Invertebrate Palaeontology (187G), Dr. F. V. Haydcy's Survey, pp. xlvii et seq, 
tExpl. 40tli Parallel, C. King, vol. ii, p. '3f29, 



1 2 INTRODUCTORY. 

THE EOCENE OR LACUSTRINE AGE. 

The early Tertiary history of the Plateau Province is much clearer 
than its history during prior epochs. The shore of the great Eocene lake 
which covered its expanse and received its sediments can be defined with 
tolerable accuracy throughout those portions of it which lay within the 
area constituting the field of this survey. Its northern and the greater part 
of its w^estern shore line has been traced from the Uintas to the Colorado, 
and most of the way coincides with the boundary already described as 
separating the Plateau Province from the Great Basin. South of the High 
Plateaus, however, the Eocene lacustrine beds stretch westward beyond this 
boundary, and are found among the southern Basin Ranges. We know, 
too, the origin of a large portion of its sediment. Much of it came from the 
Great Basin, and probably still "more from the degradation of the Wasatch, 
the Uintas, and the mountains of Western Colorado, which girt about its 
northern half The southern shore line is not at present known, and there 
is much uncertainty at present as to the exact course of its southeastern 
coast. From what is known, however, we may wonder at the vast dimen- 
sions of such a lake, which nuist have had an area more than twice that of 
Lake Superior, and may even have exceeded that of the five great Canadian 
lakes combined. Still more astonishing is the vastness of the mass of strata 
thrown down upon its bottom. Around the flanks of the Uintas and South- 
ern Wasatch the thickness of the Eocene beds exceeds 5,000 feet, though 
they attenuate as we recede from the mountains, but never fall b^low 2,000 
feet so far as yet observed. And where this minimum is observed there is 
good evidence that the deposition had terminated long before it ceased 
elsewhere, and that the series was never completed. 

The deposition ended in the southern and southwestern part of the 
lake area much earlier than in the northern part. Around the southern 
portions of the High Plateaus no later beds than the Bitter Creek (which 
constitute the lower one-third of the local Eocene) were deposited so far 
as known at present. The inference is that about that time the southern 
and southwestern portions of the lake began to dry up, while to the north- 
ward around the Uintas the lacustrine condition persisted for a much longer 



SUBSIDENCES. 13 

period. In other words, the lake contracted its area from south to north 
during at least the latter half of the Eocene, and at the close of that age 
finally disappeared. 

SUBSIDENCE OF CRETACEOUS-EOCENE SEDIMENTS. 

A most interesting but perplexing problem is suggested when we con- 
sider the enormous bulk of the Cretaceous-Eocene strata of the Plateau 
Province and the peculiar circumstances under which they were deposited. 
The whole series abounds in coal and carbonaceous shales, and remains of 
land plants are abundant, even where carbonaceous matter is absent. If 
current theories of the formation of coal are not radically wrong, we seem 
compelled to believe that throughout that vast stretch of time which 
extended from the base of the Cretaceous to the summit of the Eocene the 
whole province, with the exception of a few possible but unknown land areas, 
maintained its level almost even with that of the ocean. Hie Dakota sand- 
stone could not have been deposited here much if any below that level, 
nor the Wasatch beds much if any above it. And yet we have the paradox 
that 6,000 to 15,000 feet of strata were deposited over an area of more than 
100,000 square miles with comparatively few unconformities and contem- 
porary disturbances, while the level of the uppermost stratum always 
remained at sensibly the same geographical horizon ! 

It is incredible that the Cretaceous ocean at the commencement of 
that age could have had a depth equal to the thickness of the strata and 
that the sediments filled it up. The facts are wholly against such a sup- 
position, and point clearly to shallow waters. The only conclusion which 
appears tenable is that the strata sank as rapidly as they were deposited. 
The case is analogous to that of the Appalachians during Palaeozoic time, 
and especially during the Carboniferous ; and the more we reflect upon the 
similarity the stronger does it become. It fails, however, when we come 
to consider the plienomena presented in the two regions in the period sub- 
sequent to the deposition; the Appalachian strata were flexed and plicated 
to an extreme degree, while those of the west are for the most part calm 
and even. Only in the vicinity of the mountains and shore lines do we find 
them much disturbed. 



1 4' rNTRODUCTORY. 

But if we are to admit that the strata sank as rapidly as they accu- 
mulated we cannot shake off some ulterior questions. By virtue of what 
condition of the underlying magmas was such a subsidence possible? If 
they sank, they must have displaced matter beneath them, and what became 
of the displaced matter? If we look around the borders of the area and 
partially within it, we shall find a problem of an inverse order. The Uintas, 
the Wasatch, the Great Basin have suffered an amount of degradation by 
erosion, which is perhaps one of the most impressive facts which the physi- 
cal geologist has yet been brought to contemplate. From the Uintas more 
than 30,000 feet of strata have been removed since their emergence. From 
the Wasatch the removal has been much more; from the Great Basin the 
degradation has been many, we know not how many, thousand feet. We 
are not prepared to believe that the Uintas ever stood 8 miles high, nor 
the Wasatch 12 miles high, but we know that their altitudes are merely 
the difference between elevation and erosion. It was from these ranges 
that the heaviest masses of the Cretaceous-Eocene sediments were derived. 
As fast as, or even faster than, the mountains were devastated to suppl}' 
mass for the new strata, they continued to rise. But if they rose, fresh matter 
must have been thrust under their foundations, replacing the rising strata. 
Whence came the replacing matter? It may be premature as yet to say 
that the elevation of the mountains and subsidence of the strata are cor- 
related in the way which these inquiries suggest, but the juxtaposition of 
the facts must be regarded as significant. 

POST-EOCENE HISTORY EROSION. 

With the desiccation of the Eocene lake began a new order of events 
in the history of the Plateau Country; in truth, its most instructive and 
impressive chapter. The lessons which may be learned from this region 
are many, but the grandest lesson which it teaches is Erosion. It is one 
which is taught, indeed, by every land on earth, but nowhere so clearly as 
here. If we could but find the evidence, we might be able in other regions 
to point to erosions of much greater amount. We may suspect that in the 
Appalachians a denudation has occurred compared with which the denuda- 
tion of the Plateaus is small ; and such an inference has no intiinsic 



EEOSIOK 15 

improbability, though the proofs are difficult beyond a certain amount. 
The great value of the Plateau Country is the certainty and fullness of the 
evidence. Nature here is more easily read than elsewhere. She seems at 
times amid those solitudes to have lifted from her countenance the veil of 
mystery which she habitually wears among the haunts of men. Elsewhere 
an enormous complexity renders the process difficult to study; here it is 
analyzed for us. The different factors are presented to us in such a way 
that we may pick out one in one place, another in another place, and study 
the effect of a single variable, while the other factors remain constant. The 
land is stripped of its normal clothing; its cliffs and caflons have dissected 
it and laid open its tissues and framework, and "he who runs may read" if 
his eyes have been duly opened. As Dr. Newberry most forcibly remarks: . 
"Though valueless to the agriculturist, dreaded and shunned by the emi- 
grant, the miner, and even the adventurous trapper, the Colorado Plateau 
is to the geologist a paradise. Nowhere on the earth's surface, so far as we 
know, are the secrets of its structure so fully revealed as here." 

In the new era, beginning with the desiccation of the lake, we have 
the history of a process which resulted in the destruction and dissipation 
of those great bodies of sediment which had been gathered and stratified 
during Mesozoic and Eocene time. Then, too, appears to have begun in 
earnest the gradual elevation of the entire region which has proceeded from 
that epoch until the present time, and which even yet may not have cul- 
minated. The two processes of uplifting and erosion are here inseparably 
connected, so much so, that we cannot comprehend the one without keeping 
constantly in view the other. 

From the very inception of the process the drainage system of the 
Plateau Province has been that plexus of streams which unite in the Colo- 
rado River. This is the trough through which the waste of the land has 
been carried to the Pacific. Its origin goes back to the emergence of the 
land now drained by it from its lacustrine condition. Even prior to that 
we may conjecture the existence of a Cretaceous-Eocene strait connecting 
with the ocean that area which was covered by the Laramie beds and the 
brackish water deposits at the base of the local Eocene ; and many consid- 
erations lead to the inference that this Hellespont occupied the same position 



16 INTEODUCTORY. 

as"^ the lower course of the Colorado from the mouth of the Virgin to the 
Pacific. Whether the connection was at first elsewhere and at an early 
epoch in Tertiary time shifted to this place may be doubtful, but the prob- 
abilities at present are that the connection was southwestward along the 
lower course of the present river. But after the desiccation of che lake 
began in the latter part of the Eocene, the course of the Colorado was fixed 
for the remainder of Tertiary time. In order to conceive the growth and 
evolution of this river, let us endeavor to imagine what might happen if the 
whole region of the Canadian lakes were to be progressively uplifted sev- 
eral thousand feet. In due time the St. Lawrence would sink its channel 
by the increasing corrasive power of its waters, and would drain in succes- 
sion Ontario, Erie, Huron, and Superior, becoming a great river with many 
branches, while the lakes would be emptied. Such was the early history 
of the Colorado ; first a Hellespont, then a St. Lawrence, then a large river 
heading in the interior of a continent. 

The relations of the Colorado to the strata through which it runs present 
certain phenomena which, when rightly understood, become a master-key 
in the solution of a whole category of problems of a most interesting and 
instructive character. It would be difficult to point out an instance of a 
river under conditions more favorable to stability in respect to the location 
of its course than the Colorado and its principal tributaries. Since the 
epoch wlien it commenced to flow it has been situated in a rising area. Its 
springs and rills have been among the mountains, and throughout its history 
its slope has been increasing. The relations of its tributaries in this respect 
have been the same, and indeed the river and its tributaries constitute a 
system and not merely an aggregate, the latter dependent upon and thor- 
oughly responsive to the former. Now, the grand truth Mhich meets us 
everywhere in the Plateau Country, which stands out conspicuous and self- 
evident, which is so utterly unmistakable, even by the merest tyro in geol- 
ogy, is this : The river is older than the structural features of the country. 
Since it began to run, mountains and plateaus have risen across its track 
and those of its tributaries, and the present summits mark less than half the 
total uplifts. The streams have cleft them to their foundations. Nothing 



DEAINAGE SYSTEM— MIOCENE EROSION. 17 

can be clearer than the fact that the structural deformations (unless older 
than Tertiary time) never determined the present courses of the drainage. 
The rivers are where they are in spite of faults, flexures, and swells, in 
spite of mountains and plateaus. As these irregularities rose up the streams 
turned neither to the right nor to the left, but cut their way through in the 
same old places. It is needless to multiply instances. The whole province 
is a vast category of instances of river channels running where they never 
could have run if the structural features had in any manner influenced them. 
What, then, detennined the present distribution of the drainage? The 
answer is that they were determined by the configuration of the old Eocene 
lake bottom at the time it was drained. Then, surely, the water-courses ran 
in conformity with the surface of the uppermost Tertiary stratum. Soon 
afterward that surface began to be deformed by unequal displacement, but 
the rivers had fastened themselves to their places and refused to be diverted. 
Many of the smaller streams have dried up and perished through the fail- 
ure of their springs and the advent of an arid climate. These have left 
traces here and there in the shape of dry cafions and gulches. Many more 
are still perishing. But the larger streams heading far up in moist Alpine 
highlands still meander through the desert, and have never ceased to flow 
from the beginning. 

In order to comprehend the relations of the High Plateaus to the 
province at large, it is necessary to advert to some of the salient features 
of the general erosion of the Plateau Country which followed the desicca- 
tion of the great lake, and which continued without interruption during 
Miocene time and down to the present day. Its history during Miocene time 
must be spoken of only in' general terms. In truth, during that great age 
there is no evidence of the occurrence of any critical event aside from the 
general processes of uplifting and erosion which affected the province as a 
whole. What forms and what topography were sculptured we know not- 
Of its climatal condition we can only suppose that it was similar to that of 
neighboring regions similarly situated — moist and subtropical. The vast 
erosion of the region has swept away so much of its mass, that most of the 
evidence as to details has vanished with its rocks. But the more important 

features of the work, its general plan in outline, have left well-marked 
2 H p 



18 INTRODUCTORY. 

traces, and these can be unraveled. It was a period of slow uplifting, reach- 
ing a great amount in the aggregate; and it was also a period of stupendous 
erosion. The uplifting was, however, unequal. The comparatively even 
floor of the old lake was deformed by broad gentle swells rising a little 
higher than the general platform. In consequence of their greater altitudes, 
these upswellings at once became objects of special attack by the denuding 
agents, and were wasted more rapidly than the lower regions around them. 
Here were formed centres, or short axes, from which erosion proceeded 
radially outward, and the strata rising very gently toward these centres, or 
axes, from all directions, were bevelled off. As erosion progressed, so also 
did the local upliftings, thus maintaining the maximum erosion at the same 
localities. 

It is a most significant fact that the brunt of erosion throughout 
the Plateau Country is directed against the edges of the strata and not 
against the sui'faces. This is directly ti-aceable to the fact that the strata 
are nearly horizontal, the dips rarely exceeding four or five degrees, and 
even then only where a great monoclinal flexure occurs. The rains wash 
and disintegrate most rapidly where the slopes are steepest, and where the 
strata are flat the steepest slopes are the valley sides and chasm walls. 
Thus the battering of time is here directed against the scarps and falls but 
lightly on the terreplehis. 

Ordinarily, the local uplifts have one diameter longer than the others, 
and we may call the greatest the major axis. The strata dissolved away 
in all directions from this axis, and after the lapse of long periods the 
newest or uppermost stratum encircled the centre of erftsion at a great dis- 
tance from it, the next group below encircled ft a little nearer, and so on. 
This has been the history of each of the subdivisions of the central part of 
the Plateau Country. Upon the western and noi-them sides of the Colorado 
five of these centres are now easily discerned. By far the largest and 
probably the oldest is around the Grand Canon ; a second lies east of the 
Kaiparowits Plateau; a third is found about 50 miles south-southwest of 
the junction of the Grand and Green ; the fourth is the Henry Mountains, 
and the fifth is what is known as the San Rafael Swell, lying between the 



SAN RAFAEL SWELL 19 

Green River and the Wasatch Plateau. All these had their inception in 
Miocene time except the one around the Grand Canon, which goes back 
into the latter part of the Eocene. This gradual dissolution of the strata 
by the waste of their edges constitutes what Powell has called the Recession 
of Cliffs. 

Of these five centres of maximum erosion, the San Rafael Swell is by 
far the best suited for study, and may be regarded as the type of them all. 
If we stand upon the eastern verge of the Wasatch Plateau and look east- 
ward, we shall behold one of those strange spectacles which are seen only 
in the Plateau Province, and which have a peculiar kind of impressiveness, 
and even of sublimity. From an altitude of more than 1 1,000 feet the eye 
can sweep a semicircle with a radius of more than 70 miles. It is not the 
wonder inspired by gi'eat mountains, for only two or three peaks of the ' 
Henry Mountains are well in view; and these, with their noble Alpine 
forms, seem as strangely out of place as Westminster Abbey would be 
among the ruins of Thebes. Nor is it the broad expanse of cheerful plains 
stretching their mottled surfaces beyond the visible horizon. It is a pic- 
ture of desolation and decay; of a land dead and rotten, with dissolution 
apparent all over its face. It consists of a series of terraces, all inclining 
upwards to the east, cut by a labyrinth of deep narrow gorges, and 
sprinkled with numberless buttes of strange form and sculpture. We stand 
upon the Lower Tertiary, and right beneath our feet is a precipice leaping 
down across the edges of the level strata upon a terrace 1,200 feet below. 
The cliff on which we stand stretches far northward into the hazy distance, 
gradually swinging eastward, and then southward far beyond the reach of 
vision and below the horizon. It describes, as we well know, a rude semi- 
circle around a centre more than 40 miles to the eastward. At the foot of 
this cliff is a terrace about 6 miles wide of Upper Cretaceous beds, inclining 
upwards towards the east very slightly, and at that distance it is cut off by 
a second cliff, plunging down 1,800 feet u})on Middle Cretaceous beds. 
This second cliff describes a smaller semicircle like the first and concentric 
with it. From its foot the strata again rise gently towards the east through 
a distance of 10 miles, and are cut off by a third series of cliffs as before. 



20 DfTRODUCTORY. 

There are five of these concentric lines of cliffs. In the centre there is an 
elh'ptical area about 40 miles long and 12 to 20 broad, its major axis lying 
north and south, and as completely girt about by rocky walls as the valley 
of Rasselas. It has received the name of the San Rafael Swell. Its floor 
is covered with the lowest Triassic strafci, and probably in some portions 
of it the Carboniferous is laid bare, though it has not yet been seen. But, 
at all events, we know that the Carboniferous is very thinly covered, even 
if it be not exposed. 

Thus, as we pass from the summit of the Wasatch Plateau to the floor 
of the Red Amphitheatre, we cross the outcrops of nearly 10,000 feet of 
strata. The Tertiary is found only at a distance of 40 miles from it. Yet 
if we look back to Eocene time we shall find that the whole stratigraphic 
series from the base of the Mesozoic to the summit of the Eocene covered 
this amphitheatre. One after another, in orderly succession, the vast 
stratigraphic members have been stripped ofi*, and the edges of the remain- 
ing portions are seen in the successive cliffs which bound the encircling 
terraces. 

Still more vast has been the erosion which took place in the vicinity 
of the Grand Cafion of the Colorado. Here the Carboniferous now forms 
the floor of the country, though a few patches of Trias still remain in the 
vicinity of the river. But the main body of Triassic rocks now stands 50 
miles north of the river, and beyond them, in a series of teri'aces, rise the 
Jura, the Cretaceous, and the Tertiary, the latter usually capped by great 
masses of volcanic rock. 

We may note here another question which presents itself in connection 
with the differential movements among the various parts of the province. 
Those areas which have been uplifted most have suffered the greatest 
amount of denudation. Is it not possible in some cases and under certain 
restrictions to invert this statement and say that those regions which have 
been most denuded have been most uplifted, thereby assuming the removal 
of tlie strata as a cause and the uplifting as the eflbct? May not the 
removal of such a mighty load as G,( 00 to 10,000 feet of strata from an area 
of 10,000 square miles have disturbed the eai-th's equilibrium of figure, and 



EFFECTS OF GEEAT DENUDATIONS. 21 

the earth, behaving as a quasi-plastic body, have reasserted its equilibrium 
of figure by making good a great part of the loss by drawing upon its 
whole mass beneath ? Few geologists question that great masses of sedi- 
mentary deposits displace the earth beneath them and subside. Surely 
the inverse aspect of the problem is a priori equally palpable. That some 
such process as this has operated in the Plateau Country looks at least 
plausible, and if there could be found independent reasons for believing in 
its adequacy the facts certainly bear it out. Yet its application is not 
without some difficulties, and the explanation is not quite complete. Grant- 
ing the principle, it will still be difficult to explain how these local uplifts 
were inaugurated, and we can only refer them to the operations of that 
mysterious plutonic force which seems to have been always at work, and 
the operations of which constitute the darkest and most momentous problem 
of dynamical geology. On the whole, it seems to me that we are almost 
driven to appeal to this mysterious agency to at least inaugurate and in part 
to perpetuate the upward movement, but that we must also recognize the 
co-operation of that tendency which indubitably exists within the earth to 
maintain the statical equilibrium of its levels The only question is whether 
that tendency is merely potential or becomes in part kinetic, and this again 
turns upon the rigidity of the earth. But it is easy to beKeve that where / / vf 

the masses involved are so vast as those which have been stripped from the 
Kaibabs and from the San Rafael Swell, the rigidity of the earth may be- 
come a vanishing quantity. 

The great erosion of the Plateau Province was most probably accom- 
plished mainly in Miocene time, but continued with diminishing rapidity 
throughout the Pliocene. But it is necessary to say that the terms Mio- 
cene and Pliocene have here no definition. They cannot be correlated 
except in a very general manner with events occumng outside the province. 
We have only a vast stretch of time, with an initial epoch near the close of 
the local Eocene. The greater part of the denudation is assigned to the Mio- 
cene, because the conditions appear to have been more favorable to a rapid 
rate of destruction in that age than subsequently. The climate appears to 
have been humid, while the elevation was at the same time gradually increas- 
ing, both conditions being favorable to a rapid disinteg^-ation and removal 



/' 7 



22 INTEODUOTORy. 

of the rocks. The Pliocene witnessed the gradual development of an arid 
climate similar to that now prevailing there. To th's age belong the cations 
and the great chffs, which could not have been produced in an ordinary or 
humid climate, nor at low altitudes. That this aridity is by no means a 
condition of recent establishment is indicated by many evidences. They 
consist of remnants of a former topography, preserved in a few localities 
from the general wreck of the land, and which show the same general facies 
of cliffs and cailons as those of more recent formation. And as the more 
recent sculpture owes its peculiarities in great part to the aridity, so, we 
conclude, must these more ancient remnants The Kaiparowits Plateau 
presents an excellent example. Its surface is in many places rendered 
utterly impassable by a plexus of shaq^ narrow caftons, of which the heads 
have been cut off by the recession of the gigantic cliff which forms the 
eastern wall of the plateau. They have long been dug, and have remained 
with but little change for an immense period of time. 

And now the relation of the High Plateaus to the Plateau Province at 
large becomes evident They are the remnants of great masses of Tertiary 
and Cretaceous strata left by the immense denudation of the Plateau Prov- 
ince to the south and east. From th.e central part of the province the 
Tertiary beds have been wholly removed and nearly all of the Upper 
Cretaceous. A few remnants of the Lower Cretaceous stretch far out into 
the desert, and one long narrow causeway, the Kaiparowits Plateau, extends 
from the southeastern angle of the district of the High Plateaus far into 
the Central Province and almost joins the great Cretaceous mesas of North- 
eastern Arizona, being severed from them only by the Glen Cation of the 
Colorado. The Jurassic has also been enormously eroded. This forma- 
tion, which i- ^f great importance and bulk in the northern and north- 
western portion of the province, and especially around the High Plateaus, 
appears to have thinned out towards the south and southeast. In large 
portions of New Mexico it is wholly wanting and was probably never 
deposited there. In the northwestern portion of that Territory only a few 
thin beds of that age are found. But in the northern part of the province 
a conspicuous and wonderful sandstone formation of most persistent char- 
acter is found, overlaid and underlaid by shales holding a distinctly Jurassic 



FINAL RESCTLTS OF EROSION AND UPLIFTING. 23 

fauna. This formation once extended over the Grand Cafion area prob- 
ably as far south as the river itself, and possibly farther, but has all been 
swept away as far north as tlie soutliern end of the district of High 
Plateaus. From the region east of the High Plateaus also very large areas 
of it have been removed. The Upper Trias lias also been greatly denuded, 
and the Lower Trias nearly as mucli so. The erosion of the Carboniferous 
has been small, being confined chiefly to the cutting of cations— most 
notably the Grand and Marble Canons, which are sunk wholly in that 
series, and in several places have been cut through the entire Palaeozoic 
series system. 

The average denudation of the Plateau Province since the closing 
periods of the local Eocene can be approximately estimated, and cannot fall 
much below 6,000 feet,* and may, nay, probably does, slightly exceed that 
amount. Of course this amount varies enormously, being in some locali- 
ties practically nothing and in others nearly or quite 12, (00 feet. It is a 
minimum in the High Plateaus Within that district the average denuda- 
tion will fall much below 1,000 feet in the sedimentary beds. The enor- 
mous floods of volcanic emanations have protected them, and these have 
bonie the brunt of erosion, and their degradation has given rise to local 
accumulations of sub-aerial conglomerates in all the valleys and plains sur- 
roimding the volcanic areas, thus increasing the protection. 

The general cause which has enabled these strata to survive within the 
limits of the High Plateaus while they have been so terribly wasted else- 
where may be stated briefly. Until near the close of the Pliocene the High 
Plateaus were not only the theatre of an extended vulcanism, but those 
portions which never were sheeted over by lavas were low-lying areas, 
where alluvial strata tended to accumulate. They remained, in fact, base 
levels of erosion during the gi-eater part of Tertiary time. 

Turning now to the Great Basin, which lies even lower than the mean 
level of the Plateau Country, we find that the pre-eminence of the High 
Plateaus is due to a totally different cause. Here the difference of altitude 
is due altogether to difi*erences in the amounts of uplifting. Since the 

* My o^-u estimate exceeds by a few hnndrcd feet that of Professor Powell and also that of Mr. 
Gilbert. The latter places it at about 5,500 feet. 



24 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

Eocene, the High Plateaus have risen from 10,000 to 12,000 feet, while the 
adjoining Basin areas have risen from 5,000 to 6,000. As we pass from 
the Basin eastward and ascend the High Plateaus we mount the long slopes 
of great monoclinal flexures, or scale the giant cliffs which had their origin 
in the long major faults which traverse the district from south to north. 
As we pass westward from the heart of the Plateau Province and ascend 
the High Plateaus, we ascend cliflEs of erosion. The fact that those cliffs 
which had their origin in displacement, with very rare exceptions, face west- 
ward, has attracted much attention and has received various interpretations. 
It seems to me that the explanation is exceedingly, almost amusingly, 
simple. The country to the east of them, and also the belt of country 
which they occupy, has been elevated from 5,000 to 6,500 feet above the 
country to the west of them. These figures express, of course, relative 
vertical displacements. The passage from west to east across the . belt of 
country, which may be called the border-land between the two provinces, 
discloses a succession of faults and monoclinal flexures which are the 
obvious results of such a displacement 



CHAPTER II. 

STRUCTUEAL GEOLOGY. 

Homology of faults and monoollnal flexures. — Their systematic arrangement. — Those of the High 
Plateaus heloug to the same system as those of the Kaibabs. — ^The Grand Wash fault. — Hurri- 
rioane fault. — ^Tushar fault.— Toroweap fault. — Sevier fault. — ^Western and Eastern Eaibab 
faults. — ^Thousand Lake fault. — Musinia faults. — ^Age of these displacement^ — Their relative 
recency. — Difficulty of assigning their periods in definite terms. — Argument of recency from 
amounts of erosion. — ^Argument from the amounts of accumulation of valley deposits. — ^Age of the 
faults with reference to evidences of glaciation. — Importance of knowing the ages of those faults. — 
Some are more recent than others. — ^An older system of faults of Cretaceous-Eocene ago. — ^Water- 
Pocket flexure. — San Rafael flexure. — Parallelism of recent major faults to the old Cretaceous- 
Eocene shore-line. — ^Evidences of recent uplifting in the cafions. — Comparison of structural forms 
in the throe provinces, the Basin, the Plateaus, and the Parks. — ^Types of the Parks. — ^Effects of 
erosion upon structure. — ^Absence of horizontal forces in the elevation of the Plateaus. 

The great structural features of the High Plateaus are the faults and 
monoclinal flexures. Faulting is an almost universal concomitant of great 
disturbances of the strata and of the uplifting of mountains and plateaus. 
Of their causes geology has taught us but little beyond the bare fact that 
they are produced in the great majority of cases by differential uplifting 
by vertical forces, which is hardly more than an identical proposition. The 
nature of the forces we know not, and can only speculate vaguely about 
them. We do not always know even whether a fault is produced by uplift- 
ing upon one side of a given vertical plane or by sinkage on the other, and 
there must always be an implicit reservation when we speak of them as 
produced by upliting, so that nothing more is meant than that the strata 
have been sheared vertically, and that one portion is left on a higher plane 
than the other. Why the vertical forces should undergo an abrupt change 
or even total extinction in passing from one side of a given line to the other 
is a mystery which we cannot hope to solve until we know the origin of 
the force itself. All that is left us at present is to study the faults them- 
selves carefully, ascertaining, as far as practicable, what movements have 

25 



26 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

really taken place, how they are related to each other, what dislocations 
have been produced by them, and what are the present and what were 
probably the former attitudes of the disturbed masses ; and yet there are 
very few subjects in the range of geology so difficult to study. It seems as 
if Nature were ashamed of her scars, and resorted to numberless tricks and 
devices to liide them from sight ; here smoothing over the break and deftly 
hiding it with a mantle of soil ; there confusing the inquisitive student by a 
multiplicity of perplexing forms, which are sure to worry if not to mislead 
him ; and always shy of the truth. Throughout the greater part of the 
Plateau Province, Nature is so poorly clad in the raiment of soil and vege- 
tation and thfe earth is so well dissected by erosion that these features do 
not easily escape the scrutiny of the determined and experienced investi- 
gator. In the High Plateaus, however, the faults are less readily scruti- 
nized than in some other parts of the province, though much more cons})ic- 
uously displayed than in smoother and moister countries or than in countries 
of more complicated structure. While I suspect that many minor faults 
have escaped detection, I am confident that all of the gi^ander ones have been 
discovered and their principal features and relations unraveled. 

All of the greater dis})lacements of the district present certain well- 
marked habitudes. Most important among them is the strict homology of 
the faults with monoclinal flexures. In truth, so close is the homology, that 
we are justified in calling a monoclinal in some of its aspects a modified 
fault. The only diff^erence for structural purposes is that in the case of a 
typical fault of the simplest form the shearing is along one plane, while in 
the monoclinal the shearing lies between two planes. We have also cumu- 
lative or repetitive or " step-faults," where the shearing is subdivided among 
several planes. All have this in common, that the passage from the uplifted 
to the lowest thrown side is through a very narrow zone, which has its width 
reduced to zero in the case of the single or simple fault. All of the great 
lines of displacement assume all of these modifications in different parts of 
their extent. In one place the fault is simple. A few miles farther along 
its course it may become subdivided into a series of "step-faults;" still far- 
ther on, into a perfect unbroken monoclinal ; it may be at another locality 
a faulted monoclinal — a part of the displacement being through flexing and 



SYSTEM OF PLATEAU FAULTS. 27 

a part through shearing. In any case the effect is in its broader aspects 
the same. One side has been uplifted, the other side " thrown." 

The true monoclinal in its perfect form is much more common in the 
sedimentary than in the volcanic beds The latter seem to lack that flexi- 
bility or rather adaptability which enables strata to undergo differential 
distortion without fracture. In the sedimentaries, on the other hand, the 
monoclinal seems to be the favored form of displacement, though trenchant 
faults are common enough. In the volcanics there is a tendency to the 
monoclinal form, but the unyielding nature of the rocks has produced com- 
minuted fracture in places where a monocUnal would doubtless have been 
produced had the strata been more compliant. Hence the volcanics seldom 
preserve the unbroken monoclinal, though there is one good example of this 
preservation. This comminution is a source of perplexity in resolving the 
displacement into its constituents, and frequently renders it necessary to 
stay long and scrutinize abundantly before the extent of it and its true 
method can be properly ascertained. 

Another striking characteristic of these displacements is their sys- 
tematic arrangement. Viewed in one way they approach parallelism, but 
there is a noticeable convergence of the lines as we trace them from south 
to north. In disturbed regions the faults and flexures usually tend to paral- 
lelism, and while the tendency is as decided here as it is elsewhere, yet the con- 
verging tendency is a noticeable characteristic. These great displacements 
of the High Plateaus are the northward continuations of those which have 
been described by Powell and Gilbert in the vicinity of, and crossing, the Col- 
rado River at the Grand Caiion. But in the Grand Cafion district (where 
they gave origin to the Kaibabs) the belt of faulted country is wider and 
the intervals between the faults and flexures are greater than in the High 
Plateaus. This width diminishes northward, and several of the grander 
faults at length become merged into one vast monoclinal flexure, forming 
the western flank of the Wasatch Plateau. South of the Colorado these 
faults have not been studied, but the indications now are that they also 
converge in that direction, giving the greatest expansion to the nystem just 
where the Colorado cuts across it. It is impossible to separate the faults of 
the High Plateaus from their systematic association with those of the Kiii- 



28 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

babs, for tlie two districts have a common history, so far as relates to their 
more recent structure. The individual faults overlap, and both districts 
sympathized in the vertical movements. Indeed, the Hun-icane and Eastern 
Kaibab faults form structure lines of the first magnitude in both districts, 
with no break in the continuity. The indications are unmistakable that the 
upliftings of the Kaibabs and High Plateaus were sensibly synchronous 
and formed one movement, and that any attempt to separate them would 
be to ignore their proper relations. 

The westernmost of the series is the Grand Wash fault. It crosses the 
Colorado at the lower end of the Grand Canon. Southward it curves 
gradually in its trend, and at the farthest point to which it has been traced 
its course is to the southeast. Northward from the river the curvature of 
the trend is still preserved though much less distinct, and its course is 
nearly due north. It runs out apparently about 35 miles from the river. 
Its maximum displacement is about 5,500 feet, and the lifted side forms the 
Sheavwits Plateau. 

Next in order comes the Hurricane fault. Its southern terminus south 
of the Colorado is unknown. It crosses the river just west of Mounts 
Tiiimbull and Logan, forming the Hurricane Ledge, and its course is nearly 
north, with a very slight swerving to the eastward. At the Grand Cafion 
its displacement is about 1,800 feet, and this amount is maintained with 
little variation for about 40 miles north of the cafion. Here its throw (to 
the west) rapidly increases. It becomes the western boundary of the great 
Markagunt uplift — ^the southwestemmost of the High Plateaus, and is at 
the same time the boundary which sharply separates the Plateau Province 
from the Great Basin. Continuing on past the Mormon town. Cedar, and just 
before reaching Parowan, it suddenly swings, eastnortheast, making almost 
a sharp angle. Thereafter it swings slowly back towards the north until it 
reaches the western flank of the Tushar, where its throw has much dimin- 
ished. The precise point where it runs out is not known, since it is covered 
by basaltic eruptions, but it is not seen beyond the middle of the western 
flank of the Tushar. Its maximum throw is near Cedar, on the western 
flank of the Markagunt, where it reaches on an average, along 20 miles of 
its course, a displacement of about 5,000 feet. 



HURRICANE AND TUSHAR FAULTS. 29 

From the Grand Canon northward for 40 miles it is a nearly simple 
fault, though in some places it shows comminution of the rocks in the 
vicinity of the fault plane, and in a few places the beds on the thrown side 
are turned up. Along the southwestern base of the Markagunt the fracture 
becomes very complicated. The upper beds have been eroded backward 
from the fault plane on the lifted side of the fault, and the lower beds on that 
side have in several places been turned up with a sharp flexure and stand 
nearly vertical — in one instance have been turned past the vertical. This 
movement seems to be exceptional, no other instance of the same kind 
having been seen anywhere. It is difficult to understand by what applica- 
tion of forces such a contortion could have been effected. The Carbonif- 
erous has been brought up by it so as to abut against the Tertiary on the 
thrown side of the fault, and right at the plane of shearing the displace- 
ment of the lower beds seems to be about 12,000 or 13,000 feet. But 
away from the fault plane the beds quickly come back to their normal 
position, with an uplift of about 4,000 feet. A few miles south of this point 
another equally abnormal displacement occurs. A small branch of the 
fault runs into the uplift and a huge block seems to have cracked off and 
rolled over, the beds opening with a V, and forming a valley of grand 
dimensions. About six miles north of the great upturn all trace of that 
peculiar flexure has vanished and the beds are neatly sheared. The Hur- 
ricane fault nowhere appears ttx, take on the true monoclinal form. The 
length of this great displacement is probably more than 200 miles. 

The third great fault is that which lies at the eastern base of the Tu- 
shar. Most of the faults have their throws to the west, but the throw of 
the Tusliar is to the east. It commences with two branches at the south- 
eastern base of the range and the branches converge near the middle of its 
eastern flank They are obscure and difficult to locate exactly on account 
of their concealment by the alluvial debris^ resulting from the waste of the 
ancient lava beds and the somewhat chaotic nature of the tract through 
which they run; for this tract is one of the old centers of eruption. But 
some well preserved beds of conglomerate turned up on the thrown side 
and matched with beds appearing above at last revealed them, and the 
discovery of a series of peculiar trachytic beds on both sides of the fault 



30 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

planes confirmed the belief that the faults really existed. In the middle of 
the range the obscurity is still greater. Volcanic activity, producing great 
distortion and destruction of the stratification, has made it impossible to 
unravel the complications of the displacement. I only know that the upper 
Jurassic beds appear at the base and again high up in the heart of the 
range and in a very distorted and more or less metamorphic condition at 
intermediate places. I have cut the knot, and represented the movement 
in the stereogi-am as a simple fault. Near the northern end of the Tushar 
the fault is shown more clearly, and is there relatively simple, though not 
without some slight complexities arising from undulation of the strata. The 
same line of displacements extends beyond the Tushar along the eastern 
flank of tlie Pavant, which is the northern continuation of that range. 
Here it is at first a simple fault, but gradually becomes a monoclinal beyond 
the town of Richfield by the thrown strata flexing gradually upward until 
they meet the ends of the beds on the lifted side. 

Opposite Salina it suddenly changes its trend to the northwest and 
forms the western wall of Round Valley — a depression cutting through the 
Pavant obhquely. The length of this displacement is about 80 miles. 

The Toroweap* fault cannot be reckoned among the greater faults, 
though it is so noticeable and conspicuously exhibited that it deserves men- 
tion. It crosses the Grand Gallon near Mount Trumbull, about 1 1 miles east 
of the Hurricane fault, with a throw to the west of about 700-800 feet, but 
in the course of about 20 miles to the northward it probably runs out. 
Very little is known concerning it south of the river. It is a fault of the 
simplest order. 

The fourth great displacement is the Sevier fault It commences about 
35 miles north of the Grand Cafion. It makes its first appearance at "Pipe 
Spring," at the base of the Vermilion Cliffs, and presents a remarkable atti- 
tude.f Approaching it from the west, the beds are turned down on the 

* Tho Toroweap is a valley opeuiiig upon tho middle terrace of the Grand Cafioii from the north 
side. It was excavated and its stream dried up before tho commencement of the cutting of tlie imier 
chiism, and its lloor, therefore, iTuiains about on a level with the middle terrace. It is a magnificent 
avenue of appi*oach to a sublime spectacle of the Grand Caflon, bringing the observer to the blink of tho 
inner abyss, where ho may look vertically downwards more than 3,000 feet and with more than 2,000 
feet of wall above him. The name Toroweap signifies "a clayey locality." 

t There are some indications that it extends a few miles south of Pipe Spring, but it is covorod 
with soil and sand. 



SEVIER FAULT. 31 

thrown side and remain horizontal on the other. The beds, five miles from 
the fault on the thrown side, come back to horizontality at about the same 
levels which they occupy on the other side of the fault, Fig. 3. The trend 
of the fault at first is northeast. Ten miles from Pipe Spring it is a simple 
fault. Farther on, in Long Valley, it is " stepped " with two branches. 
Passing on to the base of the Pauns^gunt at Upper Kanab the beds on the 
thrown side are flexed upward, while on the lifted side (east) they are hori- 
zontal. This form continues northward from Upper Kanab for about 13 
miles, when branch faults appear on the thrown side and the fault is 
stepped and here and there somewhat comminuted, but with one predomi- 
nant shear, forming the western wall of the Paunsdgunt Plateau. These 
modifications disappear about 6 miles farther on, and the fault becomes 
simple with a diminished throw; the displacement opposite the village 
of Hillsdale not exceeding 800 feet. Beyond Hillsdale the throw is nearly 
uniform for about 10 miles and then increases again. The increase is 
slow but steady for the next 60 miles. Along the east side of Panquitch 
Valley it is very difficult to study, because it cuts the volcanic rocks, 
which are much confused, and here is one of the great eruptive cen- 
ters. It is probably somewhat complicated, though the principal dis- 
placement is distinctly revealed in the great plateau wall on the east, and 
in the great ravines and chasms which cut across it and open into the valley 
below. Opposite Circle Valley the fault splits off a large piece from the 
Sevier Plateau by means of a branch which leaves the main displacement 
and then reunites with it. At East Fork Cafion the thrown beds, consisting 
of volcanic conglomerate, are turned up monoclinally, but are sundered by 
the fault at the summit, with a shear of 3^000 feet. A little north of this 
cafion a branch diverges fi-om the main displacement, running off into the 
Sevier Valley, where it rapidly dies out. The maximum displacement is 
apparently attained a few miles south of the Mormon village Monroe, and 
from that point northward it rather rapidly diminishes. Between Glenwood 
and Salina the apparent shear has become zero. But the circumstances are 
remarkable. The fault from Monroe northward is a secondary displacement 
superposed upon an older one. The zero point of the fault is quickly suc- 
ceeded in the same line by a resumption of the shear, but in the opposite 



32 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

direction; i. 6., the throw north of the zero point is to the east while south 
of this point it is to the west. The fault with its tlwow reversed now con- 
tinues northwaixl, crossing the lower end of San Pete Valley, and becomes 
the eastern wall of the San Pete Plateau, its shear increasing until it reaches 
nearly to Mount Nebo. It has not been traced farther, but where it has 
last been verified it is still in considerable force. The length of this dis- 
placement, so far as now known, is nearly 220 miles. It forms the western 
fronts of the PaunsAgunt and Sevier Plateaus and the eastern front of the 
San Pete Plateau. 

The Western Kaibab fault is the fifth great displacement. It is supposed 
at its southern extension across the Grand Caflon to unite with the Eastern 
Kaibab fault, as it is known to do at its northern end at Paria, about 40 
miles north of the head of Marble Caiion. Its trend describes a large bow, 
of which the Eastern Kaibab fault is the chord. Between them the Kaibab 
Plateau has been uplifted. Through the portions immediately north of the 
Grand Gallon it is stepped, but the steps unite into a true monoclinal flexure 
opposite the middle of the Plateau. Towards the north it gradually dies 
out, and near the junction with the Eastern Kaibab displacement it is but 
a gentle monoclinal swell and hardly perceptible. 

The Eastern Kaibab fault is the longest line of displacement of which 
I have ever heard. It comes up out of unknown regions in Arizona from 
the vicinity of the San Francisco Mountain, and appears near the mouth of 
the Little Colorado River as a double displacement, but probably consider- 
ably complicated.* The displacement has two parallel branches, which 
appear to be faults where they cross the Colorado, but about 10 miles 
northward they gradually pass into two beautiful monoclinal flexures, the 
strata being unbroken, except by erosion at the surface. At House Rock Val- 
ley the two flexures merge into one, which continues northwai-d past Paria, 
trending first northnortheast, but gradually swinging in a curve around to 
the northwest, always preserving its true monoclinal form. As it approaches 
'^I'able Cliff, it dwindles as if about to die out; but opposite the southwest angle 

* Professor Powell is probably the only geologist who has seen these faults in this locality. The 
place is a terrible one to reach unless by boats through the entire length of the Marble Ca&on, and even 
then the approach is formidable. Ue would be a bold mrn who should endeavor to reach the locality 
from above. 



KAIBAB AND THOUSAND LAKE FAULTS. 33 

of the Aquarius Plateau it is joined by an important fault coming from the 
southsouthwest. This is the Paunsagunt fault, which lies near the eastern 
base of that plateau. As its throw is in the opposite direction to that of the 
Kaibab fault, the two are apparently distinct, though they really are 
branches of one displacement. The displacement now continues north 
along the western front of the Aquarius Plateau, and presents complication 
with subordinate faults. Still northward it has the Awapa Plateau for its 
uplifted and Grass Valley for its thrown side, the minor faults gradually 
merging with the principal one. 

Near the north end of Grass Valley it rapidly passes into a sharply- 
flexed monoclinal, forming the northwest shoulder of Fish Lake Plateau, and 
the monoclinal so formed gradually expands into a broader flexure, with an 
increasing displacement, and becomes the great monoclinal of the Wasatch 
Plateau, one of the grandest flexures of the Plateau Country. This flexure 
forms the southeast side of San Pete Valley for about 50 miles. It has not yet 
been traced beyond the northern end of this valley, but from the topography 
it is supposed to extend far beyond it, being in full force where it has been 
last observed. Its total length, reckoning as one displacement the Wasatch, 
Grass Valley, Table Clifi^, and Eastern Kaibab portions, cannot fall much 
short of 300 miles, and may considerably exceed that after the termini have 
been discovered. It presents many phases or modifications, but the domi- 
nant feature is the monoclinal form. The maximum displacement is at the 
Wasatch Plateau, and reaches nearly 7,000 feet. 

The easternmost fault {Thousand Lake fault) of this system begins upon 
the southern slopes of the Aquarius Plateau, trending due north. It crosses 
that plateau with a dislocation of 500-600 feet, and splits into two faults, 
which reunite upon the northern base. Crossing the lower end of Rabbit 
Valle)', it passes along the western base of Thousand Lake Mountain, and 
then swings to the northeast The throw is to the west, and in passing 
from the foot of the Aquarius to the base of Thousand Lake Mountain the 
displacement rapidly increases to about 3,500 feet, and then as rapidly 
diminishes, again becoming zero about 20 miles northnortheast of the mount- 
ain. But it inmiediately recommences with a throw in the opposite direc- 
tion (east), repeating the phenomenon presented by the Sevier fault a little 
3 H p 



34 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

south of Salina. Resuming its northerly trend, the fault with a reversed 
throw passes along the west side of Gunnison Valley with a shear of at 
least 3,000 feet, and runs obliquely up on the great Wasatch Monoclinal, 
forming a superimposed displacement, and then cuts obliquely down into 
San Pete Valley, where it disappears. It may continue farther northward, 
but it has not been traced in that direction beyond San Pete Valley. Its 
total observed length is very nearly 100 miles. It is everywhere a true 
fault, though at several places it is complicated by minor fractures and some 
flexing of the thrown beds. 

I have not included the East Musinia fault among the greater displace- 
ments, though it has considerable length — perhaps 45 miles — and at one 
place in Gunnison Valley the shear reaches more than 2,000 feet, and pos- 
sibly near to 3,00i> feet. It is, however, an important feature, and almost 
entitled to rank with the greater faults of the system. It is parallel to the 
northern portion of the Thousand Lake fault last described, and might be 
called a mate to it, since the two hold between them the sunken block of 
Gunnison Valley and the continuation of that block obliquely across the 
great Wasatch Monoclinal. 

This sunken block is an interesting occurrence, and belongs to that 
kind of complicated fracture which Powell has named ^^Zone of Diverse 
Displacement^^ The part of it which lies in the lowest portion of Gunnison 
Valley has been analyzed and described by Mr. Gilbert. It extends both 
north and south from this locality, and in the former direction continues to 
display the same comminuted fracture in great variety for a distance of 
more than 20 miles, while the width of the zone does not exceed 3 miles. 
It appears to be a very cleai* case of a block dropping through the drawing 
apart of the strata and sinking to fill the gap thus produced. Another in- 
stance occurs along the western base of the Aquarius Plateau in the south- 
ernmost portion of Grass Valley. Here the block between the faults, 
instead of shearing sharply on both sides, has partly careened and settled 
down synclinally. 

These displacements do not belong wholly to any one period. There 
is evidence that different faults belong to different ages — not widaly separ- 
ated probably, but recognizably distinct. There is evidence that different 



COMPARATIVE RECENCY OF FAULTS. 35 

portions of some of the faults did not occur simultaneously, or, perhaps 
more properly, at the same rate of progress. There is evidence that some 
portions of a fault progressed through intervals of alternate repose and 
activity. But while the entire Tertiary history of this district, or at least 
that portion of its history since the Eocene, was marked by the recurrence 
of disturbing forces here and there, there is one period which appears 
to have been pre-eminently a period of faulting and uplifting, standing out 
conspicuously as a culminating period in the movements. It was this period 
which more than any other gave, not indeed birth, but certainly the maxi- 
mum growth and expansion to the structural features of the district. This 
period was a comparatively recent one. To name it in terms of the ordi- 
nary geological calendar would probably convey the impression that the 
means of determining and correlating the ages of events occun-ing within 
the district with reference to those occurring outside of it are greater than 
they really are. Since the middle Eocene all direct connection of the Ter- 
tiary history of the Plateau Province with external regions ceases. Since 
then everything is relative. The order of sequence is plain, but so far as 
time is concerned we are out of sight of stars and landmarks, and run through 
the succeeding periods only by dead reckoning. The next age which 
we can fix after the Eocene is the Glacial period. We recognize high up 
in the plateaus and mountains the traces of local glacial action, and it has 
the same general traces of geological recency and historic or prehistoric 
antiquity as elsewhere. But between these two ages we are conscious only 
of a vast stretch of time, in which great results were accomplished in a 
certain definite order. Each individual feature in that progressive evolution 
was one which by its very nature required long periods to accomplish, and 
the last of them all was the great uplifting and fracturing of the rocks which 
had previously accumulated, 

I place the age of the principal displacement in a period which had its 
commencement in the latter part of Pliocene time, and extended down to an 
epoch which, even in a historical sense, may not be extremely ancient, and 
which certainly falls on this side of the Glacial period. Perhaps it is still 
in progress. Perhaps the plateaus are to-day growing higher and the faults 
increasing their shear. But the beginning of this last period of faulting, 



36 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

whetlier tlie period is closed or not, goes, I believe, only back into the late 
Pliocene. These faults are so important not only to the history of the llifj^h 
Plateaus, but also to the general history of the Plateau Province at large, 
that it seems proper to enter at some length upon the considerations which 
have led to this opinion concerning their age. 

Recognizing the great magnitude of the results accomplished in this 
region by erosion since the Eocene, we are naturally led to inquire whether 
we may not here and there gain some conception of the relative ages of cer- 
tain events by ascertaining the amount of erosion which has been effected 
since their occurrence. The laws of erosion, both generally and in their 
somewhat abnormal application to this strange region, are s. efficiently un- 
derstood to enable us to decide where erosion ought to be most rapid and 
where most sluggish. Of all portions of the Plateau Province the best 
watered is the District of the High Plateaus. It is also the loftiest, and gives, 
therefore, to its water-courses the swiftest descents and the greatest trans- 
porting power. On the other hand, its rocks are the hardest and most dura- 
ble. Thus the altitude and copious rainfall favor a rapid rate of erosion, 
while the greater durability of the rocks retards it. Not all of the rocks, 
however, are of this adamantine character. Indeed, some of the most 
voluminous fonnations are conglomerates, some well consolidated, but most 
of them only moderately so. Around the borders of the district are the 
sedimentaries, differing lithologically in no material respect from those of 
the province at large. By comparing the effects of erosion in rocks of dif- 
ferent classes similarly situated we find great irregularities, but so far as can 
be seen these irregularities are due chiefly to the relative durability of the 
rocks. The sedimentaries are most powerfully eroded, and clearly disin- 
tegrate far more rapidly than the volcanics, and considerably more so than 
the conglomerates. There is seldom difficulty in distinguishing the erosion 
which has occurred during or since the faulting from that which may have 
occurred befoi'e it ; and when we first separate this erosion from the earlier 
we find that in the sedimentaries it is very considerable. Vast ravines have 
been scored and deep cailons cut into the risen blocks. The fronts have been 
battered and scoured by the storms of unknown millenniums and pared off 
until they stand back of the fault-planes which mark the rifts where they 



EECENCY OF FAULTS. 37 

were severed from the platforms below. Realizing how slowly to human 
senses these processes operate, the thought of the long ages through which 
they have been at work at first oppresses us, and we. are conscious only of 
a duration which we can no more comprehend than we can comprehend 
eternity. Yet, when we come to compare the work which has been done 
upon the flanks of the plateaus with what we are sure has been done upon 
the regions they overlook, the former sinks into insignificance. 

Since the commencement of the faulting ravines have been exca- 
vated 2,000 or 3,000 feet in depth ; some of the living streams have sunk 
their canons from a few hundred to a thousand feet ; here and there a patch 
of exposed country has lost some hundreds of feet of strata ; old volcanic 
vents on which possibly stood cones have moldered away and left barely 
a heap of unintelligible ruins. More than this: we know that since the 
same epoch the inner gorge of the Grand Cafion has sunk under the inces- 
sant grinding of its turbid waters 3,030 feet into the earth, and its side gorges 
near the river have deepened an equal amount. Doubtless many other 
changes have occurred, the precise nature and extent of which we can only 
conjecture. Such as we recognize seem stupendous to us and even stagger 
us when we look at the instrumentality to which we must attribute them. 
But these are only the last touches of the work which has denuded an 
empire, sweeping from its surfiice fi,000 feet of strata. 

When we study more closely the later erosion, we find that by far the 
greater part of its results are of that class which is efifected with the greatest 
ease and rapidity. Slow as the process seems to our senses which has cut 
gorges and cafions, it is swift and trenchant when compared with the 
moldering of cliffs and the decay of buttes and mesas ; and this slow decay 
is far less slow than the decay of platforms and terrace summits. It is in 
ravines and canons that the denuding forces work to the utmost advantage. 
Let a plateau or mountain range arise, and the streams will dissect it to its 
core before it will have materially suff^ered otherwise. Such uplifts as we 
find in the Plateau Province have given to the streams which flow from 
them the most favorable opportunity to corrade, and they have cut profound 
gorges; but the amount of waste upon the summits and even upon the 
great palisades which bound them has been insufficient to sensibly modify 



38 GEOLOGY OF TUE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

their general outlines or even their larger details along the structure lines 
The same is true of the heart of the province. The evidence is clear and 
irrefragable that at a comparatively recent epoch there has been a wide- 
spread uplifting coming upon the country suddenly as it were after an im- 
mense period of repose. Before its advent the streams had long remained 
at the limiting levels where they could sink no more, and the slower pro- 
cesses of decay, the recession of cliffs, the widening of valleys, the shrink- 
age of mesas, the lateral expansion of cailons, had been in progi'ess long 
enough to have produced very extensive results. As this uplifting came 
upon the land the rivers were at once disturbed and resumed their occupa- 
tion of deepening their channels, and sank them almost as fast as the coun- 
try rose. But they remain to-day with walls but little affected by lateral 
waste. Every indication points to the conclusion that they are freshly cut 
and are still cutting. 

Thus the study of the effect of erosion upon the uplifted sides of the 
great displacements of the High Plateaus everywhere indicates relative re- 
cency. The time during which these displaced edges have been subject to 
the action of the elements is trifling when compared with the interval which 
separates us from the Eocene. It is represented only by a work which is 
relatively small and easy of accomplishment and performed under circum- 
stances most favorable to rapidity and efficiency. But the general denuda- 
tion which dates back to the Eocene is incomparably greater in amount, 
considering only equal areas ; and represents in chief part the kind of 
degradation which is relatively slow, performed under circumstances not 
always favorable to rapidity. 

There is another point of view from which we arrive at the same con- 
clusion, that the great displacements are very young. The volcanism of 
the country has a history which we are able to unravel as to its broader 
features. It began after the disappearance of the Eocene lake which cov- 
ered the Plateau Province. How long after the desiccation we cannot 
say even relatively. The lake had withdrawn apparently from the High 
Plateau District soon after the close of the Upper Green River epoch, which 
represents a period in the latter part (but before the close) of the local 
Eocene Resting unconformably upon the Upper Green River beds is a 



RECENCY OF FAULTS. 39 

series of beds, displayed in all parts of the district, composed of the waste 
of volcanic rocks. The rocks which furnished these sands and marls are 
nowhere discernible. Either they have been buried beneath the later lava- 
floods or have been wholly removed by erosion. Deep in the recesses of 
some of the plateaus, at a very few places where the grander gorges have 
eaten their way into them, the oldest observed Tertiary eruptives, the pro- 
pylites, are revealed. Of these earliest propylitic eruptions we know ex- 
ceedingly little historically. They are covered with great floods of andesite 
and trachyte. There is evidence that these eruptions had their periods of 
activity alternating with long periods of repose. These periods represent 
an immense amount of devastation wrought upon the older volcanic mount- 
ains by the elements, for their debris is found in the form of huge beds of 
conglomerate stratified in a manner which leaves no doubt in my mind that 
the process of accumulation was the exact counterpart of that which is now 
building similar beds in the valleys — a purely alluvial process. The earlier 
andesitic mountains were almost utterly destroyed by this process. Then 
came another period of activity, followed by another period of denudation. 
We have older and younger conglomerates. The older contain the andesitic 
and some trachytic fragments; the younger contain trachytic, doleritic, and 
even basaltic fragments. But both conglomerates represent an enormous 
period of denudation, for the aggregate thickness of the beds will frequently 
exceed 2,000 feet, covering very large areas. At length a period of fault- 
ing set in. These conglomerate beds were sheared or flexed, and now form 
the walls and summits of the great plateaus for many scores of miles in 
alternation with the remnants of the old volcanic sheets. Again the process 
of degradation set to work tearing down these tables, the streams rolling 
the fragments down into the valleys and building up along the foot of each 
wall a row of very low alluvial slopes, often beautifully stratified, and the 
exact counterparts of the conglomeritic strata which are now seen edgewise 
in the plateau- walls. Since the uplifting began the amount of accumula- 
tion in this way will probably reach three or four hundred feet in some 
places, though it is not probable that the average will exceed 200 feet. But 
this modern accumulation has been made under peculiarly advantageous 
circumstances. The process will become slower and more difficult as the 



40 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

streams sink their channels and every additional yard of deposit will be 
accumulated at a slower rate. 

It was the uplifting along great lines of dislocation which set this cone- 
building process going. The abrupt descents gave the creeks and brooks 
their power to transport this coarse debris^ and those slopes are now long 
and steep. But as the work proceeds the mountains and tables are gradu- 
ally rounded and smoothed down and the valley plains built up. As yet 
comparatively little has been accomplished in this direction, but the work 
is under full headway. In comparing what has been effected since the 
beginning of the displacements with work of the same character which 
has been accomplished in. ages prior to the displacements, we shall be most 
forcibly impressed with the littleness of the one and the greatness of the 
other. It is a comparison of hundreds with thousands. More than that: 
the hundreds of feet of modern valley cones represent the utmost activity 
of a process which has worked without interruption and under conditions 
the most favorable, while the thousands of feet of ancient accumulations 
represent the same process in all degrees of activity, now intense, now fad- 
ing and dying out, and then probably long intervals of cessation. 

Thus, whether we view the denudation of the High Plateaus or the 
accumulations in the valleys at their bases, we reach the same conclusions. 
The faults are very late occuiTences in the history of the district. But when 
we come to ask what is the age, in terms of the geological chronology, to 
which they must be referred, we can give no further answer than this: they 
belong to a very late one. There is no record of Miocene or Pliocene in 
this disturbed region, and we have nothing to mark the lapse of time, except 
relatively, since the close of the Eocene. But in other parts of the world, 
where we have some knowledge of the strata, we infer that the Miocene 
was a longer age than the Pliocene and the Pliocene longer than the Qua- 
ternary, though these are impressions rather than conclusions, and to bo 
held lightly. Judging, however, by the magnitude of results accomplished 
by erosion in the High Plateaus since the faults were started, and compar- 
ing these results with similar work accomplished in other localities, and 
taking into the account the conditions under which they were accomplished, 
it seems perfectly safe to say that if we carry back the faulting to the mid- 



RECENCY OF FAULTS. 41 

die of the Pliocene we shall have dealt generously with any one who may 
be disposed to push them back to the remotest possible epoch. 

But it may be asked if erosion may not after all have proceeded slowly 
in this region on account of the arid climate, and whether there may not 
have been long intervals when its rate was insignificant. I think the answer 
must be decidedly in the negative so far as the time is concerned which 
lies on this side of the epoch of displacement. The High Plateaus are not 
arid, but are watered copiously — less, indeed, than the regions east of the 
Mississippi, but far more abundantly than the deserts which lie to the east 
and to the west of them. It must be remembered that their altitude is 
great, and that their length and breadth is far greater than most of the 
Rocky Ranges. They are the most prominent topographical barrier which 
the westerly winds strike after leaving the Sierra Nevada, and though the 
plains and even the ragged ridges of the Great Basin are parched and dry, 
yet the High Plateaus wring from the air notable quantities of moisture. 
The rainfall is not known, but 30 inches per annum is a small estimate of 
the probable precipitation on the Plateau summits. In the valley plains of 
the Great Basin the rainfall seldom exceeds 8 inches, and in the painted 
desert to the east of the High Plateaus it could not reasonably be expected 
to amount to so much as 4 inches. But there is evidence that in the past — 
in Glacial and Post-glacial time — the rainfall was far more abundant than 
now. The drainage of three-fourths of the district was gathered in those 
periods into the grand expanse of Lake Bonneville, of which Great Salt 
Lake and Sevier Lake are the remnants. At present this drainage is ab- 
sorbed and finally evaporated in Sevier Lake alone. Very abundant must 
have been the rainfall and moist the atmosphere which, with such a relatively 
moderate water-shed, could have kept such a lake as Bonneville brimming. 

Nor is there at present any evidence that the erosion was materially 
aS'ected either in degree or kind by the presence of ice during the Glacial 
epoch. On the contrary, the evidence is strongly in favor of the conclu- 
sion that in that period the climate was not glacial in this district. The 
ravines and valleys are conspicuously water-carved and conspicuously 
not ice-carved. As if to furnish proof that the absence of all indications 
of ice action in the valleys and plateau flanks should be construed as 



42 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

meaning that none existed, we do find at the very summits unmistak- 
able indications of the action of local and very small glaciers, with beauti- 
fully preserved terminal morains. But I have never seen a morain in the 
High Plateaus at a lower level than 8,500 feet, and 9,000 feet may be con- 
sidered as the mean level at which they are first encountered. We find 
even these only on portions of flanks which bound the loftiest parts of the 
tabular summits, showing that the loftiest parts alone accumulated ice and 
generated small glaciers. This will not seem surprising even to those who 
hold strongly pronounced views on the subject of the Glacial period if we 
assume that during that period the plateaus stood considerably lower than 
at present. That they did stand lower then is not improbable. We cannot 
look to the Glacial period, therefore, for the discovery of any cause which 
would retard the process of erosion ; but, on the contrary, we find in its 
moister climate reasons for thinking that it may have been notably more 
rapid than now.* 

I have discussed this subject at some length, because the age of these 
faults is very important in the geology of the region, and is even more im- 
portant to the southern and southwestern portions of the Plateau Province, 
if possible, than to the High Plateaus. They are associated with the later 
history of the cailons and cliffs and with the climatal changes of the prov- 
ince in the most intimate manner. The evolution of that region has long 
since shown a tendency to cluster; it has even taken form; around certain 
marked events of which one of the most prominent was the faulting, and 
the consequences of these faults reach out in a manner which cannot be 
appreciated until the whole region is described and the history of its con- 
stituent parts delineated ; a work which I trust will be accomplished in the 
near future. They everywhere betray in numberless ways their recency, 
and I have presented only that evidence which strikes the eye at once where 
we first encounter them. 

But while they are all comparatively recent some are older than others. 
The two Kaibab faults in particular are apparently older than the rest, at 
least in part I'hose greater faults which cut through the heart of the 

* Whether erosion would proceed faster under the action of ico than of running water is a ques- 
tion which I do not raise. I*; has no x>resent bearing. 



DIFFEEBNT EPOCHS OF DISPLACEMENT. 43 

eruptive district seem to have bad portions of their shearing before the 
beginning of the principal epoch of displacement. But these earlier symp- 
toms are usually like old wounds which had once healed and afterwards 
broke out again with increased disorder. The Sevier fault, in particular, 
shows signs of two epochs of activity in some portions of its extent. Be- 
tween Monroe and Gunnison it appears as a fault cutting along the axis of 
a small but sharp monoclinal flexure. The flexure is clearly older than 
the fault The Musinia faults cut obliquely across the great monoclinal of 
the Wasatch Plateau, and show little sympathy with it. The Paunsdgunt 
fault, uniting with the northern extension of the East Kaibab flexure, is 
plainly independent of it, and is decidedly younger. It is a most curious 
circumstance that where we find this two-period displacement the motion 
of the fault is often reversed — the lift of the first period is the throw of 
the second. It is not always so, but I believe it to be true in a majority 
of cases where the double movement has been detected. On the» other 
hand, where the shearing of both periods has been in the same direction, 
the movements would be much more diflScult to separate, and many such 
double movements doubtless have escaped observation. 

All of the displacements thus far discussed belong to the same system. 
Whether older or younger, they lie along the same lines and very seldom 
show any interferences. None of them will go back of the Pliocene in age, 
and I think it probable that none of them will go behind the middle Plio- 
cene. Older displacements along these lines, if they exist, are wholly cov- 
ered up and obliterated, and cannot be separated at present from the later 
ones of this system. 

There is, however, a totally distinct system of displacements, belong- 
ing to a much earlier age, which the grander and more general erosion of 
the country has brought to light, but which can never be confounded with 
the Pliocene-Quaternary system. They make a wide angle with the lat- 
ter series and have a history wholly independent of them. They are only 
occasionally revealed in a fragmentary manner in places where deep gorges 
have cut through thousands of feet of Tertiary formations and volcanic 
emanations, or where erosion has swept off corresponding amounts of strata 
from broad districts. Only in two or three places in the heart of the High 



44 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

Plateaus are they brought to liglit ; but around the southeastern borders of 
the district they are displayed conspicuously. The age of these flexures is 
apparently Post-Cretaceous and Pre-Tertiary ; that is, they occupy, in respect 
to time, an interval which separates the Mesozoic from the Tertiary.* They 
consist of a series of monoclinal flexures, quite perfect in form, which trend 
from northwest to north-northwest. They involve the Mesozoic beds, but not 
the Tertiary. They come up from the southeast, and disappear under the 
Aquarius Plateau, and on the southern and southeastern flanks are laid bare 
by a vast erosion. Just before they reach this plateau they are seen to 
be eroded, and near the summit the Eocene beds are seen to lie unconform- 
ably across the beveled edges, and still farther on near the lava cap they 
rest upon the Jurassic. All around the southern and eastern flanks of the 
Aquarius and along a part of the northern flank, also entirely around the 
circumference of Thousand Lake Mountain (with the possible exception of 
its northern end), the contact of the Tertiary with the Jurassic is obvious. 

Farther eastward in the heart of the Plateau Province, outside of the 
district of the High Plateaus, are three more displacements of grand pro- 
portions, of which I can make but a passing mention. The southernmost 
is the Echo Cliff flexure, a great monoclinal seen south of the Colorado near 
the Moquis towns. Trending a little west of north, it crosses the river at 
the head of Marble Canon, and continuing along the Paria River dies out 
near Paria settlement at the base of the Vermilion Cliffs. Farther east is 
the Water- Pocket flexure, one of the grandest monoclinals of the West It 
crosses the Colorado in the heart of Glen Cailon, and running north-north- 
west between the Henry Mountains and Aquarius for nearly 60 miles, swings 
around to the west in a great curve and disappears under Thousand Lake 
Mountain. The third is the San Rafael flexure, beginning as a branch of 
the Water-Pocket flexure, where the latter changes its trend, and running 
north-northeast along the eastern side of the San Rafael swell, passes off into 
the northeast and dies out again. These are all monoclinal flexures of impos- 
ing dimensions and of perfect form. Their age I cannot speak of at present 
in any detail, though it is hardly doubtful that they go far back in Tertiary 

*HeiT, as clst'Avherc in this work, (he Laramie bcils are reckoned with the Cretaceous, of which 
they form the upx)er groui) of beds. 



EELATION OF FAULTS TO ANCIENT SHORE LINES. 45 

time and possibly are Pre-Tertiary. Mr. Gilbert has studied the Water- 
Pocket flexure, and believes that its epoch belongs to the interval which 
separates Tertiary from Cretaceous time. The Echo Cliff flexure is proba- 
bly much younger. The San Rafael flexure remains to be studied. None 
of them appear as yet to have any sympathy with the Pliocene-Quaternary 
faults of the High Plateaus. 

It yet remains to speak of another interesting relation of the later 
system of faults. They have throughout preserved a remarkable and per- 
sistent parallelism to the old shore line of the Eocene lake, following the 
broader features of its trend in a striking manner. The cause of this rela- 
tion is to me quite inexplicable, so much so, that I am utterly at a loss to 
think of any subsidiary facts which may be mentioned in connection with 
it and which can throw light upon it. It seems best, therefore, to allow 
the main fact to stand by itself, and not to confuse it with any others with 
which it has no certain relation. 

The faulting and flexing has been associated with a general increase in 
the altitude not only of the district of the High Plateaus, but of the country 
south and east of them. The uplifting has by no means been confined to 
the few tabular masses. Wherever we look in the western part of the Pla- 
teau Province the signs of this elevation are unmistakable. In some local- 
ities it was much greater than in others, but the signs of it are common to 
all. It is betrayed in the drainage channels. At a comparatively recent 
epoch there has been a sudden renewal of activity on the part of the 
streams, by which they have taken to caiion-cutting with renewed energy 
as if their slopes had been increased, and this is especially observable in 
the Colorado itself, where the effect has been a maximuni. The tribu- 
taries have responded and have acted in like manner. Just prior to the 
advent of this regional upHfting, the aspect of the region appears to 
liave been that which would naturally have resulted from a long period 
of stability at the same altitude. The canons and* intervales were wide, 
and long stretches of the rivers were at or near- their base-levels, having 
eroded as deeply as possible, then slowly widened their valleys and made 
flood-plains. All at once a new era of caflon-cutting set in, and profound 
naiTow chasms were sawed in the strata and are to-day sinking deeper. 



46 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. • 

These traces are less conspicuous on the eastern terraces than upon the 
southern, but are seldom absent. In the Great Basin west of the plateaus 
there is no evidence of any such general uplifting in the later periods, at 
least within many leagues of the High Plateaus, although local disturb- 
ances of no small magnitude have occurred, and doubtless the southwestern 
ranges have gained notably in altitude. 

It is interesting to compare the structural forms produced by the 
displacements of the High Plateaus and Kaibabs with those observed in 
other countries and in other parts of the Rocky Mountain Region. The 
earliest ideas acquired by geologists concerning mountain structure were 
derived from the study of the Alps and Jura The conspicuous fact 
there presented is plication — waves of strata like tlie billows of the ocean 
rolling into shallow waters, and often a mor6 extreme flexing until the folds 
become closely appressed. With the extension of observation among the 
other mountain belts of Europe, and wherever the traces of great disturb- 
ance among the strata were found, the same phenomenon of repetitive flex- 
ing was discerned, seldom amounting to " close plication," but undulating 
in greater or less degree. At a later period, when geology was colonize! 
in America, its systematic researches were first prosecuted in the Apala- 
chians, where the same order of facts was presented in a degree of perfec- 
tion and upon a scale of magnitude far surpassing the original types of 
Switzerland. At a still later period the geologists who inaugurated in the 
Sierra Nevada and Coast Ranges the study of the Rocky system disclosed 
another grand example of the same relations. Thus the increase of obser- 
vation has been for many years strengthening the original induction that 
plication and mountain-building are correlative terms. 

But the rapid and energetic surveys of the remaining portions of the 
Rocky Mountain Region have within a few years brought to light facts of a 
different order. From the eastern base of the Sierra Nevada to the Great 
Plains are very many mountain ranges, a large proportion of which have come 
under the scrutiny of geologists; and of those which have been hitherto 
studied suflSciently to justify any conclusions concerning their structure 
not one has been found to be plicated. Not one of them presents any 
recognizable analogy to the structure which is so remarkably typified in 



ABSENCE OF PLICATION IN THE EOCKY SYSTEM. 47 

the Apalachians. It is certainly true that the study of these mountains 
has not been so minutely detailed nor so long continued as that of mount- 
ains situated in populous countries ; that a considerable portion of them 
have not been examined geologically at all. But, on the one hand, the 
number of which we already possess a preliminary knowledge is considera- 
ble, and on the other hand the remarkable distinctness with which structural 
facts are there displayed, and the comparative ease with which they may 
be read, justify more confidence in our conclusions than might otherwise 
have been admissible. No one familiar with the progress of knowledge in 
this special direction can fail to recognize the conspicuous absence of plica- 
tion in the mountain structures which are found east of the Sierra Nevada. 

Yet in some portions of this great expanse of territory there are im- 
portant flexings and warpings of the strata. This is particularly true ot 
the Basin Ranges. But a very significant distinction is necessary here. 
These flexures are not, so far as can be discerned, associated with the build- 
ing of the existing mountains in such a manner as to justify the inference 
that the flexing and the rearing of the ranges are correlatively associated. 
On the coutrary, the flexures are in the main older than the mountains, and 
the mountains were blocked out by faults from a platform which had been 
plicated long before, and after the inequalities due to such pre-existing flex- 
ures had been nearly obliterated by erosion. It may well be that this ante- 
rior curvation of the strata has been augmented and complicated by the 
later orographic movements. But it is not impossible to disentangle the 
distortions which ante-date the uplifting from the bending and warping of 
the strata which accompanied it, and it is only the latter that we can prop- 
erly associate and con^elate with the structures of the present ranges. These 
present no analogy to what is usually understood by plication. The amount 
of bending caused by the uplifting of the ranges is just enough to give the 
range its general profile, and seldom anything more. The same fact is pre- 
sented in the noble ranges of Colorado. Along their flanks the sedimentary 
strata roll up usually with a single sweep, and high on the slopes are cut off 
by erosion. The typical anticlinal axis is not a characteristic feature of 
the Rocky Mountain system 

The type-section of the Park Mountains of Colorado, as given by the 



48 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

late A. R Marvine, shows a series of broad platforms, uplifted with a single 
nionoclinal flexure or a fkult on either side. The width of these platforms 
varies from 20 to 45 miles, and from these masses the individual mountain- 
piles have been carved by erosion. The restored profiles obtained by re- 
placing the material removed by erosion are not indeed horizontal nor 
straight lines, but ordinarily convex upwards, with slight curvature, becom- 
ing abrupt or even passing into a great fault at the margin of the uplift. 
Inasmuch as almost any configuration of the strata which is convex upwards, 
be it never so little, is called an anticlinal, these platforms would probably 
be so characterized by most geologists. But what a contrast to the short, 
sharp waves of the Apalachians! If we analyze the form carefully, it will 
become apparent that we have to do with a structure which has nothing 
in common with a true anticlinal except this slight convexity, and which 
possesses characters which the true anticlinal does not. 

It has already been indicated that faults and monoclinal flexures are 
homologous terms. They represent varying degrees of abruptness in the 
passage from the thrown to the lifted side of a displacement. In the case 
of the fault the shearing is confined to a single plane ; in the case of a mo- 
noclinal flexure the shearing is distributed through a narrow zone between 
two planes. Both mean essentially the same thing. In the Park Mount- 
ains we have uplifts with a fault or equivalent monoclinal on one side or on 
both. Most frequently it is on both sides, but the shearing is almost inva- 
riably more strongly emphasized on one side than on the other. It rarely 
happens that the fault is clean and trenchant, btit is accompanied with much 
fracturing and shattering of the thrown edges of the strata, and there are 
cases when the dragging of the ftiult has been accompanied by the over- 
turning of a great slice of strata torn from the thrown edges. Instances are 
abundant where the rocks in the flanks of these ranges in the vicinity of 
the faults have been subjected to the most " heroic" treatment; but at short 
distances from the faults in both directions the disorganization quickly 
diminishes. Upon the summits of the platforms the traces of violence and 
distortion attending the upward movement are much less. Where erosion 
has laid bare the most ancient rocks they are ordinarily found to be more 



COMPARISON OF OROGRAPHIC FORMS, 49 

or loss flexed, but the flexing, according to Mr. Marvine, is- chiefly of very- 
ancient date — certainly Pre-Tertiar)^ 

Thus the lifting of these platforms has no significance corresponding 
to an anticlinal fold. It is expressed by the conception of a block of strata 
having a fault or equivalent monbclinal flexure upon both sides. But while 
these characteristics predominate strongly throughout the more easterly 
ranges of the Rocky system numberless changes are rung upon them. One 
dislocation is usually greater than the other. One fades out to a mere in- 
clined plane, while the other becomes a gigantic fault ; all shades of diflFer- 
ence are found from the evanishment of one to the sensible equality of 
both The relative courses of the two displacements constantly vary; here 
parallel, there converging, and again diverging. But throughout this diver- 
sity the dominant type-form is still persistent. These broad platforms have 
upon their surfaces in most cases a certain amount of minor flexing and un- 
dulation. Occasionally a sharp turn of the strata upwards or downwards 
produces a minor or superimposed wave with a well marked anticlinal and 
synclinal profile. Minor faults and local shattering are also seen here and 
there. But those systematic repetitive parallel waves of strata which are 
conveyed to the mind when we speak of plication are not found in any 
known region east of the Sierra Nevada and west of the Apalachians. 

In the Uintas we find a repetition of the Park Mountain type upon a 
grand scale. This has been illustrated admirably by Professor Powell in 
his work on the geology of the Uinta Mountains. It consists of a block 
somewhat broader than those of Colorado, but otherwise the type presents 
no essential modification. It has a great monoclinal upon the southern 
flank and a colossal fault upon the northern. Between the dislocations 
there is a notable amount of superimposed undulation and subordinate 
fracturing and flexing ; but the greater part of it 'antedates the Tertiary 
history of the range, and very much of it is at least as old as the Carbon- 
iferous. 

In the Plateau Province there are very few mountains, and such as 

occur are of volcanic origin. Some of them are constructed in a most 

singular manner, presenting in their genesis and structure an utter contrast 

to the Alpine and most of the Colorado forms. Lenticular masses of igneous 

4 H p 



50 GEOLOGY OF THE IHGH PLATEAUS. 

rock have been intruded between the Carboniferous and Mesozoic strata, 
hoisting the upper beds into great domes. Mr. G. K. Gilbert has studied in 
great detail the Henry Mountains of southeastern Utah, which present this 
singular phenomenon in perfection. This group of mountains consists of 
five individual masses, two of which are of great magnitude, and all of 
them have been domed up by lava rising from the depths and accumulating 
in reservoirs several thousand feet below the surface. Each of the mount- 
ains has a considerable number of these reservoirs and the two larger masses 
have many of them. The lava intruded itself at various horizons and con- 
gealed, leaving lenticular masses, which are now laid bare and admirably 
dissected by erosion. There are no indications that any notable quantity 
of the lava ever outflowed. To these intrusive masses Mr. Gilbert has given 
the name of ^* laccolites." These are by no means isolated instances of 
this extraordinary origin of mountains. The Sierra Abajo on the east wall 
of the Colorado and a small neighboring range called El Late present the 
same phenomenon. The Navajo Mountain at the mouth of the San Juan 
River is similarly constructed.* Several of the Colorado ranges, according 
to Dr. Peale, owe their structure in part to "laccolitic" intrusion. But 
mountains on the whole are rare occurrences in the Plateau Province. The 
uplifts there are almost wholly of the tabular form. Yet, when we come to 
examine their structure, we find that those plateaus which are due to dis- 
placement have a construction strikingly similar to the broad platform-ranges 
of Colorado and to the Uintas. They are found along the western belt of 
the Plateau Province in the Kaibabs and in still more perfect development in 
the High Plateaus. Here the uplifts have been blocked out by the usual 
faults and monoclinal flexures. Most of them have a single fault upon the 
western side, inclining at a very small angle towards the east. The western 
limit is the lifted side of the fault ; the eastern limit is the thrown side of 
the next fault. All traces of the anticlinal have vanished and the structure 
is of the simplest possible order. In a few of these uplifts we have a block 
between two faults or monoclinals of opposite throws. Such is the Kaibab 
Plateau itself. But the great predominance of the faults which face the west 

*Tbe Navajo Mouutain is a solitary dome-liko mass of grand dimensions upon the very brink of 
tlfo Glen Canon . The cafion slices off a segment of its base, and tbo spectacle of rock- work, looking at 
it from the end of the Kaiparowit« Plateau across the gulff 1h overpoweringly grand. 



COMPAEISON OF OEOGRAPHIO FORMS. 51 

is very striking. If we compare these uplifts with the Park Ranges and 
with the Uintas, the similarity of the structural profiles is very conspic- 
uous. But in the plateaus there is greater simplicity, less subordinate 
flexing (indeed almost none at all), and an absence of convexity in the 
section lines. 

Crossing the abrupt boundary which separates the plateaus from the 
Great Basin, we are at once among mountains of a very different order. 
The Basin Ranges are many in number and inferior in magnitude to those 
of Colorado, though of no mean dimensions. They are strongly individ- 
ualized, each being separated from its neighbors by broad expanses of plains 
as lifeless and expressionless as Sahara. It is as difficult to find a type-form 
representing the construction of these ranges as for those of Colorado. Yet 
there are common features of alnaost universal prevalence among them and 
at the same time thoroughly distinctive of the gi'oup. There is on one side 
of the range, sometimes a single great fault, or more frequently a i^petition 
of faults throwing in the same direction, while upon the other side the 
strata slope down to the neighboring plains and there smooth out again. 
There is much variety in the details of the dislocations, and so complicated 
do they become in certain localities, that they sometimes mask the general 
plan until we carefully unravel it. The strata also are almost invariably 
tilted to high degrees of inclination, thus contrasting strongly with the low 
and almost insensible slopes of the plateaus. Hence on one side of the 
range the slope of the profile is along the dip of the strata, on the other 
side it is across their upturned edges. 

We may now compare the orographic forms prevailing in tlie three 
great provinces — ^the Park system, the Plateau system, and tlie Basin sys- 
tem. The uplits of the plateaus approach in the forms of their displace- 
ments more nearly to those of the Park Ranges than to those of the Basin, 
but are much simpler, much less complicated by subordinate fracture and 
flexing, and have undergone a much smaller amount of vertical movement. 
There is, however, one very striking contrast between the Plateaus and 
the Park Ranges. In the latter, erosion has played a most impoii;ant part in 
their history and development. The mountain platforms have undergone 
an amount of degradation which never fails to revive astonishment when- 



52 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

ever the mind recurs to it. Many thousands — nay, even tens of thou- 
sands — of feet of strata have been stripped off from their summits and 
scattered far and wide. As fast as they were denuded they arose, maintain- 
ing, and probably even increasing, their altitudes in spite of the waste. 
Much of the denuded material has been redistributed in strata around their 
flanks upon the old lake-bottoms of Tertiary time, where there has been, 
relatively at least, a gradual subsidence as sedimentation progressed. The 
great faults and monoclinal flexures where the strata are now hog-backed 
against the flanks of the ranges are the apparent results of the shearing 
motion set up by the rise of the mountain platforms on one side and the 
sinking of the newer deposits oif the other. In the plateaus the action of 
erosion has been strikingly different. The tables have been affected only 
in comparatively slight de^ee more than the adjoining lowlands. Indeed, 
erosion has wrought almost equally upon high and upon low levels. In 
some portions the denudation has been stupendous, but the denuded 
material has not been carried down and redistributed in the plains below, 
but has found its way into the deep canons which cut below its lowest plat- 
forms and has been swept through the Colorado to the ocean. Now, it is 
unquestionably a true law of nature that the denuding agencies operate 
more vigorously against highlands than against lowlands, and it is quite as 
true in the Plateau Country as elsewhere. But the recency of the differen- 
tial elevations of the Plateau Province has not permitted any very great 
difference to show itself as yet, though it is easy to see that a difference 
really exists, and is even conspicuous. Furthermore, the peculiar fact that 
the deeply sunken drainage channels of the province do not allow of great 
accumulation and restratification at the bases of the loftier masses is a suffi- 
cient reason why lower levels should be eroded as well as higher ones, 
though to a less extent. 

We cannot, therefore, attribute the faulting and monoclinal flexing of 
the plateaus to erosion of the uplifts and the deposition of the ddbris at their 
flanks, for no such (relatively greater) amount of erosion is found upon the 
uplifts, and no such depositions take place upon their flanks. The Kaibabs 
have been enormously denuded, but not much more upon the highest than 
upon the lowest portions. The High Plateaus have, compared with the 



COMrARlSON OF OROGRAPHIC FORMS. 53 

Kaibabs, suffered but little from erosion. In neither district can we look 
for the same causation of faults and flextures as we might at first feel in- 
clined to employ to explain those of Colorado and the Uintas. In the first 
chapter I have alluded to the possible effects attending the removal of great 
loads of strata from one locality of considerable area and the deposition of 
the same materials in adjoining areas ; and while we may rationally sup- 
pose this transfer of loads to have important consequences in respect to ver- 
tical movements, we seem compelled to postulate additional forces, which 
for want of any definite conception as to their real nature we call Plutonic 
forces. The necessity for such a postulate seems perfectly obvious in the 
plateaus, and a little consideration will, I think, make its necessity apparent 
in the mountains of Colorado and the Uintas. It is not impossible that the 
differences existing between the structural profiles of the Plateaus on the 
one hand and those of the Parks and Basin Ranges on the other may be 
largely, or even wholly, due to the fact that in the latter regions the debris 
has been deposited at the bases of the mountains, while in the Plateau 
country it is carried away through the cafions to another part of the \yorld. 
Hence in the Plateaus we have the result of the uplifting forces, almost 
pure and simple, while elsewhere it is complicated, and generally reinforced, 
by the effects -of the transfer of great loads from the mountain platforms to 
the plains and valleys around their bases, followed by a readjustment of 
the plastic earth to a statical equilibrium of its profiles. 

In comparing the plateaus with the Basin Ranges we have to deal with 
the fact that the displacements of the latter are in the main older than those 
of the former, though younger than those of the Eastern Rocky Ranges. 
Erosion has operated powerfully upon all of the Basin Ranges, and the 
aggregate displacements are greater than in the plateaus. The strata ordi- 
narily incline at larger angles and exhibit a greater amount of subordinate 
fracturing and dislocation. There is, however, some similarity between the 
plateau and basin uplifts. Both present a succession of incHned platforms, 
sloping in the same direction, with greater dislocations upon the uplifted 
sides. In the Basin Ranges, the uplifting being greater, the inclination is 
correspondingly greater, so much so, that we pass from the notion of a 
plateau or platform to that of a mountain slope. The inclination of the 



54 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

plateau summits is rarely so great as 3°; the inclination of the structure- 
slopes of the Basin Ranges is rarely so little as 8° or 10^. 

As bearing upon the general hypothesis that the great structural feat- 
ures are produced by the action of tangential forces generated by the secu- 
lar contraction of the earth's interior, it may be remarked that the displace- 
ments of the Plateau Province do not furnish any evidence of the operation 
of such forces. A careful study of the system of the Kaibabs and High 
Plateaus has established the conviction that in those districts no such force 
has operated. Evidence, however, is often discerned that the strata, while 
undergoing displacement, have been subject to tension arising from the 
increased length of profile caused by the undulations so produced. This 
lengthening of profiles in the vicinity of the monoclinals is indicated by 
the repetitive faults with an oblique hade or underlie; and sometimes also 
by the dropping of a long wedge of strata between two faults with con- 
verging hades. Complications of this character often appear as super- 
imposed features upon the great monoclinal flexures. 



CHAPTER III. 

VOLCANIC GEOLOGY. 

A region of extinct volcanism. — Initial epochs. — Tufas. — ^Tho most ancient eruptive rocks. — Propy- 
lites. — Homblendic andesite^. — Trachytes. — Rhyolites. — Basalts. — The order of succession of the 
eruptions. — Richthofeu's generalization sustained hy the succession presented by the Higli Pla- 
teaus. — Certain modiflcations of the order given by Richthofen. — Resolution of the order into two 
semi-series. — Fragmental volcanic rocks. — ^Their great extent and mass. — Two classc;s of frag- 
mental deposits. — Tufas. — Considerations as to their origin and mode of accumulation. — They 
are the detritus of more ancient lavas. — Their age. — Volcanic conglomerates. — Their texture and 
petrographic characters. — Modes of stratification. — They originate from the break up of massive 
lavas, and are chiefly alluvial accumulations. — Metamorphism of the clastic volcanic strata. 

The District of the High Plateaus is a region of extinct volcanism. 
The magnitude of the eruptions which have taken place there is small com- 
pared with what we know of some other regions, but it is great when com- 
pared with what we may see in most of the volcanic districts of Europe. 
It is smaller, I presume, than that of Iceland, but greater than that of iEtna 
or Central France. It is not the magnitude, however, which is so very- 
striking or suggestive, but the variety of the phenomena and the great 
stretch of geological time through which their history ranges. The oldest 
eruptions go back to the middle Eocene: the latest cannot be as old as the 
Christian era. It is hard to believe that they are as old as the conquest of 
Mexico by Cortez. Between the opening and cessation of that activity 
(if, indeed, it has even yet ceased forever) the eruptions have been inter- 
mittent. There have been long periods of repose, but during the pauses 
the subterranean forces were only gathering strength and material for fresh 
outbreaks. 

The highest interest in the region lies in the remarkable variety of the 
phenomena presented It lacks but little of being a complete category of 
volcanology, and what it lacks it compensates by presenting something new. 
Nearly every form of eruption is exhibited. Every great group of vol- 



55 




56 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

canic rocks, and at least three-fourths of all the important sub-groups have 
here their representatives. The clastic derivatives are displayed in variety 
and volume truly extraordinary, commanding as much attention as the 
massive rocks and presenting some highly interesting problems. It would 
be impossible, within the limits of a single chapter, to present a good 
synopsis of these facts with a discussion sufficiently extended (and at the 
same time precise) to make them intelligible. Since the greater part of 
the individual phenomena described in this work consists of those which 
belong to the volcanic category, and since no symmetrical grouping of 
their entire array has suggested itself to my mind, it will be practicable 
to set forth here only those few facts of a high degree of generality which 
appear to be applicable to the entire district. In those chapters of this 
book which are devoted to the description in detail of the component 
members of the High Plateaus, such facts as seem to be instructive will be 
adverted to, together with such of their relations as have been satisfactorily 
ascertained. 

The initial epochs and conditions of the eruptive activity of the High 
Plateaus are obscure. The oldest observed rocks having an eruptive origin 
are tufas. It is presumable, however, that tufas, especially such as are 
here found, are never erupted alone, nor wholly in the fragmentary or pul- 
verulent form, but are in part the concomitants of lava floods, and in far 
greater part the results of the degradation of volcanic rocks. The tufas of 
this district are stratified water-laid rocks of arenaceous texture, sometimes 
marly or even shaly; their materials being derived almost entirely from the 
decay of lavas. Some of these tufaceous beds are metamorphosed, and the 
highly suggestive and interesting fact is there presented that the product of 
this metamorphism is a rock having the essential lithologic characters of a 
lava.* The rocks from which these ancient tufas were derived are not known. 
An abundance of old lavas lie in their vicinity, but always on top of them. 
There is, however, one instance in the great gorge near Monroe where a 
propylitic mass appears to pass under some of these tufas, but owing to the 
complications of faulting there may be a mistake about it. Whether the 
lava sheets which yielded by their decay the clastic materials of these 

* See Chapter XI; whore this remarkable phenomonou is described and disoossed. 



EPOCHS OF ERUPTION— PROPYLITES. 57 

deposits still remain buried beneath the imn^ense outpourings of middle and 
later epochs, or whether they have been wholly dissipated, it is impossible to 
affirm. The period during which these tufas were stratified must be referred 
to the latter part of the Eocene. They rest everywhere upon beds, which 
are either of Bitter Creek or Green River age — are, in fact, the latest strati- 
fied masses of the region. On the other hand, they must have been depos- 
ited before the final desiccation of the great Eocene lake, which appears to 
have taken place throughout that part of its expanse now covered by the 
High Plateaus after the middle and before the close of the local Eocene. 
They are widely distributed, and could not very probably be supposed to 
have accimiulated in local temporary lakelets. Thus, then, the opening of 
the eruptive activity goes back into Eocene time. 

The oldest massive rocks of volcanic origin are found in but few places. 
The tabular masses which now front the long valleys with escarpments sev- 
eral thousands of feet in height have been scored by ravines, which cut 
into their innermost recesses. Here, with thousands of feet of more recent 
lavas and conglomerates above them, are found large bodies of propylite 
and hornblendic andesite, the former clearly the more ancient of the two. 
The propylitic masses appear to have been much degraded by erosion 
before the eruption of the andesites, for patches of conglomerate with water- 
worn propylitic fragments are overlaid by masses of andesite, and the con- 
tact of the two is often of such a nature that there can be no doubt that the 
massive propylites were water-carved before the andesites were erupted. 
It is impossible to say anything concerning the extent of these most ancient 
emanations, for the later rocks have completely buried them, and all that 
can be seen are the few exposures laid bare by recent faults and excava- 
tions. Two centers from which these rocks came have been determined, 
and they are also found in two other localities, but under circumstances 
which render it quite possible, and perhaps probable, that the two latter are 
connected with the two former, the continuity being lost beneath later 
accumulations. The two eruptive centers are located, respectively, in the 
northern and southern portions of the Sevier Plateau. The two exposures 
exhibiting propylitic rocks, which may have been derived from these erup- 
tive centers are situated in the grand gorge of the Fish Lake Plateau, and 



58 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

in the deepest ravines of the Awaj)a, near the Aquarius, where profound 
excavations, near the great faults, have disclosed them beneath nearly 3,000 
feet of trachytes. 

A question has been carefully considered, without reaching a positive 
conclusion, whether the tufaceous beds already spoken of may not have 
been derived from the waste of these propylites. The tufas are wholly 
water-laid beds. Their ordinary aspect is well represented in Heliotypes V 
and VI. The stratification has all of the mechanical characters of ordinary 
arenaceous beds. In numerous places the tufas are seen to pass horizon- 
tally by gradual transition into ordinary ai-enaceous shales, made up wholly 
of materials derived from the decay of non-eruptive rocks. The propy- 
lites alone of all the massive rocks seem to have sufficient antiquity to have 
supplied the material for these deposits, and the only question seems to be 
whether tliese came from the visible propylites or some unknown volcanics 
of still greater age. The tufas have been carefully studied with the micro- 
scope in the hope of settling the question, but no solution has been reached. 
They contain large quantities of quartz and feldspar, which are often 
epigenetic, and the remaining contents are so nmcli decayed that their 
original characters are obliterated. But although the antecedence of the 
propylites to the tufas cannot be proven, it may at least be said that there 
is no fact now known which forbids such a conclusion. More than that, 
the inference has some slight preponderance of probability in its favor. 

The hornblendic andesites succeeded the propylites with apparently a 
long interval between them. They were erupted from the same localities 
or from vents in the immediate vicinity. The mass of these rocks now 
exposed is greater than that of the propylites, and the lavas are consider- 
ably more varied in texture and appearance. Their principal locus seems 
to have been in the southern part of the Sevier Plateau, though the masses 
revealed in the northern part of the same uplift are but little inferior. The 
outbreaks were in massive sheets, which stretched far to the eastward and 
southeastward, spreading out over large areas and piling up mountainous 
masses. It is not, however, the quantity now exposed which gives us the 
real clue to the magnitude of the andesitic extravasations, but rather the 
great bulk of the conglomerates derived from their ruins. The andesites, 



EPOCHS OF ERUPTION— TRACHYTES. 59 

considerable as they were, have been chiefly buried by trachytes, but the 
conglomerates derived from them are still conspicuously displayed. These 
fragmental masses lie around the eruptive centers in beds often more than 
a thousand feet tliick, and cover ai'eas of which the aggregate extent must 
considerably exceed 500 square miles. 

The third epoch of activity was by far the grandest of all. It was 
marked by the extravasation of trachytic masses, alternating with augitic 
andesites and dolerites. A long interval of time separated these eruptions 
from the andesitic outbreaks just described, for the andesitic rocks were 
extensively degraded by erosion and their fragments gathered into con- 
glomeritic masses before the earliest outpours of true trachyte. Tlie area 
of activity was greatly extended in the trachytic age, new places opened 
and poured forth immense floods, which at length became so vast that they 
overwhelmed and buried the greater part of the district, generating a new 
topography. The northern part of the Sevier Plateau, which had given 
vent to the propylites and andesites, became a focus of still more extensive 
trachytic eruptions. From this center they spread in all directions. Those 
which rolled eastward are most conspicuously displayed, and the first 
impression is that the larger portion of the trachytes flowed in that direc- 
tion. Some of the grander sheets extended more than 20 miles to the 
southeast of their origin, and die out near the base of Thousand Lake 
Mountain. To the southward they make up the greater part of the bulk of 
the Sevier Plateau, reaching nearly 25 miles from the vents, and commin- 
gling with floods poured from median vents in the plateau. To the north- 
ward they stretched beyond the locus of Salina Gallon, where they have 
been much wasted by erosion, but heavy masses are still left to indicate 
their former magnitude. To the westward the sheets are abruptly cut off 
in the face of the escarpment of the west front of the Sevier Plateau, 
which reveals more than 3,000 feet of their mass resting upon the andesites 
and propylites. Beyond this a great fault throws down Sevier Valley, in 
which they are seen in a few places beneath later rhyolites. 

It is by no means certain that all the foci of eruption have been ascer- 
tained. So great have been the changes produced by erosion, that the 
superficial features have been thoroughly remodeled by it. No lofty, 



60 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

^tna-like summits or craters are visible, and it is doubtful whether the 
method of eruption was generally such as would generate mountains 
of that character ; for the larger deluges appear to have emanated from 
fissures located within restricted areas. Yet apparently some piles of 
important magnitude were reared by the successive superposition of coulees 
around a central vent or pipe, and still bear evidences of their origin, though 
they have been reduced to mere remnants by the wear of ages. 

In the southern part of the district several ybci of eruption are discern- 
ible. The most important was just east of the old andesitic center. From 
this one emanated the dark trachytic masses which have built up a great 
portion of the Aquarius. Another was situated at the southern base of 
the Tushar, and disgorged the masses which built the southern portion of 
that range. A line of vents stretched southwest from the Tushar along 
the western crest of the Markagunt, and sheeted over the greater part of 
that plateau. Still another occupied the position of Mount Hilgard, at the 
extreme eastern boundary of the High Plateaus, and a chain of vents 
stretched southward from it to Thousand Lake Mountain. Around the out- 
skirts of the more compact inner district many minor eruptions occurred, 
overflowing numerous outlying patches. 

The rhyolitic eruptions occur chiefly in the Tushar, the Pavant, and 
Markagunt — in a word, belong to the western margin of the district. Their 
grandest masses are displayed in the northern portion of the Tushar. They 
form the summits of this range, standing in high peaks, which are the 
loftiest in Utah, excepting two or three in the Uintas. Here no other erup- 
tive rocks are associated with them, except a few small outbreaks of basalt 
which overlie them. The platform upon which they lie consists of meta- 
morphic Jurassic sandstone, upon the eroded surface of which they were 
outpoured. Wo find here evidence that the eruptions did not occur in 
rapid succession, but were separated by intervals of time sufficient to 
accomplish much erosion. Old valleys scored in the older lavas were filled 
up by later floods, which were, in turn, chasmed with ravines, revealing 
the contacts, and this process was repeated again and again. 

Two groups of rhyolitic rocks may bo discerned in this locality, each 
presenting great vai'iety in the texture, as is always the case with rhyolites, 



EPOCHS OF ERUPTION— RHYOLITES AND BASALTS. 61 

but each preserving certain dominant features. The older of the two has 
the character of liparite — a porphyritic texture with conspicuous crystals of 
feldspar and quartz, and having a superficial resemblance to some common 
trachytes, but more glassy or hyaline. They are usually very dark colored. 
'Hie later varieties are nearly white or cream colored — sometimes ashy-gray, 
without any apparent crystals even under the microscope, but showing a 
reticulated or globulitic ground-mass of great beauty and interest. The 
rhyolites of the Markdgunt have a superficial resemblance to trachyte, 
being dark gray and porphyritic, with a texture which is decidedly trachy- 
tic, but the abundance of free quartz and the fluidal aspect of the ground- 
mass under the microscope reveal its true affinities unmistakably. Upon 
the western verge of this plateau they have piled up some lofty masses 
with broad tabular summits. They are seen in many places to rest upon 
older trachytes and in others are overlaid by basalt. 

The basaltic eruptions were very numerous throughout the district, but 
never attained the magnitudes seen in the other groups. Most of the indi- 
vidual coulees are relatively small. The largest masses are seen on the 
southwestern flank of the Tushar. Here numerous eruptions from the same 
vents have piled up nearly a thousand feet of basalt and spread the lava 
confusedly over a considerable area. A large field, with many cones still 
standing in a dilapidated condition, is found at the extreme southern portion 
of the Markdgunt, and a somewhat smaller basaltic area is found in the mid- 
dle of that plateau. 

In every case true basalt is here the youngest of the eruptive rocks, 
but much of it still shows considerable antiquity. In the Tushar the larger 
vents have been so far obliterated that the cones have vanished and left the 
determination of the sources of the lavas to other characters. In the cen- 
tral part of the Markagunt the cones have nearly faded away, but are still 
recognizable. On the other hand, some of the basalts are strikingly recent, 
and a few so fresh that no appreciable change has taken place since their 
orifices became silent. Just south of Panquitch Lake, in the Markc4gunt, 
are a number of streams, which, so far as appearance is concerned, might 
have been erupted less than a century ago. Half a dozen other streams, in 
various localities, might be named of which the antiquity can hardly exceed 



62 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

a very few centuries. The cones are perfect, the lava is not faded by time, 
and even the spongy, inflated scum of the surface is still black as coal or 
faintly tinged by atmospheric reagents. That the basaltic period was a 
long one is further manifest by the fact that on the southwestern flank of 
the Tushar is a conglomerate composed wholly, or nearly so, of basaltic 
materials. These were derived from the degradation of the massive basalts, 
wliich have overflowed that part of the range, and they are well stratified 
after the peculiar manner of sub-aerial conglomerates. 

The basalts, in choosing localities for eruption, show here a tendency to 
abandon those parts of the district which had been the seats of the grander 
outbreaks of earlier periods and to find new and independent localities 
for their extravasation. It is not always so, however, for the greatest 
basaltic floods outpoured hard by one of the most important centers of tra- 
chytic eruption. But, on the whole, their situation relative to the older 
masses is peripheral. In the Markdgunt the greater part of the basalts lie 
upon the sedimentary beds. In addition to this, we find many lone vents, 
or a small cluster of them, standing far away from the central fields of more 
ancient lavas. A large number of basaltic streams have emanated from 
the very walls themselves. In truth, no one can fail to be struck with a 
peculiar habit which they manifest of seeking strange places from which 
to break out. Very many cones are perched upon the brinks of the ter- 
raced cliffs or cafion walls. In the western wall of the Paunsdgunt the lava 
has broken out from the very face of the wall itself. The least common 
place for a basaltic crater is at the base of a cliff. In a great majority of 
cases the vents stand near the faults, but the curious part of it is that they 
break forth almost always upon the lifted and very rarely upon the thrown 
side of the fault. 

All of the basalts are of the feldspathic varieties, none of the nephelin 
and leucite bearing varieties having been met with. 

IHE ORDER OF SUCCESSION IN THE ERUPTIVE ROCKS. 

The views of F. Baron Richthofen on the succession of eruptions* 
have received from American geologists profound attention. Probably no 

* A Natural System of Volcanic Rocks. Memoir preseuted to the Caliiomia Academy of Sciences 
by F. BaroD Richthofen, May 6, 1867. 



RICnTHOFEN'S ORDER OF SUCCESSION OF ERUPTIONS. 63 

living observer has studied this problem more carefully nor included in his 
observations and generalizations a wider field. His extensive knowledge, 
his great acumen, and his ability to generalize brilliantly, though cautiously, 
entitle his conclusions to the most earnest consideration. As the result of 
his study of volcanic phenomena in many portions of the world, he believes 
that the various kinds of eruptive rocks reveal a certain order of succes- 
sion in their relative ages of eruption throughout Tertiary time. Arrang- 
ing these rocks according to their physical properties and intimate constitu- 
tion into five groups, or orders, he finds that they have been erupted in the 
following sequence- 

1. Propylite. 

2. Andesite. 
,*{. Trachyte. 

4. Rhyolite. 

5. Basalt. 

It will seldom happen that more than two or three of these kinds of 
rock will be found in direct superposition, the series in any given locality 
being always incomplete, and in very many cases a single kind will alone 
be found. But wherever two or more are found superposed, the one having 
the prior enumeration in the foregoing list will be the older. The only 
exceptions would be where each order of rocks is represented by numerous 
Individual outbreaks, when the later extravasations of the older order may 
occasionally be seen to intercalate with the older extravasations of the later 
order. These considerations apply to what are termed "massive eruptions," 
where deluges of lava have broken forth from fissures and overwhelmed 
the adjoining regions with coulees far exceeding the ordinary emanations 
of common volcanoes. They also apply to the history of those grander 
vents which have maintained an activity lasting through a considerable 
proportion of Tertiary time. But the smaller vents as a rule are of very 
brief geological duration, aijd seldom disgorge more than one kind of lava. 
In support of his generalizations he adduces his own extended observations 
in Hungary, Germany, and the Sierra Nevada, and those of many colabor- 
ers in Armenia, Mexico, Central and South America. 

Those geologists who have made a special study of the volcanic rocks 



64 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

of the Rocky Mountain Region from the Great Plains to the Pacific (each 
within the limits of his own special field), are almost wholly in accord in the 
belief that Richthofen's law of succession is there sustained. This gi-eat 
field is indeed not yet fully explored, but a very considerable portion of it 
has been examined. The display of the phenomena of extinct volcanism is, 
when taken collectively, probably the most extensive and varied in the world. 
The magnitude and abundance of the eruptions increase as we proceed 
westward. In the Basin Ranges hardly one fails to show important masses 
of eruptive rocks, and in many of them such rocks constitute the greater 
portion of the visible bulk of the ranges. This is especially true of the 
southern Basin Ranges south of the thirty-eighth parallel, and still more 
emphatically true of Oregon, Northern California, and the Territories of 
Washington and Idaho. 

Of these individualized areas the District of the High Plateaus is a con- 
spicuous member, though probably far below some of them in magnitude. 
But among those which have hitherto been brought to notice, none, I believe, 
present so full and so approximately complete a lithological series. Here 
then, if anywhere, we ought to find the means of putting Richthofen's law to 
the test. This was felt after the first season's work had revealed the ampli- 
tude and variety of the materials, and throughout the subsequent study of 
the district was never lost sight of* As a result of the study, I am satisfied 
that Richthofen's law is on the whole sustained. Yet there are certain quali- 
fications which are required in order to express the exact nature of the 
sequence. These do not essentially affect the validity of the law as a whole, 
but rather are supplementary to it 

There can be no question that the oldest erupted masses now visible 
there are propylites. Next in age follow the homblendic andesites. The 
third series of eruptions, which were by far the most extensive, included tra- 
chytic rocks, but not trachytes alone. Their associates will be spoken of 

* It may not be amiss to stat^^ horo that at the commeucemeut of tho Htudy I had no prepossession 
in favor of Kichthofen's views — possibly the contrary. I felt rather an intense curiosity. After a year's 
examination I was inclined to the belief that his gcncrulizution was not applicable to this district, or 
was at moat very imperfectly so. It was apparent, however, that there was much complexity, and I 
determinC'd to examine the best exposures thoroughly and endeavor to unravel this complexity, if possi- 
ble, in order to ascertain whether any real order of succession existed, or whether tho sequences were 
only accidental or capricious. The result will bo seen in the text. 



THE OBSERVED ORDER OF SUCCESSION OF ERUPTIONS. 65 

presently. The rhyolites as a group are decidedly 3'^ounger than the 
trachytes. Wherever the two are found in contact the priority of the 
trachytes is, so far as observed, without an exception. Still, there is little 
question in my own mind that some of the more ancient rhyolites of the 
Tushar are older than many outbreaks of trachyte in other localities. 
Finally, the basalts are clearly the youngest of all eruptions 

If this stated the whole case, we should have the essence of Richtho- 
fen's succession almost perfect. The qualification becomes manifest when 
we come to the study of the trachytic series. Blended with the heavy 
masses of trachyte, we find in all of the greater exposures rocks of a totally 
different cliaracter. These intercalary sheets belong to the sub-basic or 
nearly basic groups, and may be designated, according to their constitution 
[augitic trachyte], augitic andesite, or even dolerite. It will be seen at 
once that we have here a group of rocks united by certain common char- 
acteristics : First, the possession of notable quantities of augite, sufficient, in 
f\\cl, to render that mineral a distinguishing compound; second, a similarity 
of habit and facies, which, though distinctly varied, yet vary within quite 
moderate limits. The habit and facies are markedly basaltic, being greater 
or less degrees of that characterization which is superlative in true basalt. 
The older varieties of these intercalary rocks sometimes carry a predomi- 
nating amount of orthoclase, which marks them as augitic trachyte ; some- 
times predominant plagioclase, which relegates them to the augitic andesites. 
The later varieties exhibit those peculiar labradoritic feldspars in conspicu- 
ous, often "glassy," crystals, polarizing in gorgeous bands, with rare sanidin 
and copious augite included in a glass-bearing base. They are usually 
coarsely crystalline, and have the rough fracture of some typical trachytes, 
from which, however, they are separated both chemically and mineralogi- 
cally.* Such rocks would be designated by Zirkel augitic andesites, I pre- 
sume, but it seems best (with the greatest deference to such an eminent 
author) to call them dolerites, and to restrict the designation augitic andes- 
ites to less basic varieties. 

We have, then, in the age of trachytic eruptions, two series of lavas 

*No doubt it was such rocks to which Abich gave the name ** trachydolerit^." Deitera recog- 
wv/ahX in the Siobcngcbirge a regular trausifioii from trachyte to dolerite. Zeitschr. d. d. Geol. Ges. 1801. 

5 n V 



66 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

intercalating with each other and presenting certain antitheses We have 
as the dominant group the true trachytes — ^rocks having the characteristics 
of the sub-acid class, and augitic rocks with the characteristics of the sub- 
basic class.* And it is interesting to compare this association with Scrope's 
observations in the Auvergne. It has already been remarked that the vol- 
canic phenomena of the High Plateaus reveal a striking similarity to those 
of Central France, though upon a much grander scale. Scrope frequently 
alludes to the general impression prevalent long before he made his investi- 
gations in that region, and held by many at that time, that the basalts weie 
younger than trachytes, and he frequently contests the correctness of that 
opinion. Time and again he cites instances where he finds basalts lying 
beneath trachytes as proof that the rule is by no means invariable. It 
would be most interesting to know whether he has not included among his 
** basalts," as scores of other most careful observers have done, those iden- 
tical rocks which have here been described as augitic trachytes, andesitcs, 
and dolerites, and which a more rigorous classification would separate from 
the basalts. 

Leaving here these groups to return to them presently, we may ad- 
vert for a moment to the relative age of the rhj^olites. Instances occur 
where it is probable that some of the oldest liparitic outpours are consider- 
ably more ancient than some of the youngest trachytes. No infraposition 
of rhyolite to trachyte has been observed in sitUy but indirect reasoning 
leads to the conclusion that the central rhyolitic masses of the Tushar were 
erupted long before the effusion of some of the trachytes of the Sevier 
Valley. There are many instances in the Markdgunt of rhyolite overlying 
trachyte, and the more recent age of the former as a group is perfectly 
apparent and incontestible. Lastly, the true basalts everywhere reveal 
their greater recency than all other rocks. 

It now becomes of interest to inquire whether this sequence is cor- 
related in any regular and progi'essive manner with the physical properties 
or constitution of the rocks themselves ; whether there is with the progress 
of the volcanic cycle any regular or systematic method of variation in the 
chemical constitution, mineral constituents, specific gravity, texture, or other 

* Tho classification bcro adopted is fully sot forth in the next chapter. 



THE OBSERVED ORDER OF SUCCESSION OF ERUPTIONS. 67 

properties of the rocks. This inquiry immediately presents itself the instant 
we settle upon the conviction that eruptions have an assignable order of 
occurrence, and the mind at once springs to the conclusion that there ought 
to be such an association. If there be an order of eruption, there must be 
a cause for it, and for that cause we look to the properties of the rocks 
themselves. But at first glance no such correlation appears. If we arrange 
them in a series expressing the great groups in the order of their chemical 
constitution, and place in juxtaposition an arrangement according to the 
order of eruption, we fail to find at first a clear correlation. Taking Richt- 
hofen's five orders, we have the following comparison : 

Airangoment by cliomical constitution. Arrangement by order of omption. 

1. Rbyolite. 1. Propylite. 

2. Trachyte. 2. Andesito. 

3. Propylite. 3. Trachyte. 

4. Andesite. 4. Rhyolite. 

5. Basalt. 5. Basalt. 

With chemical constitution go the other properties, mineral constitu- 
ents and specific gravity. No relation here presents itself to the order of 
eruption. Yet I think that upon closer inspection a systematic coiTelation 
may be made to appear by an examination of the sub-groups instead of the 
great groups, and the correlation of the sub-groups will reflect itself in the 
great groups. Taking the more important sub-groups, those which are most 
persistent in their characters, of most frequent occurrence, and of the larg- 
est volume, the following succession of eruptions presents itself in the 
High Plateaus :* 

1. Hornblendic propylite. 

2. Hornblendic andesite. 

3. Hornblendic and augitic trachytes (less acid trachytes). 

4. Augitic andesite (Richthofen). 

5. Sanidin trachyte (more acid trachytes). 

6. Liparite. 

7. Dolerite. 

8. Rhyolite (proper). 

9. Basalt (proper). 

« 

* For claesificatioii and exact meaning of terms here employed see next chapter. 



68 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

Now, let us make the following arrangement. Place at the head of 
the series hornblendic propylite. Select from the list in the order given 
those rocks which are more acid than propylite. Take next those which 
are more basic than propylite, and write them also in the order in which 
they occur. We shall then obtain the following grouping: 

1. Hornblendic propylite. 
3. Hornblendic trachyte. 2. Hornblendic andesite. 
5. Sanidin trachyte. 4. Augitic andesite. 

6. Liparite. 7. Dolerite. 

8. Khyolite. 9. Basalt. 

This resolves the lithologic series into two semi-series, each of which 
displays a distinct and unmistakable progression of chemical and physical 
properties. The first includes the acid and sub-acid groups, which increase 
in acidity with the process of the volcanic cycle. The second includes the 
basic and sub-basic groups, which correlatively decrease in acidity. The 
law may be thus expressed in terms of chemical properties to which the 
physical properties stand in a relation of dependence: At the commencement 
of the volcanic cycle the rocks first erupted are those which belong to the 
middle of the lithological scale. As the cycle advances, the rocks resolve 
themselves into two semi-series, growing more and more divergent in char- 
acter, and when the end of the cycle is neared they become extreme in 
their contrast. 

Taking Richthofen's five orders (major groups) and arranging them on 
the same plan, we may express the same correlation as follows: 

1. Propylite. 
3. Trachyte. 2. Andesite. 

4. Ehyolite. 5. Basalt. 

Possibly it might be thought that this mode of finding a sequence and 
a correlation bears a resemblance to some problems in the properties of 
numbers, in which, any fortuitous collection of numbers being taken and 
treated to certain manipulations, a law of arrangement appears ; the real 
explanation being a latent petitio principii. But this is not so. Even if we 
took Richthofen's five orders only, the probabilities against a merely fortu- 
itous coincidence of orders of einiption with the above double sequence of 
physical properties would be as 3 to 1 . But if we apply the same treat- 



FBAGMENTAL VOLCANIC ROCKS. 69 

ment to nine sub-gi'oups and find the law still holding good, the probabili- 
ties against a fortuitous coincidence becomes thousands to one; in other 
words, a practical certainty. It only remains to discuss the subject as a 
question of facts and not of inferences. Do the eruptions follow tliis law? 
There are certain sub-groups which have not been named in the fore- 
going arrangement, such as quartz-propylite, dacite, phonolites, &c. As 
regards the quartz-propylites, there appears to be a slight departure from 
the tenor of the law. Its place is among the earliest effusions, whereas in 
chemical constitution it lies not far from the middle of the trachytic series. 
But the disagreement is small. Dacite does not occur in the High Plateaus, 
and I know too little of its relations to other rocks elsewhere to offer any 
discussion.* But all the other sub-groups, so far as observed, harmonize 
admirably with the deduced relation, and in truth I can only express sur- 
prise at finding not one instance of real anomaly between rocks which occur 
in superposition, although such instances have been carefully sought for 
during two prolonged and active seasons' work and were anticipated. 

FRAGMENTAL VOLCANIC ROCKS. 

Some of the most interesting lithological problems presented by the 
volcanic products of the High Plateaus are those relating to the origin and 
development of what may be termed the clastic igneous rocks, or rocks 
apparently composed of fragmental materials of igneous or volcanic origin, 
but now stratified either as so-called tufaceous deposits or as conglomerates. 
These are exceedingly abundant in all of the great volcanic districts of the 
world, and often enormously voluminous. How those of the High Pla- 
teaus would compare, in respect to magnitude, with those of other regions, I 
do not accurately know, l)ut absolutely their bulk is a source of utter 
astonishment. They cover nearly 2,000 square miles of area, and their 
thickness ranges from a few hundred feet to nearl}'- 2,500 feet, the average 
being probably more than 1,200 feet. Lavas are frequently intercalated, 
but much more frequently no intercalary lavas are seen, and in general 
they seldom form any large proportion of the entire bulk when they occur 
in conjunction with the clastic masses. The grander displays of these frag- 
mental accumulations are seen in the central and southern portions of tlie 

* Yrom. present knowledge 1 am inclined to infer that dacito is about as anomalous asquartz-propylite. 



>v 



70 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

district, though a few importaut ones are found in the northern part of the 
field. Tlie great western wall of the Awapa, the central and southern mass 
of the Sevier Plateau, the southern Tushar and northern MarkAgunt, are 
composed chiefly of such formations. The grand escarpments which wall 
the imposing fronts of these plateaus are conglomerates, sometimes capped 
with lava, sometimes intercalated, and more frequently without them. Near 
the center of Grass Valley we have, on the east, bounding the western 
verge of the Awapa, a wall of conglomerate which is more than 2,500 feet 
thick ; and directly opposite, to the west, forming the eastern front of the 
Sevier Plateau, is an exposure of very nearly equal magnitude, both stretch- 
ing southward for 25 miles without inten-uption, save where erosion has 
opened great gorges and ravines, though diminishing in thickness. From 
a point a few miles southeast of Marysvale the western front of the Sevier 
Plateau exhibits a wall of similar nature, extending south a distance of more 
than 40 miles to the terminus of the plateau, with only two brief interrup- 
tions. The southward expansion of the Sevier Plateau is made up chiefly 
of such masses, and they reappear in the western flank of the Aquarius 
beneath its monstrous lava cap. Their thickness will average here much 
more than a thousand feet. In the northern part of the Markagunt they 
appear to constitute the principal bulk of the area, though no deep expos- 
ures are found and their thickness cannot even be conjectured. The south- 
ern part of the Tushar rears a wall of similar nature, revealing nearly or 
quite 2,000 feet of conglomerate, covering an area of at least 150 square 
miLts, and probably very much more. The East Fork Cafion is cut trans- 
versely through the narrowest part of the Sevier Plateau, and exhibits on 
either side a series of terraces rising J, 500 to 4,000 feet above the bed of the 
stream. The lower 600 to 800 feet consist of " tufaceous " sandstones, and 
above them are more than 2,500 feet of coarse conglomerate, with a few 
massive sheets of intercalary lava. These clastic beds are everywhere seen 
throughout the central and southern portions of the district and are built 
upon a giant scale. 

Equally striking is the remarkable variety presented in their mechani- 
cal texture and structure, whether we consider it in the hand specimen or 
ill the palisade and canon wall. We may consider them under two classes, 



FRAGMENTAL VOLCANIC EOCKS— TUFAS. 71 

which are, ordinarily, fairly distinguished from each other, though sometimes 
we find transition varieties connecting them. The first are the finer clastic 
beds, which are usually termed tufas or tuffs ; the second are the coarser 
beds, generally termed volcanic conglomerates. 

I. TuFACEOUS DEPOSITS. — It has been noted of most of the volcanic 
regions of the world, where the period of activity reaches backward well 
into Tertiary time, that the earliest material erupted is seen in the present 
form of arenaceous or fragmental deposits. The finer or tufaceous beds 
have by many geologists been regarded as consisting of material blown out 
in a pulverulent form, and which, gathering into the drainage channels, was 
swept into neighboring bodies of water or descended there directly, and was 
stratified after the manner of sand or silt. Thus they infer that the volcanic 
activity in such regions was opened by the discharge of fragmental mate- 
rials or " volcanic ashes," which, projected upwards, were wafted by the 
winds and precipitated over the adjoining country or waters. This view 
will be discussed further on. 

There can be no question that the most ancient volcanic materials 
hitherto distinguished in the District of the High Plateaus, and of which 
the relative age can be assigned, are certain sandstones or beds composed 
of exceedingly fine particles of sliattered or rounded quartz crystals, feld- 
spar, hornblende, and mica commingled in a base of amorphous matter, 
which is chiefly argillaceous or kaolinic and charged with oxides of iron. 
Wherever the grains are large enough to show their characters or have a 
gravelly consistency, they exhibit very clearly minute fragments of volcanic 
rock in a decayed or carious condition, resulting from the prolonged action 
of water and the atmosphere, and also show extreme mechanical attrition. 
This serves to distinguish them from ordinary sandstones, which are usually 
composed of rounded quartz-grains. In the tufiis quartz-grains occur in 
insignificant proportions, and in tlieir place we find gi'anules of the complex 
but very massive and obdurate volcanic rocks. Fragments of hornblende 
and mica also occur, sometimes in great abundance. The condition of the 
fermginous matter in the tufas is also very different in most cases from its 
condition in ordinary sedimentary beds. In the latter rocks it is usually 
present as a peroxide, sometimes hydrated, sometimes not. In the tufas it 



72 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

usually occurs either as the magnetic oxide or protoxide. In the protoxide 
forms it is always in combination in some of the minerals — the undecom- 
posed hornblendes and micas or such alteration products as epidote or viri- 
dito. These alteration compounds, particularly, are more or less thoroughly 
dijffused throughout the mass of the rock, impregnating it with a greenish 
color, while the unchanged mica, hornblende, and magnetites, disseminated 
as black particles, give the rocks a gray color of varying shades from very 
dark to very light. Whenever these beds have been subject to metamor- 
phic action, as has often happened, the proto-compounds of iron are often 
converted into sesquioxide, producing a pinkish color similar to that of 
" Scotch granite." Thus the colors of the tufaceous beds would enable us 
to single them out as presumably composed of materials very different from 
those constituting ordinary sandstones. 

All of these finer beds are stratified after the manner of ordinary 
aqueous deposits. That they were water-laid is unquestionable. No rocks 
have been observed which could possibly have been accumulated by the 
precipitation of volcanic ashes upon the land. The agency of water in 
arranging them in their present form is altogether too conspicuous to admit 
of any doubt. The origin of these clastic materials, proximately considered, 
is in the break up and destruction of older massive volcanic rocks by the 
ordinary processes of denudation. It is, indeed, possible that some small 
proportion of their ingredients may have been pulverulent material blown 
from volcanic orifices and washed into the basins where the strata accumu- 
lated, but it seems quite certain that the great bulk of the tufas did not so 
reach their present positions. They differ in no other material respect from 
the common lacustrine beds than in the sole fact that they are the debris of 
volcanic rocks instead of sandstones and gneisses. In a number of instances 
they are seen to pass, along horizontal exposures, by a gradual transition, 
into common lacustrine deposits, the quantity of material derived from the 
break up of vocanic rocks becoming gradually less and less, while that 
derived from the disintegration of foliated rocks becomes greater and 
greater. Instances of this transition are seen in various parts of the Sevier 
Plateau and in the beds beneath the lava-cap of the Marki\gunt. Indeed, I 
doubt not that those beds, which are apparently most typically " tufaceous," 



FRAG MENTAL VOLCANIC ROCKS— TUFAS. 73 

in reality hold among their ingi'edients a notable percentage of intermingled 
grains and silt derived from the denudation of sandstones or other quartzif- 
erous rocks. Thus, these tufas would seem to be nothing more than sand- 
stones and shales of the ordinary kind, so far as their mechanical characters 
are concerned, and having the same genesis as any clastic strata, but the 
materials of which they are composed being derived from volcanic instead 
of from foliated common rocks. 

On this view of the case there is no apparent reason why they should 
be sharply distinguished from other strata. It would, indeed, be unjustifia- 
ble to proceed to the conclusion that in other parts of the world the so-called 
tufas have all had a similar origin, for there is abundant reason for the 
belief that considerable deposits of real "volcanic ashes" exist elsewhere 
But if the tufas of the High Plateaus are similar to those which in other 
regions are supposed to be accumulations of ashes, there is reason for believ- 
ing that the bulk of strata presumed to consist of materials erupted in a pul- 
verulent form has been greatly overestimated, and that such strata, instead 
of being common, are on the whole rare and of insignificant magnitude. 
Especially I am confident that these beds do not lead at all to the conclu- 
sion that the volcanic activity of the High Plateaus was inaugurated by the 
ejection of vast bodies of ashes. They seem to point much more logically 
to the conclusion that eruptions of lavas not now discernible or identifiable 
took place before they were laid down, and were broken up and wholly or 
partially dissipated to furnish their materials. 

These finer deposits rest upon the Eocene beds, which in the southern 
part of the district I have inferred to be of the age of the Bitter Creek 
beds of Powell. Whether they are conformable or not is a question I can- 
not answer. No unconformity has been discovered, both series being very 
nearly horizontal wherever they are seen in contact It is not certain that 
the tufas are immediately consecutive in age to the Bitter Creek beds, but 
at all events I incline to the opinion that no great interval of time separates 
them. It is an interesting point whether these tufas were deposited before 
the final recession northward of the great Eocene lake, thus representing 
the last strata deposited upon this part of its ancient basin, or were accu- 
mulated in local lakelets which may have lingered for a period after the 



74 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGU PLATEAUS. 

great lake had receded. Either view is for the present tenable. The 
small extent of the individual beds might argue for local lakelets. There 
is no persistent formation subsequent to the Bitter Creek spreading over 
the entire area of the district, but merely considerable patches of tufaceous 
beds from 100 to 250 feet thick, having no discovered connection with each 
other, but occurring in many localities. We find reason for presuming some 
to be much more recent than otliei's, for they rest upon volcanic sheets or 
conglomerates which can scarcely be so ancient as the middle Miocene. 
Those, however, which rest upon sedimentary beds are probably of middle 
Eocene age, or thereabout, in the southern part of the district, and a little 
more recent in the northern part of it. No distinguishable fossils have yet 
been discovered in any of them. On the view that these beds are the 
waste of older eruptive rocks, the opening of the volcanic activity of the 
district is thus carried back into the middle or early Eocene. 

II. Conglomerates. — The coarser clastic formations greatly surpass 
the tufaceous beds in bulk. They are also much more variable in their 
modes of stratification and mechanical texture and present problems of 
great interest. 

1st Texture. — Like all conglomerates, they consist of rocky fragments 
inclosed in a matrix of finer stuff, and both fragments and matrix are volcanic 
material, without any admixture of debris from ordinary sedimentary and 
metamorphic rocks. The included fragments range in size from mere 
grains to blocks weighing several tons. They are of the same petrographic 
characters as the massive rocks of the neighborhood, and side by side lie 
pieces derived from widely distinct kinds of lava: — many varieties of rock 
may be gathered from a few cubic yards of the same conglomeritic mass. 
Cases occur, however, where for considerable distances along a given 
stratum the fragments are all of the same variety ; in some the varieties 
are many ; in others they are few. There is no constancy of ratio between 
the quantity of rocky fragments and the sandy or impalpable matrix. In 
some beds the stony fragments form but a very small proportion of the 
bulk; in others, the reverse is true: and there is every possible intermediate 
proportion. The individual beds are usually very heavy and thick, the 
j>artings being rare. In many cases the dimensions of the stones are 



FKAGMENTAL VOLCANIC ROCKS— CONGLOMEKATES. 75 

limited in weight to a few ounces and show a sorting or selection of sizes. 
But in most cases the sizes have a much wider range. 

Geologists have been in the habit of distinguishing two classes of the 
coarser fragmental beds. First, volcanic conglomerates ; second, volcanic 
agglomerates or breccias. The conglomerates contain fragments more or 
less rounded by attrition, which is held to be an indication that they have 
been gathered together and arranged by the action of the water. The 
breccias contain fragments which are angular and are presumed to have 
been showered down around the vents from which -they are supposed to 
have been projected. Beds corresponding to both classes are abundant in 
the High Plateaus and of very great thickness and area. But I am dis- 
posed to accept the conclusion that they have all had a similar origin, and 
that the projection of fragments from active vents and their descent in a 
mitraille hos had very little to do with their accumulation. As a rule, nearly 
all of the fragments show comparatively little abrasion Some, indeed, are 
considerably worn ; most of them are very little rounded at the angles of 
fracture, and a great proportion are in a condition in which it is difficult to 
say whether they have been abraded slightly or not at all; for when 
detached from the matrix the surfaces are corroded by some action which 
may have been weathering prior to their final burial or the solvent action 
of percolating water after their burial and prior to the consolidation of the 
stratum. None of the fragments exliibit the sharp edges formed by fresh 
surfaces of fracture. Thus, while well rounded fragments (like those of 
glacial drift or stream gravel) are uncommon, it is not certain that any 
notable proportion have been absolutely free from attrition. The average 
amount of attrition is generally small — ^far less than in conglomerates 
usually occurring in a regular system of fossiliferous or stratified rocks. 
No sharp distinction can be drawn between those beds of which the 
included fragments exhibit a considerable amount of abrasion and those in 
which no abrasion can be clearly proven. There is every degree of this 
action and every shade of transition Thus it becomes impracticable to 
draw any line here between conglomerates and breccias. 

It has seemed to me that the small amount of abrasion in the conr 
glomerate fragments is susceptible of a i)artial explanation. The well- 



76 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

rounded fragments of ordinary conglomerates have been ground and woni 
away by the action of sand and grit carried in suspension by the water. 
Now the ordinary arenaceous particles are quartz granules, which are 
exceedingly hard and much more efficient in effecting abrasion than gran- 
ules of softer material would be. But in a volcanic district, where the only 
rocks yielding fine detritus are volcanic rocks, quartz sand is a scarce arti- 
cle. The mud and fine stuff carried by the streams consist of fragments of 
the rocks themselves, particles of feldspar, mica, hornblende, and still more 
largely clay stained with iron oxide None of these materials possess the 
hardness of quartz and their abrading power is consequently much less. 

The great magnitude of these formations is by itself a source of great 
perplexity when we inquire as to their origin. Looking up from the val- 
leys below to the vast palisades which stretch away into the distance, and 
seeing that they are chiefly composed of this fragmental matter, w^e seem 
to be face to face with an insoluble problem. How did all this material get 
to its present position and whence came it ? That it was blown into the air 
in a fragmentary condition and showered down into strata is an explanation 
which becomes more and more untenable as our studies progress, and at 
length comes to look quite absurd. These conglomerates are often seen 
with a thickness of nearly 1,000 feet at distances ranging from 6 to 12 
miles from the nearest eruptive focus, and filling all the intermediate space 
between their outer boundary and the central eruptive mass to which we 
look to find their origin. Prodigious as the projectile force of volcanoes is 
known to be, there are no recorded observations which warrant the belief 
that this force ever becomes so transcendent as would bo necessarv to hurl 
such enormous quantities of fragments to such distances. The highest 
velocity imparted to cannon-shot (over 2,000 feet per second) would be 
trifling in comparison, and they would have to rise several times higher 
into the atmosphere than the horizontal distances to which they would be 
thrown. 

But supposing them to be showered down, let us try to imagine them 
restored to the places from which the outrushing vapors or gases tore them. 
What enormous vacuities we should be required to fill in order to replace 
them all! This consideration by itself seems to me sufficient to refute com- 



FRAGMBNTAL VOLCANIC ROCKS— CONGLOMERATES. 77 

pletely the notion that these fragments have been hurled into their present 
positions by tlie explosive energy at the vents. 

Scoriaceous or slaggy fragments, ** volcanic bombs," and the many forms 
which lava takes when the blast from the crater carries up portions of the 
liquid and scatters them round the surrounding cone, are not found in the 
conglomerates — at least I have never observed them. I will except from 
this statement, however, one locality in the southern part of the Sevier 
Plateau, where a profound gorge (named Sanford Cation) gives a brief 
exposure of what seems to have been an ancient trachytic vent subse- 
quently buried by massive outflows, and which is composed chiefly of cin- 
ders. This can hardly be called a conglomerate, however. The fragments 
of the true conglomerates are apparently pieces of massive lava, just such as 
«are riven by the frost and other agencies of secular decay from cold rocks 
in situ. Very many of them show more or less weathering or corrosion of 
their surfaces, and very many do not indicate a trace of such action beyond 
a slight discoloration. That these fragments have been broken from mass- 
ive rocks is too patent to admit of question. 

• The only explanation of the origin of the conglomerates which does not 
involve us in absurdity is that they are derived from the waste of massive 
volcanic rocks under the normal processes of degradation manifested in all 
mountainous regions. While active vents usually throw out fragmental mat- 
ter in great quantities, and while some of the fragments may have been thus 
derived, yet I conceive that this process has contributed but an insignificant 
portion of the entirety of the conglomerates. In the chapter on the Sevier 
Valley and its alluvial conglomerates, I shall describe the process, now in 
visible operation, by which beds of a similar nature are accumulating at the 
present day upon a scale of magnitude not inferior to that which produced the 
colossal fonnations now seen in the palisades of the i)lateaus. Throughout 
the valleys which intervene between the ranges of plateaus fragmental beds 
are accumulating in vast masses High up in the tabular ranges the frosts, 
rains, and torrents are gradually breaking up, not only the anciently-out- 
poured masses of lava, but also the older conglomerates, and are bearing 
down through the great ravines and gorges the debris torn from the rocks, 
and are scattering them over the viilley plains in the form of very depressed 



78 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

alluvial cones, so flat or gently sloped that the conical fonn is not at first 
recognized by the eye. Each cone has its apex at the gateway of some 
mountain gorge, while its base is several miles out in the middle of the val- 
ley. These cones are so broad and numerous, that they are confluent at 
their bases and give the general impression of a very gently undulated 
surface of alluvium covering the entire expanse of the valley. Could we 
see them in veiiical cross-section, we should find them to possess a well- 
marked stratification agreeing with the stratification of the older conglom- 
erates. A few fortunate exposures have here and there revealed their 
internal structure, and a careful comparison leaves little doubt that the val- 
ley alluvium and the ancient conglomerates were formed in substantially 
the same manner and by the same process. 

If it be true that these conglomerates have been derived from the sec- 
ular decay of massive eruptive rocks, of which the debris have been carried 
down the old moimtain slopes by running water and stratified in gi'eat 
beds of alluvia, then we may expect to find certain correlated facts, of 
which the following are examples: (1.) We should expect to find these con- 
glomerates grouped around ancient eruptive centers still preserving rem- 
nants of the massive rocks which are presumed to have furnished the mate- 
rial of the conglomerates. (2.) We should also expect to find that these 
remnants consist of rocks of exactly the same varieties as we find in the 
fragments of the conglomerates ; provided, however, that eruptions from 
these centers subsequent to the formation of the conglomerates have not 
completely overflowed and hidden the older outbreaks. (3.) We should 
expect to find the loftiest portions or crowning summits of the plateaus to 
consist not of conglomerates, but of massive rocks ; unless, indeed, the rela- 
tive altitudes of the two classes of rocks has been reversed or modified by 
subsequent upheavals or sinkages. 

The general idea here conveyed is that the process which formed the 
conglomerates consisted in the transportation of fi'agmental matter from 
high-standing ancient volcanic piles to low-lying plains and valleys around 
their bases or along their flanks. These relations, 1 think, are very satis- 
factorily shown after a careful analysis of the facts. We may still discern 
the more important ancient eruptive centers with the conglomerates grouped 



METAMORPniSM OF FRAGMENTAL VOLCANIC ROCKS. 79 

around them, and the fragments contained in the latter agree with the rocks 
remaining in the fonner. But there is much complication and obscurity in 
many instances arising from the fact that these eruptive centers have again 
and again been active, the work of one epoch being ovei'flowed and par- 
tially masked by the extravasation and still later devastation of subsequent 
epochs. Moreover, the loftiest points are composed of massive rocks, and 
the positions of the conglomerates are invariably below those of the centers 
from which they are presumed to have emanated, except in those cases 
where the relative altitudes have been changed by relatively recent dis- 
placement. The general problem would have been full of anomalies, how- 
ever, were we not in a position to unravel both the complications arising 
from vertical movements and those from the recurrence of the volcanic 
activity. But being able to restore in imagination the displaced blocks of 
country, and in a considerable measure to separate into periods the course 
of volcanic activity, we find by so doing that the difficulties vanish and the 
facts group themselves into normal relations. 

A very striking characteristic of these clastic volcanic rocks, both the 
tufas and the conglomerates, is their great susceptibility to metamorphism. 
Not only have the beds in many localities been thoroughly consolidated, 
but they have undergone crystallization. Those tufas and conglomerates 
which ai'e of older date, and which have been buried beneath more recent 
accumulations to considerable depths, rarely fail to show conspicuous traces 
of alteration, and in many cases have been so profoundly modified, that for 
a considerable time there was doubt as to their true character. The gen- 
eral tendency of this process is to convert the fragmental strata into rocks 
having a petrographic facies and texture very closely resembling certain 
groups of igneous rocks. When we examine the beds in situ no doubt can 
exist for a moment that they are waterlaid strata. (See holiotypes V 
and VI.) The hand specimens taken from beds which are extremely 
metamorphosed might readily pass, even upon close inspection, for pieces 
of massive eruptive rocks, were it not that the original fragments are still 
distinguishable, partly by slight diff'erences of color, partly by shght differ- 
ences in the degi'ee of coarseness of texture. But the matrix has become 
very similar to the included fragments, holding the same kinds of crystals, 



80 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

and under the microscope it shows a groundniass of tlie same texture and 
composition. Crystals are frequently seen lying partly in the original 
pebble, partly in the original matrix, and the surfaces of fracture betray no 
inequalit}'' of hardness or cleavage, but cut through the pebbles and matrix 
indiflFerently. Microscopic examination discloses a groundmass, diflFering in 
no very important respect from such as are displayed by many eruptive 
rocks. The base, however, has, in all the instances which I have examined, 
that felsitic aspect which is characteristic of porphyritic rocks, neither glassy 
nor strictly microcrystalline, but exhibiting that aggregate polarization 
which is not yet satisfactorily explained. There is an entire absence of 
glass or fusion products in the groundmass. Free quartz is often found even 
in those varieties which consist largely of plagioclase and hornblende or 
augite The fragmental character of the matrix has disapi)eared ; not a 
trace of the original clastic condition can be detected, unless it is to be 
found in some of the cpiartzes and feldspars. 

I see nothing at all incredible in the idea of metamorphism producing 
rocks so closely resembling some eruptive rocks that they cannot be petro- 
graphically distinguished from them. It seems rather that we ought to 
anticipate just such a result from the alteration and consolidation of pyro- 
clastic strata. The materials which compose them consisted originally 
of disintegrated feldspar, pyroxene, and the matter which constitutes the 
amorphous base of all eruptive rocks. In general they are silicates of 
alumina, alkali, lime, magnesia, and iron, from which, no doubt, portions of 
the soda, lime, and silica, and to a less extent the iron, potash, and magne- 
sia, originally forming the massive locks from which they came, have been 
abstracted by atmospheric decomj)osition. ^Fhey still retain portions of all 
these constituents, and only require the presence of conditions favorable to 
reaction in order to generate feldspar, mica, hornblende, and, perhaps, fresh 
quartz. Ordinarily we should anticipate that only small quantities of soda 
and lime would be present, and inasmuch as these bases are necessary to 
the formation of feldspar (plngioclase), only a partial crystallization would 
result. There would be left a considerable quantity of aluminous silicate, 
with some magnesia, which might i'onw mica or aluminous hornblende, though 
the greater portion of it would ordinarily remain as an amorphous felsite 



MBTAMORPHISM OF FEAGMENTAL VOLCANIC E0CK8. 81 

or impure argillite. The obliteration of all traces of granulation in this 
residual felsitic base is no more remarkable than it would be in an argilla- 
ceous rock. So long as a thorough crystallization of the entire mass 
remains impracticable for want of the requisite quantity of alkaline and 
earthy bases, much of the groundmass must necessarily remain amorphous ; 
and there is no difficulty in believing that this amorphous base may take 
those forms and aspects (both microscopic and macroscopic) which are seen 
in many forms of porphyroid eruptive rocks. 

These rocks, however, never reveal any traces of that igneous fusion 
which is displayed by the basalts and augitic andesites on the one hand, 
and by the true rhyolites on the other. Glass inclusions, fluidal textures, 
fibrolites, or a spheruUtic base are never found among them. This absence 
of all evidence of igneous action at high temperature is a significant charac- 
teristic. Hence the similarity of these metamorphic rocks does not extend 
to all igneous or eruptive rocks, but only to limited groups of them, such 
as porphyritic trachyte and several other trachytic varieties, to the propy- 
lites, and to some varieties of hornblendic andesite. 

A detailed description and study of the metamorphic tufas will be found 

in the portion of the chapter on the Sevier Plateau, in which the rocks of 

the East Fork Caflon are described. 
6 H p 



CHAPTER IV. 

THE CLASSIFICATION OF VOLCANIC EOCKS. 

Objects to be gained by a system of classification. — Artificial and natural systems. — 'flie best system 
represents with accuracy the existing knowledge. — Progress is from the artificial to the natural 
clasBifications. — ^All are evanescent and temporary. — Classification of volcanic rocks chiefly with 
reference to physical 2)roperties. — Transitions to porphyritic rocks. — Correlations between physi- 
cal properties. — Chemical composition. — Mineral ingredients. — Texture. — Density. — Fusibility. — 
Wholly crystalline and partly crystalline textures. — Texture as correlated to geological age of 
eruptions. — ^Not universally a true correlation. — ^Pre-Tertiary lavas common. — Von Cotta's view 
adopted. — ^Viow tested by comparison with facts.— Magmas of all ages the some. — Texture due to 
conditions of solidification. — Porphyritic texture. — Difficulty of definition. — No strict demarka- 
tion between porphyries and lavas. — Crystalline rocks. — Significance of the wholly crystalline 
texture. — ^The two original groups. — Acid and basic rocks. — Subdivision of each. — Andesite. — 
Rhyolite. — ^The four major groups. — Conspectus of minerals characterizing the primary divisions. — 
Bhyolites. — Trachytes. — ^Andosites. — Basalts. — General system. 

The objects to be gained by a good system of classification I hold to 
be mainly two : first, accuracy of designation ; and, second, convenience of 
treatment. In speaking of any natural object, it is desirable to indicate by 
a single word as much as possible concerning the attributes and relations 
of that object, and to avoid as far as possible all confusion with the attributes 
and relations of other objects. In order to secure this accuracy and con- 
venience it is necessary that a classification should be so constructed as to 
express both the dificrences and community of attributes and relations. 
Where the differences of attributes between two or more objects are small 
and the community of relations is nearly complete, these objects are grouped 
together as to most of their features, and separated only by small distinc- 
tions, as varieties or species. W here these differences are very gi'eat, and 
the community very highly generalized, they are separated by much broader 
divisions, as in orders or classes. When a category of objects is once clas- 
sified and familiarized to the mind, the mention of any one of them will con- 
vey not only an idea of the concrete object itself as an individual, but also 

S2 



GENERAL CONSIDERATIONS UPON CLASSIFICATION. 83 

an idea of its diflFerences and community with other objects of the same 
category, so far as those differences and community are understood. * 

The differences and affinities (that is to say, community of attributes 
and relations) between the members of a category are ordinarily not few, 
much less single, but numerous and complex ; and the value and utility 
of a system of classification is about proportional to the number of differ- 
ences and affinities which it truthfully expresses. Systems of classification 
are spoken of as "artificial" and "natural." My understanding is that an 
artificial system is one which takes account of the agreements and disagree- 
ments of the classified objects with respect to only one characteristic or 
one very limited set of characteristics. The meaning of the expression 
"natural system of classification" is much more difficult to assign. Most 
probably different authors would entertain widely differing conceptions as 
to its meaning, none of which would be very definite or precise. They 
might, however, agree that a natural system as contradistinguished from an 
artificial one takes cognizance of all the characteristics and relations of the 
members to each other ; the difference and affinity in any case being rated 
and valued, therefore, in accordance with the totality of characters and not 
dependent upon merely one of them. But it is far easier to say this much 
about a system of classification than it is to comprehend it ! The truth is, 
that a natural system in any such length and breadth is impossible for any 
category, unless we know all the members of it and the totality of their 
relations ; and there is no reason to beUeve that human knowledge has ever 
reached to that perfection. But as knowledge is ever increasing, we may 
at least hope for the time when it shall be sufficient to enable us to find 
and designate the greater and more important relations with absolute verity; 
and if the systema natures is fitted and keyed together in order and harmony, 
as we are fain to believe, the outstanding facts will fall readily into their 
places ; just as the final parts of a puzzle are quickly placed when the true 
arrangement of the other parts is discovered. A purely artificial system 
marks the initial stage of generalization of knowledge ; a perfect natural 
system is for the time being unattainable. The growth of knowledge and 
philosophy, however, is marked by a transition, long, laborious and very 
gradual, from one to the other ; a transition, which is marked by an indefi- 




84 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

nite number of tentative classifications, having less and less of the artificial 
character, and approaching nearer and nearer to the natural. Each classi- 
fication represents its author's coordinated knowledge of the category of 
which he treats, and the classifications which are generally accepted at any 
time represent the stage of knowledge and induction then prevailing. No 
system is permanent and none ought to be permanent, but they ought rather 
to change progressively as knowledge and induction progress. Least of all 
ought any system to attempt to represent anything more than we actually 
know. The best system at any time is that which represents most accu- 
rately the state of knowledge and rational induction at that time. 

The progress of classification, then, is from the simple or artificial sys- 
tems which take account of one set or scale of characters and relations, to the 
natural systems which take into account the totality of characters and rela- 
tions. Hence the classification is gradually growing more and more com- 
plex and difficult The present conditions of most systems of classifications, 
viewed with reference to their respective stages of progress, seem to be 
much nearer the artificial than to the natural. Even in those categories of 
natural objects which sometimes are claimed to be classified according to 
natural systems, the progress from the purely artificial has often been small 
and the approach to the natural very distant Though recognizing that a 
natural classification must embrace the totality of characters, naturalists 
still etoploy and are compelled to employ in many cases only a single set 
of characters for the grouping of a given category. On the other hand, we 
are often able to recognize correlations between the various properties or 
characters of a group of natural objects, such that, when we arrange them 
according to one set of characters, we find that we have also arranged them 
(in consequence of those correlations) in logical harmony with the others. 
But this rarely happens except in very small groups with a narrow range 
of variation; our knowledge is rarely equal to a full and sufficient recog- 
nition of such correlations in large groups. Most of the later classifications, 
however, assume the existence of such correlations while using a single 
character as a criterion. Although this course is far from being wholly 
satisfactory, it appears to be the only practicable one. Sometimes this 
assumption holds true to a remarkable extent ; much more fi-equently the 



BASIS OF THE CLASSIFICATION OF VOLCANIC ROCKS. 85 

assumed correlations are, so far as we can discern them, seen to be only 
very partial and imperfect. Slill we may bold tbat, for tbe time being, the 
best classification is the one which expresses the largest number of facts 
and relations hitherto ascertained, and we may advantageously adopt such 
a classification in preference to any other, though conscious that it fails to 
bring into recognizable order some outstanding facts and relations which 
we are compelled for the present to look upon as anomalies. 

In proposing a system of classification of volcanic rocks, I shall endeavor 
to conform to the foregoing conceptions as to the purposes and scope of 
any or all classifications. Strictly speaking, I can pretend to nothing more 
than the most convenient and accurate expression which the nature of the 
case may admit, of the state of my own knowledge and convictions con- 
cerning the properties and relations of volcanic rocks. Holding that all 
classifications are ephemeral, merely indicating the instantaneous phases 
of advancing knowledge, it is fully admitted to be an artificial one for the 
most part, and is natural only so far as nature has been truly discerned 
and expressed. The object in presenting a new classification instead of 
selecting and adopting an old one is to give precision to the terms employed, 
and to lay down from the beginning a systematic statement of the views 
entertained regarding the affinities of the various kinds of eruptive rocks 
so far as known and understood by the individual writer. Not only does 
there seem to be no impropriety in any or every writer expressing as accu- 
rately and systematically as possible his own views of such relations and 
affinities, but it is rather incumbent on him to do so, and in no way can 
this be accomplished so compendiously as by a scheme of classification.* 

In a classification of volcanic rocks, the facts which it is desirable to 
formulate and arrange are, first, those having reference to the physical con- 

*I may advert here to a malpractice of some writers, who take advantage of slight pretexts to 
coin new names for slightly-altered divisions of old groups. A new name is always an inconvenience, 
even though it may be necessary ; unless, indeed, it be a purely descriptive one, conveying at once its 
significance or giving some conception of its meaning to one who hears it for the first time. Thus, the 
introduction of such names as protogene, elvanit'C, nevadite, miascite, &.C., entails the necessity of 
much labor and effort to fix in the memory their meaning, all of which might have been avoided and 
every useful purpose subserved by using the terms homblendic granite, quartz porphyry, granitoid 
rhyolite, nephelin syenite, &c. Irrelevant terms like the first may be very convenient to the writer or 
speaker, but they are very inconvenient to the reader or hearer. Inasmuch as all classifications are 
evanescent and constantly shifting, it is manifestly desirable to make them as easily intelligible as 
possible. 



86 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

stitution of the numerous kinds and to their degrees of affinity; second, 
those having reference to their genesis. In other words, we desire a 
formula which shall express what the rocks are and the causes which made 
them what they are. It may be said at once that we have no knowledge 
of the genesis of volcanic rocks sufficient to make a coherent fonnula, or 
out of which we can construct a system of causation, however crude. We 
know that they came up out of the earth in a molten condition, and that 
is all we can confidently say of their origin. Our classification, therefore, 
must, from the necessities of the case, be confined to an expression of what 
we know concerning their physical constitution. In this direction our 
knowledge is sufficient to justify an attempt to formulate it. 

Let us look first at those physical properties which are common to all 
volcanic rocks, and which, therefore, serve to distinguish them as a cate- 
gory from all other categories ; if, indeed, such a distinction really exists. 

1. All volcanic rocks have been in a state of fusion at a hi^irh tem- 
perature. 

2. All volcanic rocks have been displaced from unknown depths in 
the earth, and have risen in a fiery, liquid condition, either to the surface, 
where they have outflowed as lavas, or have intruded themselves, part-way 
up, among colder overlying rocks, where they have quietly solidified. 

3. They consist of aluminous silicate, combined with lime, magnesia, 
soda, and potash; iron is very rarely absent — ^perhaps never wholly want- 
ing. Moreover, the quantities of these several oxides, though varying, 
have tolerably narrow ranges of variation. Thus the silica never materi- 
ally exceeds 80 per cent, nor falls sensibly below 45 per cent. ; the alumina 
ranges from 10 to 20 per cent, the lime from 1 to 10 per cent, &c. 

4. All volcanic rocks consist of an amorphous base, holding crystals, 
except, however, some intrusive rocks, which appear to be wholly crystal- 
line. In some obsidians, on the other hand, crystals are exceeding rare, 
though probably no great mass of obsidian is wholly without them 

Although it seems as if there ought never to be any difficulty in dis- 
tinguishing a volcanic, rock from any belonging to other categories, yet 
this difficulty sometimes arises. A rock may have been fused and dis- 
placed from its seat; it may have the chemical constitution and "half- 



PHYSICAL PROPERTIES OF VOLCANIC ROCKS. 87 

crystalline" texture of ordinary lavas, and yet it may not have been 
erupted or subjected to that mechanical action which is the most con- 
spicuous feature of volcanism. It may have been intruded into a dike, or 
between strata, and only brought to daylight after the lapse of many 
geological periods by the agency of denudation. Many of the quartz 
porphyries and the intrusive or "laccolitic" trachytes of the West, and 
many basalts or dolerites, are of this character. Are these truly volcanic 
rocks? Before attempting to answer this inquiry let us advert to the 
wholly crystalline rocks, such as granite, syenite, diorite, diabase, &c. 
These are not usually accounted to be volcanic rocks ; yet they have been 
heated and rendered plastic, and they have been intruded into narrow 
dikes, and veins and between strata, though they have never been erupted, 
so far as we know. Between the intrusive rocks of a wholly crystalline 
texture and the intrusive rocks of a half-crystalline texture there may be 
found a true transition of varieties, and a hard and fast line cannot be drawn 
between them. Chemically, the two classes are sensibly exact counterparts 
of each other, and are very nearly so in respect to their constituent min- 
erals. But the failure to find a boundary is no bar to classification, which 
takes account not only of differences but also of affinities; and hence, while 
speaking of volcanic and granitoid rocks as distinct classes, we must still 
keep in mind the reservation that there is a border country between them. 
Having indicated the characters which belong to all volcanic rocks as a 
class, and which at the same time serve to distinguish them from other classes, 
we may next proceed to consider how they differ among themselves, and 
what affinities exist between the different groups. It may be repeated here 
that considerations relating to the genesis of rocks — the causes and pro- 
cesses which have made them what they are — should not be directly or 
primarily taken into the account. We know too little about their genesis, 
and any attempt to include such considerations would merely lead us to 
embody what we conjecture rather than what we know, and would almost 
certainly mislead us. We can take account only of well-known facts, and 
these are to be found chiefly in those chemical and physical charactere 
which have been extensively studied and compared. These are cliiefly as 




88 GEOLOGY OF THE fflGH PLATEAUS. 

follows: 1. Chemical composition. 2. Mineral ingredients. 3. Texture. 
4. Density. 5. Fusibility. 

Of these characters the most important surely is the chemical composi- 
tion. In truth, diflFerences of chemical constitution apparently lie at the foun- 
dation of most of the other varying characters. It is the primary determi- 
nant of the minerals which are formed in the lavas and certainly also of the 
specific gravity and fusibility. The texture, also, is to a considerable extent 
dependent upon it, though in this respect the rock is influenced more by 
other conditions. But on the whole there is a well-marked correlation 
among the physical properties of volcanic rocks, and we may easily recog- 
nize the important fact that variations in the chemical composition carry 
with them tolerably definite and dependent variations in the other physical 
properties. 

Correlation between chemical composition and mineral ingredients. — The 
minerals which are formed in volcanic rocks are to a very important extent 
determined by the chemical composition of the magma. The most abundant 
constituent of volcanic rocks is silica; its quantity ranging from 45 to 80 
per cent. Those rocks which possess the higher percentages of silica have 
on the whole more acid minerals than those which possess lower percentages 
of silica. The minerals of the more acid rocks are quartz and potash-soda 
feldspars, while those of the more basic rocks are lime-soda feldspars, augite, 
and olivin. Rocks of intermediate constitution contain both kinds or inter- 
mediate kinds of feldspar, with abundant hornblende or equivalent augite. 
We may discern the principle of selection, which determines the minerals 
by studying each chemical constituent in detail. It might be readily antici- 
pated that free quartz would be segregated and crystallized in a rock con- 
taining a very large percentage of silica. Indeed, the law of definite pro- 
portions regulating the combinations of all substances requires us to believe 
that in all ordinary volcanic rocks holding more than 65 to 68 per cent, of 
silica this excess of silica must be present uncombiued, whether as free 
quartz conspicuous to the eye or as an intimate mixture of the groundmass. 
There is no fixed percentage at which silica becomes excessive, since that 
will depend largely upon the atomic weights and affinities of the other sub- 
stances present. But, in a general way, those rocks which contain large 



PHYSICAL PEOPEETIES OF VOLCANIO BOOKS. 89 

quantities of alkali (soda and potash) may have a larger percentage of 
silica without excess, than rocks containing more of lime, magnesia, and 
iron and less of alkali. Thus trachytes, which have a comparatively large 
proportion of soda and potash, and very little lime and iron, seldom show 
any evidence of excess of silica unless the percentage exceeds 68 per cent, 
and then, as the silica increases, they graduate into rhyolites. On the other 
hand, such rocks as propylite and andesite, which contain an abundance of 
lime and iron, begin to show evidence of an excess of silica when the percent- 
age of it exceeds 62 per cent or sometimes even 60 per cent The reason for 
this is not far to seek. The alkalies are capable of forming definite combi- 
nations with a much higher percentage of silica than are lime, magnesia, 
and iron. The alkalies give rise to the acid feldspars, albite, and orthoclase, 
while the lime gives rise to the basic feldspar, anorthite, and iron and mag- 
nesia to the equally basic minerals of the pyroxenic, homblendic, and olivin 
groups. 

On the other hand, the alkalies sometimes form basic minerals, such as 
leucite and nephelin. This happens whenever these bases are present in 
quantities in excess of those required to form feldspar, or, what amounts to 
the same thing, when the ratio of silicate of alumina to soda or potash is 
less than that required to form albite or orthoclase. Hence, in basic rocks 
rich in potash, we find leucite, and when they are rich in soda, nephelin, 
either or both replacing feldspar. 

Turning now to the magnesian minerals, the same kind of correlation 
is seen. Where the quantity of magnesia relatively to the silica is very 
great olivin is formed abundantly. This is the most basic mineral occurring 
in eruptive rocks, and is found only in rocks which are least siliceous. 
Where the quantity of magnesia is less, augite and hornblende are 
formed. In the two latter minerals it appears that lime, magnesia, and 
iron protoxide largely replace each other, lime predominating in augite, 
and magnesia in hornblende. They are moderately basic, but less so 
than olivin. In the more acid rocks magnesia takes frequently the form 
of mica (biotite), in which the quantity of protoxide base is still less than 
in hornblende. 

With regard to alumina, it is somewhat remarkable that although the 




90 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

quantity of tliis constituent is second only to that of silica, it varies less 
than any other. It rarely falls below 14 per cent and rarely exceeds 19 
per cent of the entire rock. There is a tendency to a slight excess of 
alumina above the quantity required to form feldspar in the acid rocks and 
a tendency to a slight deficiency for the formation of feldspar in the basic 
rocks.* Hence the slight excels of alumina of the acid rocks may readily 
be taken up by the aluminous micas and aluminous hornblende; and in the 
basic rocks, on account of the deficiency of alumina, the lime cannot all 
take the form of feldspar, and a considerable portion of it appears in the 
very abundant augite. 

Thus we find that basic rocks have basic minerals and acid rocks have 
acid minerals, and that the mineral ingredients stand in correlation to the 
chemical composition of the magma, and that the nature of the latter is a 
determinant of the former. Perhaps the most striking example is to be found 
in the varying conditions which determine the formation of augite and 
hornblende. These two minerals diflFer but little in chemical constitution, 
and yet their slight diflFerences are distinctly correlated to diflFerences in the 
composition of the magmas from which they crystallize. In augite, lime 
and iron are found in greater quantity and alumina in less quantity than in 
hornblende. Although the differences in these respects are rather small, 
they appear to be strictly proportional to correlative differences in the gen- 
eral groundmass in which they respectively occur. 

Correlation between chemical composition and specific gravity. — ^The exist- 
ence of such a correlation is perhaps too well known and too obvious to 
require any discussion. In general the density holds an inverse ratio to 
the aciditv. 

Correlation between the chemical composition and fusibility. — The fusibility 
of volcanic rocks has not been investigated so fully as other properties, and 
neither lithologists nor geologists appear to have attached any very great 

*The percentage of alumina, however, is less in the acid than in the basic rocks, and yet the 
excess above the quantity required to form soda and potash feldspars is usually greater in the former 
rocks than in the latter, on account of the great acidity of the alkali feldspars ; indeed, there is rarely 
any notable excess of alumina in the basic rocks above what is required for the basic lime-feldspar. 
Thus the rocks which have the smaller percentage of alumina curiously enough have an excess above 
the requiremouts of feldspar, and it appears iu the accessory minerals, while the rocks which have the 
higher percentage are rather deficient in it. 



CORRELATION OF COMPOSITION AND TEXTURE. 91 

impoi'tance to the differences in this respect which may exist between the 
various groups. Still, we have the investigations of Daubeny, Deville, and 
Mallet, which are so far concordant that they indicate decisively the exist- 
ence of a true relation. The acid rocks have decidedly higher melting tem- 
peratures than the basic rocks. Many blast-furnace slags approach the vol- 
canic rocks in constitution, a.nd the great amount of experience gathered in 
iron-smelting amply confirms the same relation so far as the cases are fairly 
comparable. We may, with considerable confidence, state as an approximate 
truth that the melting temperatures of volcanic rocks have a direct ratio to 
their acidity. 

The textures of volcanic rocks are no doubt due in part to peculiar- 
ities of chemical constitution. The vitreous character of the rhyolites, the 
coarse, harsh texture of the trachytes, the compact, fine-grained texture 
and peculiar fracture of the andesites and basalts are surely in due a 
great measure to their constitution, but how or why we do not know. 
There is, however, another sense in which texture is ordinarily spoken of, 
and to which high importance is attached, and this sense takes account 
of the degree or extent to which the groundmass of a rock is crystallized. 
By far the most important difference between a volcanic and a non-erup- 
tive plutonic rock, so far as pure petrographic considerations are concerned, 
consists in the fact that the plutonic non-eruptive rock is wholly crystal- 
line, while the volcanic rock is only partially so. Otherwise the two kinds 
might be quite indistinguishable — might consist of the same constituents. 
This distinction, depending upon the extent of crystallization, however, is 
of great importance, since it arises in all probability from causes associated 
with the genesis and geological evolution of the rocks themselves. The 
nature and properties of the silicates are such, that under the conditions 
ordinarily existing their crystallization is attended with difficulty and pro- 
ceeds very slowly. An indispensable requisite for crystallization is mobility 
of molecules inter se^ and for this mobility a liquid condition of the magma 
is essential. But the silicates possess the following peculiarity : at a tem- 
perature sufficiently high to render them very liquid crystallization is im- 
possible; at a temperature just low enough for crystallization, they are 
exceedingly viscous and the mobility very much impeded. The crystals, 




92 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

therefore, form very slowly, and time becomes an important element in 
determining the whole amount of crystallization. It is easy to see that an 
eruptive lava, rapidly cooling under the sky, may remain but a short time 
at the temperatures at which crystals can form. On the other hand, an 
injected or plutonic mass may long retain its high temperature. In the 
former case the rock finally becomes half-crystalline, in the latter case 
wholly crystalline. That this is the explanation of the textural differentia- 
tion of the plutonic and erupted rocks seenis very probable, and thus tex- 
ture becomes associated with the genesis of the rock and the causes which 
have made it what it is. 

There is a very respectable school of German lithologists who make the 
geological age of igneous rocks a primary criterion of classification. They 
place all igneous rocks, whose intrusion or eruption occuri'ed prior to Ter- 
tiary time, among the granitoid or porphyroid classes, and all Tertiary or 
Quaternary eruptives among the true volcanics. For example, all augitic 
plagioclase rocks of Pre-Tertiary origin are regarded as diabases, mela- 
phyres, or augitic porphyries, &c., while all of Post-Cretaceous origin are 
regarded as basalts, '* trachydolerites," &c. Such a classification most as- 
suredly could be defended only upon the assumption or ascei-tained fact 
that certain charactera are found in the more ancient eruptives which are 
wanting in the more recent ones and vice versa. Is this assumption uni- 
versally true ? I hold that it is not. That in a great majority of cases the 
Pre-Tertiary igneous, as we now see them, are granitoid or porphyroid, 
while those of later epochs are volcanic, thus presenting textural differences, 
is undeniable. But exceptions exist, and they are highly impoi'tant ones. 
It is possible, not to say probable, that many more exceptions might be 
looked for than can at present be specifically named if there were not a 
certain looseness in the use of names, by which rocks of the volcanic tex- 
ture are classified with the gi-anitic groups. This is especially observable in 
the augitic divisions. The augitic rocks of the Palaeozoic system, notably 
those of Carboniferous age, are frequently classed as diabase, when more 
properly they might be in many instances placed among the dolerites or 
basalts. Indeed, some intelligent observers, who are not committed in any 
way to the foregoing generalization, do not scruple to call the intruded and 



PEE TERTIARY VOLCANIC ROCKS, 93 

contemporaneous rocks of the Carboniferous in England and Scotland 
basalt, while others who desire to be non-committal call them traps, which 
may mean either diabase, basalt, or dolerite, or even augite-andesite. Pro- 
fessor Geike* specially mentions basalt and dolerite as among the inter- 
bedded and contemporaneous Carboniferous traps of Great Britain, and so 
eminent a geologist is certainly not liable to confuse his technical terms. 
Mr. Jukes also mentions the basalts of the South Staffordshire coal-fields 
(Rowley Rag) as being of Carboniferous age. Still more ancient are cer- 
tain basalts of the northern peninsula of Michigan, of which the fragments 
are found abundantly in the drifts of Wisconsin and Illinois. These were 
all erupted prior to the Potsdam period; and though they are usually called 
greenstones, many of them are certainly basalt Sir W. Logan and T. 
Sterry Hunt mention doleritesf of Archaean age in Canada (Grenville), 
much of it very fine-grained and sometimes amygdaloidal, and Sir Will- 
iam pronounced it to have been erupted prior to the Silurian, which is 
seen to overlap the denuded dikes in which it occurs. Prof. J. W. Daw- 
son speaks of basalts J of Triassic age extensively developed along the 
eastern shore of the Bay of Fundy, especially in the vicinity of Cape 
Blomidon. The oldest volcanic rocks from the Rocky Mountain Region 
of which I have any knowledge, are found in rounded pebbles of the 
Shinarump conglomerate, which lies at the top of the series to which Pro- 
fessor Powell has given that name, and which is supposed to be of Tri- 
assic or Permian age. These are fragments of a very fine-grained basalt, 
quite indistinguishable from the water-worn pebbles of the latest Tertiary 
basalts. Numerous cases might be cited of the occurrence of augitic rocks 
with a volcanic texture erupted prior to Tertiary time, and far back, indeed, 
into the Archaean, though unquestionably the augitic rocks of earlier epochs 
possess in the great majority of cases the granitic texture — in short, may 
very properly be called diabase. It is difficult to resist the conclusion 
resulting from the various accounts of these rocks that their textures 
depend chiefly upon the conditions of cooling. Where this has been i-apid, 
as, for instance, in cases of contact with dike-walls, the magmas have been 

* Address British Association, Dundee meeting, 1867t 
t Geology of Canado^ 18()3, pp. 36, 653. 
t Acadian Geology, pp. 94, 98. 



94 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

even vitrified (tachylite), and where it has been protracted, the resulting 
rock has taken the granitoid texture — become, in short, diabase. 

Furthermore, instances of Palaeozoic trachyte are not wanting. In the 
Laurentian rocks of Canada they are, according to Dr. T. S terry Hunt,* 
very abundant and extensively displayed. At Brome and Shefford they 
occupy two areas of twenty, and nine, square miles, respectively, and their 
period of eruption must have been soon after the Quebec epochs At 
Yamaska a micaceous trachyte occurs differing from the foregoing, and at 
Chambly and Regaud, a porphyritic trachyte. The island of Montreal 
offers a great variety of trachytic rocks, some of which, according to Dr. 
Hunt, cannot readily be distinguished from the trachyte of Puys de Dome. 
At Lachine a phonolite is also mentioned as associated with trachytic dikes. 

Thus we do find among Pre-Tertiary eruptives rocks which pos- 
sess all the essential characters of true lavas. The occurrence of Ter- 
tiary granitoid rocks is probably less common. Still they do sometimes 
occur. True porphyries of Tertiary age are much more frequent. Those 
intrusive masses, to which Mr. G. K. Gilbert has given the name of 
laccolites, are in every sense porphyries. Most of them, however, belong 
to the non-quartziferous division of felsitic porphyry, and are distinct 
from the common elvanite or quartz-porphyry. But in the Elk Mount- 
ains of Colorado we find laccolitic masses of quartz-porphyry graduat- 
ing into granite porphyry and porphyritic granite. The age of these in- 
trusions is not accurately known, though it is certain that they are Post- 
Cretaceous. Laccolitic rocks of trachytic and rhyolitic constitution seem 
to be tolerably abimdant throughout the mountain regions of the West. 

Nevertheless, the fact remains that the Pre-Tertiary eruptives are on the 
whole preeminently granitoid or porphyroid in texture, while the Tertiaries 
are as decidedly volcanic. It seems, therefore, at first as if a correlation 
existed between age and texture. Forthwith arises the inquiry, what is 
the significance of that relation ? To this question it seems to me that Von 
Cotta has given a very satisfactory answer, which may be summarized as 
follows. The eruptive magmas of Tertiary time did not differ at the time of 
eruption in any material respect from those of older epochs, any more than 

* Geology of Canada, 1863, p. 656. 



AGE OF THE GRANITOID AND PORPHYRITIC ROCKS. 95 

two eruptions of the same epoch may differ from each other without calling 
for a distinction in their classification ; but the textural differences which 
we now observe are due to the different conditions under which si^iilar or 
sensibly identical magmas have solidified. The granites have solidified 
probably at great depths in the earth and under enormous statical pressure, 
while volcanic rocks have solidified at the surface. Porphyries, which 
usually occur in dikes or in intrusive masses, have solidified at intermedi- 
ate horizons, though under conditions probably more nearly approaching 
those of volcanic than of granitoid rocks. The Palaeozoic and Archaean 
ages may have had their volcanic rocks, differing in no assignable respect 
from those of recent date, and upon a scale as grand and equally varied, 
but denudation has dissipated them. The granitoid rocks now exposed 
to our view have been brought to the light of day only by an enormous 
erosion, which has removed the thousands of feet of strata beneath which 
they received their present texture. 

This explanation is fortunately capable of a test by comparison with 
the facts presented by the rocks themselves, and though all the facts have 
not been collected and studied in this light, yet our knowledge of their 
general scope and bearing is considerable, and my belief is that they fairly 
sustain the theory. The granites and syenites are almost invariably found 
in localities where denudation has proceeded through a long series of 
epochs and has been vast in amount.* They are usually associated with 
metamorphic rocks which have been laid bare by the removal of great 
masses of superincumbent strata. They are not often found as interjected 
beds in unaltered or little altered Palaeozoic or Mesozoic strata ; much less 
as contemporaneous flows. The eruptive syenites and granites, therefore, 
harmonize with the theory. 

The diorites and diabases have a different mode of occurrence. The 
diorites, so far as known, are believed to be almost invariably intrusive,t 
either in the form of dikes or intercalary between sedimentary beds. The 
same also appears to be true of those diabases which possess an unquestion- 
able granitoid texture. There are, indeed, many rocks to which the name 

* It would be impracticable here to enter into a full discussiou of particular cases without pro- 
tracting the discussion indefinitely. The statement will, I think, be generally admitted, 
t Jukes and Geike, Manual of Geology. 




96 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

of diabase is given by some lithologists, but which are really dolerites and 
basalts, bearing indications of a volcanic origin, and these are found as 
contemporary or interbedded coulees. They diflfer notably, however, from 
the intrusive diabases, though they are sometimes confounded with them. 
In short, the ancient eruptives which remain as coul6es have the volcanic 
textures, and those which remain as intrusives have the granitic or some- 
times the porphyritic texture, and the diorites and diabases equally with the 
syenites and granites present no obstacle to Von Cotta's hypothesis, but 
are to all appearances in full accord with it. 

It is as certain as anything in geological science can well be that the 
texture of the granitoid eruptive rocks could not have been derived (at 
least directly) from any special conditions existing prior to their eruption. 
Every theory must presuppose that during their eruption or intrusion they 
were plastic, and that a portion of their groundmass, if not the whole of it, 
was amorphous and in a condition of igneous or aqueo-igneous fusion, and 
in such a condition it is little less than absurd to suppose that any texture 
at all resembling granite could have prevailed. The closely interlocked 
crystals of such a groundmass are as antithetical to the very idea of plas- 
ticity as it is possible to conceive. The crystalline texture must surely 
have been a development altogether subsequent to plastic movement.* 
There is, therefore, a lurking fallacy in the statement that granitoid rocks 
had their periods of eruption in the earlier ages, while the volcanics had 
theirs in Tertiary time. The true and rational mode of stating the case 
may be this: that through all the ages igneous magmas have been erupted, 
which have, according to their final resting-places and the conditions there 
existing, consolidated either into granitoid or half-crystalline rocks. The 
magmas themselves have been the same in all ages, each to each within its 
own group, and so too have the resulting rocks each to each under equiva- 
lent conditions of consolidation. We find in the Tertiaries only volcanic 
rocks, because the corresponding granitoids are far beneath them and not yet 
laid bare by secular erosion. We find among Pre-Tertiary eruptions chiefly 
granitoids, because the con'esponding volcanics have been swept away. 

* It Ib of coarse intelligible that some crystals may have existed in an amorphous fluent paste 
during the emption. 



POSITION OF THE PORPHYEIES IN CLASSIFICATION. 97 

Texture, then, if the foregoing views be true, is associated with the 
genesis of rocks and is determined by the conditions under which the rocks 
have solidified. Although it may seem to be a trivial character, in reality 
it is a very important one, since it is an index of conditions and occur- 
rences of vital importance to the genesis of the rocks and their geological 
relations. For it is of the highest geological importance to know whether 
certain rocks have been erupted or have been formed in situ ; whether they 
are indigenous or exotic. The indications given by texture may be uncer- 
tain at times, and occasionally even misleading; but on the whole, so far 
as they are now understood, they may be relied upon. The difierences of 
texture have heretofore been employed chiefly to distinguish the eruptive 
from the non-eruptive igneous rocks. The wholly crystalline are non- 
eruptive ; the partially crystalline are eruptive. But, although the wholly 
crystalline rocks are not commonly found in the form of lava sheets or 
coulees, they are occasionally found in the form of intrusions, and so, also, 
are the partially crystalline rocks. The intrusive condition is, therefore, a 
kind of intermediate stage between the eruptive and non-eruptive condi- 
tion, representing an abortive attempt at eruption, sometimes resulting in a 
slight displacement of the magma, sometimes almost accomplishing an out- 
pour. In very many cases — ^probably in many more than we are now jus- 
tified in aflSrming — ^this qualified eruption is associated with a texture which 
seems to be characteristic of it, the porphyritic texture. 

A satisfactory definition of "porphyry" is almost impossible to find. 
The most general conception is that it applies to a rock consisting of crys- 
tals, usually feldspar and quartz, imbedded in an "unindividualized" paste 
or base ; but forty-nine-fiftieths of all intrusive and eruptive rocks come 
fully within such a definition. Except an insignificant quantity of obsid- 
ians and aphanitic rocks, all volcanics are decidedly porphyritic. And 
j^et lithologists employ the term to designate a group of rocks different 
from volcanics, not only in their geological relations, but in their appear- 
ance as dependent upon texture. There are certainly some rocks which 
we do not hesitate to call porphyry, and regard them as being quite distinct 
from the common lavas; the distinction, moreover, being a textural and 

not a chemical one. As nearly as we can reach a description of the spe- 
7 H p 




98 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

cialized porphyritic texture, it apparently amounts to this : The ground- 
mass consists not only of crystals embodied in a base of matter which is 
not visibly crystalline, but both crystals and base have certain distinctive 
features ; the crystals of quartz are more perfectly defined in their outlines 
and possess more distinctly the perfect forms, edges, and angles of their 
species, the predominant occurrences being the double hexagonal pyramids. 
The feldspar crystals are also usually distinguished by their perfect forms, 
especially at the terminations of the prisms, by their large size and by their 
many and rare angles. In the volcanics the quartzes are not only fragmental, 
poorly developed, and of uncertain boundaries, but are often rounded and 
imperfect at the positions of the edges and angles, while the feldspars arc 
exceedingly irregular and indefinite in shape, not often presenting the well- 
defined edges and angles distinctive of their species. The base of porphyry 
is, to a great extent, mysterious and inexplicable. Usually it is (macro- 
scopically) exceedingly fine-grained, homogeneous, and compact, with no 
visible trace of crystallization. Under the microscope it presents certain 
appearances which have puzzled for many years all investigators. With 
polarized light it exhibits a behavior which is characteristic of crystalliza- 
tion, and yet no individual crystals can be detected. It is homogeneous in 
one sense, and yet seems to be minutely granular, as if with greater mag- 
nifying power and better definition it would resolve into minute crystalline 
points; but the latter expectation generally proves a delusion. Not always, 
however, for sometimes a moderate power resolves the base into a mosaic 
of crystals, like the groundmass of granite, reproduced upon a microscopic 
scale. The base of volcanic rocks is usually more or less glassy or fluidal 
in texture, full of microlites, and even when granular is not nearly so much 
affected by polarized light. 

Many minute characters might be pointed out, but it is needless here. 
There is no hard and fast line between the porphyritic and volcanic texture, 
for the latter often simulates the former to a greater or less extent, and 
even the differences already indicated sometimes vanish or become so 
poorly pronounced that we fail to apprehend them with confidence. Still, 
in the long run and in the great mass of cases, we are able to make a 
distinction, and we find the differences associated with modes of occur- 



CLASSIFICATION OF THE ERUPTIVB BOOKS. 99 

rence of the rock masses. The fcrue porphyries are eminently intrusive 
rocks. 

Into the detailed classification of the granitoid or wholly crystalline 
rocks it is not intended to enter. It will suffice to say that they have been 
regarded by almost all geologists and petrographers as separated from the 
volcanics by wide barriers, resting upon wide differences in their geologi- 
cal relations, in their modes of occurrence, their genesis, and geological 
history. I have endeavored to show that the distinction is well founded. 
It seems right that they should be placed in different classes, not because 
the mere lithological fact that they differ in respect to their degrees of crys- 
tallization is such a great thing in itself, but rather because it implies a 
totally distinct category of relations. Whether a third class should be 
admitted, viz, the porphyritic rocks, is not so clear. For my own part, I 
incline to the admission of only two classes of igneous rocks, the volcanic 
and plutonic — the former eruptive, the latter non-eruptive. I recognize, 
however, that those who are disposed to regard the porphyries as coordi- 
nate in value with the granitoids or eruptives, may have much to say in 
support of their tenets. 

Passing now to the consideration of the volcanic rocks as a class, the 
principles upon which it is believed they ought to be subdivided have, in 
general terms, already been indicated. We ought not to endeavor to take 
account of anything more than their chemical and physical properties, 
since we should otherwise run the risk of serious error. And it has been 
pointed out that a decided correlation exists among these properties ; so that 
if we take a rational system, based upon one set of properties, we shall at 
the same time express the other properties. The broader basis I believe to 
be the chemical one, and I regard it also as the most convenient. 

It has long been recognized that lavas are easily distinguished into 
two principal groups, contrasting with each other not only in the superfi- 
cial aspects and in the minerals they contain, but also in their composition. 
One of these groups was ordinarily a coarse-grained, light-colored rock, of 
rather low specific gravity. It contained crystals of monoclinic feldspar, 
sometimes abundant free quartz, and also hornblende and mica. The other 
group was usually fine-grained, compact, very dark colored, and very 




100 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

heavy, holding triclinic feldspar, augite, and magnetite. Upon analysis, 
the two groups were found to diflfer greatly in chemical composition ; the 
lighter orthoclase rocks were found to be much richer in silica and mucli 
poorer in iron, lime, and magnesia, than the others. This led to the divis- 
ion into the two well-known groups of acidic and basic rocks. To the 
fonner the name of trachytes was usually applied, while the latter were 
termed basalts. As knowledge of volcanic rocks increased and became 
more detailed, it was at length recognized (by Beudant) that the basic rocks 
were susceptible of further division. The study of the South American 
volcanoes convinced him that two types of basic rocks could be distin- 
guished — one the typical basalts, characterized by an abundance of augite, 
magnetite, and usually olivin commingled with lime-feldspar; the other 
apparently a less basic rock, containing hornblende rather than augite, very 
little magnetite, and never olivin. The two types diflFered in appearance, 
the more basic being nearly black, the less basic being usually greenish, 
and certain tolerably constant diflFerences of texture being easily recog- 
nized, though hard to describe ; the name basalt being preserved for the 
more basic variety. Beudant called the other type Andesite. 

The name trachyte for a long time was used very vaguely, and it is now 
somewhat surprising to find what a vast range of vai-iety it was made to 
cover. It was applied not only to the light-colored orthose and quartzose 
rocks, but was extended over varieties belonging well within the basic 
division, including Beudant's andesites, and hardly stopped short of any- 
thing except the extremely basic olivinitic basalts. The general sense of 
the more acute lithologists, however, was against such a sweeping use of 
the name, and in favor of confining it to the orthoclase-bearing varieties. 
Although in this restricted use of the name trachyte a considerable number 
of varieties had been noted by various writers, Richthofen appears to have 
been the first to have clearly discerned that the trachytic group resolved 
itself into two members. Of these the most acidic division was charac- 
terized by the presence of free quartz and a general poverty in all min- 
erals except quartz and orthoclase (sanidin); also by peculiarities of texture. 
The less acidic division rarely contained free quartz, and never in nota- 
ble quantity ; was richer in sanidin as well as in the accessory or subordi- 



CLASSIFICATION OF THE EEUPTIVB ROCKS. 101 

nate minerals, hornblende, mica, magnetite, &c. It also possessed in 
nearly all varieties that coarse, rough texture from which the term trachyte 
originated. The validity of this distinction has been well established by 
later investigators, and in Germany and America it is universally accepted. 
To the more acidic division Richthofen gave the name Rhyolite^ and pre- 
served the name trachyte for the remainder of the older acidic semi-class. 

Thus far we are able to subdivide the volcanic rocks into four parts or 
groups instead of two, as was usually done in the time of Durocher. The 
older acidic semi-class may be resolved into two groups, the Rhyolites and 
Trachytes^ while the basic semi-class may be resolved into two, the Ande- 
sites and Basalts. Now, these four groups represent in a very decided 
manner a progression in the chemical constitution, and also correlative pro- 
gressions in mineral constitution, in specific gravity, &c. The rhyolites are 
at the acidic end of the scale of progression and the basalts at the basic end. 
The trachytes may be called sub-acid rocks and the andesites sub-basic 
rocks, thus : 

Acid rocks— RHYOLITES. 

Sub-acid rocks— TRACHYTES. 

Sub-basic rocks— ANDESITES. 

Basic rocks— BASALTS. 

We shall find further on that this progression is not perfectl}'' rigorous 
and exact, but presents certain apparent anomalies ; that some rocks, for 
instance, which ought to be and are rationally called andesite are more acid 
than some rocks which are with equal reason called trachytes. Yet, on the 
whole, the progression is strongly pronounced and unmistakable, and the 
seeming anomalies do not invalidate the general law. 

If we considered chemical constitution alone, however, we should be 
unable to determine the relative position of any rock in the lithological 
scale without a chemical analysis. The patent evidence of its position and 
character is found in the minerals it contains. These, it has already been 
asserted, are determined by the chemical constitution, and in return indicate 
that constitution. Each group of rocks has its characteristic group of min- 
erals, of which some may be regarded as essential to the diagnosis of the 
rock, while others are merely " accessory," being generally present, but 



• ■ 

.• • • 






• • • 



• • • 
•• • 






• "• 



• • • 

• • •• . 



••>*102 



GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 



sometimes wanting. The accessory minerals are, with rare exceptions, far 
inferior to the essential ones in respect to quantity. The following con- 
spectus exhibits these minerals : 

CONSPECTUS OV UINERALS CHABACTERISTIC OF THE PRIMABY DIVISIONS OF VOLCANIC BOCKS. 



Groups. 


Essential minerals. 


Accessory minerals. 


Group I. 
A c.\i\ rockfl — Rhvolite*- ,,,,.» 


Orthoclase (usually as sanidin) 
and free quartz. 


Hornblende, biotite, plagioclase. 






Group II. 
Sub-acid rocks— Trachytes 

• 


Orthoclase (usually as sanidin). 


Hornblende, biotite, augite, pla- 
gioclase (the latter seldom 
wanting), nephelin (in pho- 
nolite), magnetite. 


Group III. 
Sub -acid rocks— Andusitos (in- 
cluding propylite). 


Pla&rioclase ...*«• - ••«••• ---- •--» 


Hornblende, augite, biotite ortho- 
clase (in subordinate quantity 
and seldom wholly absent), 
magnetite. 




Group IV. 
Basic rocks — Basalts 


Plagioclase (in some cases re- 
placed by leucite or nephelin), 
augite. 


Olivin, magnetite. 



In addition to the minerals presented in the foregoing scheme, there 
remain several others of considerable importance. These are chiefly leucite 
and nephelin. Leucite is found in some basalts replacing the feldspar, and 
is treated in the classification precisely as if it were plagioclase. Though 
widely distinct from that group of minerals in its crystallographic forms, it 
closely approaches them in chemical constitution, diflFering in this respect 
mainly in containing a little higher percentage of potash than normal ortho- 
clase. Kephelin holds exactly the same relations and presents the same 
distinctions, but holds a high percentage of sodfi instead of potash. It is 
found not only in the basalts, but also in phonolite, and is generally held 
to be the most characteristic mineral of the latter rock. K now we treat 
these two minerals as just so much triclinic feldspar, we shall find no diffi- 



CLASSIFICATION OF ERUPTIVE ROOKS— RHYOLITES. 103 

culty in assigning them to their places in accordance with all their natural 
affinities. Leucite rocks will fall readily among the basalts. Nephelin, 
when associated with other minerals common to the basic rocks, may be 
considered as replacing labradorite, and the rock containing it may be 
assigned to the basaltic group. When associated with orthoclase, as in 
phonolite, the rock will fall among those trachytes which contain notable 
percentages of plagioclase. 

It yet remains to speak of those lavas which contain no distinct min- 
erals, but which are wholly glassy or amorphous, like obsidian, pumice, &c. 
Here chemical constitution becomes the sole criterion, and although the 
external or macroscopic facies may often indicate to the trained eye the 
approximate constitution, the only safe guide to determination is a chemical 
analysis. 

I. RHYOLITES. The rhyolites are distinguished by their high per- 
centage of silica and by the presence of orthoclase and free quartz. The 
number of varieties of texture found in this group is immense. We find 
some which have an outward semblance to granite; others containing large, 
beautiful, and perfect crystals of glassy feldspar an inch or more in length, 
and large grains of quartz imbedded in a compact matrix; others having 
the coarse, irregularly granular aspect of trachyte; very many with a 
groundmass full of elongated vesicles like drawn-out glass and holding 
small crystals; very many which are so vitreous or slag-like that the crys- 
tals are discernible only with the microscope, and many which exhibit no 
determinable crystals. So protean are the forms, that the lithologist may 
well feel discouraged in attempting to resolve the group into intelligible or 
rational subdivisions. Richthofen has attempted it, however, but it seems 
to me with very partial success. While he has no doubt divided the more 
prominent sub-groups, cases are often encountered which neither of them 
appear to satisfy, and microscopic research indicates that many of the 
characters he has seized upon are less distinctive than the external appear- 
ances might at first suggest, and Ijrings to light many others which are of 
high impoi'tance, and which the external appearance does not suggest at all. 
Considering external characters alone, however, his subdivisions may repre- 
sent a convenient temporary grouping of the greater part of the rhyolites. 



104 



GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PIjATEAUS. 



It will be noted that while chemical constitution and mineralogical com- 
ponents are the basis of the larger and broader divisions, the texture may 
here be employed to distinguish the secondaiy characters. 



Group L— RHYOLITES. 



Sab-groups. 


Characteristics. 


Sub-group 1. 
Nevadite or granitoid rhyo- 
lite. 


Having a superficial resemblance to granite; highly crystalline, with 
conspicuous quartz and feldspar; the crystals rounded, cracked, and 
irregular in contour. Base resembling some of the coarser varieties 
of trachyte. 


Sub-group 2. 
LiPARiTB or porphyritic rbyo- 
Ute. 


Having a decided porphyritic texture; compact base; crystals perfect 
or nearly so, often of large size; not conspicuously vitreous. 


Sub-group 3. 
RuYOUTE proper or hyaline 
rbyolite. 


« 

Having a fluent groundmass, sometimes wholly without crystals, but 
more frequently with them, but crystals less i>erfectly developed; 
vesicular, with vesicles much elongated and drawn out; or not vesicu- 
lar, but with lines of flow suggesting a vitreous or candv-like mass. 
Foliated or structureless. Generally fibrolitic or spherolitic. 



The microscopic characters of the hyaline rhyolites and some of the 
liparites have been studied and analyzed in a most admirable manner by 
Professor Zirkel, and described by him in the volume on Microscopic Pe- 
trography in the series of Reports of the Survey of the Fortieth Paxallel, to 
which volume the reader is referred. 

II. TRACHYTES. The trachytic group is characterized chemically 
by a high degree of acidity, but inferior in that respect to the rhyolites. Its 
dominant minerals are orthoclase, with a subordinate amount of plagioclase. 
It is distinguished mineralogically fi:x)m rhyolite by the absence of free 
quartz, by the greater abundance of plagioclase, and of the subordinate 
minerals hornblende, magnetite, augite, and biotite. In its texture and 
physical characters it is also well separated in most cases, showing a 
tendency to develop the coarsely granular and porphyritic habitudes rather 
than the hyaline and vitreous, though the latter are not wanting, nor even 
extremely uncommon. Tliis group is nearly as varied in character as the 



I 



104 



GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PIjATEAUS. 



It will be noted that while chemical constitution and mineralogical com- 
ponents are the basis of the larger and broader divisions, the texture may 
here be employed to distinguish the secondaiy characters. 



Group L— EHYOLITES. 



Sab-groups. 


Cbaractoristics. 


Sub-group 1. 
Nevadite or granitoid rbyo- 
lite. 


Having a superficial resemblance to granite; bighly crystalline, with 
conspicuous quartz and feldspar; the crystals rounded, cracked, and 
irregular in contour. Base resembling some of the coarser yarioties 
of trachyte. 


Sub-group 2. 
LiPARiTB or porphyritic rbyo- 
Ute. 


Having a decided porphyritic texture; compact base; crystals perfect 
or nearly so, often of large size; not conspicuously vitreous. 


Sub-group 3. 
Hhtoute proper or byalino 
rbyolite. 


• 

Having a fluent groundmass, sometimes wholly without crystals, but 
more frequently with them, but crystals less ]>erfect1y dovelo|MMl; 
vesicular, with vesicles much elongated and drawn out; or not vesicu- 
lar, but with lines of flow suggesting a vitreous or candy-like mass. 
Foliated or structureless. Generally fibrolitic or spherolitic. 



The microscopic characters of the hyaline rhyolites and some of the 
liparites have been studied and analyzed in a most admirable manner by 
Professor Zirkel, and described by him in the volume on Microscopic Pe- 
trography in the series of Reports of the Survey of the Fortieth Poxallel, to 
which volume the reader is referred. 

II. TRACHYTES. The trachytic group is characterized chemically 
by a high degree of acidity, but inferior in that respect to the rhyolites. Its 
dominant minerals are orthoclase, with a subordinate amount of plagioclase. 
It is distinguished mineralogically from rhyolite by the absence of free 
quartz, by the greater abundance of plagioclase, and of the subordinate 
minerals hornblende, magnetite, augite, and biotite. In its texture and 
physical characters it is also well separated in most cases, showing a 
tendency to develop the coarsely granular and porphyritic habitudes rather 
than the hyaline and vitreous, though the latter are not wanting, nor even 
extremely uncommon. Tliis group is nearly as varied in character as the 



i 



CLASSIFICATION OF ERUPTIVE ROCKS— TRACHYTES. 105 

rhyolites, and the same diflSculty is experienced in finding a suitable system 
of subdivision. In attempting to divide them, Richthofen has given two 
subdivisions, sanidin-trachyte and oligoclase'trachyte. The admission of an 
oligoclase-trachyte involves a dilemma. If (as appears from his language) 
he contemplates a rock in which oligoclase is the dominant feldspar, it can- 
not, according to ordinary conceptions and definitions, be a trachyte at all, 
but rather an andesite. If it means that it is abundant, though subordinate 
to orthoclase, then the same is true of by far the greater portion of the whole 
trachytic group. Again, sanidin-trachyte also seems objectionable as a 
characteristic name of a subdivision of the trachytes, since sanidin is the 
predominant mineral of the entire trachytic group. 

And yet my own limited studies have led me to the conviction that 
Richthofen, with his rare insight into the real nature of the subjects he has 
investigated, has hit upon a valid distinction, which we may safely follow. 
Among the older trachytic eruptions we find rocks into which plagioclase 
largely enters; indeed, to such an extent that we are often doubtful whether 
it may not preponderate over the sanidin, or at least be very nearly equal 
to it In these same rocks we also find an abundance of hornblende and mag- 
netite, giving them the dark iron-gray aspect which is presented by many 
andesites. These homblendic trachytes, however, are usually coarser and 
rougher in fracture than the andesites, and the hornblende crystals are 
rarely found in such perfection and full development as in the andesites, 
and macroscopic inspection will generally enable us to form a very good 
opinion as to which of the two we are dealing with, though sometimes we 
are deceived. It is evident that such trachytes are not far removed from 
the andesites, both in chemical and mineral constitution, and they sometimes 
blend with them. 

On the other hand, we encounter among the later trachytes a different 
series of macroscopic characters. They are very deficient in hornblende, 
and more often contain mica (biotite). They ai'e usually light-colored, 
pale-gray, or red, or light brown, and almost never dark gray. In texture 
they vary widely, but in no case do they ever suggest any affinity to 
andesite, but rather to rhyolite. Some of the varieties, indeed, approach 
rhyolite so closely that we often have still greater difficulty in separat- 



106 



GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 



ing them from it than we encounter in separating extremely homblendic 
trachytes from andesites. In these trachytes sanidin is the only important 
mineral, and though plagioclase and hornblende are not uncommon, they 
are never conspicuous, and never seem to exert any notable eflfect upon the 
character or aspect of the rock. 

In seeking for purely descriptive names, it seems to me that the older 
trachytes will be sufficiently discriminated if we call them simply horn- 
blendic trachytes. It occasionally happens that the other group requires 
to be spoken of collectively, and I shall in such cases employ the term 
sanidin trachytes^ rather than coin a new name. But for precision it may 
be necessary to subdivide them rather more minutely, since these so-called 
sanidin-trachytes embrace very wide variations of lithological aspect. The 
time has not yet come to divide the immense trachytic group according to 
definite and final principles. To accomplish that will require the careful 
study of an enormous range of materials. Although my own observation 
is far too limited to encourage the hope of finding a complete and satis- 
factory arrangement, I am tempted to give provisionally and tentatively a 
subdivision embodying such a grouping as will embrace the facts within 
my knowledge. 

Geoxjp 1L— trachytes OR SUBACID ROCKS. 

Sub-group A.— Sanidin Trachytes. 





Characteristics. 


1. QRANITOID TRACU YT£S 


• 

Trachytes having a superficial resemblance to granitic rocks ; holding 
much orthoclase and less plagioclase, with few other minerals; a 
very little biotite and hornblende; crystals conspionons; a some- 
what porous base, containing little ferritic matter. Usually very 
light-colored rocks ; seldom dark gray. 


2. PORPUTBITIC TRACHYTE.... 

• 


• 

A base resembling that of porphyrite, with very conspicuous and per- 
fect crystals of orthoclase (usually the turbid or milky variety), often 
large. The base very fine, compact, and non-vesicular ; more or less 
ferritic, sometimes showing a feeble aggregate polarization. The 
groundmass shows none of that coarse, rough texture so common in 
other trachytes. 



TRACHYTES OB SUB- ACID BOCKS. 



107 



Geoup II.— TBACHTTES OB SCB-ACID BOCKS— Continued. 





Characteristics. 


3. Abqilloid tracuttb 

< 

• 


A rock of very clayey or earthy aspect, snggestive of thick slate ; very 
highly charged with ferritio matter, rendering it opaque in the thin- 
nest sections ; holding crystals of feldspar (orthoclase) and grains of 
magnetite, and seldom any other macroscopic mineral. The fracture 
is highly characteristic, there being no cleavage ; but the rock crum- 
bles rather than splits. It is impossible to strike off thin flakes. 
The fracture is very angular and irregular, though the ordinary 
coarseness of trachytes is not exhibited. It is a very voluminous 
rock in the plateaus and well distinguished. 


4. Hyaline TBACHYTB 


Trachytes having a fluidal texture, indicative of flowing in a viscous 
state, with very small, and sometimes few, and always poorly-devel- 
oped crystals of feldspar. Mostly reddish or purplish ; often with a 
brick-like texture; sometimes foliated and resonant (clink-stone); 
moderately vesicular. Often slightly quartziferous and approaching 
the rhyolites. 



SUB-OROUP B.— HORNBLENDIC TRACHYTES. 



5. HORNBLBNDIC TRACHYTE... 


This comprises most of those dark-colored varieties of coarse, harsh 
texture, exceedingly rough, though many are less so. Hornblende 
and magnetite are abundant, the former in well-developed prisms. 
The feldspars are less conspicuous than in the preceding varieties, but 
are really present in greater quantity, as shown by the microscope. 
Plagioclase very abundant. Iron gray is the usual color. 


6. AUGITIC TRACHYTE- . . , . - - 


It seems doubtful whether this rock should be considered as anything 
more than a variety of the homblendic sub-group. It is character- 
ized by the presence of augite in place of hornblende. The varieties 
are usually finer grained than the homblendic, and resemble more the 
augitic andesites, to which, indeed, they are so closely related that it 
is sometimes difficult to distinguish them. Magnetite abundant and 
some biotite. 




7. Phonoute.... 


A rock in which nephelin takes the place of triclinic feldspar. Usually 




contains also orthoclase and some hornblende; resonant, foliated, and 
in the rockmass is generally laminated in a very peculiar and strik- 
ing mannex. 


8.. Trachytic obsidian 


A wholly glassy or vitreous rock, having the normal constitution of 
trachyte. 



108 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

III. PROPYLITE AND ANDESITE. Richthofen has made two 
distinct orders of these rocks, each of equal taxonomic value with the other 
great groups, e. g., trachyte and basalt There is no question that a 
tolerably sharp definition can be drawn between them, and that they are 
as readily distinguished in most cases by the unaided eye as by the micro- 
scope. The microscopic characters have been analyzed and described most 
thoroughly by Zirkel. But though the distinctions are well-drawn, and 
once mastered can seldom be confounded, the question arises, are they of 
sufficiently radical importance to warrant their separation into groups of 
such high rank as the trachytes and basalts ? It seems to me that we can- 
not do so without a violation of those fundamental principles which have 
gradually become almost universal in fixing primary characters. On purely 
chemical grounds so wide a distinction seems untenable, because the 
chemical difference is very small, and often so indefinite that it cannot be 
formulated. On mineralogical grounds the distinction is essentially no 
greater. Both of them are characterized by the predominance of plagio- 
clase, with accessory hornblende or augite and sometimes free quartz. The 
real difference is found in the respective textures, and in slight though con- 
stant differences in the modes of occurrence of the accessory minerals, and 
in some of the minor characteristics of the feldspars. But these distinguish- 
ing characters are precisely the same in their general nature and equivalent 
in degree to distinctions which are used in the trachytes, rhyolites, and 
basalts for separating the sub-groups, and which in other rocks have never 
risen to higher taxonomic values. If we follow the same methods and 
valuations in these rocks which we adopt in the other groups, it seems to 
me that we can only assign them to the rank of subdivisions of one prin- 
cipal group. 

With regard to the augitic andesites, Richthofen has placed them in 
the same major group as the homblendic andesites. Zirkel, on the other 
liand, has placed them among the basalts. In deciding which of these two 
authorities it is best to adopt, the following considerations may be pre- 
sented. It is not obvious that they use the term in precisely the same 
scope, nor embrace within their respective meanings quite the same rocks. 
We have certain rocks contiiining plagioclase, with abundant though sub- 



PEOPYLITB AND ANDESITB. 



109 



ordinate orthoclase, and with proportions of augite and magnetite very 
much smaller than is usual in the basaltic group. We have also vari- 
eties in which the orthoclase is much less though still notable, and the 
augite and magnetite, accompanied with glassy or slaggy material included 
in the groundmass, are very copious; and there are many intermediate 
varieties. It seems probable that Richthofen may have contemplated only 
the former in his expression of the characters of augitic andesite, while 
Zirkel, taking the entire range of variety as one sub-group, with the more 
augitic and viti'eous ones as the type, did not find reasons for separating 
them, and, therefore, placed them together among the basalts, to which his 
types certainly most nearly approach. It must be admitted that a hard 
and fast line cannot be drawn within tHis range, nor can it be satisfactorily 
drawn between the more acid augitic andesites and the augitic trachytes. 
Nevertheless, it seems advisable to draw one arbitrarily, and place the more 
acid varieties among the andesites and the more basic among the basalts 
(dolerite), thus following Richthofen rather than Zirkel. 

Group IU.— SUBBASIO BOOKS— PEOPYLITE AND AOT)BSITB. 



SaVgroaps. 


Characteristics. 


1. HORNBLBNDIC PBOPYLITB .. 


ConsiBting of predominant plagioolase and subordinate orthoclase, the 
former especially, in large, well-formed crystals, abundantly dissem- 
inated throaghont a compact, homogeneous base. The fracture is 
superficially like diorite or other medium-grained granitoid rocks. 
The yariotios usually are olive or tawny .green color, sometimes red- 
dish, or the green and red are banded, the former greatly predominat- 
ing. Hornblende is rarely conspicuous to the eye, but in the micro- 
scope is seen in abundance in small fragments, disseoiinated dust- 
like, or in spangles. It is pale green and with sharply-defined edges. 
Biotite and brown hornblende sparingly occur. The facios of the rock 
suggests that it has been more or less altered and the microscope and 
chemical analysis confirm it. 


2. Auornc propyutb (t) 


This rock is mentioned by Richthofen, but has not been recognized in 
the High Plateaus. 


3. QUAUrZ PROPYUTB 


A rock having the essential characters of homblendic propylit-e, but 
with the addition of a notable amount of free quartz. It is ccenerally 
a more siliceous rock than the latter and in most occurrences is 
fresher in appearance. 



110 



GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 



Geottp m.— sub-basic rocks— PEOPYLITE AITD ANDESITE— Continned. 



Sub-groups. 


Characteristics. 


4. HORXBLKNDIC AXDBSITE ... 


Consists of plagioclase, either wholly or with subordinate orthoclase 
and with hornblende; the latter usually conspicuous; the crystals 
imbedded in a base which is usually moderately fine, sometimes a lit- 
tle coarse. . The color is almost always green, from light to very dark. 
The fracture is peculiar, splintery or conchoidal, radiating from the 
point of impact. The hornblendes are mostly of the dark-brown 
variety ; in the thin section with a black, shaded border. The base 
shows fluidal structure, but not always. 


5, AUOITIC ANDESTTB 


Usually a more basic rock than the foregoing ; feldspar almost wholly 
plagioclase ; augite taking the place of hornblende ; either gray or 
nearly block in color, never with greenish cost unless much altered ; 
the more basic varieties merge into the dolerites and the less basic 
into the augitio trachytes by transition. Resemblances to dolerito 
most frequent. 


w 


G. Dacite or quartz ande- 

8ITE. 


Containing predominant plagioclase feldspar, with free quartz and al- 
most always abundant hornblende. It has a somewhat rhyolifcic tex- 
ture and habit. Sometimes biotite replaces the hornblende. 



IV. BASALTS. The classification and subdivision of the basalts pre- 
sent some difficulty. In the basic lavas we have occuiTcnces in which the 
minerals leucite and nephelin replace wholly or in part the feldspars, and a 
question arises as to the importance which is to be attached to this substitu- 
tion. In the other great groups the subdivisions have rested upon texture and 
general habitus of the sub-groups as well as upon the occurrence of accessory 
and subordinate minerals in conspicuous quantity. In the acid and sub- 
acid rocks accessory minerals are relatively in small proportions and varia- 
tions of texture and habit very strongly pronounced. In the basic rocks 
the reverse is true — the accessory minerals are more numerous, almost 
rivaling the primary ones, while the texture, though considerably varied, 
is far less so than in the acid rocks. These considerations would lead us 
to rest the subdivisions rather upon a mineralogical basis than upon a tex- 
tural one. Some authors separate dolerite from the so-called "true basalts'' 
on textural grounds, the former being macroscopically crystalline while the 
basalts proper exhibit distinct crystals only under the microscope. Even 



BASALTIC GROUP. 



Ill 



an intermediate variety of texture (anctmesite) has been named in which the 
crystallization is recognizable but not conspicuous. I fail to discover suflS- 
cient reasons for a subdivision on textural characters alone, but diflferences 
of habitude which are tolerably constant may, I think, be founded upon 
the mineralogical constitution. The basalts almost invariably contain 
olivin in abundance, while in the dolerites it is far less common though 
sometimes found. The dolerites are as a group more siliceous, though the 
true basalts sometimes have more than the normal percentage of that consti- 
tuent In the true basalts such minerals as augite, magnetite, olivin, leucite, 
and nephelin reach the extremes of their proportions ; in the dolerites the 
same minerals are on the whole less abundant, and the predominance of the 
feldspathic ingredient is more emphatic. It has seemed to me, therefore, 
that the name dolerite should be fully recognized as applicable to a sub- 
group of the basalts, including those coarser-grained varieties in which the 
proportion of silica is notably higher than in the typical basalts, and also 
including the more basic of those rocks which Zirkel has called augitic 
iiTi o.^ SI tes 

gboup IV.— basic eocks— basalts. 



Sub-groupB. 



1. DOLBRITB. 



2. Nephrlin-dolbrite 



GharactoriBtics. 



Distinotly crystalline ; plagioclase feldspar with (nsaally) subordinato 
orthoclase ; augite always conspicuous and in large amount ; much 
magnetite ; a glassy base with pronounced fluidal texture ; formless 
clots of black ferruginous material usually considered as amorphous 
augite. Color, dark gray to nearly black. 



Similar to the above but with nephelin replacing a part of the plagio- 





viasv. 


3. Basalt..... -- 


Fine-grained; feldspar crystals distinguishable only by the micro6COx>e. 
Abundant augite and a glassy base; olivin usually present. Very 
dark colored, nearly black. 




4. Leucite-basalt. ...... .... 


With leucite replacing a part of the feldspar and sometimes the whole 
of it. 




5. Nepiieun-basalt 


With nephelin replacing feldspar. 


6. Taciiylite 


A Yitroous obsidian-like lava, having the basaltic constitution. 







112 



GEOLOG\ OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 



The foregoing scheme of classification is in the following conspectus 
given as a whole. Of the various sub-groups the following have not yet 
been detected among the eruptives of the High Plateaus : nevadite, por- 
phyritic trachyte, augitic propylite, dacite, nephelin-dolerite, leucite-basalt, 
nephelin-basalt. All of the others are well represented. The trachytic 
group, however, very far overshadows all the others in volume and variety. 



1. Nevadite. 



Group L— Aom books. Bhyolites. 

Sub-groups. 
2. Liparite. 



3. Bhyolite (proper). 



Group II.— Sub-aoed bocks. Trachytes. 



Sub-group A. — Sanidin trachytes. 

1. Granitoid trachyte. 

2. Porphyritic trachyte. 

3. Argilloid trachyte. 

4. Hyaline trachyte. 



Sub-group B. — Hornblendio trachytes. 

5. Hornblendic tiachyte. 

6. Angitic trachyte. 

7. Phonolite. 

8. Trachytic obsidian. 



Gboup in. — Sub-basic books. Ain>£siT£S. 



Sub-groups. 



1. HombleDdic propylite. 

2. Augitic propylite (t). 

3. Quartz proi>ylite. 



4. Hornblendic andesite. 

5. Angitic andesite. 

6. Dacite. 



1. Dolerite. 

2. Nephelin dolerite. 

3. Basalt (proper). 



Gboxjp rv.— Basio bocks. Basalts. 

Sub-groups. 

4. Leucite basalt. 
6. Nephelin basalt 
6. Tachylite. 



CHAPTER V. 

SPECULATIONS CONOEBNING THE CAUSES OP VOLCAIHC ACTION. 

The cause of the saccesaion of rocks apparently a single phase of the more general cause of Tolcanism. — 
The probable subterranean locut of volcanic activity. — Notion of an all-liquid interior. — ^Kot asso- 
dated with volcaDicity, and gives no explanation. — Large yesicles not tenable. — Localization of 
volcanic phenomena. — Independence of vents. — Growth and decay of action. — Lavas not primor- 
dial liquids. — Comparison of lavas with metamorphic roclts: First, with reference to chemical 
constitution ; second, mineral components ; third, texture. — ^Possibility that lavas are remelted 
metamorphic rocks. — ^All lavas cannot so originate. — Average composition of eruptive and sedi- 
mentary rocks compared. — ^Agreement in composition between basalts and sedimentary rocks. — 
Mr. King's hypothesis of segregation of crystals. — Primitive magma. — Conjectured source of 
lavas. — Dynamical cause of eruptions. — Cyclical character of volcanism. — Elastic energy of erup- 
tions. — ^Beal nature of the dynamical problem. — ^The origin of the energy. — Increase of local sub- 
terranean temperatures — Relief of pressure. — Access of water. — Linear arrangement. — ^Mechanics 
of eruptions. — ^Penetrating power of lavas. — Expelling power. — Not effervescence, but pressure of 
denser rocks overlying their reservoirs. — A simple application of hydrostatic laws. — ^Explanation 
of the sequence of eruptions. — ^A compound function of density and fusibilty . — Graphical repre- 
sentation. — Discussion of the hypothesis and objections to it. — ^Exceptions and anomalies. 

I have doubted the propriety of embodying in a work devoted to a 
statement of observed facts any views of a speculative nature. But the 
representations of my director and associates have encouraged me to do so, 
inasmuch as the subject is quite germane to the observations, and the ob- 
servations are such as have stimulated great curiosity as to their causes. I 
shall, therefore, present a trial hypothesis, which seems to me to explain the 
sequence in the eruptive rocks now testified to prevail generally through- 
out the Rocky Mountain Region. 

It seems as if the explanation of such an order of facts could only be a 
phase of the more general cause of volcanism itself. But the origin of vol- 
canic energy is one of the blankest mysteries of science, and it is strange 
indeed, that a class of phenomena so long familiar to the human race and 
so zealously studied through all the ages should be so utterly without ex- 
planation. Nothing could be further from my intention than propounding 

8 H P 113 



1 14 GEOLOGY OF TOE niGH PLATEAUS. 

a general theory of volcanism, for neither the facts nor the antecedent gen- 
eraUzations are ready for it Such a theory must be the work of several 
generations to come, and must gradually grow into form and coherence as 
all great theories have done heretofore. Yet there are a few conceptions 
of a high degree of generality which, perhaps, contain the germs of a theory, 
though in their present condition they are vague and formless. They may 
be said to resemble stones in the quarry, rough and unliewn, but which mny 
some time become corner-stones, columns, and entablatures in the future edi- 
fice. I shall propose some of these considerations, not in the form of a con- 
nected theory of volcanism, but as partial constituents of a theory in a 
highly generalized form, taking care to proceed no further than existing 
knowledge may afford at least some justification in proceeding. 

I. The first consideration has reference to the prpbable subterranean 
locus of volcanic activity. In the pi'esent stage of our knowledge it 
seems little credible that the sources of eruptive materials can be located 
at very great depths. It is almost impossible that they could have 
emanated from a general liquid interior. Taking the common notion that 
the earth has formed, by cooling, an external rocky shell, enveloping a 
nucleus whicTi was once an intensely heated liquid, and which may still be 
so, either partially or wholly, the ordinary principles of hydrostatics lead us 
to conclude that all the primordial volcanic energy ought to have been 
exhausted even before a stable crust could have been first formed. We 
are in the habit of regarding the earth as hot within, but gradually dissipat- 
ing its heat by conduction through the crust and by radiation into space, 
and if this conception have any truth, or even verisimilitude, then the erup- 
tion of portions of its primordial liquid masses ought to become more and 
more difficult with the process of ages — ^nay, ought to have ceased at a 
period long anterior to the most ancient of any of which systematic geology 
can take direct cognizance ; for secular cooling can only strengthen the 
rigid envelope and continually abstract from the heated magmas below the 
heat which renders them liquid and eruptible. We cannot in this connec- 
tion ignore the plainest consequences of hydrostatic laws. A solid crust 
covering a fluid nucleus, or a portion of that crust covering a large liquid 
vesicle, could not remain stable for an hour unless the liquid were denser 



LOCAL CHARACTER OF VOLCANIC PHENOMENA. 115 

than the crust. If the liquid were lighter an eruption would be inevitable, 
and once started would continue until the lighter liquid had all found its way 
to the surface. If the liquid were heavier, it could no more be erupted 
than a frozen lake could erupt its waters and pour them over its icy 
covering. 

Lest these considerations should seem too purely speculative to author- 
ize us to conclude that lavas cannot be emanations from a general liquid 
interior or from vesicles holding primordial liquid magma, we may turn to 
other considerations more concrete and bearing more directly upon the 
point Volcanic eruptions are very local phenomena. At any given epoch 
they are confined to a few localities of very small relative extent They 
have no general distribution in thje sense of a widely-extended and con- 
nected system. Each volcano is an independent machine — ^nay, each vent 
and monticule is for the time being engaged in its own peculiar business, 
cooking as it were its special dish, which in due time is to be separately 
served We have instances of vents within hailing distance of each other 
pouring out totally diflferent kinds of lava, neither sympathizing with the 
other in any discernible manner nor influencing the other in any apprecia- 
ble degree. Again, we find vents at high levels and at low levels in close 
proximity with each other, and both delivering the same kind of lava. The 
great craters of the Sandwich Islands are remarkable instances of this kind, 
and indicate that each crater derives its lavas from a distinct reservoir. It 
is inconceivable that a liquid from a common reservoir could rise and out- 
flow from the loftier vent while the lower vent remained open. The same 
phenomenon is exhibited at ^tna and in Iceland and other active volcanoes. 
Then, too, we have the outpouring of widely distinct kinds of lava from 
the same orifice at successive epochs, and as a general rule the grander 
volcanoes present a succession of eruptions marked by different kinds 
of lava; and it should be noted that these varieties of ejecta are not 
intermixed nor formed by the commingling of two or more magmas, nor 
do they present intermediate and transition types, but each coulee has a 
well-defined character, which serves to distinguish it and assign it to its 
proper place in the classification. All tliese subordinate phenomena, and 
many others which it is needless to mention here, are apparently incon- 



116 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

sistent with the assumption that lavas are portions of a primordial, uncon- 
gealed earth-liquid, forming either a general fluid nucleus or extensive iso- 
lated vesicles. They point rather to many small reservoirs, situated at no 
very great depths, each of which contains, not a primordial liquid, but a 
liquid secreted, so to speak, from surrounding rocks, or generated by a sec- 
ondary and progressive fusion of solidified matter occurring in macula within 
the layers of the rocky envelope of the earth. The whole tenor of volcanic 
phenomena bespeaks a process which is extremely local — a process which 
has an inception, a growth, a culmination, a decadence, and a final cessa- 
tion, all within a limited and rather small area and determined by some 
local cause. 

But we find the strongest evidence against the hypothesis that lavas 
are primordial liquids when we come to the study of their physical, chemi- 
cal, and mineralogical characters. We do not, indeed, have any very deci- 
sive grounds for asserting what the primordial liquids might consist of or 
what would be their petrographic characters if any of them were erupted 
to the surface, and so far we might not be justified in saying that the lavas 
from volcanoes are distinct from them. But there are some eruptive masses 
which are very plainly not primordial. For instance, a decidedly conspicu- 
ous mass of these products are not fused rocks, but hot mud holding large 
quantities of rocky fi*agments, which have unmistakably formed the clastic 
components of strata. The volcanoes of Central America and the Andes 
and of the Batavian Islands have within the last century disgorged astound- 
ing masses of hot mud — material which has not been fused at all, but 
rendered plastic and capable of flow by the combined action of heat and 
watery solution. It cannot be admitted that such erupta can have come 
from primordial materials. And the indications are no less distinct that the 
greater part of the true lavas have originated from other sources. 

The careful and systematic study of the petrographic characters of all 
rocks, whether sedimentary, metamorphic, or eruptive, has enabled us to 
compare them intelligently, and to form some conclusions as to the homolo- 
gies on the one hand and the distinctions on the other which exist between 
them. The great generaHzation that the foliated crystalHne rocks are 
altered sediments has long since passed into geological science as a fully 



COMPARISON OF ERUPTIVE WITH METAMORPHIC ROCKS. 117 

accepted theory. But the relations between the metamorphic and eiuptive 
rocks constitute a pending question. 

It will be unnecessary here to enter very minutely into a discussion 
of these relations, and, indeed, a full discussion would require a very long 
and copious review of the existing state of lithological science. It will be 
sufficient to state in a summary manner those points of comparison which 
immediately concern the subject in hand. The conclusion to wliich this 
companson tends is that a large proportion of the igneous rocks have the 
petrographic characters which we ought to expect would result from the 
fusion of certain groups of metamorphic stratified rocts. There are three 
points of view from which the comparison may be made ; these are with 
reference, first, to chemical constitution ; second, to mineral components ; 
third, to mechanical texture. 

Ist. Metamorphic and igneous rocks compared with respect to chemical 
constitution. — The eruptive rocks are highly complex compounds, and always 
contain certain constituents which may be called essential constituents. 
These are silica, alumina, lime, soda, potash, and magnesia — six in number. 
Iron in the form of some oxide is almost always present, but since it is 
occasionally absent, or found in exceedingly small quantity, it cannot be 
regarded as a universal and essential constituent. Silica is always the 
dominant ingredient, and though the quantity of it varies greatly, yet the 
variation is within tolerably definite limits, almost never exceeding 80 per 
cent, and almost never falHng below 45 per cent. The remaining five 
constituents likewise vary, but always within tolerably narrow limits. 
Thus alumina rarely falls below 13 per cent and rarely exceeds 26 per 
cent Lime rarely exceeds 14 per cent, magnesia 10 per cent, soda 9 per 
cent., and potash 8 per cent. The variations in the relative proportions of 
these constituents is sufficiently wide to give well-marked specific or even 
generic diflferences in the kinds of volcanic products ; but the variations 
are so limited and the relative proportions subject to such moderate depart- 
ures from normal ratios, that the whole category of eruptive rocks possess 
at least ordinal if not family likenesses. Turning now to the metamorphics 
we find a far wider range of chemical constitution. Thus we have quartzites 
whicli are almost pure silica ; we have crystalline limestones and dolomites 



118 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

which are nearly pure calcic and magnesian carbonates; we have clay- 
slates, serpentines, chloritic, and mica schists, which have a composition 
not at all similar to that of eruptive rocks. But while a large proportion 
of the metamorphic rocks have no chemical correspondence to the eruptive 
rocks, there is another large proportion of them in which the constituents 
correspond almost exactly to those of the eruptives. These are the gneisses, 
the hornblendic and the augitic schists. The greater part of the time 
gneissic rocks yield by analysis practically the same results as granite, 
syenite, rhyolite, and acid trachyte. The hornblendic schists have about 
the same constituents as the diorites, propylites, and hornblendic trachytes, 
while the more basic hornblendic (sometimes augitic) schists hold the same 
relation to diabase, dolerite, and augitic andesite Thus, then, we find that 
the eruptive masses have their representatives (chemically considered) 
among certain groups of metamorphic rocks. 

2d. Metamorphic and igneous rocks compared tvUh respect to mhieral com- 
ponents. — Chemical identity or similarity implies no necessary and exact 
correspondence in mineral constituents, for the minerals which may be 
formed in a rockmass under varying conditions of temperature and environ- 
ment cannot be determined solely by the chemical composition of the 
magma. The crystals of the metamorphic rocks are formed according to 
the commonly accepted theory of metamorphism, at rather low or very 
moderate temperatures, while the crystals of igneous rocks are in part at 
least, and perhaps wholly, generated at high temperatures. Hence it is 
not surprising that metamorphic rocks should contain some crystalline 
forms which are seldom or never found in the igneous except as alteration 
products, or should contain some forms in abundance which the latter con- 
tain very sparingly. There are, however, some minerals which may be 
formed indifferently at high or low temperatures, and the most important of 
these are undoubtedly feldspar and hornblende. Those which form with 
great facility at low temperatures are certain forms of mica, quartz, chlorite, 
and the zeolites, and those which seem to be associated with higher tem- 
peratures are leucite, nephelin, olivin, and less decidedly augite. By a 
comparison of the two classes of rocks, therefore, we find an agreement in 
respect to those minerals which are indifferent to variations of conditions; 



C0MPAK180N OF ERUPTIVE WITH IVIET AMORPHIC ROOKS. 119 

and disagreement only in those minerals which are decidedly dependent 
upon variations of condition. The metamorphics abound in low tempera- 
ture minerals, the eruptives in high temperature minerals. Both classes 
contain abundant feldspar, mica, and hornblende, which seem to be but little 
affected by temperature, so far as concerns the facility with which they are 
formed. 

3.d. Metamorphic and igneous rocks compared with respect to mechanical 
texture, — In the modes of aggregation of the rock-forming materials, the 
two classes of rocks diflfer radically. Nor could we anticipate any agree- 
ment here. The metamorphics have not been melted down, but retain with 
greater or less distinctness their original foliation. The changes have been 
purely molecular. Where the metamorphism is complete the rock is ordi- 
narily made up of purely crystalline matter, each crystal being a definite 
mineral species, with definite optical and crystallographic properties pecu- 
liar to its kind, the whole interlocked into a mosaic of great beauty, which 
is revealed to the eye by a polished surface, or still more clearly by a thin 
section under the microscope. But the volcanic rocks have a totally difier- 
ent texture, of which the distinguishing characteristic is the presence of a 
non-crystalline or amorphous base in which crystals are disseminated. 
Sometimes the crystals are wholly absent, and the amorphous baseconsti- 
tutes the entire rock, as in pitchstone and obsidian. The distinction, then, 
between the texture of a thoroughly metamorphic rock and an extravasated 
mass is that the former is wholly crystalline, while the latter is either par- 
tially or wholly amorphous. And yet we have rocks which present every 
shade of transition between the two textures. The gneisses, for instance, 
lose their foliation and become indistinguishable from granites. The 
granites present varieties which have larger and more perfect crystals 
imbedded in a maze of smaller ones. We may select a series in which, the 
mosaic of surrounding crystals becomes finer and finer and the» inclosed 
crystals more perfect and contrasted, and such a group is called porphy- 
ritic granite or granite porphyry. Following this chain of varieties, the 
crystalline base gradually passes into one in which the utmost power of the 
microscope fails to detect any individualized crystals, but merely indicates 
by indirection that the base has been in some way influenced by the crys- 



120 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

tallogenic force, for it continues to polarize light. This is the case with 
typical porphyries and with many trachytes and rhyolites. In the extreme 
varieties all traces of crystalline arrangement in the base have disappeared, 
and the inclosing matter is very similar to common glass, while the inclosed 
crystals are sharply defined within it. 

But while there is a sufficiently close agreement between the eruptive 
rocks on tlie one hand and some of the metamorphics on the other, there are 
many metamorphics which have very little in common with the eruptives. 
Such rocks as quartzite, limestone, dolomite, and argillite are never found in 
the eruptive condition. Here it is necessary to anticipate, in part, the course 
of the argument. The hypothesis to be invoked will consist in the assump- 
tion that the proximate cause of eruptions is a local increment of subter- 
ranean temperature, whereby segregated masses of rocks, formerly solid, 
are liquefied. Since a state of fusion is necessary to an eruption, we may 
throw out of consideration all those materials which are so refractory that 
they cannot be liquefied by temperatures within the highest range of vol- 
canic heat. But the most refractory metamorphic or sedimentary strata 
are the very ones which have no correlatives among the eruptives ; and, 
conversely, those strata which are most fusible have rocks of correlative 
constitution among the eruptives. Hence we may in part clear the way 
for the proposition that quartzites, limestones, &c., are never erupted, be- 
cause they are infusible at the highest volcanic temperature. We have not, 
indeed, the means of directly measuring volcanic heat, but we may infer 
that it is never in excess of that required to melt the most refractory rhyo- 
lites, since these lavas bear no evidence of being heated beyond a tempera- 
ture just sufficient to liquefy them. Rhyolites and trachytes bear strong 
internal and external evidence that at the time of eruption they were just 
fused and no more, while basalts often betray evidence of superfusion. 
Thus, in the comparison of the two classes of rocks, we may discard from 
consideration those of simpler constitution, like quartzites, dolomites, argil- 
lites, limestones, &c., and confine our discussion to those more complex, 
stratified masses which alone are fusible and, therefore, alone eruptible. 

Our comparison of the metamorphic and igneous rocks, therefore, indi- 
cates in many ways and argues strongly for a common parentage. Tlie 



NOT ALL LAVAS ARE PRODUCT OF REFUSION. 121 

approximate identity of chemical constitution is what we should anticipate 
on that assumption. We should expect to find some minerals common to 
both classes of rocks, while other minerals are found in one class alone. 
We should look for nothing but contrast in the respective mechanical tex- 
tures ; and we find the anticipated agreements and contrasts. 

But there is an important consideration which will not permit us to 
conclude that all eruptive rocks are derived from the fusion of metamor- 
phics; for whence came the materials of the metamorphic rocks them- 
selves I Accepted theories declare that their ultimate origin was in the 
primordial materials of the earth-mass, which were broken up, decom- 
posed, and the several components sorted out and arranged in the form of 
sediments ; and these sedimentary formations gradually accumulated until 
they completely buried the primordial mass, so that no portion of it is 
anywhere exposed, so far as has yet been discovered. But when the prim- 
itive mass was finally buried, from what sources could the materials have 
been derived which could add fresh layers to the covering ? To this there 
is but one possible answer. After the greater portion of the original sur- 
face had been covered, additional sediments must have been derived from 
the extravasation of primordial matter. This conclusion seems to be logi- 
cally perfect In the past epochs these primitive materials must have been 
continually extravasated, though, as the body of sedimentary formations 
increased, it is possible that they too began to be erupted by secondary 
fusion, and with the lapse of time formed an increasing proportion of the 
total extravasation, while the proportion of primitive matter as gradually 
diminished. Now, have we any reason for supposing that the evolution of 
the earth has so far advanced that primitive matter has ceased to erupt, and 
that modern outbreaks consist wholly of materials which had once before 
in the world's history been poured out, broken up, decomposed, stratified, 
metamorphosed, and again erupted I If so, then the body of stratified rocks 
is no longer increasing, but the revolutions of time are simply working 
over the stratified rocks again and again. But this is improbable in a high 
degree. There is no warrant whatever for such a belief, and therefore no 
justification for the inference that all eruptive rocks are derived from the 
secondary fusion of the metamorphics. But if it is probable that some of 



122 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

the lavas have emanated from primordial rocks, wliat are they I There is 
one great group of lavas which quickly furnish ground for suspicion. 

Recurring hero to the generalization that the materials composing the 
stratified rocks have been ultimately derived from primordial matter, it is 
but an identical proposition to say that the chemical constitution of that 
primordial matter ought inferentially to be such as would yield the mate- 
rials of the sedimentary rocks. It ought to possess the same constituents, 
and ought also to contain them in substantially the same proportions as the 
average constitution of the stratified rocks taken as a whole category. In 
a word, it should be what some biologists might call a synthetic or compre- 
hensive type of rock, from which the stratified materials might be dififer- 
entiated by the known processes of sub-aerial decomposition and selection. 
Secondly, it ought not to conform in composition to any one variety of 
stratified rock, unless, perchance, in some rare exceptional cases. Thirdly, 
it ought to bo a very abundant and voluminous rock, erupted at almost any 
geological age or period, from the present as far back into the past as we 
are able to discriminate the age of an eruption. Among the several groups 
or sub-groups of volcanic rocks do we find any one of them answering to 
this ideal type ? This question does not admit of a very brief and decisive 
answer. We have no very accurate knowledge of the mean constitution 
of the stratified rocks. There is a statement, handed down, I believe, from 
Bischof, and passing current in the text-books, that silica constitutes very 
nearly 50 per cent, of the mass of all known rocks, and the estimate seems 
to be a very fair one. Its probable error is certainly small if the impres- 
sions of the geologists who have given much attention to lithology are to 
be trusted. This percentage of silica is substantially the same as that 
found in the basalts, and if there be a synthetic type of eruptive rocks 
this fact fastens suspicion at once upon the basaltic group. Probably no 
liihologist will hesitate to say that next to silica the most abundant con- 
stituent of the stratified rocks is alumina ; but the exact proportions we do 
not know. Alumina is, however, known to be the second in quantity in 
the constitution of average basalt. But the third constituent of basalt in 
respect to quantity is iron oxide ; in the foliated rocks it is unquestionably 
lime. Hero is a discrepancy, and a well-marked one, which we cannot 



SYNTHETIC CHARACTER OP BASALT. J 23 

explain away without resorting to doubtful postulates and conjectures. 
Iron oxide forms at least 10 to 12 per cent, of normal basalt, and, while it 
is found abundantly in almost all foliated rocks, it cannot be admitted that 
it forms so large a percentage of their average constitution. With regard 
to lime, however, which forms about 8 or 9 per cent, of the basalts, the 
percentage is apparently in harmony with what we know of the constitu- 
tion of the foliated rocks. With regard to the remaining important com- 
ponents — ^magnesia, soda, and potash — the same relative correspondence is 
found ; but whether the correspondence be exact or not, we have not the 
data for determining. 

Relative order of abundance of the oxides constituting basalts and the foliated 

rocks. 

Basalts. Foliated rocks. 



Silica. Silica. 

Alumina. Alumina. 

Iron oxide. Lime. 

Limo. Magnesia. 

Magnesia. Iron oxide 

Soda. Soda. 

Potash. Potash. 



.! 



>or 



C Silica. 
Alumina. 
Lime. 
Iron oxide. 
Magnesia. 
Soda. 
Potash. 



With the single exception of iron oxide, therefore, the basalts, as 
nearly as we have the means of ascertaining, have a constitution repre- 
senting approximately the average composition and proportions of the 
foliated rocks. There is no other known volcanic rock which approaches 
that relation so nearly; all others contain too much silica and alkali and 
too little lime. But so long as the iron oxide remains an outstanding 
anomaly we cannot be justified in pronouncing the basalts to be the exact 
synthetic type. It remains to be added that the basalts alone fail to show 
that agreement in chemical constitution with any known and abundant 
metamorphic rock which we find in all other volcanic groups In truth, its 
whole range of characters is indicative of an origin among magmas which 
have never passed through the reactions and mechanical processes which 
prepared and arranged the materials of the sedimentary strata. Lastly, 
the basalts are among the most abundant of eruptive rocks, and if we 
reckon with them the more ancient dolerites or diab<ases, they have always 
been abundant in all ages as far back its our knowledge extends. 



124 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

But not only should we infer that the primordial masses of the earth 
(or "primitive crust") were basic like the basalts or dolerites, but that 
they were very nearly homogeneous. If we are at liberty to speculate at 
all upon the physical condition of an all-liquid planet, its molten surface 
exposed to radiation and to the action of its immense atmosphere, we 
should be led to infer that it would be agitated by disturbances similar 
in nature, though inferior in magnitude, to those aflfecting the sun, thus 
producing a thorough and homogeneous mixture of the compounds of 
silica with alumina, the earths, and alkalies. This admixture once formed 
would, so far as we can now see, remg^in unaltered until it cooled suffi- 
ciently for the reactions of the atmosphere. We know of no natural 
processes capable of separating the more acid parts of such a magma 
except the chemistry of the atmosphere acting at temperatures far below 
the melting-points of the silicates. We have the results of that process in 
the quartzites, granites, gneisses, and syenites among the siliceous rocks; 
and the limestones and dolomites among the basic rocks ; with argillaceous 
rocks as the residuum of the decomposition. Yet if these rocks could be 
remelted together they would form one homogeneous magma. Every iron- 
smelting furnace is an experimental demonstration of the tendency of silica 
to take up and hold at fusion-temperature alumina, lime, magnesia, potash, 
and soda in proportions exceeding those which occur in nature. No facts 
are known to me which justify the conclusion that segregation into two 
magmas could occur in such a state of fusion. Nor would it be of any 
service in this connection to establish the possibility of such a segregation.* 
It is suggested by Mr. King that crystals might form in the liquid and sink 
by reason of their superior specific gravity. Although I hold it to be 
extremely doubtful whether any crystals are formed while the rocks ai'e 
melted, and very probable that the greater part of them are formed during the 
viscous stage of cooling (especially the hornblendes and pyroxenes), there 
is one consideration which would prevent us from using this view to predi- 
cate a theory of a single magma separating into two or more of very differ- 
ent degrees of acidity. The low percentage of silica in basalt is due not 

* Iron, howover, might separate from such a compound, either as a regulus or as magnetic oxide, 
if the conditions were favorable and the oxide in excess. 



GENERAL RESULTS OF COMPARISON. 125 

only to the low percentage in the feldspar and augite, but also to an equally 
low percentage in the base. The high percentage in rhyolite and trachyte 
is due not only to the feldspar, but still more to the even higher percentage 
of silica in the base. If there has been segregation, it must, therefore, have 
aflfected not only the crystals, but the base even more than the crystals. 
Such a separation, therefore, does not seem explicable by supposing a pre- 
cipitation of crystals. 

Gathering together now the threads of this comparison, we are led to 
the conclusion that the constitution of the eruptive rocks forbids the belief 
that the acid varieties, or even the intermediate varieties, can be primordial 
masses from vesicles which separated in a liquid condition from the original 
earthmass and remained liquid up jto the time of their eruption. Chemical 
considerations of a cogent character lead up to the inference that primordial 
magma ought to possess a constitution similar to rocks of the basaltic group, 
though perhaps somewhat less ferruginous (?), and that it should be nearly 
homogeneous. And in general our inference from the nature and constitution 
of the volcanic rocks, from their great variety, from the localization of 
eruptive phenomena, from the intermittent character of volcanic action, 
from the independence of the several vents, is that the lavas do not emanate 
from an earth-nucleus wholly liquid, nor from great subterranean reservoirs 
still left in a liquid condition '^from the foundations of the world," but from 
the secondary fusion of rocks, a part of which may have formed the primi- 
tive crust, while the remaining part consisted of deeply-buried and meta- 
morphosed sedimentary strata. No doubt some cautious philosophers may 
regard this inference as specifying a little too minutely the locus of volcanic 
activity — more minutely than a rigorous deduction from known facts will 
permit us to regard as* positively proven. But at all events there is one 
proposition which may be laid down with no small degree of confidence, 
and it is this: We must at least admit that fcie source of lavas is among segre- 
gated masses of heterogeneotis materials. This an-angement would be well 
satisfied by a succession of metamoi'phic strata resting upon a supposed 
primitive crust of magma having a constitution approximating that of the 
basaltic group of rocks. 

II. The second general consideration has reference to the dynamical 



126 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

cause of volcanic eruptions, or the force which has brought them to the 
surface. 

Not only are volcanic phenomena very local in respect to area, but the 
period of activity in any given spot is very limited in respect to duration. 
No region has always been eruptive, and we may be reasonably confident 
that none will continue to be eruptive indefinitely. Volcanicity has its 
inception, passes through its cycle, and lapses into final repose. Wo do, 
indeed, find localities which have twice been the scene of such devastations 
during the entire period of which systematic geology takes cognizance, just 
as battles have more than once been fought on the same plain with cen- 
turies between; but the intervals separating such visitations are so vast 
when measured even by the geological standard of time, that there is no 
obvious relation between them. It is not strange that a process which 
shifts its arena throughout the ages should occasionally revisit the scenes of 
former operations. This migratory character suggests to us that the normal 
condition of the nether regions is not one of um'est, but rather of quietude. 
What is the disturbing element which invades their secular calm, convulses 
them vrith earthquakes and explosions, and causes them to pour forth their 
fiery humors? With this problem geologists and physicists have wrestled 
in vain. Here speculation seems to be peculiarly unfruitful. To-day it 
looks promising; to-morrow turns it into ridicule. We do not know the 
determining cause of volcanic eruptions. Yet there are a few facts of a 
high degree of generality, around which we linger with inquiring, anxious 
minds, hopefully promising ourselves that light will shine out of them at 
some future day, and to these it may be proper to briefly advert. 

We may conti'ast tJie explosive condition of volcanic products during 
an eruptive cycle with their quiet and inert condition before the cycle 
began. These same materials lay quietly in the earth for long periods, 
some of them, perhaps, since that imagined primordial epoch when a crust 
began to form. Some change has come over them, converting them into 
energetic explosive mixtures. The problem is to find an adequate cause 
for such a change and the nature of its operation. This statement of the 
conditions of the problem is in strong contrast with the view which regards 
lavas as primordial liquids charged with volcanic energy waiting for a con- 



THE PR'JXIMATE CAUSE OP ERUPTIONS. 127 

venient season to explode. It presents the ease as a problem of energy- 
acquired by some secondary forces, of which we are at present ignorant. 

There is one general assumption which satisfies all the main requisites 
of volcanism. It is this : Volcanic phenomena are brought about by a local 
increase of temperature within certain subterranean horizons. This, indeed, is 
not a solution of the problem, for it throws us back instantly upon the ulte- 
rior question, What has caused the increase of temperature I All my efforts 
to find an answer to this ulterior question have utterly failed. But the 
proximate idea is suggested on every hand, and its reality takes deeper root 
in conviction the more it is contemplated. Around it the broader facts take 
form and coherence. It explains their secondary character as contradis- 
tinguished from the primordial. It explains the cyclical phases of volcan- 
ism; their beginning in a recent epoch of the world's secular history; their 
growth, decay, and extinction. It explains their intermittent character — 
why eruptions are repetitive instead of continuous. It explains the explo- 
sive and energetic character of the phenomena ; and, lastly, it explains the 
lithological order of the eruptions, as will presently be shown. 

But there is another and alternative assumption. We may suppose 
the deeply-seated rocks in regions of high temperature to undergo changes, 
one result of which is to lower their melting-points. This is not so strange 
as it might at first seem, for its accomplishment is conceivably within 
known physical laws, A relief of pressure is one conceivable mode. 
Probably another would be the absorption of water under great pressure 
and at high temperature. It can hardly be doubted that a rock charged 
with water and so confined that the water cannot readil3f^ escape is more 
fusible than the same rock in an anhydrous condition. The fact that 
lavas bring to the surface considerable quantities of water may be held to 
be evidence that water does find access to them from above. The only 
alternative view is that water formed a part of their original constitution. 
This is undoubtedly the case on the view that lavas are remelted metamor- 
phic rocks ; for the metamorphics all contain water, partly mechanically 
held and partly as water of combination in hydrous minerals. The amount 
of contained water is variable, but ordinarily more than one per cent, and 
sometimes much more This quantity, however, probably falls far below 



128 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

the volume of steam ordinarily given off by volcanoes. Unless the esti- 
mates of observers are altogether deceptive, the quantity of water blown out 
of volcanic vents must bear a far greater ratio to their lavas than one or two 
per cent, and we seem to be compelled to assume that the lavas derive their 
water from extraneous sources, and the penetration of surface water to 
regions of volcanic energy is by far the easiest explanation. The penetra- 
tion of water, then, is a consideration of importance, but the precise nature 
of its effects we have no means of determining, and any attempt to follow 
them would lead us into discussions too purely speculative to be of value. 
The relief of pressure is another possible mode of liquefying rock. It 
is postulated by Mr. Clarence King iis a basis of his theory of volcanic 
eruptions. This relief is effected through the removal of superincumbent 
strata by the process of denudation. Such removals have taken place upon 
a vast scale, and though geologists have possibly been suspected by other 
scientists of helping themselves very liberally to a supply of cause and 
effect of this kind, yet the surveys of our western domain have proven that 
they have been very modest and abstemious. But that such a process 
could have played a very important, much less a fundamental, part in caus- 
ing volcanic eruptions seems to be negatived by facts. We do not find that 
eruptions always occur in localities which have suffered great denudation. 
We do not find even that they occur in such localities predominantly. Most 
of the existing volcanoes and most of those which have recently become 
extinct are sitiiated in regions which have suffered very little denudation in 
recent geological periods, and many of them in regions of recent deposi- 
tion, -^tna is built upon a platform of Post-Tertiary beds and Vesuvius 
stands upon late formations. The same is true, according to Dr. Junghuhn, 
of the volcanoes of Java, and this fact is repeated in the great volcanoes of 
the Cape de Verde and Canary Islands. The High Plateaus of Utali, 
which have been the theater of volcanic activity since the Middle Eocene, 
are localities of minimum erosion, ytlnle the denudation of the non- volcanic 
regions around them has been stupendous. It caiX hardly be supposed that 
the volcanoes of the Pacific have broken forth fi*om denuded localities, 
unless the denudation took place at a considerable period of past time. 
But whatever may be the effects of the relief of pressure, and how- 



THE MECHANICAL ASPECT OF ERUPTIONS. 129 

ever essential the presence of water may be to the total process of erup- 
tivity, something more is obviously needed, and this additional want is 
apparently well satisfied by a local rise of temperature in the rocks to be 
erupted. For it cannot be insisted upon too strenuously that from a 
dynamical standpoint the problem to be explained is the passage of lava- 
forming materials from a dormant to an energetic condition. And when 
we resolve this very general statement into a more special and definite one, 
we find that it means the passage of solid materials into the liquid condi- 
tion and (as will be indicated further on) a decrease of density. Whatever 
may be the ulterior cause of volcanicity, a rise of temperature in the 
erupting masses seems to be an indispensable condition, and in assuming 
it we are apparently doing nothing more than taking the most obvious facts 
and giving them the plainest and simplest interpretation. 

III. The third general consideration has reference to the mechanics 
of eruptions. The fact that lavas are generated at the depth of several 
miles below the surface being given, how do they reach the surface ? A 
study of the geological relations of eruptive masses furnishes a decisive 
answer to this question. The power of lava to penetrate and burrow into 
solid rock would never have been credited or even suspected had we not 
the proof of it in the rock exposures. The opening of fissures and the 
rise of lava into the gaps is one of the commonest and most intelligible 
methods. All volcanic areas are traversed by dikes, and near the centers 
of eruption they are exceedingly numerous. But what is most suggestive 
is the fact that many lavas, after rising part-way to the surface, suddenly 
tear open the strata and diffuse themselves between the beds, forming sub- 
terranean lakes at levels far above their original source. These intrusive 
lavas are exceedingly common, so much so, that they appear to have con- 
stituted in all ages a notable proportion of volcanic movements. 

But when a vent is established tlwough which lavas can find escape, 

we have still to consider the propelling force which urges them onwards or 

upwards. A very common view, long entertained by many geologists, is 

that the escape of lavas is analogous to what takes place when a bottle of 

warm champagne is suddenly uncorked. So comprehensible and plausible 

is this explanation that its wide acceptance is not surprising. In some 
9 H p 



130 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

cases, for want of ability to show the contrary, it may be accounted a suf- 
ficient explanation, and in general it cannot be questioned, that in most 
volcanoes this identical action plays a more or less important part. Scoria, 
pumice, and volcanic dust have unquestionably this origin; but the whole of 
the extravasation is not so accomplished. The outpour of lava is a very 
different matter. It is comparatively calm'and quiet in its flow, like water 
welling forth from a spring; sometimes boiling, bubbling, and spurting a 
little, but never boisterous or obstreperous. It continues its flow for days 
and sometimes weeks, but at length ceases and comes to rest. 

A careful examination of the details of volcanic eruptions leaves the 
impression that they are pressed up by the weight of rocks which overlie 
their reservoirs, and that their extravasation is merely a hydrostatic prob- 
lem of the simplest order. The conception of a liquid inclosed in a cavity 
beneath the surface and opening to the outer air through a stand-pipe 
requires some discussion when we come to apply it to volcanic eruptiontj. 
Our conceptions of the constrained motion of liquids are derived from 
experiments upon small quantities of them in small vessels ; but when wo 
come to such enormous volumes as are disgorged by volcanoes, a consider- 
ation arising from mere magnitude enters into the scheme — a consideration 
which has no bearing in relation to small volumes. This is the strength 
of the receptacle. It is a well-known principle in mechanics that the 
relative strength of a body is inversely proportional to its size. Thus, 
where we have similar bodies subject to forces which are proportional to 
their own masses, the resistance to detrusion is proportional only to the 
square of their linear dimensions. It is this relation which limits the span 
of an arch or the length of a truss. Now, if we could conceive the contents 
of one of these subterranean lava reservoirs to be suddenly annihilated, 
so great must be their dimensions that the rocks above would instantly 
sink into the cavity, just as the rocks above a coal-mine do on small provo- 
cation. A small cavity, on the other hand, might persist. Now, the point 
I wish to illustrate is that the strength of the retaining-walls of a lava 
reservoir are relatively so weak, in consequence of the large dimensions, 
that their effect is very nearly the same as it would be if the lava were 
overlaid by another liquid with which it could not commingle. It is the 



THE EXPLANATION OF THE SEQUENCE. 131 

gross weight of this overlying cover of solid rocks, I conceive, which 
presses the lava upward through any passage where it can find vent. 

It will follow, then, as a corollary, that the lava will rise to the sur- 
face or not according to its density. If it be lighter than the mean density 
of the rock above its reservoir, it will reach the surface and nothing can 
keep it in ; if it be heavier than the overlying rock, it will never reach the 
surface. 

IV. We come now to the explanation of the sequence of volcanic 
rocks. In order that any eruption of lava may take place two preliminary 
conditions are requisite: First The rocks must be fused. Second. The 
density of the lavas must be less than that of the overlying rocks. Having 
shown from independent considerations that the proximate cause of vol- 
canic activity may be a local rise of temperature in the deeply-seated rocks, 
it only remains to follow the obvious phases of the process. We know 
that the volcanic rocks vary within tolerably ample limits as to their chem- 
ical constitution, and that associated with these chemical differences are 
notable differences of physical properties. Some are more fusible than 
others and some are heavier than others. We also presume that prior to 
eruption these different rocks were within the earth separated as if in strata 
or in macuUe. Imagining, then, a rise of temperature in a nether region 
where the constitution of the magma is variable — here very siliceous, there 
very basic, with many intermediate varieties, all arranged in any arbitrary 
manner and in each other's neighborhood — it is quite certain that not all of 
these magmas would be both ftised and suflSciently expanded by heat to be 
ready for eruption at the same time. The more refractory rocks might not 
be melted or the heavier ones might not be suflSciently expanded. There 
would, therefore, be some selection as to the order in which they would 
become eruptible. But upon what principle would the selection be made I 
The acid rocks are known to have the highest melting temperature, but the 
basic rocks in the cold state have the highest specific gravity. It is just 
possible that the acid rocks may be light enough to erupt at an early stage 
of the process but are not yet melted, and that the basic rocks may be 
melted but must await a further expansion in order to reach the surface. 
The first selection would then fall upon some intermediate rock. Let us 



132 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

see if there be anything in the physical properties of the rocks to justify 
such a hypothesis. We can represent this best by a graphic expression of 
their physical properties regarded as functions of temperature and acidity. 

Let the axis of abscissas, Plate 4, represent the proportions of silica 
characteristic of the various groups of volcanic rocks, the figures along that 
axis representing percentages from 40 to 80. Let the ordinate? represent, 
first, the density of the rocks in the cold state. Considering now any one 
variety of rock, take the point on the axis of abscissas corresponding to its 
percentage of silica, and erect an ordinate proportional to its density. For 
all the varieties of rocks construct ordinates in the same manner and join 
their upper extremities. On the assumption that the density is rigorously 
correlated to the percentage of silica, a ciu've would be constructed repre- 
senting the density as a definite function of the silica. This assumption, 
however, is not strictly true, being subject, indeed, to notable variations ; 
yet in a generial way it is more or less an approximation to the truth. The 
anomalies will be adverted to in the sequel. 

It is known that the rocks of the basic and sub-basic groups are when 
cold considerably more dense than the average of the foliated rocks, and 
the same is true of some of the sub-acid rocks, and according to the doc- 
trine heretofore laid down such rocks could not be erupted at all were it 
not for the fact that when intensely heated and liquefied, their density is 
notably diminished and reduced below that of the strata which overlie 
them. Hence the more basic the rock, the more it must be heated to 
reach an eruptible density. The ordinates, then, may be used to represent 
the relative increase of temperature which must supervene in order to ren- 
der the rocks light enough to reach the surface, and as these increments of 
temperature are directly proportional to the* density of the rock, the same 
curve may (in the absence of fundamental constants) be used to express 
the increments of temperature required by the various rocks to reach an 
eruptive density. 

Again, let the ordinates represent the relative melting temperatures of 
the various sub-groups, the assumption still being that the fusibility is a 
definite function of the proportion of silica. This assumption is probably 
subject to still wider variations than that which postulates a dependence of 







^ 



THE EXPLANATION OF TUE SEQUENCE. 133 

density upon silica, but it is still known that there exists an approximation 
to such a dependence. This will also be subsequently alluded to. A curve 
may be constructed, as before, representing this dependence, which may be 
called the curve of fusion. Since both density and fusion have approxi- 
mate relations to the quantity of silica present (and for present purposes 
such relations are assumed to be exact), they are functions of each other. 
We know that with increasing percentages of silica the density diminishes, 
while the melting temperature increases, and hence the two curves if in- 
definitely prolonged will somewhere intersect. It remains to determine, 
if possible, the point of intersection. Let us for the present arbitrarily 
assume that the point of intersection is such that both curves have a com- 
mon ordinate erected from a point on the axis of abscissas corresponding to 
GO per cent, of silica, which is very nearly the normal percentage of hom- 
blendic propylite. I shall hereafter adduce reasons for believing that this 
arbitrary assumption is very nearly or quite true. 

We have now {ex hypothese) two curves, one representing the tempera- 
ture required to render the rocks light enough to rise hydrostatically to 
the surface, the other representing the temperature required to fuse them. 
Conceiving, then, a general rise of temperature to occur among subterra- 
nean groups of rocks, no eruption could take place at any temperature less 
than that represented by the ordinate drawn at 60. For the basic rocks 
would still be too dense, while the acid rocks would be unmelted. But 
when that temperature is reached, the propylite would be in an eruptible 
condition. By a further increase of temperature hornblendic andesite and 
trachyte would become eruptible, the former having passed the fusion point 
and the latter having passed the density point of eraption. And in gen- 
eral as the temperature increases the line of eruptive temperature cuts the 
two curves at points further and further from the lowest point of eruptivity, 
and these points correspond to rocks which become more and more diverg- 
ent in their degrees of acidity ; one set progressing to the acid extreme, the 
other to the basic extreme. If now our fundamental assumptions are true, 
or in essential respects conform approximately to the truth, then the se- 
quence of eruptions >yhich those assumed conditions would give rise to con- 
fonus to the sequence which we find in nature. Let us, then, examine these 



1 34 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

assumptions, with a view to ascertaining, as well as we are able, how 
nearly they approach the truth. 

1st It is assumed that the density is some approximately definite func- 
tion of the percentage of silica. There are indeed considerable variations 
from exactness in this respect, and we may select two or more species of 
rock having the same silica contents, but which difier conspicuously in 
density. Yet nothing is more certain than the fact that as a general rule 
the assumption is very near the truth. This is so well known that further 
discussion is probably unnecessary. 

2d. It is assumed that melting temperatures also bear an approximately 
definite ratio to the silica. Here the variations from exactness are no 
doubt somewhat greater than in the case of density. Still, we know that 
on the whole the law strongly prevails, and that the melting temperature 
diminishes with the acidity of the rock.* The blast-furnace slags present 
often very close approximations to many of the volcanic rocks, and 'these 
approximations are not infrequently so close as to be fairly comparabje. 
In such cases it is familiar to those who are acquainted with the practical 
working of furnaces that the more basic slags are much more easily fused 
than the more acid ones. The absolute melting temperatures, however, 
are not accurately known. 

3d. The assumption that the two curves (density and fusion) will ordi- 
narily cut each other at the ordinate of 60 per cent, of silica is one which 
presents greater difficulty. Translating graphical terms into concrete lan- 
guage, the meaning of it is this : It assumes that rocks having a normal 
percentage of about 60 per cent, of silica, and corresponding lithologically 
to the hornblendic propylites are fused and rendered light enough to 
erupt at one and the same temperature ; while rocks more basic are fused 
at a lower temperature, but require a higher one to be sufficiently ex- 
panded ; and rocks more acid are sufficiently expanded at a lower tem- 
perature, but require a higher one to fuse them. Is there any independent 
evidence of the verity of this assumption ? The point is a very important 
one; indeed, vital. For if the intersection of the two curves be elsewhere, 

* Sco observations of Biscliof on fusioif of igneous rock, D'Axchiac, vol. iii, and results of Dovillo 
and Dolesso, BuL Soc. Geol. France, 2d ser. iv. D. Forbes Chem. News, xviii. 



THE EXPLAKATION OF THE SEQUENCE. 



135 



the theory is fatally impaired. In the absence of evidence fixing the inter- 
section here, we might have arbitrarily taken it to be at some other point — 
at a point, too, outside of the scale of acidity within which volcanic rocks 
are always confined, as in Figs. 1 and 2. In either of these cases tlie 

FlO. 1. FlO. 2 



290 





2S0 



270 



2.60 



250 

if^ pc/^ ^f^ f^^> Of^ ^.%J\Jl — ""^ « . > ■ 

50 60 70 80 

rocks' would have, been, according to the terms of the theory, erupted 
strictly in the direct or inverse order of their densities throughout But I 
believe we do possess some distinct evidence that the point of intersection 
is rightly chosen, and that this evidence may be read in the petrographic 
and mechanical characters of the rocks themselves. A very striking 
characteristic of the basaltic lavas is their perfect liquidity at the time of 
eruption and their power to flow in comparatively narrow and shallow 
streams to great distances. It is in the basalts that this property is most 
marked and conspicuous. Coulees only two or three hundred feet wide 
and only twenty or thirty feet thick are usually found flowing mile after 
mile with facility, and larger streams reach from thirty to fifty miles from 
their orifices. Very thin sheets of basalt flow on to gi'eat distances. No 
other rocks in streams of such small cross-sections reach distances so far 
from their origin. And when we recall the circumstances which favor a 
rapid cooling and solidification, this preservation of fluidity is remarkable. 
The experiments of Bischof and Deville agi-ee in indicating that the latent 
' heat of fusion is less in the basalts than in other rocks The larger amount 
of surface which these thin streams or sheets expose, the disappearance of 
heat which is consumed in expelling in the form of vapor the included 
water, all combine to dissipate or render latent the contained heat of the 



136 GEOLOGY OF THE UIGJI PLATEAUS. 

lava with extreme rapidity. In the basaltic rocks we have thus, as I 
believe, most satisfactory evidence that when they reach the surface they 
are heated to a temperature much above that of mere fusion. In no other 
way are we able to account so satisfactorily for the persistency with which 
they retain their extreme liquidity and flow to such great distances. The 
same fact appears in the study of the minuter textural characters of the 
basalts. Under the microscope everything indicates an intense degree of 
ignition. The presence of glass particles and the absence of water cavities, 
the isotrope base, the exceeding compactness of the rock, its vitreous 
character, and (in the massive portions) the absence of all traces of 
viscosity or ropy condition, point to the same conclusion. All this is in 
strong contrast with rocks of the sub-acid group. The trachytes and pro- 
pylites appear to have been erupted, in many cases, in a viscous condition, 
or in one which was not by any means thoroughly liquid. They are found 
in thick, cumberaome masses, and, unless the outpour was of excessive vol- 
ume and mass, do not appear to have flowed far from their orifices. The 
trachytes, however, vary much in this respect ; some appear to have been 
quite liquid, others exceedingly tough and pasty, with all intermediate con- 
sistencies, though in the most fluent ones there is no evidence of excess of 
temperature above the point of complete fusion. As a general rule their 
sluggish character is well pronounced. In the rhyolites there is evidence 
of intense ignition and thorough fusion ; but the banded, ropy, and fibro- 
litic character is suggestive of a temperature just suflScient to melt them to 
a vitreous consistency, but without that perfect limpid liquidity of the 
basalts in which the rhyolitic texture would certainly be completely oblit- 
erated. 

Now, the pyroxenic divisions — the basalts, dolerites, augitic andesites — 
all betray evidence of superfusion, or a temperature much in excess of 
that required to melt them. In the hornblendic andesites the same appear- 
ances are seen, though less in degree. In the propylites they have van- 
ished, and are not discernible in the trachytes and rhyolites. This is in 
accordance with the assumption contained in the theory. All rocks more 
basic than propylite betray evidence of superfusion, and hence it is at 
propylite in the ascending scale of acidity that superfusion is presumed 



CONSIDERATION OF APPARENT EXCEPTIONS. 137 

to cease.* If, then, these facts will bear the interpretation which I have 
placed upon them, we have in the rocks themselves the evidence required 
to show that propylite is a rock which at a certain temperature is just suf- 
ficiently fused and just sufficiently expanded to fulfill the mechanical con- 
ditions requisite for eruption. 

It still remains to look at some points in the application of this theory 
to the succession of eruptions, which would at first sight appear anomalous 
if not inconsistent with it 

We do not always find the order of succession heretofore described to 
have been strictly followed ; we find exceptional cases. Instances are not 
wanting where true basalts have outflowed prior to the eruption of rhyo- 
lites, and are even known to be overlaid by trachytes in the Auvergne 
district of France, or as Lyell has found to be the case in the Madeira 
Islands. These, however, seem to be exceptional instances. Even in the 
Auvergne and Madeiras the great preponderance of occurrences conform to 
the observed law of Richthofen, and so far as our knowledge of other 
regions extends the departures from this law are not common. But it may 
be asked whether a single unequivocal exception is not sufficient to seri- 
ously impair, if not wholly break down, the explanation of the sequence 
here given. So far are they from impairing it, that I think a little exam- 
ination will show that not only ought we to look for exceptions, but we 
may even be surprised that exceptions have not been found more numer- 
ous than they appear to be. In the brief explanation given it has been 
assumed tacitly, that the rise of temperature has been uniform or followed 
some definite law of variation throughout the entire field of subterranean 
magmas. In its simplest or typical form the proposition assumes that in 
all typical or normal cases the rise of temperature affects all parts of this 
field alike. But tliis we could not expect It is not probable that a uniform 
rise of temperature would take place in all parts of the field, but may vary 

* It was whon I was contemplating the groat distances traverseil by slender basalt streams in 
Southern Utali that this theory suggested itself to me. I could not doubt that such lavas must have 
been ejected at a temperature much more than sufficient to melt them. This seemed to contrast pow- 
erfully with the habits of trachytic masses. It occurred to me then that this high temperature might 
be absolutely essential to the eruption of so dense a rock as b.isalt, while a considerably lower one 
would suffice for lighter rocks. Immediately the higher melting temperature of the rhyolitcs and 
trachytes suggested it«elf, and almost as quickly as I write it the theory took form in my mind and the 
double function of density and fusibility associated itself with the double sequence. 



138 GEOLOOr OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

horizontally in the amount of rise as we pass from point to point. It may 
also rise more rapidly in the lower part of the field than in the upper ; and 
as between many fields, local circumstances may accelerate beyond the 
mean rate the fusion and expansion of one class of rocks or retard the 
same efiects in others. Thus, while there is a normal or typical order of 
eruptions, it may become liable to not infrequent exceptions arising from 
want of exact homogeneity of conditions. 

There are several sub-groups of rocks which present diflSculties some- 
what greater and have the appearance at present of being somewhat anom- 
alous. These are principally quartz-propylite and quartz-andesite or 
dacite. These rocks are much more siliceous than the other members 
of the groups to which they are mineralogically most nearly allied, being 
about as siliceous as the more acid trachytes. They have apparently had 
their epochs of eruption coevally with the homblendic members of their 
respective major groups, while according to the theory their epochs should 
have fallen much later. I am unable to harmonize these apparent anomo- 
lies with the main theory upon any considerations which at once carry with 
them a conviction of intrinsic probability and an obvious reason for their 
exceptional relations. They are comparatively rare rocks, and do not 
occur in very extensive masses ; their physical constitution and properties 
are much less known than their chemical and mineralogical. Their infe- 
rior bulk, however, does not break the force of the anomaly if it be real. 
Considerations like the following, suggest themselves : The theory assumes 
that the physical properties (density and fusibility) have a definite rela- 
tion and dependence upon the proportion of silica which a rock contains. 
Although this is approximately true, it is in all probability not rigorously 
so, and indeed the probabilities, so far as fusibility is concerned, are that 
the variations from definiteness in the dependence of fusibility upon the 
percentage of silica are in some cases very notable, though these varia- 
tions may not impair the general law as an approximate expression of the 
trutL In spite of their high percentage of silica, therefore, these rocks 
may turn out to be exceptional in having a degree of fusibility correspond- 
ing very closely to that of the homblendic members of the major groups 
to which they belong. While, therefore, we cannot claim the dacites and 



IMPERFECT CnARACTER OF THE PREMISES. * 139 

quartz-propylites as contributing their quota of support to the tlieory, wo 
may still hold that they are not necessarily in conflict with it. 

There is another conceivable mode in which the law hero propounded 
theoretically may be modified in a manner which would yield results dif- 
fering from the standard sequence to which it has been applied and give a 
somewhat diflFerent but still a definite succession. It might bo affected by 
the depth at which the seat of volcanic activity is located, and also by the 
value of the mean density of the overlying rocks. Assuming our theory 
to be correct, let us call the depth at which Richthofen's succession becomes 
the normal one, unity. Suppose the depth to bo considerably greater than 
unity, the melting temperature of the acid rocks would then be greater on 
account of the increased pressure. Recm-ring to the graphic diagram, the 
effect of this modification would be to transfer the intersection of the fusion 
and density curves to the left or toward the basic end of the scale, and 
rocks more basic than propylite would be first erupted and the succession 
would be more or less modified. The nature of the modification will 
readily appear by treating the modified diagram in the same manner as has 
been employed already. Or suppose the depth of eruptive activity to be 
less than the assumed unity: the intersection of the two curves would 
be transferred to the right and an inverse series of modifications would 
result. On the assumption that the secular cooling of tlie earth is gradu- 
ally sinking the seat of volcanicity to lower horizons, it would follow that 
a coiTOsponding modification is secularly proceeding in the normal order 
of succession in volcanic eruptions. 

This theory has one important element of weakness which it is neces- 
sary to point out. The assumption that the proximate cause of volcanic 
activity is an increase of temperature is to a great extent an arbitrary one. 
Conclusive proof of it does not seBm to be obtainable at present. There 
are numerous indications of it, many facts which seem to point to it; yet 
that strong, convincing evidence which can entitle such a proposition to 
absolute confidence is wanting. Hence the theory should be called rather 
a trial hypothesis, in which there is an important premise which remains to 
be proven. It is a frequent resort, however, in all sciences to adopt such 
premises provisionally, and they gain strength or the contrary in proportion 



140 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

as they are useful or otherwise in explaining a wider and wider range of 
facts. This was true of the hypothesis of a luminiferous ether and of 
gravitation. Neither of these postulates could be proven a priori^ and have 
gained acceptance because they explain all facts to which they stand re- 
lated. Following these precedents, we may inquire whether a rise of sub- 
terranean temperature is consistent with other categories of facts besides a 
succession in the order of eruptions and explains other phenomena. 

I have endeavored to show that the whole tenor and purport of the phe- 
nomena of volcanicity point to the conclusion that lavas are not primordial 
liquids but secondary products derived from the liquefaction of solid matter 
situated below the surface in layers or maculae. Of this statement of the case 
in its grosser a^jpcct I believe the circumstantial evidence suflScient to con- 
vince a scientific and impartial jury. Taking a generalized view of the sub- 
ject, the objections against primordial liquids are insuperable. If the whole 
interior of the earth below a crust a few miles in thickness is liquid, the sta- 
bility of that crust is intelligible only on the assumption that the crust is less 
dense than the liquid, and if the reverse is true it seems inevitable that the 
crust would be speedily submerged. The same reasoning would be appli- 
cable to residuary vesicles or primordial reservoirs of great extent under- 
lying states and empires. If we adopt the conception of a multitude of 
small vesicles left by the secular consolidation of the globe gradually 
squeezed out one after another, other difficulties equally palpable arise. 
These vesicles should, in the process of ages, become fewer and fewer, and 
show signs of exhaustion. But observation teachos us that the eruptions of 
Tertiary time are apparently as numerous, as varied, and as grand as any 
which have occurred in anterior ages. But, above all, the intermittent 
pulsating character of the eruptions in any volcanic cycle is at variance 
witli such an assumption. If this primordial liquid has lain in its receptacle, 
possessing, from the beginning of the world, all the essential requisites of 
eruptibility except that it is waiting for some accident to open a vent for 
it, yet, when the vent is once opened, why does it not pour forth at one 
mighty belch all its lavas and then close up forever? Why should it re- 
quire some hundreds or even thousands of eructations with intervals of 
years to completely exhaust it? Why, in the course of the cycle covering 



INTERMITTENT CHARACTER OF ERUPTIONS EXPLAINED. 141 

hundreds of thousands and even millions of years, should the same vent or 
cluster of vents yield so many diflfierent kinds of lava? So completely do 
the facts of volcanology antagonize the primordial character of lavas, that 
we seem driven to seek an opposite theory of their origin. 

These diflSculties cease to be such and become normal phenomena 
when we take the postulate of local increments of temperature. The re- 
fusion of rocks becomes a slow and very gradual process. But when the 
melted rock is ready for issue, it does not follow that a steady stream of 
lava would keep flowing as long as the temperature continues to rise. We 
must now take into consideration the mechanism by which the expulsion is 
effected. This has already been suggested as the weight of overlying rocks 
crowding in upon the reservoir, and as these rocks are rigid relatively to 
small reservoirs, there is a limit to the smallness of the eruption. As the 
quantity of melted rock increases, this rigidity relatively diminishes until 
rupture takes place and all the lava hitherto accumulated is expelled. The 
overlying masses are then soldered up for a time, during which more lava 
is melted, and when the quantity is sufficient a second eruption occurs, and 
so the intermittent character is established and for a long period maintained. 

This assumption also explains the co-existence of vents at different 
levels, the presumption being that each vent derives its lavas from inde- 
pendent layers or maculae, and that several maculae or layers can suc- 
cessively find issue through the same vent when the magmas which they 
contain reach the eruptive condition. 

There is, however, one comprehensive or generalized fact connected 
with volcanoes which this assumption does not explain by itself, though it 
is not in any obvious respect inconsist*3nt with it. This is the geographical 
distribution of volcanoes. It is well known that existing and recently extinct 
vents stand in the vicinity of the ocean and large bodies of inland water; a 
few exceptions, however, being known. But it has been repeatedly re- 
marked that the postulated rise of temperature is asserted to be a proximate 
cause, itself requiring explanation by the production of some ulterior excit- 
ing cause. If we were able to find this ulterior cause, we should then know 
why volcanoes have their present distribution. It may be proper to remark 
here that this distribution would lead us to look for that cause in occur- 



142 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

rences which take place in waters and in their vicinity. It has long been 
held that water plays an essential part in volcanic eruptions, and it is quite 
natural that we should infer from the association that the penetration of 
water to the internal fires is after all the determinant; but, on the other 
' hand, we cannot leave out of view the fact that there is water on the land 
as well as in the sea, and that every year from 30 to 60 inches of rain are 
ordinarily poured over tlie surface and the underground water-ways and 
fissures are kept full. An abundant penetration may, therefore, take place 
on land as well as under the sea. It does not seem justifiable, therefore, 
to conclude that the mere presence of water is the sole determinant. There 
is, however, one class of processes peculiar to bodies of water. It is be- 
neath their surfaces that sediments are accumulated, often to the thick- 
ness of thousands of feet, until by their gross weight they subside. It may 
be that the ultimate cause of volcanism will eventually be traced to the 
shifting of vast loads of matter from place to place upon the earth's sur- 
face, but at present this subject has not been investigated fi:om a mechan- 
ical standpoint with sufficient method and system to admit of safe generali- 
zation or even of legitimate speculation. 

The assumption that a rise of temperature is the proximate cause of 
volcanic energy, then, is not a wholly arbitrary postulate, but is consistent 
with a wide range of facts; brings into order not only the broader but also 
the subordinate facts of volcanology, and apparently affords a working 
hypothesis. 



CHAPTER VI. 

STEATIGRAPHY OF THE DISTRICT. 

Palosozoio formations. — ^The Shiniimmp. — Its strong lithological charactors. — Constancy over wide 
extent of country. — Coloring. — Architectural forms. — ^Age of the Shin^Srump, either Pennian or 
Lower Triassic. — Continuity with Red-beds of Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. — ^Triassic forma- 
tion. — ^Vermilion Cliffs. — Cliff forms of the Triassic. — The Jurassic series. — Comparison of sec- 
tions. — White sandstone. — Remarkable cross-bedding. — ^White Cliffs. — Architecture. — Jurassic 
shales. — The Cretaceous. — Alternations of sandstone and iron-gray shales. — ^Dakota Group. — 
Laramie Group. — Interyening formations not correlated. — Lignitic character of the Cretaceous. — 
Close of the Laramie period. — Unconformities. — ^Post-Crotaceous disturbances and erosion.— Ter- 
tiary formations. — ^Attenuation southward. — ^Pink Cliffs. — Tertiary lignites. 

The study of the stratigraphy of the District of the High Plateaus and 
of the regions adjacent thereto has been chiefly the work of Messrs. Powell, 
Howell, and Gilbert I have had little to do with it, except to take their 
results as starting points and add my own testimony in the way of elabora- 
tion. Mr. Howell rapidly traversed the district in 1874 and seized the 
salient features with remarkable rapidity and acumen. The geological hori- 
zons of the larger groups were determined by him, and all that was left to 
me was to ascertain their extent and distribution in greater detail. 

PALJBOZOIC FORMATIONS. 

The oldest strata of the district belong to the closing epochs of Palaeo- 
zoic time; except, however, that upon the northwestern flank of the Tushar 
some crystalline rocks, supposed to be of Archsean age, are revealed in 
momentaiy exposures in the ravines where the overmantling rhyolite, has 
been deeply scored by the mountain streams. On the northeastern flank 
of the Aquarius Plateau the summit of the Carboniferous is laid bare, the 
exposed area being about eighteen miles in length by six miles in width at 
the widest part. A remarkable dislocation, forming a part of the Hurricane 
fault, turns up a brief exposure of the same horizons southwest of the Mar- 
kdgunt Plateau. The western side and summit of the PAvant Range is 

143 



144 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATBAtJS 

composed almost wholly of Carboniferous strata, bent and faulted after the 
manner peculiar to the Basin Ranges. Although yielding characteristic 
fossils, none of these Carboniferous exposures present sufficient materials for 
special study. The great fields of Carboniferous rocks are found in the 
Kaibabs to the southward and in the basin to the westward. 

THE SHINArUMP. 

Resting eveiy where upon the Carboniferous of the Plateau Country is 
a series of sandy shales, which in some respects are the most extraordinary 
gi'oup of strata in the West, and perhaps the most extraordinary in the 
world. To the eye they are a never-failing source of wonder. There are 
especially three characteristics, either one of which would render them in the 
highest degree conspicuous, curious, and entertaining. Firat may be men- 
tioned the constancy with which the component members of the series pre- 
serve their characters throughout the entire province. Wherever their proper 
horizon is exposed they are always disclosed, and the same well-known fea- 
tures are presented in Southwestern Utah, in Central Utah, around the junc- 
tion of the Grand and Green, in the San Rafael Swell, and at the base of the 
Uinta Mountains. As we pass from one of these localities to another, not a 
line seems to have disappeared nor a color to have deepened or paled. So 
strongly emphasized are the superficial aspects of the beds and so persist- 
ently are they maintained, that only careful measurement and inspection of 
each constituent seam can impair the prima facie conviction that these 
widely- separated exposures are absolutely identical. Detailed examination, 
however, does show some variation in thickness and slight changes in the 
constituent members ; but, on the whole, the constancy is, so far as known 
to me, without a parallel in any formation in any other region. The sculp- 
tured cliffs of the Shindrump reveal the edges of the component layers as 
rigorously parallel as if a skillful stonemason had laid them down, and nar- 
row bands can be followed for miles without any visible change in their 
aspect. 

A second striking feature is the powerful coloring .of some of the bedd. 
With the exception of the dark, iron-gray shales of the Cretaceous, the tints 
of the other formations are usually bright, lively, and often extremely deli- 



THE SniNARUMP. 145 

cate. In the Shindrump they are mostly sti-ong, deep, and so rich as to 
become cloying. Maroon, slate, chocolate, purple, and especially a dark 
brownish-red (nitrous-acid color), are the prevailing hues, while one heavy 
sandstone bed is yellowish brown. At the base of the series is a thick 
mass of perishable shale not so conspicuous in its colors ; it is in the mid- 
dle members that they are so resplendent. Alternating horizontal belts of 
varying tones and shades, not merging into each other by gradation, but 
like ribbons joined at their edges, are seen wherever the fonnation is ex- 
posed in the same general vertical succession, and give the Shindrump Cliffs 
an aspect most constant, peculiar, and wholly unlike any others Here 
and there a thin line of white trenchantly separates the dark layers, em- 
phasizing the distinctions, while the brown sandstone above heightens the 
contrasts. The effect upon the mind is impressive and oppressive. 

Probably the most striking characteristic of this formation — one which 
is destined to make it one of the most notable of the freaks of nature in 
the popular estimation — is to he found in the architectural forms which 
have been carved out of it by the process of erosion. A common style 
of sculpture is represented by heliotype XI, taken from the southeastern 
flank of Thousand Lake Mountain. Probably the most striking forms are 
the buttes, which are often seen fringing the long lines of cliff bounding 
the Shindrump terraces in the San Rafael Swell, and again near the junc- 
tion of the Grand and Green. These last have been described in glowing 
tei-ms by Dr. J. S. Newberry and by Professor Powell. 

The age of the Shindrump is either Permian or Lower Triassic. To 
which of the two periods it should be assigned is not yet free from doubt. 
Within the limits of the Plateau Country no fossils have yet been discov- 
ered which give a satisfactory solution to this question. Mr. E. E. Howell 
found in the shales south of Kanab, lying at the base of the formation, a 
small number of fossils which were so poorly preserved that only generic 
characters could be asserted with confidence. If any conclusion were to 
be drawn from them it would be that their general aspect is Jurassic. But 
the whole Triassic series, and most of the Shindrump itself, overlie the hori- 
zon from which they came, and, moreover, the types are well known to have 

a gi'eat vertical range. 
10 H p 



146 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

Thougbout the region lying between the Great Plains of Colorado 
and Wyoming and the Basin area, wherever the horizons from the summit 
of the Carboniferous to the base of the Jurassic are exposed, there are usu- 
ally found sandstones and arenaceous shales, distinguished by their rich red 
coloring, their tolerably constant texture and appearance, and the absence 
of fossils of distinctive character In many places they may be imperfectly 
resolved into two groups, though ordinarily they show no well-marked 
plane of division between them ; the distinction being somewhat vague and 
uncertain. Tlie Triassic age of the upper portion is pretty well ascertained. 
Mr. Clarence King has found fossils in the lower portion which he believes 
to be sufficient to justify him in. calling it Permo-Oarboniferous. But the 
want of a clear boundary between the two divisions of these "Red-beds" 
has led many geologists to regard them provisionally as one formation, 
under the name of Trias. In the Plateau Country these beds appear to 
be conformable with each other, while the contact with the Carboniferous 
below is in several places distinctly unconformable. They gradually pass 
into the Trias above, and if a divisional plane is to be drawn, it is impossi- 
ble to locate it within a belt of 500 feet of monotonous shales, and hence 
the tendency has been to regard the whole series as one group, and to use 
the names Upper and Lower Trias for the designation of diflFerent portions 
which, in reality, are not at present distinctly and precisely separable. 
Perhaps, also, some hesitation arises from the importance which must attach 
to a full recognition of the Permian age of these lower beds. The identity 
of the Shinarump of Utah and Arizona with the lower Red-beds of Colo- 
rado and Wyoming is unquestionable, and the formation, therefore, covers 
an area probably exceeding 250,000 square miles, with many exposures, 
and there is no intrinsic improbability that it is buried beneath a still 
greater area. If its age be Permian, then the Permian becomes a forma- 
tion, ranking in importance stratigraphically with the Trias and Jura, and 
can no longer be considered as a merely local deposit coming in here and 
there to round off the majestic proportions of the Carboniferous. While the 
Permian age of these beds, therefore, is quite possible, there is good reason 
for laying a heavy burden of proof upon the advocates of that view. 

The thickness of the Shindrump formation is difficult to determine, 



THE SHINARUMP. 147 

owing to the gradual transition into the VermiHon CHfF series above. Dis- 
regarding the doubtful horizons, the thickness along the Hurricane ledge is 
not far from 1,300 feet, and somewhat less at Kanab ; and, in general, it 
attenuates very slowly and gradually as we recede southeastward, though 
it never sinks to small proportions anywhere within the limits of the Pla- 
teau Country. Besides the transitional shales above, there are three sub- 
divisidns. Commencing at the base, they are as follows : 

1. Silico-argillaceous shales 450 to 650 feet. 

2. Belted, highly-colored arenaceous aud siliceous shales 400 to 500 feet. 

3. Brown sandstone * 150 to 250 feet. 

The thickness of the transitional shales up to the base of the Vermilion 
Cliff sandstone may be reckoned from 550 to 750 feet. Within these shales 
there often appears a singular conglomerate. It consists of fragments of 
silicified wood imbedded in a matrix of sand and gravel. Sometimes 
trunks of trees of considerable size, thorouglily silicified, are found, to 
which the Piute Indians have given tlie name ^^Shindrunipj^^ meaning "the 
weapons of Shinav," the wolf-god. The conglomerate is found in many 
widely-separated localities, with a thickness rarely exceeding 50 feet. It 
occasionally thins out and disappears, but usually recurs if the outcrop be 
traced onwards, resembling the mode of occurrence common to the coal- 
seams of the Carboniferous coal measures. It is the most variable member 
of the Shindrump thus far observed. It is found on the west flank of the 
Markagunt and throughout the great circuit of cliffs south of the High Pla- 
teaus ; it is seen at Paria, and again at the Red Gate between the Aqua- 
rius and Thousand Lake Mountain, the characters of the formation being 
quite the same in all these localities. The conditions under which it was 
accumulated would seem to have been remarkably uniform, and may have 
been similar in some respects to those attending the formation of coal. The 
subsequent silicification of the wood upon a scale so extensive and even 
universal is certJiinly a very striking phenomenon, and one for which no 
explanation suggests itself. It may be of interest to mention that at Leeds, 
in Southwestern Utah, the fragments of silicified wood were found to be 
strongly impregnated with hom-silver. Subsequent prospecting, which had 
been stimulated by this curious discovery, led to the finding of horn-silver 




148 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH ELATE AUS. 

impregnating the sandstones and shales in sufficient quantity to attract both 
miners and capital to the locality. 

The Shindrump has but a few exposures within the District of the 
High Plateaus. The best example is seen at the Red Gate, at the foot of 
Rabbit Valley, where the Fremont River passes out into the desert waste in 
the heart of the Plateau Province. A belt of this formation is seen near 
the summit of the Water-Pocket flexure, flanking the northeastern f)art of 
the Aquarius a few miles from its base. It is brought up to daylight south- 
west of the Markdgunt by the Hurricane fault, and the beds are there 
sharply flexed in the vicinity of the fault-plane, but quickly smooth out to 
the eastward and southward. The principal area of the Shindrump is south 
of the. Vermilion Cliffs, in the northern part of the Kaibab District, around 
the junction of the Grand and Green and in the San Rafael Swell. Gen- 
erally speaking, it is usually found as the first terrace above the Carbonif- 
erous in the areas of maximum erosion. 

THE TRIAS. 

Next above the Shindrump shales is found an extensive series of sand- 
stones constituting the Trias. Probably no formation in Southern Utah is 
better exposed, but notwithstanding this, it has not in this part of the Pla- 
teau Province hitherto yielded a solitary fossil of any kind. Still we are 
not in doubt about the correlative age of the group for its continuity with 
beds found by Newberry in New Mexico, and yielding a distinctly Triassic 
flora; its further continuity and identity with Red-beds in the Uintas having 
a Jurassic fauna above and the unmistakable Shindrump shales below; and, 
lastly, its identity with the beds of Idaho, which furnished Dr. Peale a well- 
mai*ked Triassic fauna, are sufficiently certain. 

The contact with the shales below is usually conformable, but in the 
vicinity of the Ilun'icane fault, where the whole Triassic series is displayed, 
the junction is often unconformable. The separation, however, of the 
Trias into an upper and lower series, so far as Southern Utah is concerned, 
is based upon lithological grounds chiefly. It is also a matter of great 
convenience to effect this separation, since each division has its own topog- 
raphy, and "their distributions differ notably. There is, also, a decided con- 



THE TEIAS— VERMILION CLIFFS. 149 

trast in their respective aspects, and the geologist who studies them in the 
field is constantly reminded of the distinctions. The Upper Trias consists 
of many beds of Sandstone with shaly partings. Usually the component 
members do not attain great thickness, but a few of them occasionally have 
a thickness exceeding 200 feet Very many of them are cross-bedded in 
a beautiful manner, and although this feature is not so strongly marked 
as in ^;he Jurassic sandstone, it is almost always conspicuous enough to 
attract attention. The whole formation is brilliantly colored, the predomi- 
nant hue being a bright lively red, often inclining to orange. Occasionally, 
however, this color gives place to a strong yellow or bright brown. These 
are very distinct from the deep crimson, chocolate and purple of the Shind- 
rump, and, furthermore, change from red to brown along the course of a 
single layer or bed, while in the Shindrump every layer preserves its color 
without a trace of change through many miles of exposure. The predomi- 
nant red, approximating to vermilion, induced Professor Powell to give the 
local name of Vermilion Cliffs to their grandest and most typical 
exposure. 

The Upper Trias is in truth the great cliff-forming series of the Plateau 
Country. No other formation equals it in the extent and variety of cliff 
exposures. The Vermilion Cliffs extend from the Hurricane fault to Paria, 
more than a hundred miles in a straight line, and more than twice that dis- 
tance if we follow the sinuosities of their escarpment. Throughout this 
distance they front the south with a succession of superposed ledges, rarely 
less than 1,000 feet in height and often exceeding 1,500 feet; throwing out 
great promontories, and deeply notched by estuaries and bays. Wherever 
exposed in more easterly regions the same tendency to form cliffs may be 
observed. These escarpments have their distinctive architecture and a 
structure quite as peculiar to the formation as those of the Shindrump 
below and the Jurassic above. Let us recall here that the series is com- 
posed of manifold layers of sandstone, with many shaly layers intervening. 
Usually three or four members are massive beds of very homogeneous 
sand rock, with a thickness of 100 to 250 feet. Recall, also, that the most 
effective attack of erosion is made primarily against these yielding shales, 
while the overlying and more obdurate sand rock is thereby undermined 



150 



GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 



and cleaves off by its vertical joints. Take now a series of these alternat- 
ing massive layers and softer shales, the long process of erosion gives a 
series of pei'j)endicular walls, alternating with sloping taluses. This com- 
posite architecture is one of the most persistent features of the formation. 
Something like it is seen in the Carboniferous strata forming the walls of 
the Marble Cailon of the Colorado, but there are also many wide differences 
both of detail and ensemble. 



VTllNLIIJJUULIilJlJi 




M r M T-rrrtT 



"— ta^-yr^'T^ l'.i^ i' i '. i '.i'. r . l S 




ir-r-v^r-jrrfiF-irrT-rT-n 




Fig. 3. — Generalized profile ot* Vemillion Cliff. 

The thickness of the Upper Trias is from 1,100 to 1,800 feet, being 
greatest in the vicinity of the old 'shore line, and very slowly attenuating 
to the eastward. 

THE JURASSIC. 

The Jurassic series consists of two members, the lower being a massive 
sandstone of great thickness, the upper a series of calcareous and gypsifer- 
ous shales from 200 to 400 feet thick. Uniierneath the sandstone is a small 
group of shaly beds, which are presumed to be of Jurassic age, but no deter- 
minable fossils have been taken from them. It has been a long-standing 
and difficult question . whether the Jurassic sandstone is not, after all, a 
mere upward continuation of the Vermilion Cliff beneath. Much color 
was given to this supposition by the fact that no unconfoniiity between 
them has been detected in this vicinity, and still more by the fact that as 
we travel eastward and southeastward from the High Plateaus the distinc- 



THE JURASSIC SERIES. 



151 



tion between them gradually fades, and the two seem to merge into one. 
Neither of them have yielded any determinable fossils. Nevertheless, 
I am convinced that the probable plane between the Jura and the Trias 
lies between these two sandstones. In the Uinta Mountains the Triassic 
sandstones have the same general features as they exhibit upon the south- 
em flanks of the High Plateaus. Comparing the Jura-Trias section of the 

• 

Uintas with that of the High Plateaus and Kaibabs, we find a concordance 
in the several members. 



Uinta Section. 



Kanab Section. 



CnlcareouH, sliales, limestone and gypsifer- 
ous shalen 



Feet 



Calc8 reous shales, limestone and gypsifer- 

I 

1, 000 o« J shales 



Feet. 
500 



Massive, cro88-bedde<l white sandstone. 



__i. 



1,100 



Thin calcareons sht^e 



100 



Massive, cross-bedded white sandstone 1, 400 



Thin calcareous shale 



50 



Vermilion Cliff series i 1,100 



Upper Shindnimp shales and conglomerate. ; 1, 000 



Vermilion Cliff series ■ 1, 500 



Up][>er Shindnimp shales and conglomerate . 



750 



Bolted shales 



400 



Belted shales . 



400 



Lower Sliin^rump shales. 



300 



Lower Shindnimp shales . 



500 



A comparison of these two sections will lead to the conviction that the 
white sandstone of the Kanab region is identical with that of the Uintas. 
But the latter has Jurassic fossils above and below it, and hence we may 
conclude that the former is also Jurassic, althouiifh fossils of that acre are 
found only above it, and none of any kind either in the sandstone itself or 
in the thin shales below. 

Starting from the village of Cedar, west of the Markdgunt, we find the 
sandstone in great force, and may trace it southward around the flank of 
that plateau, and thence eastward around the Paunsjigunt, and beyond the 
Paria River. In the Kaiparowits it is wholly lost beneath the Cretaceous, 
but east of the Kaiparowits it reappears. It skirts the southern and east- 
ern slopes of the Aquarius, and is grandly displayed in the Water-Pocket 



152 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

flexure. It forms one of the terraces which lie west and north of the San 
Jiafael Swell, but north of that area it dips beneath later formations, and is 
buried thousands of feet beneath the Cretaceous- P^ocene deposits. A Imn- 
dred miles north of the San Rafael it is turned up again upon the southern 
slopes of the Uintas with the same characteristics which it shows elsewhere. 
The line of outcrop with the intervals of concealment thus traced is nearly 
500 miles. Wherever exposed along this belt the lithological characters 
are preserved without material change. But, on the other hand, if we trace 
the sandstone across this general line of strike and follow it southejistward 
into northeastern Arizona and New Mexico, its thickness slowly diminishes, 
its features lose force and individuality, and it seems to blend gradually 
with the Vermilion Cliff sandstones below. It is not certainly known at 
present whether the whole formation thins out in this direction or whether it 
forms a part of the beds which have been assigned by NewbeiTy to the 
Upper Trias. Most probably it thins out altogether. A little way beyond 
the Glen Cafion in New Mexico the fossiliferous Upper Jurassic shales are 
seen to rest directly upon sandstones which are believed to be Triassic, and 
the Jurassic white sandstone of the High Plateaus is nowhere seen. A 
little farther on the Jurassic shales also disappear, and the Cretaceous 
touches the Trias. Thus the Jurassic sandstone appears to have been a 
littoral or off-shore formation thrown down along the coast of the Mesozoic 
mainland, which occupied the region now forming the Great Basin. Some 
doubt still attaches to the origin of those portions which flank the Uintas, 
but our ideas of a geography so ancient are very vague and our knowledge 
very fragmentary. 

The lithological characters of the Jurassic white sandstone render it a 
very conspicuous formation. Through a thickness of more than a thousand 
leet, sometimes of nearly two thousand feet, it is one solid stratum, with- 
out a single heterogeneous layer or shaly parting. A few horizontal cracks 
are seen here and there, but inspection shows that they are merely the 
seams where two systems of cross-bedding are cemented together. In gen- 
eral, it is one indivisible stratum. This massive character has had its effect 
upon the cliff-forms that have been sculptured out of it. These forms are 
bold headlands and gigantic domes, usually without any minor details, but 



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JUEASSIO WHITE SANDSTONE— OEOSSBEDDmG. 153 

simple in the extreme, and majestic by reason of their simplicity. The 
color of the rock is almost always gray, verging towards white. Occa«ion- 
ally it is a very pale cream color, and again pale red. The red becomes 
more common as we recede from the old shore line towards the east 
But of all the features of this rock the most striking is the cross-bedding. 
It is hard to find a single rock-face which is not lined off with rich tracery 
produced by the action of weathering upon the cross-lamination. The 
massive cliff-fronts are etched from summit to base with a filagree as intri- 
cate and delicate as frost-work. The same phenomenon is seen in the Ver- 
milion Cliff sandstones below, often so rich and complex that it excites 
constant admiration. Dr. Newberry speaks of it with enthusiasm as pre- 
sented in the Triassic sandstones of New Mexico. But it is far less won- 
derful than the cross-bedding which the Jurassic presents at every exposure. 
In the Colob Terrace, south of the Mark4gunt, the rock weathers into many 
cones and pyramids, and the details produced by the action of the weather 
upon the cross-bedding are grotesque and often ludicrous. A journey.down 
the Upper Kanab Cailon is enlivened by ever-recurring displays of this 
phenomenon, presented with a profuseness and variety which extort excla- 
mations of delight from the beholder. The Jurassic sandstone was de- 
posited over an area wliich cannot fall much short of 35,000 square miles, 
and the average thickness exceeds 1,000 feet. The imagination is utterly 
bafiled in the endeavor to conceive how a mass so vast and at the same time 
so homogeneous and intricately cross-bedded throughout its entire extent 
could have been accumulated. 

Overlying the white sandstone is a series of beds which may be called 
shales with some reservation, and here we find for the first time an abun- 
dance of distinctive fossils. They are clearly of Jurassic genera and species, 
and enable us to correlate the horizon with confidence. They belong to a 
well-marked formation, which is represented not only throughout the greater 
part of the Plateau Province, but also in Colorado, Wyoming, and Northern 
New Mexico. From many large areas, indeed, it has been denuded, but 
throughout Utah it is never wanting from those exposures where its pres- 
ence could be looked for. 

That constancy of lithological character which is so conspicuous in 



154 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

older Mesozoic members does not prevail in this one, for it is highly varia- 
ble not only in the mass, but also in the constitution of the beds. In some 
exposures it is more than a thousand feet thick; in others, it is less than two 
hundred. Where its volume is greatest it is more arenaceous, and where 
the volume is less the beds are shaly, marly, and calcareous. Usually sev- 
eral seams of limestone occur, and in these the fossils are found often 
abundantly. One notable feature is the small amount of cement in the 
arenaceous layers, which are, therefore, very poorly consolidated, and the 
rock weathers and wastes away with extreme facility. Gypsum and sele- 
nite occur abundantly in these beds, and especially noticeable is the latter 
mineral, which is seen sparkling and glittering in the sunlight in the bad- 
lands to which the decay of the strata gives risCt 

THE CRETACEOUS. 

Tliroughout the District of the High Plateaus and the broad terraces 
which flank it upon the south and east the Cretaceous system has the same 
relative magnitude and importance which distinguish it in other portions 
of the West. In absolute mass it is inferior only to the Carboniferous ; 
but as the latter formation is usually covered by later ones over the greater 
part of the West, and especially of the Plateau Country, the Cretaceous 
exposures are everywhere the dominant ones and most conspicuous. The 
series consists of many beds o(* sandstone and argillaceous shale, the latter 
decidedly predominating. The number of beds is very great, but they 
show a tendency to form groups, here a series of sandstones with a few 
shales, there a series of shales with a few thin seams of sandstone. Two 
conditions, however, have combined to render the group a difficult one to 
study and to correlate with coeval groups in other regions. The first is the 
want of sharp and persistent divisional horizons ; the second is the great 
variation of the lithological characters along the outcrops, and the changes 
which almost all the strata undergo as we trace them from place to place. 
No two sections show any close agreement in the bedding. Since the fos- 
sils are generally confined to a few of the many layers, it is frequently dif- 
ficult to find a valid separation, and even when we discover one we cannot 
apply it to every locality. But while we are often at a loss to decide to 



CRETACEOUS SYSTEM. . 155 

what part of the Cretaceous system a particular exposure should be assigned, 
we are rarely in doubt about its Cretaceous age, for each member of the 
system possesses lithological characteristics only a little less emphatic and 
distinctive than those of the Trias and Jura. They consist of very heavy 
alternating masses of iron-gray argillaceous shales and bright yellowish- 
brown sandstones, whic^h the observer will seldom be in danger of con- 
founding with the members of any other group. The iron-gray shale some- 
times gradually passes into a bluish-gray or light dove-color, especially to the 
eastward of the High Plateaus. At the base, or near the base of the Cre- 
taceous system, is a conglomerate, the age of which is doubtful, since the 
horizon separating the Upper Jurassic has not yet been accurately deter- 
mined, and the conglomerate may ultimately prove to be a part of the latter 
group. 

The upper and lower divisions of the Cretaceous can be correlated 
with a very high degree of probability with the Laramie and Dakota, 
groups of Colorado, respectively. Our inability hitherto to subdivide the 
intervening members prevents us for the present from asserting any exact 
correlations with the middle Cretaceous divisions of that State. The sand- 
stone near the base of the system, with a few underlying shales, is without 
much doubt the extension of similar strata found in Southwestern Colorado 
and Northwestern New Mexico by Messrs. Holmes and Peale, and referred 
by them to the Dakota Group. The fossils found in this group are Ostrea 
prudentia (White), Gnjphea Pitcheri, Exogyra laeviuscula, E. ponderosa, Pli- 
catula hydrotheca (White), Avicula Unguiformts (Shumard), Camptonectes pla- 
tcssa (White), CaUista Deweyi (Meek and Hf^yden). In these lower Creta- 
ceous beds are also found a good workable seam of coal and numerous 
Carbonaceous shales. The coal outcrops near Upper Kanab, south of the 
Paunsagunt Plateau, and also in Potato Valley, south of the Aquarius.* * 

The equivalence of \\\q Upper Cretaceous shales with the Laramie 
beds is founded upon their known continuity with strata of that age in 
Western Colorado and along the course of the Green River south of the 
Uintas. This continuity can be traced very clearly in the great cliflFs west 

^A good workable coal is found at several places on the southwest fiank of the Mark^gunt, 
but I am not quite sure that it belongs t-o this horizon. 



156 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

of Castle Valley, which swing around the north end of the San Rafael 
Swell and merge into the broad Upper Cretaceous mesas east of it. The 
fossils which are found in these shales are of brackish-water habits, and 
although the species are in many cases new or peculiar to the locality, yet 
their general facies and generic forms are clearly such as harmonize with 
this correlation. The mass of the Laramie beds is here very considerable, 
averaging about 1,800 feet. They contain many Carbonaceous shales, and 
workable seams of coal have also been observed which apparently lie near 
the base of the group 

. Between the summit of the Dakotii and the base of the Laramie beds 
lie from 2,000 to 3,000 feet of sandstones and shales which must represent 
the middle Cretaceous divisions. These are as yet not subdivided nor cor- 
related with the divisions of Colorado and Wyoming. 

The whole Cretaceous system of the High Plateaus and their encir- 
cling terraces is lignitic, and coal is found at many horizons. Nor does 
one portion of the series seem to abound in coal more than another. Car- 
bonaceous shales are found along the great escarpments in many localities, 
and a considerable number of workable beds of coal are also known. 

At thetjlose of the Laramie period we come to a physical break in 
the course of the deposition. Prior to that epoch the disturbances and 
resulting unconformities appear to have been few and inconsiderable. The 
continuity of deposition from the base of the Trias to the summit of the 
Cretaceous appears to have been unbroken, and the only unconformities 
seen are local and usually slight. But at the close of the Laramie period 
extensive disturbances took place along the old Mesozoic shore line which 
now marks the boundary of the Great Basin. Considerable areas have 
been found from which the Cretaceous strata were extensively denuded 
before the deposition of th6 earliest Tertiary beds began, and where the 
lower Eocene is seen to lie across the upturned and beveled edges of the 
Cretaceous. In the locality now occupied by the Aquarius Plateau and 
.Thousand Lake Mountain the lower Eocene rests directly upon the Juras- 
sic, and the Cretaceous series is wholly wanting over a large part of the 
area. A great monoclinal flexure runs under the Aquarius from the south, 
and where it disappears beneath the great lava ciip of that plateau the his- 



UNCONFOEMITT OF TERTIARY Am) CRETACEOUS. 157 

tory of the unconformity is clearly revealed. The monoclinal involves the 
whold Cretaceous system, but not the overlying Tertiary, and fixes the age 
of the disturbance between the close of the Laramie and the beginning of 
the Tertiary. The northern extension of the Water-Pocket flexure indi- 
cates a precisely similar movement coeval with the one already recited. 
This flexure disappears beneath volcanic accumulations at Thousand Lake 
Mountain. The summit of that mass consists of lava-capped Tertiary 
strata resting upon the Jurassic, while to the northeast of the mountain the 
Cretaceous beds are rolled up towards it monoclinally, with patches of 
level Eocene beds lying unconformably across their edges. An uncon- 
formity of Tertiary and Cretaceous is also laid open to view in Salina 
Caiion. Around the flanks of the Markdgunt Plateau many exposures of 
this unconformity are also seen. In truth, there appears to* have been at 
this epoch a series of displacements having a north and south trend, break- 
ing up the Mesozoic system into long blocks by well-defined monoclinal 
flexures, and the uplifted portions everywhere suffered denudation prior to 
the deposition of the Tertiary beds. On the other hand, very many of the 
contacts of the Eocene and Laramie beds are apparently conformable. 
This occurs wherever the older series escaped distortion, an4 throughout 
the central parts of the Plateau Province they usually did escape it. The 
great disturbances were for the most part localized in the vicinity of the old 
shore line, and only now and then extended far away from it. The dis- 
turbances, being also chiefly monoclinal flexures and faults, did not disturb 
very noticeably the horizontal ity of the strata except along the very narrow 
locus of the flexure itself. 

The existence of these unconformities indicates a lapse of time between 
the close of the period of deposition of the Laramie beds and the begin- 
ning of the local Eocene. Nor could this period have been of very trifling 
duration, for there are instances of extensive erosion of the Upper Cre- 
taceous prior to the deposition of the earliest Tertiary. In the Aquarius 
Plateau and in Thousand Lake Mountain the Lower Eocene rests upon the 
Jurassic, and in the southern amphitheaters of the Aquarius the Tertiary 
lies across the beveled edges of the whole Cretaceous system. Whether 
such an occurrence may be construed as meaning a temporary emergence 



158 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

of land from the water, or whether it merely indicates a local exposure to 
denudation, it is not possible at present to say. 

TERTIARY LACUSTRINE FORMATIONS 

The history of the Plateau Country which is at present best known is 
the history of its Tertiary formations. This remains to be written; but 
materials for it have been widely collated, and are in the possession of Pro- 
fessor Powell, who will, it is believed, discuss the subject at an early day. 
A more promising and instinictive one probably is not to be found in the 
entire range of North American geology. Nothing more is needed here 
than a mere summary, which may serve as a guide and index to the mean- 
ing of the terms employed in this monograph. 

The Tertiary system of the Plateau Country is lacustrine throughout, 
with the exception of a few layers near the base of the series, which have 
yielded estuarine fossils. The widely varying strata were accumulated 
upon the bottom of a lake of vast dimensions, and were derived from the 
waste of mainlands and mountain platforms, some of which are still dis- 
cernible. The region of maximum deposit was in the vicinity of the 
Wasatch and Uintas, where in the course of Eocene time more than 8,000 
feet of beds were laid down. As we proceed southwgird, these heavy de- 
posits attenuate, partly by a diminution in the thickness of the individual 
members and partly because the period of deposition ceased earlier the 
farther southward we go, until in the southern part of the province only 
the lower Eocene is found, or, indeed, was ever deposited. The High 
Plateaus occupy the belt through which this diminishing bulk and successive 
elimination of upper members is well seen. In the Wasatch Plateau, at the 
extreme northern part of the district, we find the two lower divisions of the 
Eocene present in great volume; and in the valley of the Sevier and San 
Pete we find what is undoubtedly a still higher division. At the southern 
portion of the district only the lower division can be clearly made out, 
though some of the upper beds may prove to belong to a later period. The 
present weight of evidence, however, seems to me to place them in one divis- 
ion, the ^* Bitter Creek" of Powell. 

In the southern plateaus, the Markdgunt and Pauns^gunt, we find 



TERTIARY LACUSTRINE SERIES. 159 

the following members of the Bitter Creek, which are much the same in all 
exposures : 

SOUTIIERN BITTER CREEK. peet. 

1. Upper white limestone aud calcareous marl (summit of series) 300 

2. Pink calcareous sandstone 800 

3. Pink conglomerate (base of the series) 650 

1,050 
In the northern part of the district we have a larger development of 
the Bitter Creek series, and resting upon it some heavy masses of the Lower 
Green River shales, and probably a considerable portion of the Upper Green 
River Group is also represented. There is, however, no exact correspond- 
ence in the lithological or stratigraphical succession of the component mem- 
bers of the Bitter Creek when the northern and southern portions of the 
district are compared A series of sections from the northern part is given 
in the following chapter. 

The Pink CliflFs, which form such a striking feature in the scenery of 
the southern terraces, are exposures of the fine-grained calcareous sand- 
stone forming the middle member of the Bitter Creek. The same expos- 
ures are exhibited in the southern and southwestern flanks of the Markd- 
gunt around the entire promontory of the Paunsdgunt and in the circuit 
of the Table CliflF. In the Aquarius Plateau the Lower Eocene is found, 
but in smaller volume than elsewhere, and it is decidedly diminished in 
mass upon the summit of Thousand Lake Mountain. But it resumes 
its normal thickness farther north, and then grows more and more massive 
throughout the extent of the Wasatch Plateau. 

In their general characteristics these Tertiary strata are similar to the 
Laramie beds upon which they generally rest, being shaly and marly and 
sometimes lignitic. It Vs noteworthy, however, that in the southern part of 
the district of the High Plateaus no lignite or carbonaceous material has 
yet been discovered in the Tertiary beds. But in the northern part of the 
district the lignites are found abundantly not only in the Lower Eocene 
(Bitter Creek), but even in the Lower and Upper Green River (?) beds. 
In the San Pete Valley coal has been mined for local use for several years, 
and taken from what appear to be seams of Green River age. A more 
detailed description of the Northern Tertiaries will be given in the next 
chapter. 



CHAPTER VII. 

THE WASATCH PLATEAU. 

Situation and stractnre of the Wasatch Platean. — Of what strata composed. — ^The great monoclinal. — 
The Cretaoeons platform south of it. — Salina Cation. — ^The Jurassic Wedge. — ^East and West Gun- 
nison faults. — San Pete Plateau. — Sedimentary beds composing the Wasatch Plateau ; Bitter Creek, 
Lower Green River, and Upper Green River beds. 

The name of Wasatch Plateau has been given to the northernmost of 
those Iiighlands of tabular form which are the subject of the present mono- 
graph. It is in some sense an outlier of the gi'oup, and presents features 
peculiarly its own, though sharing with them a common history and many 
similar features. It slightly overlaps at its northern end the main range 
of the Wasatch Mountains, and stands en echelon to the southeast of Mount 
Nebo, the last great mountain of that beautiful chain. The interval between 
Nebo and the plateau is about 15 miles, and is filled partly by a medley of 
low hills and partly by a depression called San Pete Valley, which lies 
along the base of the table. The western flank of the uplift is a mono- 
clinal flexure of the grandest proportions. Along \i base line nearly 50 
miles in length the Tertiary strata bend upward to the summit in a single 
sweep, diversified by minor inequaKties arising partly from minor fractures, 
partly from erosion, but never of such magnitude as to mask the general 
plan of the uplift, nor even to greatly disfigure its symmetry. The minor 
features, though elsewhere they might seem of considerable moment, are 
mere ripples upon the great wave. At the summit the strata suddenly flex 
back to horizontality, and when we reach it we find ourselves upon a long 
narrow platform, nowhere more than 6 miles in width, usually much nar- 
rower, and here and there reduced to a knife-edge or even eaten through 
by erosion. To the eastwai'd the profile at once drops down, often by a 
great cliflF, always abruptly, by a succession of leaps across the edges of 
the sensibly horizontal strata, to lower terraces, succeeding each other at 
intervals of 3 to 6 miles, and consisting of older and older formations. 

160 




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CHAPTER VII. 

THE WASATCH PLATEAU. 

Situation and stractore of the Wasatch Platean. — Of what strata composed. — ^The great monoclinal. — 
The Cretaceons platform south of it. — Salina Cation. — ^The Jurassic Wedge. — East and West Gun- 
nison faults. — San Pete Platean. — Sedimentary beds composing the Wasateh Platean ; Bitter Creek, 
Lower Green River, and Upper Green River beds. 

The name of Wasatch Plateau has been given to the northernmost of 
those highlands of tabular form which are the subject of the present mono- 
graph. It is in some sense an outlier of the group, and presents features 
peculiarly its own, though sharing with them a common history and many 
similar features. It slightly overlaps at its northern end the main range 
of the Wasatch Mountains, and stands en echelon to the southeast of Mount 
Nebo, the last great mountain of that beautiful chain. The interval between 
Nebo and the plateau is about 15 miles, and is filled partly by a medley of 
low hills and partly by a depression called San Pete Valley, which lies 
along the base of the table. The western flank of the uplift is a mono- 
clinal flexure of the grandest proportions. Along \i base line nearly 50 
miles in length the Tertiary strata bend upward to the summit in a single 
sweep, diversified by minor inequahties arising partly from minor fractures, 
partly from erosion, but never of such magnitude as to mask the general 
plan of the uplift, nor even to greatly disfigure its symmetry. The minor 
features, though elsewhere they might seem of considerable moment, are 
mere ripples upon the great wave. At the summit the strata suddenly flex 
back to horizontality, and when we reach it we find ourselves upon a long 
narrow platform, nowhere more than 6 miles in width, usually much nar- 
rower, and here and there reduced to a knife-edge or even eaten through 
by erosion. To the eastward the profile at once drops down, often by a 
great cliff, always abruptly, by a succession of leaps across the edges of 
the sensibly horizontal strata, to lower terraces, succeeding each other at 
intervals of 3 to 6 miles, and consisting of older and older formations* 

160 



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GBNEEAL STEUCTUEE OF THE WASATCH PLATEAU. 161 

The eastern front of the plateau is simply a wall left standing by the erosion 
of the region which it faces. The Tertiary beds upon the sununit, as well 
as the Cretaceous beneath, once spread, unbroken and undisturbed, as far 
to the eastward as the eye can reach, and thence far beyond the limits of 
vision. From the strange land which that summit now overlooks at an 
altitude of 11,500 feet, more than 8,000 feet of Tertiary and Mesozoic 
strata have been swept away, and the region which has been thus devas- 
tated is large enough for a great kingdom. The Wasatch Plateau is a 
mere remnant of that protracted process, and, so far as it extends, is a 
mere rim standing along a portion of the western boundary of the Plateau 
Province. 

The western front of the plateau, then, is a great monoclinal flexure, 
and its eastern front is a wall of erosion. To the northward the beds which 
compose it stretch far up toward the Uinta Mountains, still ending in lines 
of great cliffs or bold slopes gradually swinging to the eastward until, after 
a course of nearly a hundred miles, they cross the Green River, where 
Powell named the Tertiaries the Roan Cliffs, and the Upper Cretaceous 
the Book Cliffs. Southward the Tertiaries forming the summit of the 
plateau end abruptly in a precipice extending east and west, while the 
underlying Cretaceous beds continue, forming a lower terrace overlooking 
the still lower level of Castle Valley. The average altitude of the table is 
about 11,000 feet, and it stands from 5,500 to 6,000 feet above San Pete 
Valley on the west and about the same height above Castle Valley on the 
east To gain an adequate conception of the great monoclinal, which forms 
the western flank, we must recur to the consideration that the upward 
curvature and reflection to horizontality leaves the Lower Tertiary beds full 
5,500 feet above still more recent ones in the valley below. If the latter 
were now continuous across the summit, as they once probably were, the 
altitude would be from 1,500 to 2,000 feet greater than at present. Thus 
the total rise of the monoclinal appears to have been more than 7,000 feet, 
and the uplift has occurred with a near approach to equality along a line 
of strike of 50 miles. The transverse structure will be seen by referring 
to Plate 3, sections G and 7. 

The platform of the summit is ragged, the in-egularities being due 
11 H p 



162 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

mainly to erosion, the degradation of 1,500 to 2,000 feet of beds having 
proceeded unequally, although the stratification still retains its sensible 
horizontality. Upon the southwestern shoulder there is considerable com- 
plication of the displacement. Two or three sharp faults, running north 
and south, include between them a long block from 2 to 3 miles in width, 
which has dropped, the amount of the fall varying from 600 to 1,700 
feet. The length of this block is at least 27 miles and may be greater. 
It is much complicated by minor fractures, and a portion of its southern 
extension into the Cretaceous terrace south of the Wasatch Plateau has 
been described and illustrated by Mr. Gr. K. Gilbert* as an instance of a 
**zone of diverse displacement." The general appearance and relations of 
this complicated downthrow suggest that the upper recurving branch of the 
great monoclinal was subject to tension during the uplift, and the beds, 
being unable to stretch, were rent apart, allowing the block to sink. 

The Cretaceous terrace, upon which we may look down while standing 
upon the southern terminus of the Wasatch Plateau, is no doubt, from a 
structural point of view, a part of that plateau; but the loss of its Tertiary 
beds by erosion has reduced its altitude to a level 1,500 to 2,000 feet lower. 
It continues the structural features southward to plateaus next in order, 
forming a kind of connecting-link between the northern and southern 
uplifts. Its chief deformation is due to the sunken block already described. 
The two faults between which it has fallen increase for a time their throw 
as they contiiuie southward, reaching a maximum of nearly 3,000 feet, and 
then decreasing to zero at points about 18 and 20 miles, respectively, south 
of the Wasatch Plateau. The structural depression thus produced has been 
called Gunnisoa Valley, but, this name being preoccupied, it should be used 
provisionally. It contains abundant evidence of its origin, for the Tertiary 
beds are seen to abut against the Cretaceous along the lines of faulting, 
and the latter beds tower far above them. The drainage of this valley is 
to the westward, through a deep canon called Salina Cafton, which is a 
clearly defined, but by no means uncommon example of a general fact, 
which is repeated so frequently throughout the entire Plateau Country that 

• Amer. Jour. Science; also, Geol. Uinta Mountuius, J. W. PoweU. The minor fracturos aro too 
smaU to appear effectively upon the stereogram, and bavo been omitted, but tbe main faults aro intro- 
duced. 



SALINA CASrON— THE JURASSIC WEDGE. 163 

it has now become a generalization of great importance. Its formula is 
exceedingly brief The principal drainage channels are older than the dis- 
placements. 

Salina Cafion cuts through the southern continuation of the great 
monoclinal at a point where its rise is a minimum, and nearly midway 
between the Wasatch Plateau on the north and the Sevier and Fish Lake 
Plateaus on the south. Even here it plunges into a wall forming the 
uplifted side of a great fault of which the shear could not have been much 
less than 3,000 feet, though fully 2,000 feet of upper beds have been re- 
moved from the uplift by erosion. After a course of about 23 miles the 
canon opens into the Sevier Valley. It carries a fine stream, whose waters 
join the Sevier at the town of Salina. Along the descent of this stream 
the beds dip more rapidly than the stream descends. This relation between 
the course of a drainage channel and the inclination of the strata is not the 
usual one in the Plateau Country; on the contrary, the strata much more 
frequently dip upstream, and rivers usually emerge from cliffs instead of 
entering them. In this respect Salina Caiion is an exception, though not 
an isolated one. 

A remarkable displacement is found along the eastern side of the Sevier 
Valley, between Gunnison and Salina. A narrow belt of rocks of Jurassic 
age is thrust up, forming a chain of foot-hills and bad lands, and the later 
Tertiaries are seen to flex upward against their western sides and terminate 
in a ^' hog- back," while they abut almost horizontally against their eastern 
sides. A small remnant of Tertiary beds is here and there found as a thin 
capping lying upon the Jurassic beds unconformably, and patches of vol- 
canic rock farther southward are also seen to cover them. The belt of 
Jurassic rocks nowhere exceeds two miles and a half in width, but its 
length is nearly 40 miles, extending from a point about 7 miles south 
of Manti along the base of the great monoclinal and the throw of the Sevier 
fault as far as Monroe, where it ends, to all appearances, somewhat ab- 
ruptly, or perhaps disappears under the great mass of volcanic rocks which 
form the loftiest part of the Sevier Plateau. These older beds dip east- 
ward, always at a high angle, which sometimes passes the vertical. This 
inclination was attained, without doubt, in part before the commencement 



164 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

of Tertiary time, and probably during the Cretaceous epoch. It may 
belong to a class of flexures produced near the close of the Cretaceous, of 
which several instances are found in the district, chiefly in its southeastern 
portions. They all involve the Cretaceous beds in the displacements when- 
ever they are present, but not the Tertiaries, which, when found in contact, 
overlie them unconformably. After the upturning of this flexure it may 
have stood as a long narrow ridge near the western shore line of the great 
Cretaceous-Eocene lake and been subject to a considerable amount of 
degradation, which removed the Cretaceous beds and finally planed down 
the whole mass until it stood but little above the common level. In the 
oscillations of the shore line during the Green River epoch it would seem 
to have been overflowed by the waters of the lake during the last stages 
of its existence, receiving a thin deposit of the beds of that period, which 
have since been nearly all removed, though just enough traces of them are 
left to render it certain that they once extended over it in a sheet which is 
locally very thin. At some epoch subsequent to that of the latest deposi- 
tion a fault occurred, cutting along these Jurassic beds, throwing up the 
western side into a great "hog-back." By the subsequent denudation of 
the overlying Tertiaries the highly-inclined Jurassic beds are left project- 
ing above them and also above the continuation of these Tertiaries on the 
eastern or thrown side of the fault. Thus they form a narrow belt between 
the interrupted Tertiary formations. The fault is directly in the prolonga- 
tion of the Sevier fault, but the throw is reversed relatively to it. It is 
designated on the stereogram as the East Gunnison fault, and its northern 
continuation is found on the west side of San Pete Valley, extending nearly 
and perhaps quite to the base of Mount Nebo, though its details have not 
been examined in that vicinity. The sections across this Jurassic Wedge^ 
as I have termed it, will be found in Mr. Howell's delineations (Plate 3), 
sections 1 to 13. 

On the west side of the Sevier Valley runs another fault parallel to 
the foregoing and presenting similar and even homologous features, but 
with the throw on the opposite side. Both in linear and vertical extent the 
dimensions of this displacement (termed the West Gunnison fault) are less 



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SEDIMENTARY BEDS OF THE WASATCH PLATEAU. 165 

than those of the East Gunnison fault. Its position and relations are shown 
in the stereogram and in the sections above refen-ed to. 

Between the East and West Gunnison faults is an uplift, qualifiedly 
tabular in form, which may be called the San Pete Plateau. Its northern 
end is separated from the base of Mount Nebo only by a caflon, which 
emerges near the town of Nephi. Eastward it looks down upon San Pete 
Valley, westward upon Juab Valley, which may be regarded as the north- 
ern continuation of Sevier Valley. Southward the plateau slopes slowly 
as far as the town of Gunnison, where it becomes the floor of the Sevier 
Valley. Its altitude is insufficient to warrant its admission as a member 
of the group of High Plateaus. Its general form may be illustrated as 
follows : If from a point situated about six miles south of Gunnison we 
travel north 30^ east, our course would lead us up into San Pete Valley; 
^ if we travel north 30° west, it would lead us down the Juab Valley; if we 
travel due north, we shall ascend the easy slope of the plateau to its sum- 
mit at its northern end. Its transverse structure is shown in the sections. 
Plate b; sections 1, 2, and 3. 

SEDIMENTARY BEDS COMPOSING THE WASATCH PLATEAU. 

The Wasatch Plateau consists of beds of Upper Cretaceous and early 
Tertiary age, the latter being correlated, as well as any lacustrine beds of 
the Rocky Mountain region can be, with the Lower Eocene. In the low- 
lands immediately adjoining are found, on the east the Lower Cretaceous, 
and on the west a singular occurrence of the Upper Jurassic. There is 
found also in the Sevier and San Pete Valleys, and in the low uplift between 
them, a series of strata of later age than the Tertiaries of the plateau, 
though from many considerations it appears that their age is with great 
probability early Tertiary and immediately subsequent to that of the strata 
upon which they rest. They are believed to be local deposits only, and to 
have accumulated here and there after the commencement of the general 
disturbance and uplifting which resulted in the drainage of the great 
Eocene lake. 

The principal Tertiary series is provisionally divided into two ; the 
lower can be refeiTed with confidence to the same horizons as those occu- 



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SEDIMENTARY BEDS OF THE WASATCH PLATEAU. 165 

than those of the East Gunnison fault. Its position and relations are shown 
in the stereogram and in the sections above refen'ed to. 

Between the East and West Gunnison faults is an uplift, qualifiedly 
tabular in form, which may be called the San Pete Plateau. Its northern 
end is separated from the base of Mount Nebo only by a caflon, which 
emerges near the town of Nephi. Eastward it looks down upon San Pete 
Valley, westward upon Juab Valley, which may be regarded as the north- 
em continuation of Sevier Valley. Southward the plateau slopes slowly 
as far as the town of Gunnison, where it becomes the floor of the Sevier 
Valley. Its altitude is insufficient to warrant its admission as a member 
of the group of High Plateaus. Its general form may be illustrated as 
follows : If from a point situated about six miles south of Gunnison we 
travel north 30^ east, our course would lead us up into San Pete Valley; 
^ if we travel north 30° west, it would lead us down the Juab Valley; if we 
travel due north, we shall ascend the easy slope of the plateau to its sum- 
mit at its northern end. Its transverse structure is shown in the sections. 
Plate b; sections 1, 2, and 3. 

SEDIMENTARY BEDS COMPOSING THE WASATCH PLATEAU. 

The Wasatch Plateau consists of beds of Upper Cretaceous and early 
Tertiary age, the latter being correlated, as well as any lacustrine beds of 
the Rocky Mountain region can be, with the Lower Eocene. In the low- 
lands immediately adjoining are found, on the east the Lower Cretaceous, 
and on the west a singular occurrence of the Upper Jurassic. There is 
found also in the Sevier and San Pete Valleys, and in the low uplift between 
them, a series of strata of later age than the Tertiaries of the plateau, 
though from many considerations it appears that their age is with great 
probability early Tertiary and immediately subsequent to that of the strata 
upon which they rest. They are believed to be local deposits only, and to 
have accumulated here and there after the commencement of the general 
disturbance and uplifting which resulted in the drainage of the great 
Eocene lake. 

The principal Tertiary series is provisionally divided into two ; the 
lower can be referred with confidence to the same horizons as those occu- 



166 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

pied by the beds which Powell has called Bitter Creek, lying upon the 
southern slopes of the Uinta Mountains. This determination does not rest 
upon identical fossils, for the two localities do not yield the same species; 
but upon the most decisive of all evidence, the known continuity of the 
beds. Between the Bitter Creek beds of the Uintas and those here assigned 
to the same epoch is an unbroken exposure along which the identity can 
be traced. The fossils found are Viviparus trochiformis (White), Htjdrobia 
Utahensis (White), several undetermined species of Physa, Planorbis, and 
Limnceaj and some plant remains. The total thickness of this series is 
about 2,200 feet, but varies a little in different sections. The following sec- 
tion was measured by Mr. E. E. Howell at the southwest angle of the plateau, 
and very well represents the general character of the whole formation. 

Feet. 

\a) Shaly limestone, containing Physa^ Limncea^ and PUmorhis 250 

{ft) Gray and cream-colored limestone with Physa 400 

[c) Pale pink arenaceous limestone 250 

[d) Gray limestone, shaly and green at base, with Hydrobia, Physa^ and Yivi- 

parvs 350 

[e) Cream-colored calcareous sandstone 350 

(/) Gray limestone with Viviparus 600 

2,200 

This series has been designated No. 3 in the various sections, and 
though it has not been connected with the Lower Tertiary beds in the 
southernmost of the High Plateaus its identity is probable in a high degree, 
so much so that it is taken for- granted. The beds which overlie it are 
separated by a distinct plane of demai*kation in the principal sections and 
by lithological characters. They are much more variable in their constitu- 
tion and in their bedding. Its members are designated as series No. 2, and 
the following sections by Mr. Howell illustrate their characters : 

Series !N"o. 2 (Tertiary), section !N"o. 7 A: Feet. 

(a) Cream to gray shaly limestone, with fishes, Planorbis j Viviparus^ and indistinct 

plant remains 350 

(b) Greenish calcareous shale 750 

(c) Pale red, purple, and slate-colored marls, with occasional bands of calcareosu 

gray sandstone, fish-scales being found in some of the more calcareous 
members 400 

1,500 



SEDIMENTARY BEDS OF THE WASATCH PLATEAU. 167 

Series No. 2 (Tertiary), section No. 7 B : Feet, 

(a) Cream and gray limestone, containing a few fish-scales; bed of chert at top . . 300 

(b) Greenish calcareous shale . . , 300 

(c) Pale red marly shale 300 



900 

These beds are assigned provisionally to the Lower Green River epoch. 
Unlike the series below them, they cannot be directly connected with the 
strata lying at the base of the Uintas, nor are their fossils a satisfactory 
guide to a decisive correlation, though the presence of fishes resembling 
those of the Green River beds might be regarded as indicating such a rela- 
tion. They have not, however, been identified as belonging to the same 
species as those of the latter formations. The beds in question are found 
only in the Sevier and San Pete Valleys, in the uplift between them, and 
extending a short distance up the great monoclinal flanking the west side 
of the Wasatch Plateau. That they formerly extended over that plateau, 
and for an indefinite distance eastward, is very probable. In this portion 
of Utah they are the last lingering remnants of a series which was nearly 
and in many large areas quite the last to be deposited and the fii'st to be 
attacked by the general process of degradation which has swept away such 
vast masses of strata. From the summit of the Wasatch Plateau this whole 
group of beds has been eroded and about 300 feet of the Bitter Creek beds 
immediately beneath, and this amount of denudation is probably the mini- 
mum of the whole Southern Plateau Province, except wlrere the sediment- 
ary beds have been protected by volcanic rock or have enjoyed unin- 
terrupted protection in gravel-covered valleys between great uplifts. 

The uppermost series of Tertiary beds has been alluded to as consist- 
ing probably of a series of local deposits accumulated after the general 
upward movement of the whole Plateau Province had commenced, though 
it seems probable that this movement was then in its earlier stages. The 
beds contain fossils very similar and perhaps in some cases identical with 
the species of Planorhis Physa Helix (?), and Viviparus^ which are found in 
the series upon which they rest. Lithologically they are much more 
variable. Some of them are conglomerates, which are apparently of allu- 
vial origin, and none of them are found to be continuous over a large area. 




168 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

They all lie near the ancient shore line of the great Eocene lake, and cases 
of unconformity, not only with the underlying series, but among themselves, 
are not uncommon. Their physical characters are, in general, indicative of 
an epoch of gradual displacement in the several tracts which they occupy. 
It would be obviously extremely difficult to correlate such a group with 
any such formations as those which are found on both flanks of the Uintas, 
forming the comparatively regular and systematic strata of the Upper Green 
River series, though general considerations may warrant a provisional 
reference of these local deposits to that period. 

The unconformities just spoken of are probably in some cases apparent 
rather than real. It is easy to see that while deposits are accumulating 
along the slope of a flexure which is in process of formation, the two going 
on pari passUj there may result a want of parallelism in successive layers 
as well as other irregularities which produce collectively the appearance of 
unconformity. This diflfers, however, from that type of real unconformity 
which is usually relied upon as proof of an interval of time between con- 
tiguous formations in which the record is interrupted by a blank of unknown 
duration. Where the exposures are satisfactory the apparent and real occur- 
rences may be distinguished, but in a majority of cases the distinction is 
not easy to find. 

The thickness of the formation is highly variable, ranging from 300 to 
750 feet It consists of alternating marls and sandstones, the latter being 
sometimes coarse-grained, with here and there a patch of conglomerate. 



CHAPTER VIII. 

THE TUSHAE. 

Sevier Valley from Gannison southward. — ^The P^vant. — Salina. — Grandeur of the plateau fronts. — 
The northern end of the Tnshar. — General stmctare of the northern part of the range. — Its inter- 
mediate character between the plateau and basin types. — ^Rugged and mountainous aspect of the 
higher parts. — ^Mounts Belknap and Baldy. — Eastern front. — Bullion Gallon. — ^The Tushar fault. — 
Bhyolites and their numerous varieties. — Basalt upon the summit. — Succession of eruptions and 
the intermissions. — Southern portion of the Tushar. — ^The great conglomerate. — Progressive 
growth of the range. — Alternations of volcanic activity and repose. — Southern termination of the 
Tushar. — ^Midget's Crest. — Dog Valley. — Succession of eruptions in tho southern part of the 
range. — General history of the Tnshar. 

The road leading southward from Gunnison up the valley of the Sevier 
River lies along a smooth plain between the Pdvant Range on the west and 
the great monocHnal on the east. The interval separating these uplifts is 
about 30 miles from summit to summit and about 8 miles from base to base 
(see Plate 3, sections 4 to 13). To the east and northeast from Gunni- 
son is seen the Wasatch Plateau, just distant enough to afford a fine view 
of its grand proportions. Its southwestern angle is decorated with a huge 
butte perched upon a lofty pedestal and crowned with a flat, ashlar-like 
block, which is a conspicuous land-mark from every lofty point to the south- 
ward. This mass is called Musinia, and at once arrests the attention by its 
peculiar form, whether seen from far or near. Southward, at a distance of 
nearly 30 miles, loom up the high volcanic plateaus. The Fish Lake and 
northern portion of the Sevier tables present their transverse profiles 
towards us, and are seen to be separated by a depression called Grass 
Valley. Far to the south-southwest is seen a portion of the Tushar, the 
main ma^s being hidden by a very obtuse salient of the Pdvant The 
absence of Alpine forms and the predominance of the long and slightly- 
inclined profiles of the plateau type rob these great masses of their 
grandeur and beauty; for they produce an optical deception which carries 
the horizon up near their summits, while in reality it is far below. Yet 
some sense of the reality is awakened when from the plain below, in the 

169 



170 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

torrid heat of July, we see the fields of lingering snow light up their 
gloomy crests. To the westward rises the Pdvant, its eastern flank ascend- 
ing with a smooth swell to a crest line which looks down into Round Val- 
ley; and beyond that rise to still greater altitudes the mildly sieiTa-like 
summits of the range. The broad valley of the Sevier is treeless, and sup- 
ports but scantily even the desert-loving Artemisia. It is floored with fine 
loam, which, under the scorching sun, is like ashes, except where the fields 
are made to yield their crops of grain by irrigation. As we ascend the 
valley to the southward the scenery is impressive, for every object is 
molded upon a gi-and scale; though it is only by long study and familiarity 
that the huge proportions are realized. The absence of details, the smooth- 
ness of crests and profiles, at first deceive the eye and always tend to 
belittle the component masses. A stretch of 10 miles from Gunnison 
throws to the westward the salient of the Pdvant and reveals the south- 
ward extension of the valley for 35 miles, beyond which rise the summits 
of the Tushar in full view. Right opposite this point the Pdvant has now 
changed its aspect to one contrasting strongly with the view we had of it 
from Gunnison. There we saw a dull, monotonous slope; here we behold a 
splendid array of clifis, showing the edges of Tertiary strata gently slop- 
ing towards us, carved and broken after the usual fashion of the Plateau 
Country, and lit up with flaring colors — red, white, and yellow. The indi- 
vidual clifis and cnigs are neither very high nor very long, but rise above 
each other terrace-like, after the manner of a rambling series of fortifica- 
tions, with tier upon tier and with numberless salients and curtain walls. 
To one viewing plateau scenery for the first time this portion of the Pdvant 
would be a source of surprise and enthusiasm; to one familiar with the 
colossal walls in the heart of the Plateau Province it is tame and almost 
insignificant. 

Fourteen miles south of Gunnison is the little Mormon village Salina, 
a wretched hamlet, whose inhabitants earn a scanty subsistence by lixiviat- 
ing salt from the red clay which underlies the Tertiary beds in the vicinity. 
Around and beyond this village is a dismal array of bad lands of great 
extent, presenting a striking picture of desolation and the wreck of strata, 
while beyond and above them rise the northern volcanic sheets of the 



SEVIER VALLEY— THE PlVANT. 171 

Sevier Plateau. The lava, the desolation, and the salt strongly suggest 
recollections of Sodom and Gomorrah. At this point Salina Creek emerges 
from its cation through the groat raonoclinal — a fine, large stream. To the 
south-southwest the valley of the Sevier becomes considerably narrower 
and the Pdvant lower, but the slope of that range gives place to an abrupt 
wall, due to a fault. A few miles south of Salina commences the great 
Sevier Plateau on the east side of the valley, its northern end gradually 
and steadily sloping upwards as we proceed south and its western wall 
becoming more and more abrupt, until it becomes a cliff of grand dimen- 
sions. From the town of Richfield, 18 miles south of Salina, we may 
behold it in all its grandeur, rising 5,800 feet above the plain below; its 
upper third a sheer precipice, the lower two-thirds plunging down in steep 
buttresses which thrust their bases beneath the level floor. Its aspect is 
dark and gloomy from the dark gray dolerites and trachytes which make 
up its whole mass Right at our backs are the lively tints of the Tertiaries 
in the Pdvant; beds of pink, carmine, and cream, alternating with almost 
pure white, and with a rigorously even stratification. A stronger contrast 
it is difficult to imagine. Yet a mile or two beyond Richfield these rain- 
bow beds suddenly give place to a black rhyolite,* which has spread from 
some unknown vent and covered the Tertiaries. 

Moving still southwards along the flank of the Pavant, which slowly 
but steadily diminishes in altitude, we reach its junction with the Tushar 
about 16 miles southwest of Richfield. Here a lateral valley from the 
west joins the Sevier Valley, the upward continuation of the latter being 
due south between the towe ing heights of the Sevier Plateau on the east 
and the Tushar on the west. The separation of the Pavant from the 
Tushar is merely a low divide or saddle, or, if the idea is more acceptable, 
the former may be regarded as the northern continuation of the latter at a 
lower altitude. The lateral valley, as we ascend, narrows rapidly to a mere 
cation, and from is southern brink rise the great spurs of the Tushar. 

The northern portion of this uplift is crowned by volcanic peaks, 

•This is a somewhat oxccptioual rock ; very little feldspar, ranch free quartz, and the vesicnlar 
specimens have the elongated, wiry, and fluctuated vesicles which are eminently characteristic of rhy- 
olite. The hlack color, almost equal to that of basalt, is apparently duo to the presence of an unusual 
quantity of magnetite. 



172 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

which reach higher altitudes than any other summits in Utah excepting a 
few in the Uintas. There are three points which reach above 12,000 feet, 
viz: Delano, 12,160 feet; Belknap, 12,080 feet, and Baldy, 12,000 (?) feet. 
There is nothing in the aspect of this portion of the Tushar mass to sug- 
gest to the eye a plateau structure; on the contrary, the appearance is in a 
high degree sierra-lil^e, and it is quite possible that this portion of it should 
be regarded as belonging rather to the basin than to the plateau type of 
uplift But so far as the structure depends upon vertical displacement, it 
is much obscured by the enormous series of volcanic floods which have 
been poured over it by numberless eruptions. Frequent indications, how- 
ever, are seen of a general and moderate dip of the whole series to the 
west, leading to a presumption that the whole Tushar mass has a tilt in 
that direction. But while the exposures are numerous, there are no ex- 
tended ones among them. The process of erosion has here wrought out a 
sculpture differing utterly from that presented by the sedimentaries, and 
one calculated to conceal the frame-work of the mountains instead of lay- 
ing it bare. The degradation has here been very great; greater certainly 
than in some of the other volcanic plateaus. Instead of great cliffs, we 
find only slopes covered with debris and soil, with here and there a pro- 
jecting ledge, which is soon lost beneath a talus. The best exposures are 
seen along the eastern front, facing the Sevier Valley, and in the deep 
gorges opening into it and heading far back in the heart of the range. 
These all concur in indicating a general slope of the beds to the westward, 
which is strongest near the eastern flank and smaller in the central portions 
and western flank. The northern portion is also deeply scored with grand 
ravines, well calculated to kindle the enthusiasm of the mountaineer and 
task his energy. The exposures which they contain, so far as they have 
been examined, accord with those in the eastern gorges in presenting a 
westward inclination. It is quite possible that many faults complicating 
the stinicture have escaped detection, but it is not probable that any sub- 
ordinate displacements yet to be discovered will seriously impair the con- 
clusion adopted regarding the general structure. 

But while the plan of the entire uplift seems to be most nearly allied 
to the plateau type, it is equally apparent that there is a strong tendency 



GENERAL STRUCTURE OF THE TUSHAR. 173 

toward the basin type. The latter may be represented by conceiving the 
strata forming the platform of a given tract to be rent by a long fault, and 
upon one side of it to be lifted and tilted at a considerable angle. This 
inclined mass is usually further fractured by smaller faults rudely parallel 
to the principal one, and complicated by more or less warping. The 
plateaus also are usually tilted, the Aquarius and Kaibab being most nearly 
horizontal. But there is a marked difference between the two types in the 
amount of inclination. In the plateaus it seldom exceeds three degrees; in 
the basin it is rarely less than ten. In the plateaus the warping and minor 
displacements are seldom important, and the whole aspect is calm and even ; 
in the basin they are extensive, and the aspect is wild and distorted. In 
the plateaus, the obvious characteristic features are the broad platforms of 
the tables, the gently sloping terraces and the majestic repose of the mighty 
cliffs which bound them; in the basin, they are the sharp ridges, cusp-like 
teeth, and tumultuous slopes of sierras. Probably the correct view to be 
drawn from a comparison of the two structures is that the basin type repre- 
sents an advanced stage of an action which has been imperfectly developed 
in the plateaus. Had the tables been pushed up higher, they might have 
been as much inclined as the sierras and as much comminuted and distorted. 

The Tushar is in some portions at least, and so far as observed in most 
portions, more inclined than any other of the High Plateaus, but so far as 
can now be discerned it approaches more nearly to the tabular than to the 
sierra type. Lying within the geographical limits of the Great Basin, it is 
not surprising that it should show an approach to the structure of the latter 
province. It may be regarded as indicating a transition between the two 
forms, though more nearly allied to those peculiar to the Plateau Province. 

It is difficult, however, to realize this conclusion as being a true one 
when we stand upon the southern termination of the Pdvant, and look at 
the cluster of peaks which crown the summit of the Tushar. Two noble 
cones ending in sharp cusps stand pre-eminent, while behind them numer- 
ous dome-like masses rise to nearly the same altitudes. The two peaks are 
Belknap and Baldy, which reach above the timber-line, and are very strik- 
ing on account of the light cream-color of their steep slopes and the ashy- 
gray tips of the apices. These pyramids are not apparently the remains 



174 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

of craters, but mere remnants of the uppermost sheets, which have been 
ahnost wholly removed by erosion. From their bases radiate profound 
gorges separated by huge buttresses, which extend to the lowest valleys 
and plains, while beyond them rough crags and shattered domes rear their 
bald summits to the clouds. But all this grand detail of mountain form 
has been carved out of the vast block of the tabular mass by the ordinary 
process of erosion. The lavas accumulated sheet upon sheet, the subter- 
ranean forces uplifted the block and tilted it, and the rains and torrents have 
done the rest. 

The eastern front of the Tushar is far more rugged and mountainous 
than the western, and the explanation is obvious. The western slope is along 
the dip of the strata, which, though considerable near the crest, is slight as 
we recede from it westward. The eastern slope is across the upturned 
edges, and from the nature of the case is very abrupt. The power of water 
to corrade and carve rapidly increases with the slope, and the resultant 
sculptural forms are correspondingly bold and craggy. 

The loftiest, boldest, and most diversified portion of the Tushar fronts 
the Sevier Valley in the vicinity of a little hamlet called Marysvale, situ- 
ated about 27 miles south of Richfield. The great mountain wall leaps at 
once from the narrow platform of the valley to nearly its greatest altitude. 
Immense ravines, rivaling those of the Wasatch in depth, but narrower and 
with steeper sides, have deeply cleft the great tabular mass, and subdivided it 
into huge pediments, which from below appear like individual mountains. 
The finest gorge is named Bullion Canon, in the jaws of which the little 
village of Marysvale is situated. Ascending it, we may gain some informa- 
tion concerning the structure of this portion of the Tushar mass. The 
lowest beds fonning the base courses of the uplift are quartzites resulting 
from the metamorphism of sedimentary strata, which are believed to be of 
Jurassic age. They are considerably disturbed, yet not excessively so. 
The prevailing dip is to the west, though it is by no means uniform. The 
main fault, which has thrown down the platform of the Sevier Valley, 
runs north and south along the base of the mountains, but the whole dis- 
placement is probably by a series of parallel repetitive faults. I have seen 
but one of the faults west of the principal displacement, but have inferred 



BULLION CASOK 175 

their existence by the recun-ence of beds, which seem to be identical both 
individually and serially, at higher and higher levels up the cafion. 

As we ascend Bullion Gallon from Marysvale we observe on either side 
a hard quartzitic rock well bedded in massive layers, exhibiting consider- 
able metamorphism. It is also somewhat variable in the dip. The strata 
incline upward at first, but soon flex easily back until the dip is westward. 
The thickness of the series seems to be very considerable, though the ap- 
parent thickness may be partly due to repetitive faults of small shear. At 
a distance of about 3 miles from Marysvale and 2, GOO feet above that vil- 
lage, we come upon the volcanic series. A mass of dark-colored liparite 
rests upon the quartzit^ having a thickness of about 450 feet. About 500 
feet higher the quartzite reappears, being probably the same bed as below, 
but thrown up by a minor displacement, and it is covered by the same or 
a similar sheet of liparite The quartzite, however, is more altered than 
the portion of it below, and in general as we ascend from Marysvale 
through the quartzitic beds the signs of increasing alteration are unmistak- 
able. From this point upwards eruptive rocks alone are seen. The lower 
masses are dark Hparites, with abundant quartz andmonoclinic feldspar and 
decomposed hornblende. Still higher rocks of a porphyritic texture and a 
dark purplish hue lie in great volume. They have a striking resemblance 
superficially to the argilloid trachytes of the central and eastern plateaus, 
but contain abundant quartz, and the microscojDe confirms their rhyolitic 
character. These two groups of eruptions are separated by local conglom- 
erates derived from the older of them, and the surface of the latter is seen 
to have been much eroded, indicating a considerable interval of time 
between the periods of activity. The summit of the scries consists of a 
group of rhyolites (proper rhyolite), which contrast strongly with those 
beneath. They are very light colored, without crystals, and yet not hyaline. 
They are highly siliceous, and exhibit in the thin sections a fibrolitic or 
spherolitic groundmass of beautiful texture and very interesting. Some 
of the specimens are exceedingly siliceous, and are resolved under the 
microscope into an aggregation resembling very fine-grained quartzite and 
appear to be quite abnormal. The light-colored masses are generally true 
rhyolites of no uncommon kind. This rock forms the lofty peaks crown- 



176 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

ing the northern summit of the Tushar mass, and occurs in several out- 
lying knobs and small crests to the east and northeast of Belknap. But the 
northwestern slope of the range has been mantled by great floods of it, 
which have poured in massive sheets from summit to base, burying the 
antecedent topography of the mountain and generating a new one. The 
individual eruptions making up this rhyolitic mass appear to have been 
numerous, some very voluminous, others very small. The smaller ones 
are seen to fill up old ravines and to mold themselves upon uneven pre- 
existing surfaces, while the grander floods pour over everything and spread 
out over great expanses of mountain side. Although this lava is, with the 
exception of a few minor basaltic streams around the western base of the 
Tushar, the most recent of all the outbreaks, yet absolutely it is of con- 
siderable antiquity. Since the extinction of the vents from which it was 
emitted there has been a long period of erosion. Belknap and Baldy, 
together with the eastern outliers, are mere remnants of piled-up sheets, 
which were perhaps once continuous, but are now separated by profound 
ravines, which have been excavated by erosion. 

The indications are abundant that the period separating the earliest 
from the latest eruptions was a very long one. The contact of the earliest 
liparites with the Jurassic quartzites shows heavy floods of lava pouring 
over a very uneven surface and piled up in layers by successive eruptions 
to a thickness of more than 2,000 feet. These, in their turn, show a sub- 
sequent degi'adation by erosion not only in the sculpturing and carving of 
the beds, producing an unconformity in some of the contacts, but also in 
the existence of local conglomerates composed of the water- worn fragments 
of the dilapidated rocks cemented by finer detritus derived from the decom- 
position of the feldspathic materials. 

These earlier eruptions appear to have been followed by a long period 
of calm, during which they were attacked by the degi'ading force and 
slowly wasted by decay. In many places the beds were cut through down 
to the quartzite and a fresh topography was carved oUt by erosion. After- 
wards the activity was reopened with fresh eruptions of a different charac- 
ter. These second eruptions were grander than the first, some of the beds 
being many hundi-eds of feet in thickness, spreading over great areas, and 



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RHYOLITES— SOUTHERN PORTION OF THE TUSHAR^ 177 

extending far to the westward, expanding as they extend. Of this rock, a 
dark purplish porphyritic rhyoKte, the great central mass of the Tushar is 
composed. 

The second period of activity was followed by another interval of 
repose. During this interval the greater part of tlie uplifting of the range 
took place. The faults traverse and dislocate both the first and the second 
series of eruptions. It was also a period of great erosion, during which the 
turmoil of mountain peaks, domes, and spurs were carved on the eastern 
flank, and that side of the range devastated in a striking manner by the 
slow ravage of time. The third epoch of eruption was the least of all and 
most local, being confined to the portion around Belknap and Baldy, and 
furnishing the cream-colored rhyolite and a few small outbreaks of basalt. 

The southern portion of the Tushar contrasts with the northern por- 
tion in many respects. It exhibits a totally different group of eruptive rocks. 
In the northern part the extravasated rocks are rhyolites ; in the southern 
part they are trachytes, augitic andesites, dolerites, and basalts. The form 
of the southern part of the uplift is distinctly tabular or plateau-like, while 
the northern part has the sierra aspect. 

About 3 miles south of Belknap, standing upon the brink of an old 

couUe, we look southward over a broad expanse of comparative calm lying 

at a slightly lower level. In this expanse the tabular form of the Tushar 

mass is no longer doubtful. A lofty plain diversified by ridges of erosion 

is spread out before the gaze, clad with spnice and aspen and opening in 

grassy parks. The abundant streams have carved gently-sloping ravines 

and pleasant knolls, where the dark lavas may occasionally be detected 

dipping very gently to the west, but near the eastern rim rising more 

boldly to the timber line (11,500 to 12,000 feet), where they are suddenly 

cut off and present their tinincated edges to the eastward in the boldest of 

mountain slopes. This part of the plateau summit is about 22 miles in 

length, 8 to 10 miles in width, and the mean altitude about 10,000 feet. 

Erosion has given to this lofty watershed a surface very similar to that 

which may be observed in any well-watered country, and which is in 

strong contrast with the peculiar forms observable at lower levels where the 

precipitation is much smaller 
12 H p 



178 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

The eastern front of the Tushar preserves that rugged mountainous 
aspect already described throughout two-thirds of its extent The southern 
third is a wall of imposing grandeur, presenting to the eye the effect of- a 
perpendicular escarpment, though really it is inclined at a slope of 60° or 
more. It is a magnificent object as seen from Circle Valley, rising nearly 
2,000 feet above its base, and its base standing at the summit of a long 
slope which rises 2,000 feet above the valley bottom. This great cliff is a 
conglomerate composed of the ruins of older volcanic rocks. It is stratified, 
but not so conspicuously as most of the similar formations so abundant 
throughout the district. The finer material which incloses the rocky frag- 
ments is a light-gray pulverulent detritus, evidently resulting from the 
decomposition of feldspathic materials and highly aluminous. Some of the 
members of this series of heavy beds consist chiefly of this finer material, 
holding comparatively few fragments ; in others the fragments are much 
more abundant, constituting the greater part of the mass. The fragments 
are usually somewhat rounded at the edges, but in most cases the amount 
of attrition is small, though seldom wholly unrecognizable. The mode of 
origin of this and similar conglomerates will be discussed in detail in a sub- 
sequent chapter. It is a sub-aerial formation throughout, and the mode of 
accumulation may be seen and studied hard by in all the valleys of the 
district. (See Heliotype II.) 

These beds are of ancient origin, having been formed prior to the 
great displacements which have given the Tushar its present structural 
features. The inclosed fragments are wholly variable in character. None 
of the rhyolitic, trachytic, and basaltic rocks of later age are seen among 
them, and the inference is irresistible that its formation was completed before 
these last-named masses were erupted. The source of these materials seems 
to have been the adjoining mass of tlie present Tushar table to the north- 
ward. To realize how this may have been wo are obliged to go back in 
time to the later Eocene or early Miocene, when, in all probability, these 
great outbreaks occurred, and endeavor to reconstruct the country. At 
that time the centers or loci of eruption were doubtless in the very heart 
of the range, and stood considerably higher than the adjoining part of the 
country, just as they do now, though more recent movements on a grand 



DEGRADATION OF TOE TUSHAR— CONGLOMERATES. 179 

scale have produced new features by uplifting the range en masse. But as 
these recent movements apply to the whole uplift, the relative altitudes of 
the loftier portion, which furnished the debris, and the less lofty portion, 
which has received it, have not been much, if at all, changed with respect 
to each other. But erosion has apparently effected what displacement has 
not ; it has nearly equalized the levels of the two portions. The volcanic 
masses near the foci must have been very voluminous, for the conglomer- 
ates derived from them extend with great thickness over a large area, rival- 
ing in bulk, if indeed they do not surpass, the enormous masses yet 
remaining. Wherever we find strata composed of clastic materials, the 
present methods of reasoning in geological science compel us to acknowl- 
edge that they have been derived from the degradation of masses of even 
greater magnitude.* In the case of a great sub-aerial conglomerate, formed 
under conditions which are still existing and a process still operating, we 
naturally look to the vicinity or border of the conglomerate itself for the 
source of the materials. We find a very obvious source to the northward. 
The structure of the great uplift of which the conglomerate forms a part 
and large masses of eruptive strata in situ, composed of materials agree- 
ing with those found in the clastic beds, confirm this view so strongly, that 
there seems no room for question. But the mass of the conglomerate argues 
an enormous degradation. To supply so vast an accumulation the older 
eruptive area in the central part of the Tushar must have been piled thou- 
sands of feet high with successive sheets no longer visible, or have been 
the theater of eruptions separated by long intervals of erosion, which in 
the long run removed the lavas as fast as they were erupted. A view which 
is a compromise between these two I regard as decidedly preferable, and 
most fully sustained by the general tenor of the evidence throughout the 
entire district. We may look back to a period somewhat earlier than Mid- 
dle Tertiary, when the volcanic einiptions built up iEtna-like highlands of 
eruptive materials, not by rapidly succeeding outpours, but by alternating 
emission and quiescence. Between the outbreaks many years or centuries 
may have elapsed, but the accumulation was much more rapid for a time than 

* Except in cafies whore piiIveruleDt and fragmentary inntcrials have been ejected and Bcatterod, 
which is not the case in the present instance. 



180 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

degradation, and the altitudes of the eruptive centers increased. Now and 
then came a long interval of repose, indicated by the quiet accumulation of 
considerable, though very local, masses of stratified conglomerate here and 
there. Again the energy was renewed and fresh outbreaks occurred, fol- 
lowed by a long rest After a protracted series of alternating eruptions and 
unequal intervals of rest there came a very long period of repose to be 
reckoned by a geological standard of time, during which these massive 
conglomerates accumulated and the huge volcanic piles were razeed — ^a 
period in which there may have been eruptions, but in which, on the whole, 
the ceaseless erosion leveled down tlie highlands and leveled up the low- 
lands. 

But the building of the conglomerate beds did not close the volcanic 
cycle. After they had acquired their enormous bulk there came another 
period of outbreaks, some of them in the old localities, others in new ones, 
pouring fresh sheets over the wasted centers and over their scattered and 
stratified debris^ piling up fresh mountains of lava and generating a new 
topography. This second series of eruptions differed strikingly in litho- 
logical character from the first. The earliest series in the Tushar, so far as 
known, is andesitic and trachytic ; the second is rhyolitic and basaltic. In 
the northern part of the range the dominant rock of the second series is 
rhyolite, with a limited occurrence of basalt In the southern part of the 
range the relative abundance of the two groups is reversed, rhyolite being 
uncommon, and in most areas being replaced by true trachyte. These 
beds cover both the central part of the Tushar and the conglomerates at 
the southern end. They lie upon the eroded surface, filling old ravine? and 
spread out in broad sheets over the tabular summit, obliterating upon the 
surface the definition between the conglomerate and the degi'aded mass 
which furnished its materials, though the junction is exposed in the eastern 
front of the range by the great fault which at a later epoch was formed by 
the general uplifting of the whole mass. 

The southern termination of the Tushar is marked by a group of lofty 
summits a few hundred feet lower than Belknap at the northern end and 
Delano near the center, but full 1,600 feet higher than the wall and tabular 
summit which connects them with the central part of the table. They are 



SOUTHERN TERMINATION— MTOGEPS CREST 181 

superposed masses of volcanic beds resting upon the great conglomerate. 
Here the faulted wall of the range swings around to the southwestward and 
rapidly dies out. (See stereogram.) 

The lofty crest at the southern end of the Tushar has been named 
Midget's Crest, and it presents to the southeast three bold salients, standing 
about 5,600 feet above Circle Valley, which lies at the base of its great 
spurs east-northeast Its absolute altitude is about 11,600 feet. It is a 
volcanic mass, built by the accumulation of andesitic, trachy tic, and basaltic 
sheets. The three salients are from 1,400 to 1,600 feet higher than the 
summit of the conglomerate cliflF to the nortli of them and their superior 
eminence is due to this accumulation of lavas. The conglomerate passes 
beneath them though its outcrop is masked by the talus. 

The sheets which compose Midget's Crest belong to a later period than 
those which occupy the central part of the Tushar range, and which were 
broken down to form the great conglomerate. CouUes of the same period 
are found north of this crest, upon the summit of the tabular part of the 
Tushar, where they are mainly trachytic. Upon the extreme summit of the 
southern crest lies a true basalt, highly vesicular upon its surface, and the 
first impression is that it is a comparatively recent eruption — Post-Pliocene 
or Quaternary — the rocks on which it rests being certainly very much older. 
It is of small expanse and thickness and is abruptly cut oflF at the crest-line 
of the ridge. Its origin cannot easily be conjectured. There are no indi- 
cations of a vent in the vicinity and, notwithstanding the freshness of its 
appearance, it may be as old as early Pliocene. But the beds on which it 
lies are less doubtful. They face southeastwardly, forming the salients 
already mentioned, and have been wasted greatly by the general degrada- 
tion. When the period of dislocation and uplifting set^^in^they extended 
as far to southeast as the principal fault which runs around this angle of the 
plateau with a throw of about 3,500 to 4,000 feet, and the entire mass 
between the crest-line and the fault has been denuded to a con-esponding 
depth. The origin of the lavas I believe to have been to the southeast 
and east of the ridge in the vicinity of the faults, where evidences of great 
contortion and considerable chaos are still visible, and where rocks appar- 
ently identical with those upon the summit of the table and near the 



182 geol6g\ of the high plateaus. 

summit of the crest are still discernible, though now they lie at least 3,000 
feet below them. 

Immediately south of Midget's Crest lies Dog Valley — a pleasant 
moderately diversified platform — with an absolute altitude of about 7,500 
feet or 1,500 feet above the Sevier at Circle Valley. It is a part of the 
last-mentioned focus of eruptions of the second or middle epoch, but erosion 
has leveled down most of the ancient irregularities, and left it a field of 
rolling hills, well covered with soil, loam, and sharp gravels. Its real history 
might not have been suspected, were it not for the vast floods of lava which 
spread out from it in all directions for many miles, growing thinner and 
broader as they recede. 

Southwest of Midget's Crest the altitude of the plateau gradually 
diminishes until its summit at last is lost in the next region. The fault 
which originated the escarpment of the plateau suddenly becomes a mono- 
clinal which dies out in the space of about 6 miles. This monoclinal is 
composed of conglomerate of unknown thickness, but not less than 1 ,500 
feet in the vicinity of the flexure. It turns up at an angle of 28° to 30° 
against the diminishing wall of the plateau, but soon straightens out towards 
the south and decreases rapidly in thickness. It is composed of basaltic 
(doleritic) materials chiefly, quite similar to, and perhaps identical in part 
with, the remnants of that kind of rock forming the extreme sununits of the 
salients on Midget's Crest. 

The western base of the Tushar I have seen in part only, and have 
given that part merely a cursory examination. It is possible that there 
exists a fault of about 1,200 feet along this base with a throw to the west; 
a continuation of the Hurricane fault, which appears in great force about 
15 miles south of the southwest slope of the Tushar. But I have not 
verified the existence of such a fault in this locality, and such an occurrence 
may not be necessary to explain the features presented, so far as observed- 
The summit of the table, after maintaining for about 10 miles an easy slope 
to the west, suddenly increases the descent of the profile to the broad plain 
below. The surface contour here cuts across the ends of the lava sheets, 
which are seen to be considerably attenuated when compared with the 
huge masses exposed upon the upturned eastern flank of the range. 



THE BUILDING OF THE TUSHAR. 183 

Whether the somewhat abrupt western boundary is due to the faulting 
suggested above or to the termination of the old couUes it is not possible to 
say with confidence, but the former view seems to furnish the easiest 
explanation. 

At the western base of the Tushar, near the town of Beaver, is seen a 
very recent basaltic crater in a very perfect state of preservation. Farther 
northward are others, some of them so recent that we may easily suppose 
tliat their eniptive activity has ceased within a few hundred years. Many 
of the basaltic craters throughout the Plateau Country seem to be equally 
recent, though many others have considerable antiquity. On the whole, 
however, the true basalts are the most recent of all eruptions. They are 
seldom found in the heart of the older eruptions — indeed, I am able to 
recall but few such instances — ^but they occur around the outskirts of 
older volcanic districts, and often at a considerable distance from them. In 
respect to magnitude of eruptive mass, the basalts are here decidedly 
inferior to every other class of rocks. 

THE BUILDING OP THE TUSRAR. 

To go back to the commencement of the series of events and pro- 
cesses which have combined to rear this majestic range to its present alti- 
tude and proportions and give it its present details is no easy task. But 
while there is much room for conjecture, there are many facts which appear, 
after careful analysis, and which are sufficient, when properly arranged, to 
give a connected history, even though it be but a faint outKne. 

It is necessary to find, in the first place, some initial epoch marking 
the beginning of the train of events which have been directly concerned 
in the construction of the range, and this is the same epoch which forms 
the starting-point probably of the processes which have built all of the 
High Plateaus. This is the close of the Upper Green River epoch. The 
direct evidence that the Tushar had its birth-throes at this period is not so 
clear as in the others, but the cumulative indirect evidence is very strong 
and will become apparent as the discussion proceeds. It may be sufficient 
to remark just here that this view harmonizes with all known facts and all 
observations, and is in conflict with none. 



184 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

The Tushar stands upon the course of the western shore line of the 
great Eocene lake. This shore line may be traced, with a very close ap- 
proach to exactitude, from the southern base of Nebo across Juab Valley 
to the Pdvant, and tlu-ough that range longitudinally as far as the northern 
flank of the Tushar. For the whole series of lacustrine beds may be seen 
abutting shar[)ly against the disturbed beds of Carboniferous and early 
Mesozoic ago along this line, excepting where their junction is concealed 
for a short distance by the alluvia of the Juab Valley. Through a portion 
of its extent this fragment of the coast was rockbound; for in the Pdvant, 
at least, plicated and contorted Carboniferous rocks still overlook the Ter- 
tiary beds, with every indication that this relation has remained unaltered 
tliroughout Tertiary time, though general movements of displacement in- 
volving the entire range have otherwise modified its topography. Like all 
rockbound coasts it had its sinuosities — here an estuary, there a peninsula; 
here a bight, there an outward swing of the shore. This coast line strikes 
the Tushar near its northwestern angle and is instantly lost beneath floods 
of rhyolite. Nothing is seen of it until nearly 50 miles south-southwest it 
is revealed in the Iron Mountains by Tertiary beds cut off against the 
Trias. If we suppose a straight line joining the broken ends to represent 
the mean position of the coast line, the whole of the Tushar would stand 
within the Eocene lake; but this supposition is not tenable. On the east- 
ern flank of the range, near Marys^ale, and thence southward for 10 miles, 
we find the base of it to be composed of metamorphosed quartzites, upon 
which a few patches of limestone rest, holding Fentacrinus asterisctis, a 
highly characteristic Jurassic fossil, and upon this quartzite and limestone 
immediately rest the lavas. No trace of a Tertiary or even Cretaceous 
stratified rock is to be seen. Tlie uneven eroded surface of these beds, 
with hills and valleys and rocky eminences, was thus sealed up at the very 
epoch of which we speak and broken open at an epoch long subsequent 
by the shearing of a great fault and by the cutting of ravines, thus reveal- 
ing in a manner which cannot be mistaken the existence of a land area. 
It lies at least 15 miles to the eastward of the straight line joining the 
broken ends of the lake coast. Either, then, we have a peninsula or an 
island in the lake to mark the nucleus of the future Tushar. The Tertia- 



THE BUILDmG OP THE TUSHAE. 185 

ries aro seen lapping around both the northern and southern extremities 
of the range, and it is probable that they are concealed not far from its 
eastern base. 

Such was the relation of the area to its surroundings when the earliest 
eruptions (so far as they have been observed) took place. They broke 
forth at first along the course of the present eastern front, a little east of 
the main divide as it now stands, and along a line nearly 30 miles in length, 
having a general trend north and south. They were not continuous along 
this line, but were massed in at least three places: one near the northern end 
of the Tushar, one (and this the principal one) near the central part of the 
front, and the other near the southern end, but a few miles southeast of it. 
The location of this latter center of einiption cannot be fixed at present 
with exactitude, and may have been more remote than I was at first led to 
suppose. The interval between the southern and middle sources is greater 
than that between the middle and northern, and it is not certain that this 
second or northern interval was well marked, though the southern interval is 
very distinctly so. What other vents existed, or even whether any others 
existed at all, it is not now possible to determine, on account of subsequent 
accumulations which have buried the surrounding country. This period 
of eniptive activity was certainly a long one ; for between the outbreaks 
erosion went on, leaving traces of its action in the eroded surfaces of its 
sheets and in the many small local conglomerates formed out of their decay. 
But the accumulation by successive outpours was far more rapid than the 
waste, until there came a long period during which these vents were sealed 
up and degradation proceeded. At the commencement of this period of 
repose the eruptive masses must have been piled up to a great altitude and 
covered an extensive area, for the conglomerates which were formed by 
their dilapidation are of immense extent and thickness and sufficient in 
mass to build a goodly range of mountains. The southern interval was 
almost wholly filled up by the fragments washed into it and stratified, and 
the conglomerate thus formed stretches far to the southwest, always main- 
taining a gi-eat thickness. At least 2,000 feet of it occupy the southern 
interval, and it is still many hundreds of feet thick 8 or 10 miles away. 

In many respects the relations of the eruptive masses to the country 



186 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

they occupied at the close of the earliest volcanic period presents a very- 
strong analogy to those of Central France, as described by Sir G. Poulett 
Scrope in his work upon that region.* In point of magnitude the earliest 
eruptions of the Tushar were probably comparable to those of the Cantal, 
covering perhaps a larger area but with a greater thickness. 

After a long period of comparative quiet, during which the greater 
portion of the mass of these earlier eruptions was broken up by erosion 
and scattered over the adjoining lowlands and intervening valleys, came 
the second period of eruption, upon a scale grander than the first. The 
foci of activity were in close proximity to those of the first period. The 
outpours at the northern portion still remain in great bulk and are chiefly 
rhyolitic. But the grandest floods of all are in the center of the range, 
where they are laid open by several deep gorges, the largest of which is 
Bullion Cafion. The course of the streams was here to the westward 
chiefly, where they widened out and grew thin as they receded from their 
origin. The total thickness remaining of these rhyolitic masses probably 
exceeds 2,000 feet,* and there is good evidence that a considerable amount 
has been lost by erosion. What floods may be hidden beneath the floor of 
the Sevier Valley at the eastern base it is impossible to say or even to con- 
jecture. Thus for the second time the Tushar was built up by extra vasated 
materials and to an altitude greater probably than at first. 

A second period of comparative calm now followed, during which 
erosion was at work cutting deep gorges, carving out pediments, and leav- 
ing a rugged series of peaks and domes along the eastern flank. But 
another agency in mountain structure also intei'vened. This was an exten- 
sive vertical movement of the whole mass. At what precise epoch the 
faults which now separate it from the platform of the Sevier Valley were 
started it is impossible to say with precision. It is clear, however, that the 
commencement of the displacement was subsequent to the deposition of 
the great conglomerates wliich were formed by the destruction of the older 
Tushar, and it is almost certain that the displacements had not attained any 
gi'eat magnitude or a magnitude comparable to the present during the 
second eruptive period. The principal part of the uplifting has apparently 

* The Geology and Extinct Volcanoes of Central France, jyy G. Poulett Scrope, 1858. 



THE BUILDING OP THE TUSHAB. 187 

been accomplished since the close of this second activity, though some of 
the movement may, in the absence of evidencie to the contrary, be assipfned 
to this period. 

The second period of cessation in the eruptions was broken at a com- 
paratively late epoch by a third outbreak at the northern end and at sev- 

« 

eral localities on the eastern flank in the vicinity of the faults. To this 
third eruptive period belong the whitish rhyolite and the basalts, together 
with several masses in the Sevier Valley which have emanated from the 
foot of the range, and which will be discussed when we reach in regular 
order the description of that valley. 

The history of the Tushar, therefore, comprises five tolerably distinct 
periods since the commencement of the various activities which have 
brought it to its present stage. 

Ist An older eruptive epoch, building up an ancient volcanic mass. 

2d. A period of decay, in which the mass thus built was nearly leveled 
down, and its fragments scattered far and wide and reconstructed in the 
form of conglomerates and alluvial beds. 

3d. A second eruptive period, more extensive than the first, rebuilding 
the dilapidated mass. 

4th. A second cessation of eruptions and the introduction and progress 
of extensive uplifting and faulting, accompanied by considerable erosion. 

5th. A third series of minor outbreaks of much smaller extent than 
either of the others, some of which (around the bases of the range) are 
very recent. 

In this history we perceive the combination of most of the important 
forces and agencies of geology : eruption, displacement, erosion, and accu- 
mulation ; all performing their parts in the general work, and yielding an 
intelligible result in the erection of a grand uplift 



CHAPTER IX. 

THE MAEKAGUNT PLATEAU. 

DeBoription of its general featnros and relations. — Dog Volley. — One of the principal omptive centers of 
trachytio masses. — Characters of the lavas. — ^Basaltic eruptions and conglomerates. — Bear Val- 
ley. — Little Creek Peak and Bear Peak. — ^Tufaceous beds. — Overlying lavas. — Degradation of the 
plateau.— View from the summit of Little Creek Peak. — Journey over the Marki^nt. — Succes- 
sion of omptionSy andesites, trachytes, rhyolites, basalts. — Central group of ancient basaltic 
cones. — ^Their dilapidated condition. — Panquitch Lake.— Exposures of contact between the lavas 
and sedimentaries. — Modem basaltic outpours. — Other basaltic fields. — ^Relative recency of the 
basalts. — Surface changes since the eruptions. — Connection of the Markdgunt basalts with those 
of more southern regions. — Sedimentary formations of the Western and Southern Mark^nnt. — 
Tufaceous deposits. — Pink Cliff beds. — Correlation of local Tertiaries with those of the Wasatch 
Plateau. — ^The Cretaceous. — Jurassic and Triassio formations. — ^The Shin^Krump.— The Southern 
Cliffs of the MorkiSgunt. — Outlook to the for southward. 

The Markdgunt Plateau lies southwest of the Tushar. From the 
southern salient of Midget's Crest a considerable portion of its expanse 
may be seen, though the view is not a very good one. In ti'uth there is 
nowhere to be obtained a good panoramic overlook of the Markdgunt, for 
there is no stand-point sufficiently lofty. The observer on this summit, 
standing more than a mile above the neighboring lowlands, will find it diffi- 
cult to reaKze that the most distant verge visible along the southwestern 
horizon has an altitude about equal to his own. With the exception of 
two respectable masses shooting up in the middle-ground of the picture, 
there are no peaks nor strongly individualized summits; nothing, in fact, 
to suggest mountains. It is a broad expanse of rolling hills and ridges, 
rarely exceeding 600 feet in altitude. The whole platform has a slight dip 
to the eastward ; being, however, not an inclined plane, but dish-shaped. 
The eastern base of the plateau lies at the foot of the southern Sevier 
Plateau, being the thrown side of the great Sevier fault From this line it 
rises by a very slow ascent, not exceeding 2J°, westward to its summit. 
The character of the gradients will be understood by a reference to the 
stereogram. (Atlas sheet. No. 5.) The general relations of this plateau 

188 



DOG VALLEY. 189 

to the country at large may be comprised in the statement that it is an 
excellent illustration of what Powell has called the Kaibab structure. 
The length from north to south cannot be definitely given until we can fix 
its northern boundary, which, if done at all, must be done arbitrarily, for 
it fades out so gradually that no real demarkation exists. The same may 
be said of its eastern boundary. But assuming the plateau to extend 
northward to the base of the Tushar and eastward to the Sevier Plateau, 
the length would be about 50 miles and the breadth about 28 miles. 

The greater part of this area is covered with ancient eruptions resting 
upon Tertiary lacustrine beds. Around the southern and western sides of 
the plateau the sedimentary strata project several miles beyond the volcanic 
sheets and end abruptly in giant cliffs, facing the south and weet, and 
deeply scored by erosion. The western wall of the plateau is formed by 
the northward prolongation of the Hurricane fault, while the southern wall 
consists of cliffs of erosion without any known dislocation of great magni- 
tude. These southern cliffs are the lingering remnants of Tertiary and 
Cretaceous beds, which once extended over the entire region to the south- 
ward beyond the Colorado, but have tlu'oughout Tertiary time receded 
by waste to their present boundary. 

The detailed description will begin at the northern portion. At the 
foot of the lofty summits which crown the southern end of the Tushar 
lies Dog Valley, inclosed south and west by rolling and somewhat rugged 
volcanic hills and by remnants of a great volcanic conglomerate. Similar 
hills are found to the eastward, and the whole tract is a center or focus of 
eruptions of the trachytic epoch. The cones and craters which may once 
have existed are no longer visible, having been wasted to a medley of hills 
by a period of- decay which stretches far back towards middle Tertiary 
time. Soil and gravel, with a rich growth of wild grass and shrubbery, 
now mantle these degraded remnants, giving them a rather pleasant and 
gentle aspect. Yet the outcrops of volcanic sheets around the borders and 
away from the valley betray its history in spite of the effort of nature to 
hide it. East, west, and south the old floods are seen to radiate away for 
many miles from this center, spreading out and growing thinner as they 
were poured along over jthe ancient inequalities of the land. They also 



190 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

flowed northward in great volume, but since their eruption the eastern 
Tushar fault, swinging westwardly, has uplifted full 3,000 feet the extension 
of the sheets in that direction. The lavas which flowed eastward are all 
trachytic, but represent two groups of trachytic rock, one being highly 
hornblendic, the other being almost pure feldspar and granitoid in appear- 
ance, with a very few small but well-defined crystals of biotite. The horn- 
blendic variety is exhibited in much greater quantity than the other, is very 
coarse-grained in texture, and lies in masses of great thickness. In sev- 
eral places single floods are seen between 300 and 400 feet thick, as if 
erupted in a highly viscous state, and appearing to have moved with great 
slowness and much internal resistance. This appeai'ance is not only com- 
mon, but is highly characteristic of the most typical trachytes, and gives 
rise to the exceeding coarseness and roughness which the etymology of the 
name implies. 

Upon the western side of Dog Valley many masses of coarse doleiites 
and some basalts are found. Being among the latest outbreaks of the 
locality, they have suffered most from erosion, and their debris are widely 
distributed in the form of conglomerates over the surrounding regions. 
These conglomerates are well stratified, and when the exposures are viewed 
at a distance great enough to render the rocky fragments no longer dis- 
tinguishable, they reveal a lamination quite as conspicuous as a succession 
of sedimentary strata. These conglomerates lie in the heaviest masses in 
the northwestern portion of the valley, and turn up against the southern 
end of the Tushar at an angle of 22°, showing a thickness exceeding 1,500 
feet, without exposing its entire extent. No individual mass of conglomerate 
has been observed to extend over any large area, but they seem l-ather to 
have filled up depressions They increase and diminish rapidly in thick- 
ness, and obviously represent many local accumulations, which are not 
continuous among themselves. This arrangement is to be expected upon 
the theory that their origin is alluvial, a theory which (if it needs any 
special support) will appear to be abundantly sustfiined when we come to 
the examination of their formation at the present time in the larger valleys 
of the district. 

The elevation of this valley above that of the Sevier on the east is 



BBAE VALLEY. 191 

about 1,400 feet It cannot be regarded as a part of the MarkAgunt, but 
occupies an intermediate position between that plateau and the Tushar. It 
is interesting chiefly as being the locality from which emanated a large 
portion of the lavas of the trachytic eruptive epoch. Probably it was the 
scene of eruptions of the first epoch also, though the lavas which it may 
have there poured forth are deeply buried beneath the great extravasated 
masses of the second period, and are revealed only in the fragments of 
andesite which are seen in the older conglomerates and by the lower beds 
at the base of the Tushar, which are brought up to daylight by the fault at 
its base. 

Crossing the southern rim of Dog Valley we descend into another 
valley of a little lower altitude, called Bear Valley. The di vide^ between 
the two consists of a low range of hills, which are the degraded remnants 
of old volcanic piles which were once, no doubt, of imposing magnitude, 
giving vent to the huge sheets of lava which diverge from them, but are 
now reduced to mere hills and discrete masses of dolerite and basalt. 
Reaching the bottom of Bear Valley, we find a smooth, park-Uke inclosure 
of ample dimensions, with high hills of trachyte on the east and the bril- 
liant rosy red of the Eocene (Bitter Creek) on the west. It has already 
been stated that the Markdgunt has a fringe or border of sedimentary rocks 
upon its western and southern sides, and this border is from 2 to 6 
miles in width. In other words, the volcanic beds which cover its central 
and eastern portions do not extend to the western and southern margins of 
the uplift. Bear Valley lies at the foot of a broken crest which is formed 
by the sudden termination of these eruptive masses. This boundary is a 
very irregular one, having westward projections and eastward recesses. 
But it is necessary to keep in mind one important relation. The vents stood 
neai" this western margin. The main flow of the erupted materials was 
towards the east, in which direction they extended probably as far as the 
Sevier Plateau, or until they are lost beneath more recent sub-aerial accu- 
mulations. Towards the west their progress was arrested by the rising 
slope of the country, and they do not appear to have extended more than a 
very few miles in that direction. Then, as now, the face of the country 
sloped downward from west to east, though the gradient was considerably 



192 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

smaller than at present. A few large eruptions, however, reach out west- 
ward, producing the sinuous course of the boundary which marks their 
termination. One of these westerly projecting masses separates Bear Val- 
ley into two portions, connected by a narrow gorge cut through it by 
erosion. 

Overlooking Upper Bear Valley from the eastward stand two con- 
spicuous mountain masses called Bear Peak and Little Creek Peak, of 
• which the respective elevations are 9,870 and 10,040 feet. Although 
of moderate altitudes, they present, in consequence of their isolation, a 
very commanding appearance and attract the attention from every point 
of view in the sun'ounding country. They are also interesting on account 
of their structure and the masses which constitute their bulk. The beds 
which lie at their foundations merit some description. 

Wherever we examine the contact of the volcanics with the sediment- 
ary beds along the western verge of the eruptive rocks of the Markdgunt, 
we usually find a series of strata composed of finely comminuted volcanic 
materials. Sometimes it is a fine sandstone; sometimes an argillaceous 
rock with minute fragments of feldspar and mica; sometimes a calcareous 
or marly deposit. Often rolled and rounded fragments of notable size are 
included, and the beds have then a coarse or gravelly texture, the grains 
being fragments of some eruptive mass so much decomposed that it is dif- 
ficult to determine its exact v«ariety. These beds are always well stratified 
and have clearly been deposited by water, and do not differ from ordinary 
sedimentary beds, except in the fact that the materials which make up their 
piass have been derived from eruptive rocks. The individual beds are 
usually of small superficial extent and small thickness, and are often 
seen running out with "feather-edges." They always overlie the system- 
atic lacustrine Tertiaries of early Eocene age. Similar formations are 
found at the northern and southern extremities of the Sevier Plateau and 
in the East Fork Cation, where they have been more or less metamor- 
phosed. They are exhibited on the west side of Bear Valley and again 
along the base of the great trachytic wall of the Markdgunt in considera- 
ble variety. Wherever found they seem to constitute a group by them- 
selves of more recent age than the uppermost Tertiaries of the Wasatch 



BEAR VALLEY. 193 

Plateau and Lower Sevier Valley. As these last-mentioned formations 
have been inferred provisionally to be of Green River age, the beds of 
volcanic sand, &c., may form an upward continuation of the same group, 
or may even be considerably more recent, though many circumstances 
seem to indicate that they were deposited in immediate succession to the 
definite Green River beds without any protracted interval to separate them. 
Their significance is purely local. They indicate that the eruptive activity 
had commenced and had given vent to large masses of lava before the 
extravasation of the older volcanic masses now remaining, and that these 
most ancient ejections had been wasted and either utterly swept away or 
buried where they have not up to the present time been laid bare. These 
beds are seen in considerable mass on both sides of Upper Bear Valley, 
and on the southeast side they constitute the lower courses of the two 
mountains which tower above it and the long curtain wall which connects 
them. Resting upon them is a sheet of lava of very interesting character. 
It is identical in constitution with a sheet exposed in East Fork Cation, and 
which will be described in detail in the chapter on the Sevier Plateau. 
Upon this lava rests a layer of coarse rhyolite, which is evidently much 
more recent in age, and forms the summit wall of the west side of Upper 
Bear Valley. This layer is not seen on the eastern side, but in place of it 
numerous trachytic beds are found alternating with conglomerate. 

At the bases of the two mountains these same beds of volcanic sand 
are seen and the succession of ti'achytes and conglomerates. The upper 
masses of the mountains are mostly trachytic, though between the flows 
there is one prominent conglomeritic mass. The stratification is remarka- 
bly even throughout, considering the volcanic nature of the components, 
but it is not horizontal. In both mountains there is an east or east-south- 
east dip, and they present the general aspect of great buttes left by the 
denudation of the surrounding country, though the similitude is not exact. 
A portion of their eminence, however, is due to a fault of about 800 feet 
displacement which runs along their western bases, and the remainder of 
their relative altitude is probably due to the denudation of the general 
platform to the east of them and to the dip of the beds. These eruptions 

are all very ancient (Miocene?), and since their extravasation they have 
13 n p 



194 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

been uninterruptedly exposed to erosion, and it is by no means surprising 
that the average degradation should have been many hundreds or more 
than a thousand feet There is no evidence that they are old cones piled 
up of eruptive matter around local vents, but are unmistakably carved out 
of a mass of interstiatified lava sheets and bedded fragments, like great 
cameos, and their altitudes notably augmented by local uplifting. 

The summit of Little Creek Peak gives a fine view of the surround- 
ing country, though the altitude is insufficient to command the great expanse 
of the Markagunt to the southward, which is higher than the peak itself. 
But north and east the prospect is excellent As soon as the firs and 
spruces are cleared the Tushar is in full view to the northward, the grand 
pyramids of Belknap and Baldy stand out in splendid relief against the 
horizon, and the inclined plateau, whose summit they crown, is seen in 
detail. It may be recalled that this plateau slopes to the west, while the 
Markdgunt slopes to the east The Hurricane fault bounds the western 
front of the Markt4gunt, while the Tushar has a great fault upon its east- 
em front The two plateaus gradually merge into each other through the 
intervening area of Dog Valley. The shifting of the displacement from 
the west front of the Markdgunt to the east side of the Tushar is an inter- 
esting structural feature and worthy of a careful study, for it is often 
repeated in the Basin ranges, and constitutes one of the most important 
modifications of that type of structure. We may for present purposes 
regard the Tushar and Markagunt as a single block, of which the length is 
nearly 80 miles and the width a little more than 20. The southern por- 
tion is tilted eastward (Markdgunt) and the northern portion is tilted 
westward, while the intervening or middle part is warped and otherwise 
flexed. Now if this great block were a simple warped surface, the middle 
portion would be synclinal. In reality it is an anticlinal area. An anti- 
clinal axis leaves the Hurricane fault at a very acute angle, and crosses the 
block obliquely to the commencement of the Tushar fault These structu- 
ral features may be discerned distinctly from the summit of Little Creek 
Peak. 

Looking westward from the same point we behold in the foreground 
a scene eminently characteristic of the western border of the Markdgunt 



JOURNEY OVER THE MARKAGUNT. 195 

It is a valley of erosion carved into the plateau by a plexus of streams. 
The proportions are grand, and the abrupt slopes which wall it about on 
every side are very impressive. It is a vast Coliseum, opening to the west- 
ward by a deep and narrow cafion leading to the floor of the Great Basin 
near Parowan. The walls west, soutli, and north are all Tertiary (Bitter 
Creek) and luminous with colors, which are all the more conspicuous from 
contrast with the dark trachytic beds which overlook them from the east- 
em side. Several great valleys of similar aspect and excavated in the same 
manner occur elsewhere in the sedimentary belt which borders the western 
portion of the Markdgunt. The plateau is there yielding slowly to the 
destroying agents, and the continuance of the process through indefinite 
time will at last destroy its eminence. It taxes the credulity to think that 
this work has been gradually accomplished by the feeble action now in prog- 
ress ; but the results here witnessed sink into insignificance when compared 
with those which are forced upon the conviction when wo look upon the 
regions drained by the Colorado. 

Eastward from the foot of the mountain the plateau slopes almost 
insensibly to the base of the Sevier Plateau, which rises against the eastern 
sky. The country is rough with hills and rocky valleys, though these ine- 
qualities upon so vast an expanse as the back of the Markdgunt are as mere 
ripples or waves upon the bosom of a great lake. In this direction none 
but old volcanic rocks and conglomerates are visible. To the southward 
the view is not extensive. The plateau slowly increases in altitude in that 
direction until it becomes more lofty than the peak. So much of it as is 
visible presents a pleasant but rather monotonous appearance, with rolling 
hills and ridges, grassy slopes and scattered groves of pines. 

« 

A journey over this broad surface is a pleasure excursion, but not 
remarkably instructive to the geologist. The explorer will enjoy the lus- 
cious camps beneath the shade of century-old pines, beside sparkling streams 
of the purest water, and will see with pleasure the keen relish with which 
the animals devour the luxuriant wild grass. Nature is here in her gentle 
mood, neither wild nor inanimate, neither grand nor trivial, but genial, tem- 
perate, and mildly suggestive. A few cafions which it is a pleasure to cross; 
long grassy slopes which seem to ask to be climbed ; hill tops giving charm- 



196 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

ing pictures of shaded dells and sloping banks, with distant views of the 
Tushar and the mighty wall of the Sevier Plateau, combine to produce a 
medley of pleasant scenes and experiences which will always be looked 
back to with refreshment. As a field of geological study it is in great part 
meager. Now and then a bit of local curiosity is excited by a curious 
result of rain sculpture, by remains of small lake deposits, by the curious 
weathering of rocks, by some strange freak of the old lava flows, none 
of which will find places here. Broad facts are comparatively few. 

Among the most noteworthy is the succession of eruptions. In the 
central part of the Markdgunt the oldest eruptions observed were andesitic. 
These are displayed in a disconnected way in the deeper ravines of the cen- 
tral and northern portions, but are elsewhere so masked by subsequent 
floods that their extent and the circumstances of their extravasation are not 
fully intelligible. Whether they were generally distributed over the face 
of the plateau or represent a number of local eruptions it is not possible to 
say with certainty. Wherever deep canons are found in the central part of 
the area they lay open great masses of dark andesitic lava, and areas are 
occasionally found where surface erosion has removed the later rocks and 
laid the andesite bare. In any event, whether generally or discontinu- 
ously distributed, the mass of this rock is very great No propylitic erup- 
tions have been observed in the Markdgunt. 

Next in order are found great masses of ti'achyte. Over the greater por- 
tion of the expanse of the Markdgunt these are the surface rocks. In reality 
their volume may not exceed that of the andesites, which they usually cover, 
but being more frequently seen they appear to be the dominant rock, and 
I incline to the opinion that they are so. On the whole, the vaiieties of 
trachyte are less numerous in the Markdgunt than in the more eastern pla- 
teaus of the district ; but their number is still very great. The least com- 
mon variety is the hornblendic ; but the augitic trachytes are abundant, 
and the commonest of all is a highly porphyritic argilloid variety. The 
latter consists of a reddish or purplish fine base, resembling a rather rough 
argillite, holding crystals of white opaque orthoclase. One of its most per- 
sistent characteristics is its fracture, which is very peculiar. Most volcanic 
rocks, when broken, present a tolerably even or gently rounded though 



I I 



• • 



!• , 



I 



] , 



»' : 



SUCCESSION OF ERUPTIONS IN THE MAEKAGUNT. 197 

rough surface ; but this trachyte breaks with an exceedingly jagged, angu- 
lar, and irregular fracture, so that it is impossible to hammer out a neat and 
shapely specimen. The grandest masses of trachyte, not only in the Markd- 
gunt but in the other plateaus, consist of this variety. It lies in immense 
beds, often two or three hundred feet in thickness, spreading out over many 
square miles with remarkable regularity and homogeneity. In the Markd- 
gunt it forms mesa-like platforms, ending in low precipices, where the shal- 
low caiions and ravines have cut into it. It breaks up or rather crumbles 
with unusual facility for an eruptive rock, producing a coarse gravel, which 
floors the ravines below. This rock is so distinct in its characters that it 
seems almost to justify a separate name, but I shall content myself with a 
purely descriptive designation, and call it argUloid trachyte. 

The augitic varieties of trachyte are found in sheets, which are usually 
much thinner and cover smaller areas, though, the number of them is much 
greater. The total bulk is less than that of the ar^lloid variety, though 
absolutely it is very great. 

The rhyolites are the third group of eruptives found in the Markdgunt. 
They are seen in large masses along the very highest part of the plateau, 
from the crest of which they poured out in massive sheets. They are 
probably as ancient as the older liparitic masses of the Tushar, but always 
overlie the trachytes whenever they are in contact with them.' They belong 
altogether to the liparitic sub-group, with an abundance of porphyritic crys- 
tals of feldspar and quartz. None of those hyaline fluent rhyolites which 
characterize the northern Tushar are seen here. Although their volume is 
very great, it is far less than that of the trachytes, and the areas which they 
cover are much smaller. 

The fourth group is the basaltic. Among the High Plateaus the Mar- 
kdgunt and Tushar alone present extensive outpours of rocks of this class. 
A few small eruptions are found in the eastern plateaus and notably in the 
intervening valleys, but they are not comparable in extent to those of the 
Markdgunt. Here they are confined to the southern half of the plateau. 
A little south of the center is a large tract in which are still preserved 
remnants of a considerable number of basaltic craters, though so much 
degraded that they are not immediately recognized. *] hey form a large 



198 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

cluster of rolling hills, rarely exceeding 300 feet in altitude above the 
platform on which they stand, covered with soil mingled with decayed 
vesicular cinders. Their true nature is disclosed by the scoriaceous char- 
acter of the fragments which constitute the greater portion of their mass. 
It will be remembered that basaltic craters, when well preserved, are rather' 
symmetrical truncated cones, with conical or funnel-shaped depressions at 
the summit, and the entire mass is composed of vesicular fragments blown 
out by the escaping steam and gases and falling with approximate uniformity 
around the orifice. The spongy character of these fragments renders them 
an easy prey to the chemical forces of the atmosphere, and they are readily 
decomposed. After thousands of years of weathering these cones are 
literally dissolved, losing their lime, iron, and alkali, while the alumina and 
silica remain, and the cone gradually loses its form and is reduced to a 
shapeless heap of soil with conmiingled cinders in every stage of decay. 
Around the bases of these ancient cones we find half-revealed sheets of 
basaltic lava. Any eruption may be followed by the building of a cinder- 
cone, and most basaltic outbreaks are so supplemented (at least in this dis- 
trict) ; but it is not always so. A considerable number of the basaltic sheets 
have been disgorged where no trace of a cone remains, and some of these 
are so recent that the last thousand years may have witnessed the catas- 
trophes.* It is notable that the most extensive outpours are most frequently 
without them. Among the basalts of the locality of which we are speaking 
are many cinder-cones in an advanced stage of decay. The floods of basalt 
which have emanated from them lie in many sheets, none of which indi- 
vidually present great thickness, but by superposition have built up this 
part of the plateau from 500 to 800 feet above the normal platfonn. They 
are for the most part concealed by their own ruins, but numerous ravines 
have been cut into them, showing in many places their edges and giving a 
general idea of their mass and distribution. They rest upon older trachytes 
and occasionally andesites which had been scored by ravines before the 
basaltic outbreaks, and in a number of places the uneven surfaces of contact 
are clearly revealed. 

* I am speaking in general terms of tlio basalts. Tlioso of tbo locality just spoken of arc aU 
probably older tban tbe Quaternary. 



PAKQUITOn LAKE— MODERN BASALT. 199 

A few miles southeast of this basaltic field is a picturesque lakelet, 
occupying a depression in the plateau, called the Panquitch Lake — a sheet 
of water about a mile and a half in length and a mile in width It is a 
delightful locality, both for the tourist and the geologist. Around it stand 
forests of pine (P. ponderosd), while farther up the slopes of the plateau are 
thickets of spruce and aspen. Broad and stately ravines, bearing sparkling 
streams from the higher levels open near its margin, and the traveler, weary 
of the desert wastes below, revels in the rank vegetation which clothes their 
rocky slopes. Through the brief summer the longest and richest grass 
carpets their floors and every knoll and sloping bank is a parterre of the 
gayest flowers. 

Around this lake the volcanic strata are seen resting upon the sedi- 
mentaries; in short, it is a locality where the eruptive rocks have diminished 
in thickness, and they gradually disappear southward and southeastward. 
To the west and southwest they continue still in immense bulk, with greater 
variety and stronger contrasts than in the northern part of the plateau. 
Here the oldest eruptives are trachytic. They are finely displayed upon 
the northern side of the lake, where they form low clifi's or steep slopes, and 
an abrupt caflon entering from the northwest still more clearly lays them 
open to view. As we approach the lake from the northeast (the usual 
route), the instant we reach the summit of the hill from which we first see 
the expanse of its surface, a most conspicuous object upon the south side of 
the lake immediately attracts the attention. It is a flood of basalt so recent 
and so fresh in its aspect that we wonder why there is no record or tradi- 
tion of its eruption. It is dense black, and its ominous shade is rendered 
still more conspicuous by the lively colors of the sedimentary rocks and 
soil around it. We see at first only the end of a grand coulee, but beyond 
it rise rough, angry knolls and mountainous waves as black as midnight, 
telling of more beyond. Riding to the base of it, we find it to be com- 
posed of numberless fragments, ranging in size from a cubic foot to many 
cubic yards, piled up in strange confusion. A continuous bed or sheet is 
nowhere to bo seen; nothing but this coarse rubble, looking like an exag- 
gerated pile of anthi'acite dumped from the cars at the terminus of a great 
coal railway. A close inspection confirms this impression of recency 



200 GEOLOGY OF THE fflGH PLATEAUS- 

given by the first view. The surfaces of the firagments are not affected 
by weathering to any notable extent, and it is only by comparison with 
surfaces fractured by the hammer that we can find an assurance of 
an exceedingly slight impairment of its original freshness. No doubt 
this is largely due to the fact that this portion of the mass is not in the 
slightest degree vesicular. In other parts of the couJl^e highly vesicular 
fragments were encountered; but where I first approached it every stone 
was as compact as a dike. But even the vesicular specimens show so 
little weathering, that it is hard to believe that this eruption is as old as 
the discovery of America. Such appearances, however, may be very de- 
ceptive. I am not aware that ther^ is any authentic record of a volcanic 
eruption within the present limits of the United States, though it is quite 
possible that a number of them havQ^ occurred since the conquest of Mexico 
by Cortez. In this region it may have easily escaped the chronicles of the 
Spanish priests, even if such a dire event had occurred only a hundred 
years ago, and two hundred years would have destroyed all reliable tradi- 
tion of it among the Indians.* This basalt came from a vent situated about 
3 miles southwest of Panquitch Lake, and from the same source flowed a 
considerable number of large streams all presenting the same appearance 
of recency. - An attempt was made to reach the crater, but the climbing 
over the rough angular blocks piled up in the worst conceivable confusion 
proved to be so perilous, that after several misadventures it was abandoned. 
From surrounding eminences several overlooks were obtained, from which 
it was inferred that there are several vents clustered near each other, and 
from three of them at least there have been a number of eruptions. Noth- 
ing like a cinder-cone, however, was distinguishable. The lavas appear to 
have reached the surface and overflowed like water from a spring, spread- 
ing out immediately and deluging a broad surface around the orifice, and 
sending off into surrounding valleys and ravines deep rivers of molten rock. 
One flood rolled northeast towards Panquitch Lake, but came to rest before 
reaching it. A second flowed eastward down a broad ravine situated about 
3 miles from the lake. The largest streams went to the southeast into 

* Tbero is said to bo a tradition among tho Mohavo Indians that their ancestors were driven oat 
of Central Arizona by volcanic cmptions, and though very recent basalts are found there, many cir- 
cumstances combine to oppose such a tradition oven if thei*o bo one. 



BASALT FIELDS OF THE MAEKAomnD. 201 

the tributary ravines of Mammoth Creek (the main fork of the Sevier 
River), and reach a point about 6 miles from their origin. 

Besides this field of very recent basalt, remains of much more ancient 
basalt are found in the vicinity and in much larger amount. In truth, the 
basaltic eruptions go back to a period sufficiently remote to have permitted 
important changes in the configuration of the country to take place in the 
interval separating the present from the earliest eruptions of this class. 
During that interval a considerable number of outbreaks, separated by 
many centuries (probably hundreds of centuries), have occurred. Basalt 
fields of different ages are readily distinguished. Among the bldest, proba- 
bly, are the first basalts spoken of in this chapter. Of an antiquity which 
may be quite as great are two large masses, lying respectively southeast 
and southwest of Panquitch Lake. The southwest field is much eroded, 
and consists of a tabular mountainous mass immediately overlooking the 
very recent basalt fiiBld just spoken of. The edges of the sheets composing 
this tabular mass project in bold cliffs around its flat summit in the same 
manner as is frequeptly seen in lower regions, where buttes of sedimentaiy 
rocks owe their origin and preservation to a protecting mantle of lava. On 
all sides it is girt about by a talus of blocks, which have fallen by the sap- 
ping of the foundations of the mass through untold ages. Since this lava 
was disgorged broad valleys and deep ravines have been scored in the plat- 
form of the Markdgunt, and the minor details of topography arising from 
the general process of surface sculpture have been carved out, and an 
older topography has been swept away or so completely remodeled that 
it cannot now be reconstructed. 

Southeast of the lake a wide expanse of country has been covered 
with ancient basalt, but only remnants are now left, covering mesas and 
buttes of sedimentary rocks and overlying fields of still older trachytes and 
volcanic conglomerates. Ravines of considerable magnitude and broad 
valleys have been cut into the country which they once covered, and these 
excavations have in several instances given passage to more recent floods 
of basalt, some of which extend as far east as the Sevier River. These 
later basalt fields are in an excellent state of preservation, but soil has 
accumulated upon them, and the face of the rocks shows deep weathering. 



202 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

The different stages of the decay are readily discerned, and it is easy to see 
that the various basaltic eruptions, though they may, in a certain geological 
sense, be considered as belonging to one epoch, and that a very recent one, 
have occurred at intervals which, measured by a historical standard of 
time, have been very long. The lithological characters also var}*- to some 
extent; the more ancient floods being less heavily charged with magnitite, 
and on the whole less basic and a little lighter-colored, also less finely tex- 
tured, than the most recent ones, and of a little lower specific gravity. 

Finall}", the largest basalt field of all and, with the exception of that 
one nearest to Panquitch Lake the most recent, is found near the south- 
west margin of the plateau, covering about 25 square miles, with a con- 
siderable number of cones, from which a large number of eruptions have 
issued. This field I have had no opportunity to examine in detail, and it 
is not easily accessible on account of the exceedingly rough character of 
its surface. Much of it is clothed with dense forests of spruce, which alone 
render it almost impenetrable, and prevent the observer from obtaining a 
satisfactory view of it. Its mean altitude is more than 10,000 feet. 

The basaltic eruptions of the Markdgunt are a portion of a belt of 
such eruptions, which extends along the course of the Hurricane fault and 
the country adjacent to it far southward across the Colorado River into 
Arizona. Eruptive rocks older than basalt within this belt are very few 
and of small magnitude. The volume and number of basaltic eruptions 
increase as we proceed southward, and reach a great development near the 
Grand Caflon, where more than a thousand square miles are covered with 
it and more than a hundred cones are still standing. South of the Colorado 
many large basalt fields are known to exist, but they have not been thor- 
oughly studied. Throughout the Hurricane belt they occur in patches, 
often small, but frequently extensive. It is a notable fact that by far the 
greater portion of them occur upon the uplifted side of this great displace- 
ment; indeed those upon the thrown side are comparatively trivial. This 
fact seems to be generally true throughout the District of the High Pla- 
teaus and also throughout the country to the south of it. It is, moreover, 
so strongly emphasized, that it suggests the possibility of a correlation 
between these basaltic eruptions and the greater upward displacements. 



SEDIMENTAEY BEDS— TUFAS. 203 

On the other hand, an equally striking fact is the apparent independence of 
basaltic eruptions of the minor or local inequalities of a country. They 
have broken out, with seeming indifference, upon hill-tops and slopes, in 
valley bottoms, upon the brinks of great cliffs of erosion, upon buttes, and 
upon broad mesas. The only localities where I have not seen them are in 
cafions and at the bases of cliffs of erosion.* 

SEDIMENTARY FORMATIONS OF THE MARKAgUNT. 

Around the western and southern borders of the Markdgunt extends a 
broad belt of sedimentary formations almost wholly unencumbered with 
volcanic emanations. The volcanic cap ends always abruptly upon the 
highest part of the plateau several miles from the plateau limits, and usually 
presents to the westward a line of cliffs looking down into the great valleys 
and amphitheaters where the ravines and cafions of the sedimentary belt 
begin. The destroying agents have wrought terrible havoc in the strata, 
cutting chasms which have laid bare in grand sections the series of sedi- 
mentary strata from the Eocene to the base of the Trias inclusive. 

The most recent deposits are those local accumulations first encoun- 
tered in Bear Valley, consisting of the sands and marls derived from the 
decay of volcanic rocks. We seldom miss them from their proper place at 
the base of the volcanic cap, and they attain considerable thickness (200 to 
350 feet) in numerous exposures along the western margin of the trachyte. 
From what rocks they were derived it is impossible to say ; no lavas older 
than themselves have been detected. They rest everywhere upon the 
Eocene limestones, frequently shading downwards into sandstones undis- 

* Perhaps I ought to qualify this assertion of seeming indifference to minor topographical features 
by saying that basaltic vents occur very often upon the brink of cliffs of erosion, and never (within my 
own observation) At the base of one; often upon the top of the wall of a cafion and never within the 
caQou itself, though the stream of lava often runs into the cafion. So numerous, indeed, are the in- 
stances of cones upon the verge of a cliff of erosion or cafion-wall, that I was at one time led to suspect 
that it was a favorite locality. This is very conspicuous in the large basaltic field near the Grand Cafion 
in the vicinity of Mount Trumbull, where 10 large cones stand upon the very brink of the great abyss 
and have sent their lavas down into it. Away from the cafion a considerable number of craters are 
seen upon the various cliffs near the Ilurricano Liodgc, and far to the northeastwanl half a dozen are 
found upon the cn^sts of the White Cliffs. Out of rather more than 3G0 basaltic cones of this region, I 
have noted 33, or nearly 11 x>cr cent., occupying such positions. Whether this is accidental it is diffi- 
cult to say, but when it is remembered that they do not occur at the bases of such cliffs, nor in the 
canons (so far as I have observed), the fact is certainly a remarkable one. In our present ignorance 
concerning; llie nature of the forres and chain of causation which Iea4l up to and precipitate volcanic 
phenomena, it would be vain to speculate upon the reasons for this apparent jireferenco of locality. 



204 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

tinguisbable in composition and texture from ordinary sediments derived 
from ordinary materials. Nor is their exact age assignable, since they have 
yielded no fossils, but the probabilities are great that they are not far from 
middle Eocene age. 

Beneath them lies what is called the Pink Cliff series, which is known 
to be Lower Eocene.* At the base brackish-water fossils are found, which 
give place as we ascend to a fresh- water fauna. The upper members are 
limestones, which are usually more or less siliceous, and the silica in- 
creases in the lower members, where gravelly beds, layers of sandstone, 
and even conglomerate are found. The highly calcareous members strongly 
predominate. The coloring is always striking and vies in brilliancy with 
tlie Triassic beds. The highest member is frequently almost snow-white, 
with a band of strong orange-yellow beneath it. But the great mass of 
color is a pale rosy-pink. When the sun is low and sends his nearly 
level beams of reddish light against the towering fronts and mazes of 
buttresses, alcoves, and pinnacles, they seem to glow with a rare color, 
intensely rich and beautiful — ^flesh-of-watermelon color is the nearest hue I 
can suggest. Some of the beds do not naturally possess this color, but 
have been painted superficially by the wash from the beds above them, or 
possibly have taken on the color through exposure, while they are yellow 
within. 

The identity of these beds with the Bitter Creek of the Wasatch Pla- 
teau and of the Uintas seems clear. The connection by actual continuity is, 
indeed, wanting, but the fossils, though few, are convincing, and the rela- 
tions to the Cretaceous beneath are strictly homologous to those which pre- 
vail farther north. Some doubt arises whether the white limestone which 
caps the series should be referred to the Bitter Creek or to the Green River 
beds. Mr. Howell, whose opinions are of great weight, inclined to the lat- 
ter view, and thought that one of the members of the Wasatch Plateau 
(No. 2), which I have referred to the Lower Green River period, was want- 
ing, and that the white limestone should be correlated to those beds which 
I have referred doubtfully to the Upper Green River. It is true that two 

*I use the term Eocene iu its local sense. It may or may not be coeval with the £urox>ean 
Eocene. Probably it is very nearly so. 



TBRTIAEY FORMATIONS- 205 

or three species of fresh- water moUusca seem to sustain his view, but the 
fresh-water forms of the Plateau Province so frequently have a very great 
vertical range, that they are apt to mislead in just such cases, and require 
collateral evidence to justify such a conclusion. On the other hand, there 
is no indication in the appearance of the rocks of such a break of the con- 
tinuity, and the whole of the Tertiary here exposed seems to belong to one 
series without unconformity and without any break in the conditions nec- 
essary to continuous deposition. It has, therefore, seemed to me unadvis- 
able to intercalate a vacant horizon in a series which to all appearances is 
continuous. 

The white limestone at the summit of the formation is a very con- 
spicuous member and forms the surface of the plateau for a considerable 
distance south of Panquitch Lake, where it is laid open by ravines and 
exposed in buttes capped by basalt. It reaches a thickness of rather more 
than 300 feet in some places, but is usually much less. It is very impure; 
sometimes very siliceous, holding agate or chalcedony, and is also some- 
times marly. The total thickness of the Eocene beds is from 1,100 to 
1,200 feet. 

The epoch of final emergence from the lacustrine condition seems to 
have been earlier here in the southwestern part of the Plateau Province 
than in the middle or northern portions. This is indicated by the earlier 
age of the most recent lacustrine beds; for as we proceed northward later 
and later members gradually make their appearance. In the south, not 
more than the lower third of the Eocene is present; in the middle district, 
barely more than one-half; while around the southern slopes of the 
Uintas nearly or perhaps quite the whole of it is revealed. It may be con- 
jectured that the Lower Green River beds once existed helre and were 
eroded and wholly removed before the volcanic eruptions began. This 
cannot be wholly disproven, but the view is extremely improbable; for in 
the epoch immediately following the final emergence the conditions were 
not favorable to a rapid erosion; the region was not at that time an elevated 
one; it could scarcely have exceeded a few hundred feet in altitude above 
sea level, and there were no important displacements nor dislocations. 
The Bitter Creek beds cover many hundred square miles of continuous 



200 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

temtory with splendid exposure, and have in many places been thoroughly 
protected from destruction since early Miocene time at least, but nowhere 
have they been seen to be covered with any more recent sedimentary 
formations, excepting the local beds of volcanic sand. It is not probable 
that every vestige of such a formation, had it existed, should have been so 
completely destroyed, nor that an erosion of such magnitude should have 
been withal so uniform as to stop everywhere at the summit of tlie very 
perishable limestone which forms the uppermost member of the Bitter 
Creek. 

Here, as elsewhere, the volume of Cretaceous beds is very great, 
probably attaining more than 4,000 feet. The valleys and gorges which 
reveal them descend to the westward, while the rocks dip at varying angles 
to the eastward; thus in the course of 5 or 6 miles the water-courses pass 
throujgh the entire series. The Cretaceous mass is composed of alternating 
sandstones and dark-gray shales, which are usually very heavily bedded, 
uniformly stratified, and have strong and persistent lithological characters. 

The subdivision of the Cretaceous rocks and their correlation with 
those of the Plateau Province at large I have not attempted; the study of 
them has been too superficial and the number of fossils collected is much 
too small, while the series itself is enormous and highly variable. It is 
evident at once that, though the series as a whole possesses the same general 
characteristics as prevail elsewhere, it is very inconstant in details, and 
comparatively few of the subordinate members can be strictly correlated 
over extended intervals. The great beds of shale are the most striking 
members, attaining many hundreds of feet of thickness, with slight inter- 
ruptions of arenaceous layers, which hardly mar the uniformity of their 
aspect. Coal of good quality is found in workable beds in the lower half 
of the series. There is a strong family likeness in all the Cretaceous ex- 
posures of the Plateau Province, and their features are as characteristic 
of the formation as the peculiarities of the Trias; but the wonderful per- 
sistence over great areas which marks the Triassic members cannot be 
affirmed of the Cretaceous. 

No series of rocks can be more strongly marked by their lithological 
characteristics than the Mesozoic fonnations which here underlie the Creta- 



LITHOLOGICAL CHARACTERS OF THE MESOZOTO. 207 

ceous. Quite as strongly individualized are the topographical features 
which have been sculptured out of them. The great marvels of surface 
sculpture found throughout the lower Plateau- Province, the grand cliffs 
with strange carvings and elaborate ornamentation, the wonderful buttes 
and towering domes, the numberless shapes which startle us by their 
grotesqueness owe their peculiarities as much to the nature of the rocks 
themselves as to the abnormal meteoric conditions under which they were 
produced. Each formation has its own fashions — its own school of natural 
architecture. The Gray Cliffs, the Vermilion CHffs, the Shindrump (Lower 
Trias) — each has its own topography, and they are as distinctly individu- 
alized as the modes of building and ornamentation found among distinct 
races of men. 

The uppermost member of the Jurassic series is fossiliferous, and has 
3'ielded afauna which, though not very abundant, is still highly characteristic 
and sufficient to fix its age with certainty as Upper Jurassic. Immediately 
below it is the Gray Cliff sandstone, so wonderful for its cross-bedding, for 
the massiveness and homogeneity of its stratification, and for its persistence 
without any notable change of character over great areas. This formation 
has been assigned to the Jurassic solely on the ground of its infra-position 
to the fossihferous member just mentioned. The Gray Cliffs have not 
yielded a solitary fossil hitherto of any kind. Next below is the Vermilion 
Cliff series, characterized by beds of sandstone built up in many layers, 
with a tendency towards shaly characters, though seldom or never a true 
shale. It is as persistent as the Gray Cliffs above, and in color it contrasts 
powerfully with it The Gray Cliffs are nearly white, and are merely 
toned with gray; the Vermilion Cliffs are intensely, gorgeously red. The 
latter also is destitute of fossils, except a few obscure fish-scales, though 
great search has been made for them. Beneath lies the Shindrump. It 
consists of a very remarkable conglomerate above and a series of shales 
below. The conglomerate is made up chiefly of fragments of silicified wood, 
cemented by a light-colored matrix of sand, lime, and clay, out of which 
the woody fragments weather and are scattered over the plains below. 
The shales below consist of a succession of layers, each a few feet or. a 
very few yards in thickness, preserving that thickness with remarkable 



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208 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

unifomiity over miles of exposure and contrasting with each other by their 
varying shades of chocolate, dark red, and purple, producing an effect of 
colored bands of small thickness individually but great collectively, and 
with a perfect regularity or parallelism. (See Heliotype No. XI.) 

The Lower Mesozoic series (Jura and Trias) is found in the Markdgunt 
only in the immediate vicinity of the great Hurricane displacement, which 
defines the western boundary of the structure, and is only seen there along 
the southern portion of the west flank. I have not visited them, but Mr. 
Howell has examined them somewhat cursorily, and the results of his 
observations, in the form of notes, are before me. There is a general agree- 
ment of the sections he there found with the general section of the Plateau 
Country to the eastward, though there are minor differences which might 
be worthy of future study. All of the notable Mesozoic groups and beds 
are present and seem to be on the whole somewhat thicker than they are 
to the eastward, but the thickness is more variable and the deposition 
generally more unequal. In close proximity to the great fault, the beds 
are in some places flexed abruptly upwards on the uplifted side of the fault, 
but in passing eastward they speedily recur to the general east or east- 
northeast dip of 1° to 2° which prevails throughout the plateau. Nowhere 
in this vicinity does the Carboniferous seem to be exposed, though in 
several localities it must be very near the surface in the immediate line of 
the fault. Where these upward flexures occur, the plane of denudation 
between the summit of the plateau and the fault cuts across the entire 
series of Mesozoic and Cenozoic formations more than 10,000 feet in thick- 
ness. 

From the southwest salient of the MarkAgunt we behold one of those 
sublime spectacles which characterize the loftiest standpoints of the Pla- 
teau Province. Even to the mere tourist there are few panoramas so 
broad and grand; but to the geologist there comes with all the visible 
grandeur a deep significance. The radius of vision is from 80 to 100 
miles. We stand upon the great cliff of Tertiary beds which meanders to 
the eastward till lost in the distance, sculptured into strange and even 
startling forms, and lit up with colors so rich and glowing that they awaken 
enthusiasm in the most apathetic. To the southward the profile of the 



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VIEW TO THE SOUTHWARD. 209 

country drops down by a succession of terraces formed by lower and lower 
formations which come to the daylight as those which overlie them are suc- 
cessively terminated in lines of cliffs, each formation rising gently to 
the southward to recover a portion of the lost altitude until it is cut 
off by its own escarpment. Thirty miles away the last descent falls 
upon the Carboniferous, which slowly rises with an unbroken slope to the 
brink of the Grand Cation. But the great abyss is not discernible, for the 
curvature of the earth hides it from sight. Standing among evergreens, 
knee-deep in succulent grass and a wealth of Alpine blossoms, fanned by 
chill, moist breezes, we look over terraces decked with towers and tem- 
ples and gashed with cafions to the desert which stretches away beyond 
the southern horizon, blank, lifeless, and glowing with torrid heat. To the 
southwestward the Basin Ranges toss up their angry waves in chamcteristic 
confusion, sierra behind sierra, till the hazy distance hides them as with a 
vail. Duo south Mount Trumbull is well in view, with its throng of black 
basaltic cones looking down into the Grand Canon. To the southeast the 
Kaibab rears its noble palisade and smooth crest line, stretching southward 
until it dips below the horizon more than a hundred miles away. In the 
terraces which occupy the middle ground and foreground of the picture 
wo recoofnize the characteristic work of erosion. Numberless masses of rock, 
carved in the strangest fashion out of the Jurassic and Triassic strata, start 
up from the terraced platforms. The great cliffs — perhaps the grandest of 
all the features in this region of grandeur — ^are turned away from us, and 
only now and then are seen in profile in the flank of some salient. Among 
the most marvelous things to be found in these terraces are the cafions; 
such cafions as exist nowhere else even in the Plateau Country. Right 
beneath us are the springs of the Rio Virgin, whose filaments have cut 
narrow clefts, rather than caftons, into the sandstones of the Jura and Trias 
more than 2,000 feet deep; and as the streamlets sank their narrow beds 
they oscillated from side to side, so that now bulges of the walls project 
over the clefts and shut out the sky. They are by far the narrowest 
chasms, in proportion to their depth, of which I have any knowledge. 

All the Tertiary strata of the Markdgunt, together with the entire 

Mesozoic series, with the possible exception of the Gray Cliff sandstone, 
14 n p 



210 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

once extended over the vast expanse before us and far beyond the limits 
of vision to the south and southeast. One after another they have been 
swept away by the ordinary process of erosion, and the great expanse 
of desert around the Colorado has been denuded down to the Carbonifer- 
ous. Here and there an insulated patch of the Trias remains, fading 
remnants of formations which were once continuous and without a break ; 
but the whole of the vast Cretaceous system and the heavy Eocene beds 
have not left a single butte upon the denuded portion. Sixty to eighty 
miles to the east of us the Cretaceous still extends uninterruptedly from 
the southern slope of the Aquarius Plateau to the Colorado and thence 
into Arizona. A little farther westward and the Upper Trias similarly 
stretches across the interval. But from the eastern wall of the Kaibab to 
the mouth of the Grand Cafion the Carboniferous forms the floor of the 
country, and no later beds are found within 50 miles of the river except a 
few outliers of the Shindrump. 



CHAPTER X. 

SEVBEE VALLEY AND ITS ALLUVIAL CONGIX)MEEATES. 

The headwaters of Sevier Biver. — ^Uppor Sevier, or Panquitch Valley. — Panqnitoh CaQon. — Circle Val- 
ley.— Origin of the Sevier Valley. — Conglomerates. — ^Their various kinds. — Sources of the mate- 
rials. — ^Transportation of coarse debris and the natural laws governing it. — Action of rivers upon 
transported materials. — Action of the sea.— ^Alluvial conglomerates. — Formation of alluvial cones 
at the openings of mountain gorges. — Their structure. — ^Alluvial cones now forming in the val- 
leys of the district. — ^A comparison between the modem alluvial formations and the ancient con- 
glomerates. — Identity of the process which formed both. 

The South Fork of the Sevier River heads in the Markdgiint near its 
southwestern crest, the springs being scattered among the basalt fields, 
which cover a considerable area in that vicinity. Two fine creeks flow 
eastward in broad valleys, meandering down the slopes of the plateau until 
they meet the opposite slopes which descend from the western wall of the 
Paunstigunt. Here the southernmost creek (Asa's Creek) is deflected north- 
ward, and 6 miles below. Mammoth Creek joins it, the two forming the South 
Fork of the Sevier. Thence northward the stream flows for more than 50 
miles, receiving a few insignificant tributaries, until at the foot of Circle Val- 
ley it is joined by the East Fork issuing from a mighty chasm, which cuts 
from top to bottom the great Sevier Plateau. Still northward it pursues 
its course nearly a hundred miles more, receiving one important afiluent at 
Salina and another at Gunnison, until it suddenly springs westward at the 
Pdvant and cuts a chasm through it; then turning south-southwest, it mean- 
ders through a forlorn desert for about 60 miles, and ends at Sevier Lake, a 
large, nauseous bittern of the Great Basin. The site of this lake was at 
a recent epoch covered by a southward extension of Lake Bonneville. It 
is interesting to reflect that as late as Post-Glacial time the waters which 
fell upon the crests of the Pink Cliffs of Southern Utah were there divided; 
a part to flow southward into the Grand Cafion, the remainder to flow north- 

211 



212 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

ward into Lake Bonneville,* and thence through the Snake River into the 
Columbia. 

Where the upper tributaries of the South Fork reach the foot of the 
Markdgunt slope the altitude is about 7,000 feet At the junction of 
the East Fork it is 6,000 feet, and where the river enters the Pdvant it is 
5,000 feetf In any ordinary region the Sevier would not be dignified by 
the name of a river. In the early part of July its flow is a little less than 
1,000 cubic feet per second, and this volume diminishes to about half that 
in September. Nevertheless it is the largest stream between Great Salt 
Lake and the Colorado. 

The name Sevier Valley might with propriety be given to the entire 
trough of the stream, but local names have been given to diflferent portions 
of it which are well separated by transverse barriers through which the 
river has cut narrow passages. The most important of these is encountered 
by the Southern Fork, about 17 miles north of (below) the town of Pan- 
quitch. The great outbursts of trachytic lava which flowed eastward 
from Dog Valley here stretch athwart the course of the stream and wall 
against still more ancient cotdees, whicli broke forth from vents situated in 
the southern half of the Sevier Plateau, and over them have accumulated 
large masses of conglomerate derived from their ruins. There has also 
been local uplifting of a few hundred feet transversely to the greater 
structure-lines, so that now the confused masses of trachyte and conglom- 
erate form a barrier from 800 to 1,000 feet high and 10 miles in width 
across the valley. Through this mass the fork has cut a noble canon, 
called Panquitch Caiion. Above this barrier (southward) lies a large valley- 
plain, having on the east long alluvial slopes, which rise gently to the base 
of the Sevier Plateau, and on the west the still longer and gentler slope of 

* Although all American geologists ore woll aware of it, it may uot bo generally known that the 
nomo ''Lake Bonneville" has been given to a vast body of fresh water which during the Glacial and 
Post-Glocial jieriods, occupied the eastern port of the Great Basin. This lake had an area about three- 
fourths as great as that of Lake Superior, and its greatest depth was about 1,000 feet. This lake out- 
flowed to the north into the Snake River and thence into the Columbia. The increasing aridity of tho 
climate since the close of the Glacial epoch has dried up most of the sources of tho lake and evaporated 
tho waters of the lake itself, so that now only a few remnants are left. Of these, Great Salt Lake is by 
far tho most important. Utah Lake is a body of /resii water, and has an outlet through tho Jordan 
River into Great Salt Lake. Sevier Lake is another remnant of Lake Bonneville. 

t These altitudes are probably within 50 feet of the exact truth. 



CIECLB VALLEY— EHYOLITE8 AT MARYS VALE. 213 

the Northern Markdgunt, crowned by the Bear Peak and Little Creek 
Peak in the background. From Panquitch Canon the stream emerges into 
Circle Valley, which is much smaller in area but far grander in scenery — 
indeed, the grandest of the High Plateaus. On the east rises the long pali- 
sade of the Sevier Plateau 4,300 feet above the river; on the west the 
wall of the Southern Tushar, which opposite the valley is 4,200 feet above 
it, and from 5,000 to 6,000 feet above it in its northern and southern exten- 
sions. The Tushar shows rugged peaks and domes planted upon a colossal 
wall ; the Sevier Plateau shows a blank wall without the peaks. Very 
grand and majestic are these mural fronts, stretching away into the dim dis- 
tance calm, stern, and restful. Yet they fail to impress the beholder with 
a full realization of their magnitude. This is true of mountains in general, 
but pre-eminently so of great cliffs. If one-third of the stuff in the Sevier 
Plateau, east of Circle Valley, had been used to build a range of 
lively mountains, they would have seemed grander and possessed what no 
palisade can ever possess — beauty and animation. It is otherwise with the 
Tushar. There the great wall has magnified the mountains by giving them 
a noble sub-structure on which to stand, and the mountains have magnified 
the wall by giving it something to support. 

Twenty miles south of Circle Valley and just below the hamlet of 
Marysvale another considerable barrier lies across the valley of the Sevier. 
It consists of a mass of rhyolitic lavas, which broke out in the valley bot- 
tom in many eruptions, and now remain as a chaos of tangled sheets 
stretching from wall to wall. The river has maintained a cation through 
the mass right at the base of the spurs of the Tushar, whose front here is 
not mural but mountainous. Emerging from this barrier the river flows 
unobstructed through its main lower valley between the Pdvant and Sevier 
Plateau until it darts into the former 70 miles to the northward. 

The valley of the Sevier is due to structure, and owes to erosion only 
the cafions which are cut through the two barriers of volcanic rocks which 
have poured across it. The upper valley (Panquitch Valley) lies along the 
great displacement which has lifted the wall of the Sevier Plateau. Below 
Panquitch Caiion, from Circle Valley to the mouth of Marysvale Callon, 
the valley platform is a block between two faidts, with the Sevier Plateau 



214 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS, 

on the east and the Tiishar on the west. Farther northward to the Jual) 
Valley a similar relation prevails. So far is the entire trough of the Sevier, 
except at the barriers, from being due to erosion, that its floor has been 
built up by the growth of alluvial formations of considerable magnitude. 
They are of special interest because of the light they throw upon an inter- 
esting problem in dynamical geology. 

THE FORMATION OF CONGLOMERATES. 

There are several kinds of conglomerate, formed by processes which, 
though they may have some features in common, are on the whole strik- 
ingly different. Glacial drift, though it undoubtedly falls within the usual 
conception of a conglomerate, has an origin wholly different from that of a 
littoral or alluvial conglomerate. Yet in respect to the source from which 
its materials are derived — the disintegration of the harder rocks by water 
and frost — the distinction is not well marked. The great difference is in 
the methods and agents of transportation and final distribution. Alluvial 
conglomerates agree with the littoral in having the same origin for their 
materials, and the same transporting agent, moving water, but the two dif- 
fer in respect to the conditions under which the transporting power is exer- 
cised and the materials distributed. Thus these three kinds have some- 
thing in common and each has some features peculiar to itself. 

Sources of materials. — The stones and pebbles included in these forma- 
tions are derived from the break-up of the hardest classes of rocks, which 
are usually metamorphic or volcanic. Ordinary sandstones, limestones, 
and clays, and shaly rocks in general seldom contribute to the mass of 
fragments found in conglomerates. Attrition, weathering, and solution 
utterly destroy them before they reach a resting-place. A few remnants 
of rock not usually reckoned as metamorphic nor volcanic are some- 
times inclosed, but they come from sedimentary strata as hard and endur- 
ing as the others, and such strata are rare. Hard masses, originally con- 
tained in softer beds, are sometimes found, but they owe their preservation 
to their excessive durability, such as the flints of chalk, the chert, and many 
forms of amorphous silica occurring in limestones. The localities from 
which the stones come are no doubt very near those where they are 



TKANSPORTATION OP DEBRIS. 215 

deposited, as compared with the distances traveled by finer detritus. In- 
stances where stones weighing from two to five pounds have traveled 50 
miles are common. Where ice is the vehicle, the distance may be almost 
indefinitely great. It would seem to require extraordinary circumstances 
to justify the belief that a conglomerate could be formed as far as 50 miles 
from the sources of its fragments, and it is probable that most of the strati- 
fied beds are formed in the very neighborhood of those sources, though 
beds of small gravel, graduating into coarse and then into fine sandstone, 
may extend away much farther. 

Transportation, — Transportation by ice, whether floating, or moving 
upon the land, forms a subject by itself, and has no analogy to the agency 
of water in moving debris. It will therefore be passed over, since it takes 
no part in the operations which are the object of this discussion. The 
movements oi the coarse materials which build up conglomerates difffer 
from those of the finer sediments, though they have something in common. 
The greater portion of the fine silt, much of the fine sand, and the whole 
of the chemical and organic precipitates are carried by moving waters in 
suspension, and are thrown down when the waters come to rest. The 
coarser materials are impelled along the bottoms of rivers and the shelving 
floors of the ocean and lakes near the beaches. Here the want of habitual 
obsei*vation and common experience is apt to mislead us and render diffi- 
cult the obtaining a just apprehension of the nature and magnitude of this 
impulsion. An)'- day we may see the rivers turbid with earthy matter, and 
it is an easy step from this observation to the great generalization that the 
land is wasting away and heavy strata accumulating beneath the ocean. 
But it is not so easy to see what goes on beneath the water. The times 
when the processions of stones are on the move are times of high water, 
and flooding rains, when geologists are as prone as other people to seek the 
kindly welcome of roofs and closed doors; times when the deep and murky 
waters prevent us from seeing and the roar of the torrent from hearing the 
movement, even if we ventured out to watch it. Thus, the process is not 
a matter ot common and direct experience; nay, experience might seem at 
first to lead us to a contrary conclusion. When a stream is low and clear 



216 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

we may note the stones which pave its bed, and after a flood has passed 
and the stream again is clear we may find that there has been little change 
in them; but to conclude that no stones have passed in the interval would 
be a mistake. Those which retain their places have lodged there and been 
fastened to the bottom by a packing of sand or wedged together like the 
cobbles of a pavement. If the sources of the materials continue to furnish 
them, doubtless many stones have been hurried along over this pavement 
during the flood, a few finding a resting place, but more of them passing 
on to be ground into silt or to find resting-places in deeper waters below. 
But there is another method quite different from this precipitate one, 
and by which it is very probable that much larger movements are effected, 
though much more slowly. It never happens that the materials to be 
moved are of uniform grain. Mud, sand, gravel, shingle, and cobble- 
stones always accompany coarser debris in varying proportions, and form a 
matrix in which the larger fragments are imbedded. An acceleration of 
the current removes the finer stuff and retardation replaces it with fresh. 
The washing out of the matrix of sand and grit which holds a pebble in 
its place leaves the pebble to the unobstructed energy of the current. If 
that energy is sufficient it will be carried along until the current slackens 
or until it finds a lodgment. If the energy is too small, the pebble will 
remain until the ceaseless wear of attrition reduces it and brings it within 
the power of the stream to move it. Nor are these movements dependent 
solely upon periodical floods. Any cause which alternately accelerates the 
movement of water may produce them, and these causes are many. Every 
stream and every sliore current is affected by numerous rhythmical move- 
ments which produce these alternations in many ways and many degrees. 
The waves and surf, the undertow, the tides, the shifting of shore cur- 
rents, the storms and monsoons, the ripples of the brook, the numberless 
surgings and waverings of rivers, the shifting of channels, the building and 
destruction of sand bars, the freshets — all are causes by virtue of which 
any spot at the bottom of thfe water is subject to alternate maxima and 
minima in the velocity of the water which passes over it. Sooner or later, 
then, the pebble must move on, provided any maximum of velocity in 



TRANSPORTATION OF DfiBRIS. 2J7 

the water is sufficient to move it when subject to no other resistance than 
its own weight* 

Thus whatever a stream receives it carries along, whether it be water 
or solid rock. Certainly much of the matter rolled into it is in the form of 
coai-se fragments, but it urges them onwards, grinding them to silt as they 
move. Nothing which it receives does it retain, except in places here and 
there where its current is suddenly checked, and here for a time coarser 
materials accumulate. But in the secular life of the river even these local 
accumulations may in turn be removed by subsequent changes of relative 
level along different portions of its course. 

The distance which a fragment may ultimately travel is independent of 
its original size. Large stones, being moved with difficulty, are detained at 
numerous halting places and subjected to long attrition until they are suffi- 
ciently reduced to be within the power of the current, and at length become 
no bigger than those which were originally smaller. In truth, all frag- 
ments, in a certain sense, travel the same distance ultimately, for they all 
pass the mouth of the river in the form of silt and dissolved constituents. 
Viewed in another aspect, however, the size of the fragment determines in 
a general way its amount of progress. The larger ones have at any given 
stage moved a shorter distance and the smaller ones a greater distance- 
on the average 

The action of a current upon rocky fragments, then, is to sweep them 
along and to gi*ind them to powder as it sweeps. It never accumulates 
them except in a limited way and under circumstances which will be here- 
after described at some length. Whether the detritus which a river dis- 
charges shall be in the form of pebbles, gravel, or silt, depends upon the 
length of the stream and the power of its current. A long stream with a 
low slope and sluggish current along its lower course, but with more rapid 
tributaries above, will have dissipated its fragments and discharge nothing 
but silt. A short stream with a rapid descent may readily discharge coarse 

•Where a sndden retardation of the velocity of a stfeam occurs, as by the sudden widening or 
deei>cning of a channel, and where this change predominates over all other changes from maxima to 
minima, there will occur a persistent accumulation of coarser debris without any great admixture of 
iluer. » » • Concerning the iM)wer of water to move i)ebblc8, it will be merely necessary to refer 
to Dr. Hopkins's well-known theorem. 



218 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

fragments, shingle, and gravel. The latter may build up a conglomerate at 
its outlet; the former never. 

The action of the sea upon coarse materials has a very close analogy 
to that of rivers. CuiTents are generated by the tides and winds along 
coasts. The surface-waters are rolled in waves upon the shore and flow 
outwards along the bottom. But their directions are frequently vacillating, * 
trending both ways along the coast with varying obliquity. These cur- 
rents are usually fast enough to move gravel, shingle, and pebbles as large 
as those ordinarily seen in marine conglomerates, and may transport them 
several miles. The general efl^ect of the agitation produced in littoral watei-s 
by tides and winds is to seize upon the loose materials of the shore within 
reach and distribute them over the bottom with an approach to uniformity, 
and this distributive action prevails wherever the influence of that disturb- 
ance exists. 

The distribution of the materials. — It is sometimes a little difficult to real- 
ize the agency which has, in the stratification of conglomerates, scattered 
the fragments over considerable areas and an'anged them harmoniously in 
beds. The stratification of conglomerates is often as conspicuous as that 
of finer strata, though in general it is less so In the case of marine con- 
glomerates, which are usually formed in the vicinity of the shores, and at 
no great distance from the sources of their materials, the problem is not 
difficult. Currents of no mean intensity are perpetually generated along 
the bottom, near the coast, by tides and the outward flow of water, which 
has been blown landwards at the surface by winds. These currents, though 
having at any given locality an average direction, in the long run are never 
constant in direction from hour to hour, nor from day to day, but sweep 
hither and thither. But the average flow at the surface is generally land- 
wards, while at the bottom it is seawards. In any case, however, the gen- 
eral trend is oblique, with reference to any given portion of a coast, and 
never, or at least very seldom, normal to it. These vacillating movements 
are highly conducive to a harmonious and definite arrangement of the 
materials upon which the currents act, ever tending to sift and to sort them, 
and finally to stratify them. The power of these currents to transport is 
perhaps greater than we are apt to imagine. The drift of sand along coasts 



ALLUVIAL OB TORRENTIAL CONGLOMERATES. 219 

is a process which has often awakened the surprise of engineers who are 
called for the first time to deal with the problems of harbor protection and 
is ever revealing wonderful things. Not only does the finer loose material 
move in grand procession under the influence of unseen, though still com- 
prehensible, afjencies, but very coarse detritus is carried slowly with it. 
The tendency of the process, however, is not towards an indiscriminate 
mixing of all sorts and sizes, but towards the grouping into layers, here of 
coarser, there of finer, stuff, according to the variations in the power of the 
moving water. 

But there is another class of conglomerates which claims our special 
attention. These are of alluvial origin, formed, not beneath the surface of 
the sea nor of lakes, but on the land itself. They do not seem to have 
received from investigators all the cittention and study which they merit. 
They are usually called gravels — perhaps are sometimes or even frequently 
mistaken for glacial drift — but their homology to the ordinary stratified 
conglomerates of the systematic strata is not always recognized. Through- 
out great portions of the Rocky Mountain region they are accumulating 
to-day upon a grand scale and have accumulated very extensively in the 
past. 

The processes of degradation are far more energetic and effective in 
mountains than upon plains. The agents which disintegrate rocks — ^frost, 
rain, chemical solution — have the greatest freedom of action upon the steep 
slopes of the numberless ravines, and are continuously breaking off frag- 
ments and reducing them to sand, gravel, and clay. Not only is the greater 
part of the finer mold gathered up by the swift rills and torrents, but frag- 
ments of considerable size, attaining, under favorable circumstances, the 
weight of several tons, are caught and urged downward in rushing rapids 
with an energy which must be seen in order to be realized. The many 
streamlets and filaments of a mountain amphitheater gradually unite, as we 
descend from the crest of the mountains, generating a creek, which attains 
its greatest flood near the mountain base, and when the snows melt in the 
spring its swollen current sweeps onward a mass of chistic material of every 
description from impalpable clay to bowlders. Within the mountain masses 
the descents are rapid and the streams arO tonents. Reaching the valleys 



220 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

or plains, tbeir velocity is at once checked by the diminished slope and the 
coarser debris comes to rest. These streams lie (within the mountains) in 
ravines usually profound, with steep flaring sides, and opening upon the 
valley bottoms or plains through magnificent gateways, and every long 
range or ridge has usually many such gateways opening at intervals of a 
very few miles along its flank. At the gateway the stream begins to 
surrender a part of its freight and to build up its channel. The check 
given to the velocity of the stream here is marked, indeed, but less incisive 
than might at first be supposed. The profile of the bed of the stream does 
not have an angle at this point, but is curved very gently, and is concave 
upward. Indeed, it is so throughout the entire course of the stream out- 
side the gate and generally for a considerable distance inside the gate. 
Thus the velocity of the stream slows down gradually and not suddenly. 
As the velocity gradually diminishes so the stream gives up more and 

• 

more of its load. But the stuff which it drops along any small part of its 
course is by no means of the same size; that is to say, there is no rigorous 
sifting of the material in such a manner that the stones or particles at any 
given place are of uniform size, while finer ones are carried on to be scrupu- 
lously selected where the slope and velocity are less. On the contrary, all 
sorts are deposited everywhere. Nevertheless there is a tendency to sort- 
uig. Higher up the slope there is a greater proportion of coarser deposit; 
lower down there is a larger proportion of finer deposit; but everywhere 
the coarse and the fine are commingled. 

Where the stream is progressively building up its bed outside of the 
gate, it is obvious that it cannot long occupy one position ; for if it persisted 
in running for a very long time in one place it would begin to build an 
embankment. Its position soon becomes unstable, and the slightest cause 
will divert it to a new bed which it builds up in turn, and which in turn 
becomes unstable and is also abandoned. The frequent repetition of 
these shiftings causes the course of the stream to vibrate radially around 
the gate as a center, and in the lapse of ages it builds up a half-cone, the 
apex of which is at the gate. The vibration is not regular, but vacillat- 
ing, like a needle in a magnetic storm ; but in the long run, and after very 



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ALLUVIAL CONES— THEm STRUCTUEE. 221 

many shiftings, the stream will have swept over a whole semicircle with 
approximately equal and uniform results. 

The formation thus built up is an '* Alluvial Cone." As we travel over 
these cones their forms are usually recognized by the eye, though some- 
times with difficulty. The slant of the cone (of which more will be said 
hereafter) is usually quite small, though sometimes verj'- conspicuous. It 
varies greatly but not capriciously, depending much upon the nature of the 
materials of which it is composed. Most frequently these cones are so large 
and so flat, that it is only by very close scrutiny and comparison with sur- 
rounding objects that their forms are optically recognized, and many cases 
occur where we become aware of their true figures and relations only by the 
use of our pocket instruments. There is one feature which the eye seldom 
recognizes or even suspects. The profiles are not (even typically) truly con- 
ical, but are slightly curved instead of having a rectilinear slope. They are 
concave upwards, the slope being a little gi'eater near the apex and slightly 
or sometimes notably diminishing towards the periphery. The slopes near 
the circumference usually lie between 1° and 2°; those near the apex 
between 2° and 3J°. The lengths of the radii of the bases often exceed 
3 miles, sometimes exceed 4 miles, and seldom fall below 2 miles. Per- 
haps 3 miles would be a fair average for those found in the valleys of the 
District of the High Plateaus. So nearly together are the gateways along 
the mountain and plateau flanks, each having its own alluvial cone, that 
the cones are confluent laterally ; giving rise to a continuous marginal belt 
along the base of the plateau flanks consisting of alluvial slopes which are 
sensibly nearly uniform. 

The conical form of these accumulations is ordinarily tolerably accu- 
rate and often remarkably perfect. It is a surprisingly harmonious result 
of a process which in its elements is apparently irregular, but becomes 
regular only by averaging the results of its constituents. Not only is the 
regularity seen in the external form of the cone, but it is found whenever 
an opportunity occurs to examine its interior structure. This is sometimes 
revealed to us. In the vicissitudes to which a stream so conditioned is 
subject it occasionally happens that indirect causes have set it at work 
cutting into its cone; dissecting it, so to speak, by a deep cut and laying 



222 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

bare its anatomy. Our surprise is often great at finding the cone wonder- 
fully well stratified, but in a peculiar way. The most perfect stratification 
is presented when the dissecting cut is made radially. But when a cut 
transveree to the radius is made by excavations of another stream, the strati- 
fication, though still conspicuous, is much less uniform and harmonious. 
The cone appears to be built up of long radial or sectoral slabs superposed 
like a series of shingles or thatches. 

There are marked diflferences between the cones formed by streams 
which have their entire descent within unaltered sedimentary strata and those 
running among volcanic and metamorphic rocks. The fragments resulting 
from the decay of sandstones, limestones, and shales are much more sus- 
ceptible to the influence of weathering and are more readily worn-out by 
the abrasion of travel. Even when they escape destruction by the wear 
of the torrent and reach a resting-place upon the surface of the cone, 
the gentler but more insidious action of meteoric forces gradually crum- 
bles them to sand or dissolves them, and they at length disappear. But 
the compact volcanic and metamorphic rocks are much more durable 
and do not yield so readily either to mechanical or chemical forces ; more 
of them reach tlie cones, where they survive long enough to be buried 
beneath later accumulations and thus receive final protection from dissolu- 
tion. Hence the cones derived from the waste of sedimentary strata sel- 
dom contain nmch coarse debris, while those from harder rocks are largely 
composed of it. This difiference in texture in turn produces some difference 
in the proportions of cones. The sedimentary cones are usually very 
slightly flatter and broader. The difference in this respect is on the whole 
quite small, but the measurement of a considerable number of both kinds 
seems to indicate that it really exists. 

In consequence of the flatness of the cones and their lateral confluence, 
the general result of their serial aggregation is a long and thick stratum 
made up of many subordinate folia. In process of time it may also 
become consolidated and hardened into a rock mass resembling in all 
essential respects the stratified conglomerates usually reckoned among the 
members of a stratigraphic series. That distinctions between such a con- 
glomerate and one deposited littorally would be readily detected after close 



ALLUVIAL CONGLOMERATES. 223 

inspection of favorable exposures we may well believe; yet it is highly 
probable that the two kinds would be confounded on a hasty examination, 
and the distinction would be difficult to verify even by careful study, unless 
tlie exposures were extensive and conspicuous enough to display very fully 
and clearly their respective characters. These doubts generally would 
prevail in those cases where a decision would have to turn only upon the 
intimate structures of the deposits. Collateral circumstances, however, 
may often decide the question. 

Throughout the volcanic portions of the District of the High Plateaus 
the conglomerates are present in prodigious masses. They constitute a 
large proportion of the rock masses of the plateaus, and form many miles of 
escai-pment more than a thousand — sometimes more than 2,000 — ^feet in 
thickness. In the central and southern portions of the plateaus they can- 
not fall much short of one-half of the masses now open to observation, and 
taking the volcanic portion of the entire district, a rough estimate would 
place their volume at least at a third of the whole eruptive material. They 
are well stratified, and though the distinctness of the bedding is somewhat 
variable, the stratification never becomes obscure. Indeed, on the whole, 
these conglomerates seem to be about as well stratified as the average of 
those which are attributed to sub-aqueous deposition. The individual beds 
are not so thick and massive and show partings more frequently or at 
shorter intervals. 

The occurrence of large stratified accumulations of pyroclastic mate- 
rials in regions or districts which have been the theaters of protracted vol- 
canic activity is a fact of common observation. They abound throughout 
the State of Colorado and along the more or less volcanic ranges of North- 
ern Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho. They excited the admiration of 
Scrope in Central France, and are conspicuous in Sicily and around Vesu- 
vius. Indeed, every volcanic region will doubtless be found to display 
them to a greater or less extent. Where large bodies of water wash the 
flanks of volcanic mountains and ranges we may expect to find large 
bodies of sub-aqueous conglomerate formed from their debris. Volcanic 
tuffs are formed by the mechanical projection of dust, ash, rapilli, and 
small fragments from vents blowing out gases and steam, and falling 



224 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

at considerable distances from the orifices. Want of opportunities for ob- 
serving such formations of unquestionable origin prevents me from having 
any just conception of the nature, extent, and texture of such accumula- 
tions. But it seems suflSciently clear that there could be no difficulty in 
distinguishing them from such as are with equal certainty attributable to 
sub-aqueous or alluvial deposition. I have observed but few exposures 
which I can attribute to such an origin. That the great mass of conglom- 
erates of the High Plateaus were accumulated from the debris derived from 
the erosive destruction of volcanic beds cannot be doubted. The only 
question is whether they are alluvial or sub-aqueous, and of the former 
origin I entertain no doubt. The fragments seldom fail to reveal traces of 
attrition and weathering, never preserving sharp angles like those pro- 
duced by fresh fracture. But, on the other hand, the attrition is not 
ordinarily extreme. In most cases there is enough of it to indicate dis- 
tinctly that the fragments have really been abraded, though with no 
great loss of substance. The stones of sub-aqueous conglomerates, on 
the contrary, are almost always much worn and rounded. Again, the 
sizes of the stones range from a fraction of a cubic inch to several cubic 
feet ; in rare instances to more than a cubic yard. 

In whatsoever manner we compare the great conglomerates now form- 
ing solid rock masses and uplifted as plateaus with the alluvial conglom- 
erates now forming in the valleys, we cannot fail to be impressed with the 
evidence that both were formed by essentially the same processr- The only 
diflfcrences of any appreciable moment which are now discoverable arise 
from the fact that the older conglomerates have been consolidated into rock- 
masses, while the later ones have not 



CHAPTER XI. 

SEVIER AND PAUNSAGUNT PLATEAUS. 

General stractare and form of tbe Sevier Plateau. — Sculpture.— Ravines. — Superposed featores and 
details. — Northern portion of tbe plateau. — A gigantic cliff.— Monroe Amphitheater. — Lava beds 
exposed within it. — Tbe Gate of Monroe. —Propylitio masses. — Clastic volcimic beds at the base 
of the series. — ^Homblendic andesites. — ^Intervening period of erosion of the propylites. — Hom- 
blendic trachytes and angitic andesites. — ^Argillold and granitoid trachytes. — General succession 
of the eruptions. — Comparison with the succession found in the Auvergne. — Eastern side of the 
Sevier Platean and Blue Mountain. — Great extent of the emanations from the principal volcanic 
centers of the northern part of the plateau. — Eroded lava-capped mesas around Salina Cafion. — 
Tbe Black Cap. — Angitic trachytes. — Lava sheets south of Monroe Amphitheater. — Central vents 
of the Sevier Plateau. — Volcanic conglomerates. — An ancient cone, buried in lava and exhumed 
by erosion. — Conglomerates south of the central vents. — Southern focus of eruptions. — ^Andesitic 
conglomerates. — Southern termination of the Sevier Plateau. — General succession of eruptive 
sheets. — Sections. — East Fork Cafion. — Effect of the Sevier fault. — Tufac^ous deposits exposed in 
East Fork Cafion. — ^Their transitional characters. — Their metamorphism and the resemblance of 
the metamorphs to lava sheets. — Phonolite hill. — Grass Valley, its structure and origin. — Exist- 
ence of an ancient lake in Grass Valley. — The causes which produced it. — Tufaceous deposits of 
Mesa Creek. — Their recent formation. — ^Their transitional characters. — ^Alluvial cones of Grass 
Valley. — ^The Paunsl^gunt. — ^Lower Eocene beds. — Faults. — ^The southern terraces. — Paria Valley. 
— ^A grand erosion. — The scenery of Paria Valley. — ^Table Cliff and Kaipl^wits Peak. — The Pink 
Cliffs and architectural forms sculptured from them. — ^A recent basaltic cone. — Scattered basaltic 
. craters of the southern terraces. 

The Sevike Plateau is next to be described. It is a long and rather 
narrow uplift, having a fault along its western base and inclining to the 
eastward; at first very gently, then with a stronger slope, which grades 
rapidly down into Grass Valley. The length of this table is about 70 
miles, and its width varies from 10 to 20 miles. It is, therefore, long 
and narrow like the general ground-plan of a mountain range. But its 
structure has very little analogy to ordinary mountain uplifts. It has no 
sharply upturned strata upon its flanks reclining against a core of meta- 
morphic rocks — ^no summit ridge marking the axis along which granitoid 
and schistose rocks have been protruded, nor even the monoclinal ridge 
which characterizes the Wasatch and Basin Ranges. It is a tabular mass 
very like the inclined blocks of the Kaibab region to the southward. The 
inclination is very small, seldom exceeding tliree or four degrees upon the 

15 H P 225 



226 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH TLATEAUS. 

summit, though reaching a considerably greater slope upon the eastern flank. 
The eastern side, indeed, suggests a monoclinal flexure, but the bending of 
the profiles is so small and their sweep is so gradual that we may forbear 
to call it such. It is hardly pronounced enough to justify such a designa- 
tion. 

Standing in the Sevier Valley and looking at this barrier there are 
many stretches along its western front which appear quite like a conmion 
mountain range. Profound gorges, V-shaped, heading far back in its mass, 
have cut the table from summit to base and open through magnificent 
gateways into the valley. The residual masses between these gorges pre- 
sent their gable-ends to the spectator, who cannot see what is behind them, 
and they look exactly like so many individual mountains, while in reality 
they are merely pediments carved by erosion out of a gigantic palisade. 
Other long stretches of the western front are unbroken and present to the 
valley of the Sevier a wall of vast proportions. The summit of the plateau 
is not smooth, but carved into rolling ridges and vales, deepening eastward 
into cations, while at several places volcanic ridges cross it transversely. 
These last are the remnants of old volcanic piles worn down and half 
obliterated by long ages of decay, for they belong to the middle epoch of 
volcanic activity, which may be as old as the Middle Miocene. They 
present from a structural point of view a peculiar relation to the table on 
which they now stand. In almost every great mountain range of ordinaiy 
type the axes of those minor ridges or superimposed features which had 
their origin in general causes which built the entire range lie roughly 
parallel to the main uplift in the relation of superimposed waves of displace- 
ment. But here it is otherwise. The volcanic ridges which are planted 
upon the Sevier Plateau run not along its major axis, but across the table 
from side to side. The movement which hoisted the plateau en masse was 
not sensibly embarrassed by such trifles as a few ridges of volcanic piles. 
The features impressed by erosion, on the contrary, conform to the usual 
law which prevails in mountain ranges. The streams pour down from the 
summit along whatever slopes moy have been generated by. the details of 
the uplift, and have carved their vales, gorges, and caflons accordingly. 
Since these run across the table or perpendicular to its major axis they 



GENERAL VIEW OF THE SEVIER PLATEAU. 227 

have sculptured ridges of erosion which trend that way. If we view the 
Sevier Plateau from the north, its transverse profile is alone seen, and the 
tabular summit slightly inclined is conspicuous to the eye. But if we 
view it from the east or west, its long summit is seen in many places to be 
somewhat rmnpled and even serrated by the ridges of erosion and by the 
old volcanic remnants viewed endwise. 

The northern end of the Sevier Plateau is not well defined. A long, 
gentle ramp, deeply scarred and much wasted by erosion, begins a little south 
of Salina and ascends southward to the summit. It is best appreciated as 
we journey up the Sevier Valley from Salina to Richfield. We then 
observe the whole platform of the country to the east of us gradually 
gaining in altitude through a distance of 20 miles, until from being a 
thousand feet above us at Salina it becomes 5,800 feet above us opposite 
Richfield, and there presents to the west a stupendous battlement of nearly 
vertical wall above and abrupt spur-like slopes below, thrusting their but- 
tresses beneath the valley plain. For nearly 10 miles this tremendous 
escarpment is quite massive and unbroken, simple in form and more than 
a mile in height. Opposite Monroe a large amphitheater has been exca- 
vated in the plateau by a plexus of streams, and may be likened to a huge 
bowl filled with mountains. From this point southward the plateau wall is 
notched repeatedly by profound ravines heading far back in the table, 
until, at a distance of about 32 miles south of Monroe, the plateau is cut 
completely in twain by the East Fork Cailon. From this gap southward 
30 miles the southern division of the plateau presents a very few incon- 
spicuous breaks, and terminates in a low wall at a rather lofty and broad 
transverse valley known as the Panquitch Hay field. The eastern front of 
the table looks down into Grass Valley, but from a much smaller eminence, 
both because the eastern front is absolutely lower than the western, and 
because Grass Valley is absolutely higher than Sevier Valley. The 
descent into Grass Valley along the northern and central parts of the pla- 
teau is rather abrupt, frequently precipitous ; but along the southern part 
it is very gradual. 

The Sevier Plateau is composed chiefly of volcanic sheets of grand 
dimensions and enormous cumulative thickness, and of immense beds of 



228 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

alluvial conglomerate derived from their degradation. Only at the north- 
ern and southern ends are the sedimentaries clearly seen in mass lying 
beneath the old lavas. At a few intermediate points, however, and espe- 
cially in East Fork Cafion, some metamorphosed beds of peculiarly inter- 
esting character are exposed, and these will receive special attention in the 
latter part of this chapter. 

The eruptions which compose the plateau mass belong to several well- 
separated periods, which for the most part had their locations at the same 
centers or axes. Of these centers or axes there are in the Sevier Plateau 
three — one at the loftiest part of the table at the summit of its northern 
slope, the second about 2 miles farther south, the third in the southern 
section of the plateau, right abreast of Panquitch Cafion and about 30 
miles south of the second. They may be distinguished as the northern, 
central, and southern eruptive centers respectively. Of these the largest 
and most voluminous is the northern one ; in truth it is apparently the 
most important one of the entire district. 

Immediately opposite the Mormon town Monroe the great wall of the 
plateau rises more than a mile above the valley plain, presenting the edges 
of the volcanic beds, which appear to bo very nearly horizontal and more 
than 4,000 feet in thickness. How much more is impossible to say, for the 
lowest sheets are concealed. Upon the summit of the wall a transverse 
ridge runs across the table to the eastern side and ends in a high knob 
overlooking Grass Valley and named the Blue Mountain. It was in the 
vicinity of this ridge that the grander eruptions had their origin. 

The great amphitheater near Monroe has laid open the table to its 
foundation, but the promise of information conveyed by such a section is 
not fulfilled. It has revealed a bewildering maze of earlier rocks lying in 
all possible positions and having but few intelligible relations to each other. 
Upon them rest later floods in rather regular bedding, which succeed each 
other to the summit. I have revisited this locality repeatedly, but have 
generally found at each visit more questions than answers. The confusion 
among the lower rocks is indescribable, and the exposures of any given 
bed so fragmentary that I have been compelled to abandon the effort to 
unravel the knot, and can give an account of only the most general rela- 



MONKOE AMPHITHEATER— PROPYLITES. 229 

tions presented. The most conspicuous rock of the oldest series is a ridge 
of hornblendic propylite extending across the opening of the amphithea- 
ter. The stream which drains the amphitheater has cut a cleft 20 or 30 
feet wide and more than 500 feet deep through this barrier (Heliotype I), 
and the gorge has received the name of Gate of Monroe. The length of 
this chasm between propylitic walls is about half a mile. Following it 
downstream the massive propylite gives place suddenly to beds of con- 
glomerate and clay, baked and altered by heat, which abut in the natural 
section against the propylite. They are probably younger than the vol- 
canic rock and may have been derived from its waste. At the upper end 
of the gorge the propylitic mass ends suddenly — a lateral ravine parallel 
to its precipitous face hiding its mode of exit. On the other side of the 
ravine is a mjiss of andesite succeeded by trachyte, both apparently younger 
than the propylite. The propylitic mass may have been erupted at as early 
a period as Middle or Late Eocene, for the stratified beds which abut against 
its western flank have evidently been water-laid, and there is no evidence 
of the existence of any considerable body of water in this locality later 
than the epoch referred to. Moreover, beds of similar nature, sometimes 
altered, sometimes not, are found around the eruptive centers in many 
localities, and have been derived from the destruction of some unknown 
volcanic rocks. Fragments of similar altered rocks are brought down by 
the stream from some of the forks above, showing that on both sides of the 
propylitic mass these peculiar sediments were deposited. Very partial 
exposures of propylitic rock are also found elsewhere in the deepest part 
of the ramifying gorges, cut by the many streams that unite in the creek 
which cuts the cleft in the larger barrier of the amphitheater. 

These propylitic rocks are interesting, inasmuch as they furnish another 
instance of that priority in time among Tertiary eruptions which Richt- 
hofen has claimed for them. Here they are not only older than all other 
eruptives, but they appear to speak of an epoch in which they alone were 
erupted, and that epoch probably goes as far back as the Middle Eocene. 
They certainly do no appear among the later or the middle eruptions. A 
period of rest from volcanic disturbance succeeded their extravasation, and 
during that quiescent period they were much ravaged by ei^osion. Patches 



230 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

of conglomerate, fomied of their fragments, were accumulated and are here 
and there brought to light where erosion has deeply excavated the still 
grander masses of subsequent lavas overlying them So completely were 
these most ancient rocks overwhelmed, that erosion has only revealed a 
very small portion of them and left us to conjecture what may be the 
extent of those portions now concealed. It is not improbable that the 
clastic beds, formed of the waste of volcanic rocks, and which underlie the 
great lava caps of the plateaus and in turn rest upon the Bitter Creek and 
Green River beds, may have derived their sands and clays from the decom- 
position of some of these propylitic masses. 

These ancient eruptions are succeeded by those of a middle epoch, 
lying across the surface of an eroded country, which they overwhelmed. 
These second lavas are much less chaotic in their arrangement and much 
less affected by erosion during the intervals between the eruption of succes- 
sive floods. They are, therefore, more intelligible, and some idea of their 
sequences has been obtained, though less definite than is desirable, because 
the exposures are so partial and so much obscured by debris and soil. 
These outpoui's were upon a very large scale, the masses being often several 
hundred feet in thickness and spreading out over large areas. The lower 
masses are andesitic and show but little variety. They all belong to the 
homblendic group and are characterized by triclinic feldspar, with a mode- 
rate proportion of hornblende, with some augite and magnetite, and are 
very compact and rather fine-grained. Higher up, these give place to 
coarse-grained trachytes, with both monoclinic and triclinic feldspars and 
abundant hornblende. These occasionally intercalate with sheets of doler- 
ite. Still higher, a totally distinct group of trachytes is found. They con- 
sist largely of the argilloid variety— a fine-grained, highly fen-itic, reddish 
paste, holding porphyritic crystals of opaque monoclinic feldspar. There is 
probably no eruptive rock within the district more abundant It forms the 
summit of the series of middle-aged eruptions in many localities. Very 
nearly coeval with it is a group of trachytes, having an appearance faintly 
resembling a fine-gi'ained syenite, though not by any means wholly crys- 
talline. It varies in color from iron gray to light gray. It shows a tendency 
to break up into slabs or tiles from an inch to four or five inches thick, the 



MOMIOE AMPIJITnEATEll— TRACHYTES AND DOLERITES. 231 

cleavage being sometiraes parallel with the bedding, sometimes making a 
large angle with it, like slate. Hornblende, aiigite, and black mica, in very 
small crystals, are sparingly disseminated through it. Associated with 
these are masses of doleritic lava. I use this designation to indicate a rock 
more basic than andesite, but less so than basalt ; and though more nearly 
approaching the latter, is distinguished from it both in mode of occurrence 
and in aspect. It is associated with the middle eruptions and I believe 
never with the later. Its feldspars are triclinic (Labradorite), frequently 
in large crystals, which have a conspicuous glassy luster, resembling sani- 
din. It never contains olivin. Usually it is blackish and nearly as dark as 
basalt, but in some cases it is red, even in compact specimens. 

We have, then, in this great amphitheater more than 4,000 feet of 
volcanic rocks, belonging to at least two periods, and possibly more, separ- 
ated by long intervfils of erosion — the oldest going back into the latter part 
of the Eocene, the younger belonging to I know not what period exactly, 
but from general considerations, am disposed to regard them as Miocene or 
early Pliocene, covering a long period in their totality, which may extend 
throughout the entire range of Miocene and Pliocene time. At the base of 
the series we find large bodies of rock, consisting of plagioclase, with con- 
siderable quantities of accessory hornblende, and also having the habit of 
homblendic propylite and homblendic andesite. These were much eroded 
after their eruption and before the extravasation of the later coulees. They 
are succeeded by heavy masses of rather fine-gi*ained augitic andesite in 
great sheets, reaching a thickness of 300 and even 400 feet, and are followed 
by equally heavy masses of trachyte, sometimes augitic, sometimes with 
no great or notxible amount of any accessory mineral. With these last 

doleritic eruptions intercalate 

Scrope, in his work on the ** Volcanoes of Central France," repeatedly 
mentions the occurrence of " basalts" intercalating with the trachytic masses 
of Mont Dore and the Cantal. He wa© particular to call attention to the 
fact that in that region no confirmation was found of the view which had 
been entertained by some geologists that the basalts were erupted at a later 
period than the trachytes, and notes many instances where "basalt" was 
overlaid by trachyte. It is clear, however, tliat Scrope included under 



232 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

the name basalt nearly, if not quite, the whole category of dark-gray and 
black augitic rocks of rather fine-grained texture, high specific gravity, and 
more or less conchoidal fracture. To the range of variation which is now 
known to extend through this class both in respect to chemical and min- 
eralogical constitution he appears to have attached little importance, and, 
indeed, was unacquainted with such distinctions as have been established by 
later researches. It has seemed to me possible that the earlier rocks which 
he has called basalt may prove to be augitic andesite, while the most recent 
ones are the most basic of their class, and therefore identical with the rocks 
now assigned by more recent classification to basalt in the mofe restricted 
sense of the term, and finally that intermediate varieties may there exist, 
which are equivalent to those rocks which I have here designated as doler- 
ite. At all events, there is this correspondence — ^both localities present the 
intercalation of augitic-plagioclase rocks with trachytes. 

Let us now examine the east side of the plateau directly across from 
the great amphitheater. Another grand exposure is presented here. There 
is no fault on this side of the table — at least, none has been observed — 
but a large valley has been excavated not perpendicularly inwards towards 
the axis of the plateau, but very obliquely, cutting off the gable-like end 
of Blue Mountain. This name is given to that high knob which stands 
upon the eastern verge of the plateau, at the end of the transverse ridge 
which now marks the locus of one of the centers or axes of eruption. The 
excavation of the valley has cut off the eastern face of this ridge and laid 
open the structure and arrangement of the various beds. This arrange- 
ment is quite similar to what would be expected and to what has often been 
observed in great volcanic piles. From the central axis the sheets are seen 
dipping away in both directions at variable angles never very great. On 
the northern side they descend towards the northeast and on the southern 
side to the southeast, the lower beds dipping more than the upper ones. 
All of these lavas seem to have welled up in mighty floods without any of 
that explosive violence which often characterizes volcanic action, and so 
great was the volume of extravasated matter, that it at once spread out in 
wide fields, and deluged the surrounding country like a tide in a bay flow- 
ing over all inequalities. How far these floods extended it is difficult to 



NOETHEEN FOCUS OF ERUPTIONS. 233 

say. To the westward they are cut off in the great wall which faces 
Sevier Valley with an altitude of nearly 6,000 feet above the river. To 
the east they are likewise cut off by the oblique valley, though they 
reappear at lower altitudes on the other side, and are instantly lost again 
under soil and waste, but evidently descend into Grass Valley, and may 
commingle with the equally grand floods emanating from the Fish Lake 
Plateau to the eastward. But south and north they are displayed in im- 
mense volume. Those which flowed north and northeast are spread out 
in the vicinity of Salina Canon and one great coulee stretched beyond the 
cafion, which now cuts off a portion of it, leaving it as an outlier. Large 
portions of these old lavas have been swept away. The mauvaises terres 
south of Salina village were once covered with it. Standing prominent 
among these bad lands is a conical butte-like mountain of singularly per- 
fect form. It is a remnant left by circum denudation, and upon its summit 
is a **tip" or cap about 250 feet thick, consisting of this same lava reposing 
upon the sedimentary strata, out of which the peak has been carved in 
cameo. This mountain is called the Black Cap. The augitic trachyte,* of 
which its summit apparently forms a remnant, is the same as that which 
extends across the Salina Caflon. This flow reached a distance of 30 miles 
from its source. South of the caflon and nearer the source sheets of argil- 
loid trachyte rest upon the augitic and hornblendic, and heavy beds of con- 
glomerate derived from the ruins of both kinds of rock are interspersed. 
To the northeastward, extending as far as 25 miles, similar aggregates of 
massive superposed coulees are displayed, having a thickness of nearly a 
thousand feet and increasing in bulk as we approach the Sevier Plateau. 
The hornblendic trachytes are in the larger proportion, but the lighter gray 
trachytes, and especially the 'argilloid' varieties, are almost as voluminous. 
They are much degraded by erosion, and several fine caflons have been cut, 
ramifying into broader ravines, with big rough swelling hills between them. 

* This rock is a couspicuous ono. It lias many crystals ol sanidiOy but the less conspicuous plagio- 
claso is very abundant. The lino is difficult to draw — perhaps impossible — between some andesites and 
augitic trachytes. The texture is sometimes the only basis of a distinction, and this should be used 
with great caution, and never without reservations. Still the textures of the two groups arc usually 
distinct and characteristic, and the rock assumes in most cases the one aspect or the other even when 
the mineralogical constitution is doul)tfiil. In the very few cases where there is no means of forming 
a decided distinction it would seem as if the old term ^Hrachydolerito'' might be useful. It has the 
advantage at least of being non-committal. 



234 GEOLOG\ OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS, 

Southward from the northern center of eruption of the Sevier Plateau 
the floods are piled up in grand succession sheet upon sheet. No naiTow 
streams or rivers of lava were here, but great deluges, which welled up and 
rolled majestically over vast Plilegrsean fields, and, spreading out in broad 
lakes, left after their congelation an even stratification, which may be read 
miles away from distant summits. Standing upon the verge of the Awapa 
Plateau and looking across Grass Valley, these old floods are seen lying 
calmly and evenly with an outward resemblance to dark stratified rocks cut 
by ravines and terraced off into trappean ledges. Ten or fifteen miles 
southward they have commingled by intercalation with the coulees from 
the middle eruptive focus of the plateau. 

The eruptions from this middle locality were inferior in magnitude to 
those from the northern vents, though absolutely they were by no means 
small. Its lavas differ somewhat in character from those derived from the 
northern vent. Trachytes are present in considerable volume, and here as 
elsewhere alternate with dark doleritic lavas. They succeeded the ande- 
sites in the order of eruption. Here we find also the same inclination of 
the pseudo-strata which is observed in the Blue Mountain, the layers dip- 
ping away from the central mass in opposite directions. 

Around this eruptive locus we find also those great beds of conglom- 
erate which are so conspicuous throughout the entire district and especially 
in its southern portions. A mighty wall of this material is presented 
towards Sevier Valley, just north of the middle vent, and extends for about 
8 miles in that direction, where it thins out; but before being quite lost by 
attenuation is cut off by erosion. It is well stratified and weathers into an 
abrupt cliff. Here, as elsewhere, it was formed in an ancient valley, l}'ing 
between the two vents, and has the alluvial-cone structure. The great 
Sevier fault has cut the formation, and its continuation is seen upon the 
eastern slopes of Sevier Valley, 3,000 feet below. Upon the southern side 
of the vent the conglomerate is seen in still greater mass. In truth, its 
magnitude here becomes astonishing. 

Upon the Grass Valley side of this central eruptive locality is seen 
what is undoubtedly a remnant of a very ancient volcanic cone, afterwards 



CENTEAL VENTS OF THE SEVIER PLATEAU. 235 

completely buried in. the seas of lavas which were poured out around it 
At a later date it has been excavated by the erosion of Grass Valley and 
one side of it exposed. This is a large tufa cone, which must once have 
been nearly 1,800 feet high, and was formed by showers of small frag- 
ments blown from the orifice. They are seen dipping to the southeastward 
in a large ravine recently excavated in the side of the plateau, and the 
angle of dip is from 28 to 30 degrees near the summit, but decreases towards 
the base. The fragments are mostly augitic andesite and are closely com- 
pacted with very little cementing material. They are very sharp and 
angular, showing no evidence at all of attrition The stratification is quite 
perfect and the entire mass is thoroughly consolidated into a coherent body 
of stratiform layers. It is noticeable that the fragments are seldom of large 
size, rarely exceeding in weight ten or fifteen pounds. Only a small seg- 
ment of this cone is now exposed, and such portions as have been excavated 
have been ruthlessly attacked by the waters, which have incised deep 
ravines, which are destroying the cone almost as fast as they are unearthing 
it. Far above it rise the massy sheets of trachyte and the pediments 
formed in the projecting sheets lap around it on both sides. Probably it is 
a very common thing in the history of a volcanic pile for its earlier cones 
and monticules to be overwhelmed and buried by later outpours. But it 
may give some notion of the magnitude and grandeur of the eruptions of 
the Sevier Plateau to see a cone of this magnitude inclosed in rock, as if it 
were a mere trifle. 

The conglomerate forms the principal mass of the plateau south of the 
central vents for a distance of nearly 20 miles, where it becomes confluent 
with similar beds derived from the volcanic masses disgorged from the 
southern vents. It is frequently intercalated with enormous sheets of horn- 
blendic trachyte, erupted during the long period occupied by the accumula- 
tion. The conglomerate forms the intervening summit of the plateau 
between the eruptive localities, and has a thickness never less than a 
thousand feet and several exposures show more than 1,600 feet of it. Into 
its composition enter all the varieties of the andesitic and trachytic rocks 
forming the series of eruptive masses to the northward, wliich are cemented 
together by volcanic sand and decomposed fine detrital matter. The 



236 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS, 

degree of consolidation is always considerable and is quite sufficient to 
enable the edges to stand in great mural fronts many hundreds of feet in 
height. In this respect it is as consistent as any of the calcareous sand- 
stones of the region. It is, however, more easily attacked by the rains 
and frost than the volcanics or even than the more massive kinds of sand- 
stone. The included fragments exhibit all degrees of roundness by attrition ; 
are often quite sharp and angular; most frequently a little worn by current- 
action ; sometimes gi*eatly so. Where the fragments are least worn they 
are most abundant In many places the amount of cement is much less 
than others, while in some places the fragments are relatively few. In size, 
the fragments vary from a mere granule to two or three tons. The con- 
glomerates are seen upon the slopes of Sevier Valley at the foot of the 
western front of the plateau usually flexed upward a little and then cut off* 
by the gi'eat fault. On the east side of the plateau they slope down 
towards Grass Valley (which is in great part a valley of erosion), and are 
cut off in some places and dip beneath its floor in others, but reappear in 
the western front of the Awapa Plateau. Whether these beds which are 
seen in the Awapa are continuations of those in the Sevier Plateau is not 
absolutely certain, but I think they are. 

About midway between the middle and southern eruptive centers the 
Sevier Plateau is cut completely in twain by a mighty gorge called the 
East Fork Gallon. It is the old story — erosion. The plateau rose athwart 
the course of the stream and was sawed in two. It is not a narrow chasm, 
but a valley walled by ledge upon ledge. The dissevered beds above stand 
a couple of miles or more apart facing each other across the depths; below, 
the walls are from 1,000 to 2,000 feet assunder. The total depth varies in 
different parts from 1,400 to 3,700 feet. The structure of the plateau is 
thus clearly revealed. The upper rocks are volcanic conglomerate of 
immense thickness, with intercalary sheets of coarse trachyte, the former 
well stratified. The lower rocks are of a highly exceptional character, and 
will be treated of at length in the latter part of this chapter. 

The third eruptive focus of the Sevier Plateau stands east of the head 
of Panijuitch Cafion. It bears a strong resemblance in its features and the 
character of its emanations to the northern vent (Blue Mountain). It is 



SOUTHERN ERUPTIVB CENTER. 237 

not, however, so well exposed, and much less can be said about it. A 
grand ravine has eaten its way into it from the western side and disclosed 
at the base propylit;e and hornblendic andesite in great masses, and exhibit- 
ing evidence of an early period of great erosion followed by the eruption 
of augitic andesites and many forms of trachyte, which buried the ancient 
piles beneath their floods. A few fragmentary exposures of old conglom- 
erate, consisting of the ruins of the most ancient lavas, are also revealed 
near the base. Some of these have been so thoroughly metamorphosed 
that they form almost a homogeneous mass, in which the cement has an 
aspect closely resembling the fragments it envelops, and is shot through 
with minute crystals of feldspar and secondary hornblende. When broken, 
the surface of fracture cuts the pebbles and cement indiflferently. The 
propylites and hornblendic andesites are more profusely charged with horn- 
blende than those of the northern vent, and the propylites are rather finer 
in texture. The great mass of rocks now visible in this part of the plateau 
are of the trachytic series and later in age. They are mostly of the 
'argilloid' varieties, but contain fewer porphyritic crystals of orthoclase 
than are usually found in such lavas, and are heavily charged with ferritic 
matter, giving them a dirty brown appearance. Those eruptions which 
flowed westward commingled with those which emanated from Dog Valley, 
about 12 to 15 miles westward. Of those which flowed eastward I know 
but little. I have no doubt that they are well exposed in many of the 
ravines which descend from the crest of the plateau towards the foot of the 
Aquarius. I have hastily crossed them once, but have no conception of 
them sufficiently clear to justify me in attempting to describe them. My 
field-notes indicate a broad expanse of trachytic and andesitic rocks inter- 
bedded with volcanic conglomerate sloping gently towards the east and 
appearing to emanate from the above-mentioned source. 

The eruptions from this source did not extend more than 6 or 7 
miles southward. On the west side of the Sevier Plateau the last that was 
seen of them was in a deep caiion-Hke ravine, called Sanford Cafion, open- 
ing into Panquitch Valley about 6 miles south of the head of Panquitch 
Gallon. Here the strictly eruptive part of the plateau ends, and the con- 
tinuation of it southward is composed of Tertiary beds of the Bitter Creek 



238 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

group, overlaid by an enormous mass of volcanic conglomerate. Between 
the two are thin layers of those fine-grained marls and sandstones which 
have been derived firom the decay of ancient lavas, and which were evi- 
dently deposited in water. Of the age of these intermediate beds it is pos- 
sible to say but little. They are apparently conformable to the Bitter Creek 
below, but the conformity is no proof of continuity of deposition. They 
contain no fossils. The finer marly and arenaceous deposits are often of 
an exquisite apple-green color, and in some of the exposures the color is 
most charmingly delicate. The larger masses are from strong gray to 
white, when the grain is fine, and brown when it is coarse. Small decayed 
granules of volcanic sand, hornblendes, mica, and a green mineral, which may 
be epidote or " viridite," are intimately commingled. Veins of chalcedony 
and agate often cut the beds, and the fragments strew the soils and bad- 
land at the foot of the cliffs. 

The fault which uplifts the plateau has not been affected in any notice- 
able manner by its passage from the volcanic to the sedimentary region. 
It cut through a country which had apparently been long in repose ; where 
time had been gradually smoothing down the inequalities which had been 
produced by volcanic activity. When this new disturbance set in it seems 
to have laid out its line of operations regardless of existing inequalities, 
splitting whatever it found in its way. In the southern part of the Sevier 
Plateau it has sheared the old volcanic pile, and passing southward among 
the sedimentaries and conglomerates it treated them in the same fashion. 

The termination of the Sevier Plateau southward is effected by cliffs 
of conglomerate fringed with buttes. The conglomerate attenuates in that 
direction, and when its thickness has diminished to about 600 feet it is cut off 
by the undermining of the sedimentaries upon which it rests. At the end of 
the plateau the Sevier fault has diminished its throws to less than a thousand 
feet, and farther southward the throw reaches a minimum of about 600 feet, 
and thenceforward it increases again. This has produced a very slight sag, 
in which Ues the Panquitch Hayfield, a broad valley-plain having an abso- 
lute altitude of a little less than 7,000 feet. 



SUCCESSION OF EEUPTIONS-SECTIONS. 239 

SUCCESSION OP ERUPTIONS IN THE SEVIER PLATEAU. 

The following successions of volcanic beds were observed in the Sevier 
Plateau. An eflfort was made to obtain some good sections in the Monroe 
amphitheater, but proved unsuccessful, partly owing to the difficulty of scal- 
ing the rock faces and penetrating the clefts, and partly to the fact that the 
chaotic condition of the rocks in many places makes the section of doubt- 
ful value. Thus lavas of later age, filUng ravines scoured in older floods, 
occupy lower positions than the latter, and the contacts are lateral instead 
of by superposition. Some present thick lenticular outcrops, some recur 
(probably) at different altitudes. There is much local shattering and fault- 
ing which cannot be restored, and many masses vary so much in thickness 
that it would be misleading to state it without qualification. Most of the 
heavy masses are presumed to consist of several distinct coulees^ but the 
separation is rarely visible or accessible. These difficulties and many 
others increase towards the base of the series and are troublesome near the 
summit. The chief value of a collection of sections is the illustration it 
furnishes of the secular order of eruptions of the various groups of rocks 
and their intercalary character. 

Section I. 

Commencing at the summit of Mount Thurber and descending south- 
west; altitude, about 11,160 feet. 

Foot. 

1. Oranitoid trachyte, composed of layers, ranging from 30 to 80 feet in thickness, 

the number of which is unknown, and varying but little in lithological 

character 280 

2. Coarse dolerito, several layers 60 

3. Somewhat finer dolerite, but with well-marked porphyritic plagioclase. 36 

4. Argilloid trachyte, reddish brown 140 

5. Gray granitoid trachyte 40 

C. Dolerite, very fine-grained and compact 12 

7. Argilloid trachyte, several layers 110 

8. Very coarse and i)orphyritic dolerite, dark gray, many layers 85 

9. Oranitoid trachytes, several layers, thickness unknown ; only 60 feet meas- 

ured 60 



240 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

Section II. — Monroe Amphitheater. 

Beginning at the verge of the upper amphitheater and descending west- 
southwest; altitude, about 10,100 feet. 

Feet. 

1. Argilloid trachyte, reddisli ^rown, with large orthoclase crystals 27 

2. Granitoid trachyte, very coarse and somewhat homblendic, three layers 

and probably more 100 

3. Fine-grained dolerite - 13 

4. Fiue-grained dolerite, perhaps two layers 23 

5. Homblendic trachyte, rather fine grain 80 

6. Granitoid trachyte 45 

7. Light red trachyte, brick-like texture 30 

8. Argilloid trachyte, light gray, with small crystals and grains of magnetite, 

and probably six or seven layers 220 

9. Angitic andesite, very massive and in many sheets 190 

10. Homblendic trachyte 40 

11. Granitoid trachyte, coarse grain 176 

12. Dolerite : 20 

13. Granitoid trachyte, unknown thickness. 

Section III — Monro h: Amphitheater. 

Beginning near the base of the great upper cliflF on the northern side 
of the amphitheatre and descending south-southwest; altitude, about 9,800 
feet. 

Foet. 

1. Granitoid trachyte, light reddish-brown, with crystals of magnetite 38 

2. Granitoid trachyte, light gray, coarser than the foregoing, containing mag- 

netite 05 

3. Argilloid trachyte, very heavy masses, probably several layers but divis- 

ional lines not readily made out, dark-colored porphyritic crystals, much 

weathered on all surfaces 230 

4. Dolerite, large plagioclase crystals, dark-gray color 40 

6. Augitic trachyte (t), several layers 70 

6. Homblendic trachyte (!) 160 

7. Argilloid trachyte, light reddish color 116 

8. Augitic trachyte 30 

9. Dolerite l 60 

10. Granitoid trachyte, slightly homblendic, several layers, not readily separ- 
able 200 



SECTIONS m THE SEVIEE PLATEAU. 241 



Section IV. — Monroe Amphitheater. 

Beginning near the centi*al part of the upper verge of inner amphi- 
theater; ahitude, about 9,400 feet and descending west. 

Feet. 

1. Granitoid trachyte 80 

2. Dolerite, brownish gray, much weathered on the surface, much shattered 

and splintered and falling apart in slabs and tiles, probably nnmeroas 

layers, not distinctly separable 160 

3. Granitoid trachyte, rather dark gray, slightly homblendic, and somewhat 

fine grained 36 

4. Granitoid trachyte, finer than above and rather lighter in color 30 

5. Granitoid trachyte, like No. 3 50 

6. Granitoid trachyte, a little darker and coarser than the preceding 65 

7. Dolerite 15 

8. Argilloid trachyte, nnmeroas sheets very massive and Dot distinctly sepa- 

rated 420 

9. Dolerite 50 

10. Argilloid trachyte 50 

11. Argilloid trachyte 60 

12. Argilloid trachyte 55 

13. Trachytic conglomerate 140 

14. Granitoid trachyte, dark colored, coarse grain, very hard and compact, and 

in very massive layers 180 

15. Dolerite or aagitic andesite (t) 10^ 

16. Homblendic trachyte, dark and rather fine grained 110 

17. Homblendic trachyte 40 

18. Hornblendi'^ trachyte 50 

19. Dark graniix>id trachyte 50 

20. Homblendic trachyte 95 

21. Granitoid trachyte, light brown 33 

22. Homblendic trachyte, dark, coarse grained. This and the preceding num- 

bers below 15 probably consist of several layers each, not well separated. 75 

23. Augitic andesite in many layers, hard, compact, fine grained, and all very 

similar in appearance 260 

24. Conglomerate, containing fragments of homblendic trachyte and homblen- 

dic andesite 60 

25. Homblendic trachyte, nnmeroas layers ..- (t)350 

26. Homblendic andesite, no good estimate possible, but not less than 200 

16 H p 



242 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

Section V. — Monroe Amphitheater. 

In the middle gorge of the amphitheater, beginning at 7,750 feet alti- 
tude and descending to the west. 

Feet. 

1. Grauitoid trachyte 110 

2. Augitic aodesite, in layers varying miicli in thickness along the exposure. . 200 

3. Hornblendic trachyte, very roagh and coarse in texture, probably four or 

five layers 330 

4. Augitic andesite 80 

5. Hornblendic trachyte 40 

6. Hornblendic trachyte 40 

7. Hornblendic trachyte 70 

8. Conglomerate, with fragments of hornblendic andesite and trachyte and au- 

gitic andesite 55 

9. Hornblendic andesite of unknown thickness in numerous layers, with very 

uneven divisional lines. 

10. Modern alluvial or torrential deposits of unknown thickness. 

11. Tufas, water laid, of unknown thickness. 

12. Hornblendic andesite, possibly forming a part of the same mass as No. 9, 

lying upon the eroded and highly -inclined surface of propylite ; thickness 
unknown. 

13. Hornblendic propylite, rising in a precipitous wall or barrier fiir above the 

last-named msiss, but also extending beneath it and unquestionably of 
greater antiquity 775 

Section VI. — Sevier Plateau. 

In a large ravine about 3^ miles south of Marysvale Peak, beginning 
on the south side of the ravine and descending westward; altitude, 7,700 feet. 

Feet. 

1. Hyaline trachyte, with a few porphyritic crystals, somewhat resembling a 

liparite, but no free quartz 35 

2. Granitoid trachyte, rather dark gray 22 

3. Granitoid trachyte, dark gray and coarser than preceding '. 20 

4. Granitoid trachyte 32 

5. Granitoid trachyte 28 

6. Dolerite, with large crystals of plagioclase in a very fine base 15 

7. Hyaline trachyte, similar to No. 1 25 

8. Hyaline trachyte, bright reddish color 37 

9. Argilloid trachyte, in several layers, varying slightly in character 90 

10. Dolerite in several layers, similar to No. 6, with smaller crystals of plagio- 

clase 75 

11. Argilloid trachyte, in numerous layers • 160 

12. Tufas of unknown thickness, but a visible exposure of 220 



TUFACEOUS BEDS OF EAST FORK CA?fON. 243 

EAST FORK CAJJON. 

East Fork Canon is a great chasm cut through the Sevier Plateau 
transversely at its narrowest part, dividing that uplift into two portions. 
It is wholly the work of erosion, and is an excellent example of the persist- 
ence of a river channel in spite of the great displacements of the country 
along its course. The East Fork of the Sevier River carries the entire 
drainage of Grass Valley, and has evidently done so through several long 
geological periods. Grass Valley, as will be seen by the map, is the long 
narrow depression lying at the eastern base of the Sevier Plateau, and is 
parallel to Sevier Valley, lying west of the plateau. Between the loci of 
these two valleys the plateau has been, through the later periods of geolog- 
ical time, gradually hoisted several thousand feet. The uplift has been 
greatest upon the west side of the table, which is bounded by the great 
Sevier fault. From the western crest-line the plateau slopes eastward ; at 
first very gently, then with a more pronounced descent as far as the wall 
of the Awapa Plateau. There is no fault on the east side of the Sevier 
table, but in some portions there is a cliflf or abrupt slope caused by long 
ages of erosion. 

Ten or twelve miles north of the caflon are the central vents of the 
Sevier Plateau, already described as of very ancient date. Twelve or thir- 
teen miles south are found the great andesitic and still greater trachytic 
centers of eruption. Far back in Pliocene time this fork flowed between 
these volcAuic piles from east to west, joining the main stream of the Sevier 
Eiver at the foot of Circle Valley. The great changes of topography pro- 
duced by the elevation of the Sevier Plateau liave in no manner affected 
the location of the fork, which has only sunk its channel as the table slowly 
ascended. Very grand and imposing is the valley which it has carved 
through this uplifted mass. It is not one of those deep, narrow chasms cut 
into the earth, but a terraced valley of notable width, a distance of 2 to 5 
miles separating the summit walls, with only a narrow bottom below. In 
the natural section thus made nearly 4,000 feet of beds, composed wholly of 
volcanic materials, are exposed. The river near the point of maximum cutting 
just grazes the top of the yellow Tertiary lacustrine beds, exposing only a few 
acres, but enough to assure us that we have here the entire volcanic series. 



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244 



GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 



As we enter the lower gateway of the gorge ascending from Sevier 
Valley we at once recognize the nature of the displacements which have 
occurred. On the north side are seen immense beds of volcanic consflom- 
erate dipping at angles varying from 12° to 25° to the westward. There 
is much repetitive faulting here. Again and again the beds have sheared 







Fig. 4.— Faults at loweh end of East Fork CaI^on. 

and slipped, the throws varying from 200 to 350 feet, all of them being 
thrown to the eastward. More than 2,000 feet of conglomerate, beautifully 
stratified in huge massy layers, with intercalations of dark homblendic 
trachyte of the roughest description, are exposed in this part of the gorge. 
Suddenly we miss the conglomerates. They appear to end abruptly at a 
lateral ravine which enters the main cation from the north, and on the 
opposite side of the ravine the rocks are of a totally difierent character. 
Through that ravine runs the main throw of the great Sevier fault, here of 
about 2,500 feet of displacement As we look beyond it and up to the tow- 
ering crags of the principal plateau mass, we again recognize the continua- 
tions of the conglomerates in the palisades bounding the tabular summit. 
Beneath them another series of strata has been brought to light by the lift 
of the fault and the erosion of the cation. These are tufaceous deposits, 
presenting features of great interest. 

The general aspect of these beds is shown in Heliotypes V and VI.* 
It is obvious at once from their very aspect that they are water-laid, yet 
when closely examined all of them are seen to have been subject to altera- 
tion in varying degree, which gives them the appearance of massive volcanic 
rocks. There is one member about 120 feet in thickness which has the 
character of a volcanic rock so pronounced that no person would doubt that 

* The summit of the plateau is not visible from the points where the photographs were taken, as 
the upper walls of the canon ore beyond the summits of the lower walls. 



I '. •' 



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I 



TUPACEOUS BEDS OP BAST FOEK CAKOK 245 

such is its real nature, if confining his examination to a hand-specimen and 
unaware of its mode of occurrence. It has, however, some peculiarities not 
common in lavas, though not suflBciently marked to justify their exclusion 
from that category. It is an acid rock, carrying as much silica as some 
rhyolites or extremely siliceous trachytes. Feldspar, chiefly monoclinic, is 
very abundant and in conspicuous, though not very large, crystals. The 
most notable peculiarity is the abundance of accessory minerals, which is 
not a common character in volcanic rocks so highly charged with silica. 
Although they are seldom destitute of accessory minerals, my own observa- 
tion has given me the impression that they are almost always scantily sup- 
plied with them. These minerals are chiefly mica, hornblende, and plagio- 
clase. There is also an unusually large quantity of peroxide of iron in a dif- 
fused state, which has given the rock a strong reddish or pink color. It is 
excessively hard and compact, and one of the most difficult to fracture of any 
in the whole district. Its chemical composition allies it most nearly to rhy- 
olite, but in texture and in mineral constituents it does not conform so nearly 
to that group. The base, when examined microscopically, is similar to that 
which is seen in rocks with a well-marked porphyritic habit. None of these 
peculiarities would be alone sufficient to affect the conclusion that it is a 
volcanic rock. My doubts have arisen from other considerations. Both 
above and below it are thin beds composed of materials which more or less 
closely resemble it, some so nearly that no appreciable distinctions can be 
drawn, and these are surely sediments deposited and stratified where they 
lie and altered by metamorphic action, some more, some less. A ti'ansition 
can be traced, by selecting from the different layers, ranging from tufas 
which have been but little altered to the extremely hard rock of pro- 
nounced volcanic appearance. All of the little altered tufas show that they 
are composed of water-wom volcanic sands and gravel, and in some which 
are greatly altered the original pebbles are still visible. 

The strata which are composed of volcanic debris seem to be extremely 
susceptible to metamorphism. This is true not only of fine tufas, but of 
conglomerates which have a pulverulent matrix. But what is most remark- 
able is that the result of the alteration is not a wholly crystalline rock, 
like gneiss or diorite or homblendic schist, but one consisting of an amor- 



246 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

phous base holding porphyritic crystals, which is the dominant and dis- 
tinctive characteristic of a volcanic product. Not only are the various 
stages of this alteration displayed here, but they may be seen in many 
other localities within the district; and I infer that similar occurrences are 
found in many other portions of the western mountain region. 

Immediately beneath these tufas, in the heart of the cafion, there is a 
very small area of common sedimentary beds. Their age is not known, 
since no fossils have been taken from them, but judging from their litho 
logical character, they resemble the Upper Bitter Creek Tertiary; and 
lithological correspondence here is of much more value than is elsewhere 
attributable to it. They show no trace of alteration, which is all the more 
remarkable when we find so much change in the beds which overlie them. 
This relation of altered volcanic clastic beds to underlying unaltered Ter- 
tiaries is also presented in the southern part of the Sevier Plateau. These 
facts appear to emphasize still more strongly the assertion that tufaceous 
deposits are extremely susceptible to metan^orphism. Perhaps this ought 
not be regarded as surprising. Ordinary sediments consist of materials 
which have not only been comminuted, but also chemically decomposed 
and separated into aggregations much simpler than those constituting 
eruptive rocks, and their chemical correlatives among the metamorphics. 
Among the common sedimentaries we find chiefly siHceous, argillaceous, or 
calcareous deposits, with these ingredients commingled; but only now 
and then presenting such components as would yield by metamorphism 
j.ocks coiTcsponding chemically to the volcanics. They are very poor in 
alkali. The tufas, on the other hand, consist of materials which, though 
thoroughly comminuted, are not so thoroughly decomposed as those con- 
stituting the common sediments, and contain the constituents which by 
mutual reaction are capable of yielding feldspars, hornblende, and mica. 

The geologist in the field is often called upon to note instances of local 
metamorphism for which he can discover no adequate local cause. On the 
other hand, he often finds occurrences where metamorphism has not operated, 
though the conditions seem to be identical with those which are elsewhere 
believed to have produced it. The phenomena of contact metamorphism 
have been sufficiently studied to enable us to say confidently that the 



METAMOEPHI8M OF TUFACEOUS DEPOSITS. 247 

proximity of heated magmas or the prevalence of high temperature within 
a mass of strata are not the only conditions requisite for the activity of that 
process. Strata traversed by eruptive dikes are sometimes altered for 
many hundred feet from the contact and sometimes are wholly unaffected. 
This fact alone indicates that something besides high temperature is re- 
quired to produce such an alteration. Nor do all the conditions appear to 
be fulfilled when strata containing suitable constituents are subjected to a 
high temperature, for cases are common where rocks so constituted and con- 
ditioned are not altered. Although we do not know all the requirements of 
metamorphic action, we may feel confident that they are somewhat complex 
and numerous. One inferential condition is that of a h\rA\ deffree of molecu- 
lar mobility in the constituents, whereby a free interciiange of molecules 
among the clastic particles or fragments is made possible But precisely 
how this is effected is a matter of conjecture. It may be by the permea- 
tion of heated waters or other liquid or vaporous solvents which may not 
require a very high temperature, and which may even be effectual at quite 
moderate temperatures. How far we are required to postulate the absorp- 
tion of foreign constituents (alkalis and earths) by the entire metamor- 
phosed masses or the elimination of constituents which the masses origi- 
nally contained are problems too conjectural in their nature for present 
discussion. That the tufas of East Fork Cafion should have been meta- 
morphosed while the Tertiary (?) strata upon which they rest are wholly 
unchanged is not a matter so wholly surprising. In the former beds all the 
conditions precedent have been satisfied, in the latter they have not. 

An examination of the heliotypes (V and VI) will show one member 
more massive than the others which is about 120 feet in thickness. Under 
ordinary circumstances this would have been pronounced an eruptive sheet 
without much hesitation. But such a decision would raise some difficult 
questions. Other layers much thinner, and in some cases not exceeding one 
or two feet in thickness, are composed of rock very similar to it. Others 
show a transition from material apparently identical into unaltered or very 
little altered tufa. In most of the beds rolled pebbles are found, and as the 
varieties become more and more metamorphosed these pebbles become less 
and less distinct; and in the massive sheet itself some of these pebbles may 



248 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

still be discovered upon weathered surface?, though in fresh fractures they 
appear to have gained an aspect very nearly homogeneous with the general 
mass. This phenomenon of the gradual vanishment of pebbles is not con- 
fined to the tufas, but is frequently seen in the conglomerates, some of 
which have been greatly altered and converted into a hard semi-crystalline 
rock strongly resembling andesite and homblendic trachyte. Moreover, 
the inferior boundary of the larger sheet is indefinite in many places, and 
near the fault it appears to have passed lower down and involved beds 
which are not so much affected farther up the cafion. The lines of bed- 
ding near the fault are nearly obliterated, and the thickness of the lava-like 
mass has greatly increased. I entertain very little doubt that the sheet is 
not a lava, either contemporaneous or intrusive, but is a metamorphosed 
tufaceous deposit. 

Farther up the East Fork Cafion, upon the north side, stands an iso- 
lated mass, consisting of phonolite, represented in Heliotype No. XI. It is 
a hill about 1,400 feet high, with steep flanks, covered with talus. Near 
the summit the cleavage of the rock in vertical planes is exhibited with 
clearness. Upon closer inspection a secondary cleavage, perpendicular to 
the foregoing, is also disclosed, and the viscous vitreous character of the 
lava is very conspicuous. Under the microscope it discloses very few 
crystals, and these are very small, consisting of nephelin. No feldspar was 
detected. The specimens brought home, though fair in appearance, proved 
to be much weathered and hardly suitable for microscopic or chemical 
investigation. The plateau mass around this hill was much eroded, and 
the eruption of the phonolite appears to have occurred after the erosion 
had far advanced, for it is an isolated mass, and its lavas flow over rugged 
ridges and ravines upon its northem side. 

GRASS VALLEY. 

Separating the second and third ranges of tabular uplifts is a broad 
depression, named Grass Valley ; a name which has done great service in 
the West, for it may be found in every State and Temtory. It is properly 
an appendage of the Sevier Plateau, from the platform of which it has been 



GRASS VALLEY. 249 

in part eroded. The eastern wall of the valley is the uplifted side of the 
third plateau range, comprising the Fish Lake table at the north, the Awapa 
in the middle, and the Aquarius at the south. This wall is everywhere 
due to displacement. The western side of the valley is a wall of erosion 
formed by the river sinking its channel and the subsequent decay of the 
mesas by secular waste. The origin of the valley apparently antedates the 
last general uplifting of the plateaus by a very long period, and its course 
and general aiTangement were probably determined by the configuration 
of the country which was made at the close of the trachytic epoch of erup- 
tions. The valley then lay between two long lines of volcanic vents, one 
in the Sevier Plateau, the other in the Awapa, with a broad lava field 
between them. The vertical movements which subsequently upheaved 
those tables did not displace the course of the drainage, which only estab- 
lished itself the more immutably in its original position. 

The lowest point of the valley is not at either end, but a little south of 
its mid-length, opposite the head of East Fork Cailon. To this point two 
streams flow, one from the north, the other from the south, and their waters, 
here uniting, pass through the cation to join the Sevier. It was evidently 
so from a remote epoch. The great caiion itself was at first a mere depres- 
sion between the central and southern trachytic vents of the Sevier Pla- 
teau, but as that mass was upraised, the fork persisted in holding its 
thoroughfare and cut the rising platform in twain. At one epoch the rate 
of elevation was suflSciently rapid to dam the fork and create a lake in the 
valley, which may have been 15 or 20 miles in length. Kemnants of 
old lake beaches are still visible on the southern and eastern sides of the 
valley, and these possess considerable interest They are best displayed 
where Mesa Creek merges from its gorge in the northwestern angle of the 
Aquarius. They consist of beds which are composed of a mixture of the 
ordinary detritus which comes from the waste of sedimentary sandstones 
and that which is derived from the decay of volcanic rocks. Where the 
former greatly preponderates, the resulting strata have the usual aspect of 
the lacustrine Tertiary deposits; and where the latter is in great excess the 
beds have the same appeanance and character as the stratified tufas else- 



250 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

where described as of middle or late Eocene age. The case is also pre- 
sented where the same stratum, ti'aced horizontally along its exposure, 
passes gradually from one kind into the other. These beds are probably 
of greater antiquity than the Bonneville beaches around the shores of Great 
Salt Lake, being in a .much more dilapidated condition and only occasional 
remnants being preserved. Near the head of East Fork Cafion, a large 
"meadow"* or bog, formed by the accumulation of the finest river silt, 
deposited by slack water, still indicates the recency of the same struggle 
between the uplifting of the plateau tending to dam the stream and the 
agency of the running water in carving its channel and lowering its outlet. 

Perhaps the most striking phenomena which may be seen in Grass 
Valley are the great alluvial cones now forming in the northern and mid- 
dle portions of it. The gi-eat gorge of the Fish Lake Plateau opens into it 
near the northern end, and a very flat cone, with a radius nearly 3 J miles 
in length, has been built of the detritus brought down from that chasm. 
Viewed from the summit of that table, which rises 4,300 feet above it, the 
periphery of the cone is seen to be very nearly circular through an arc 
of about 120^, becoming confluent with another great cone south of it 
Many others of equal magnitude and quite perfect in form are displayed 
down the valley, most of them sloping from the Sevier side. They are 
composed of fragments which are not much abraded or rounded by attri- 
tion, and whatever waste they have suffered seems to be due as much to 
slow weathering as to abrasion. They are held in a matrix of soil which is 
highly fertile when watered, but too stony for the plough. They vary in 
size from a few ounces to a few pounds, and near the apices of the cones 
they are found weighing many hundreds of pounds. At numerous places 
the shiftings of the streams have enabled them to cut into the cones locally, 
and the sections always reveal a pronounced stratification. Comparing 
them with the ancient conglomerates now exposed in the plateau walls on 
either side of the valley, it is impossible to doubt the identity of the pro- 
cesses which have accumulated both. 

No sedimentary formations are found in the northern part of Grass 

*In the West, a martAiy locality formed by the accumulation of vegetable mold and river silt, 
yielding a peculiar wild grass, is called a '^ meadow." In a moist-er country it would be simply a bog. 



paunsAgunt plateau. 251 

Valley. In the southern portion, the lift of the Awapa fault has brought 
up the Tertiary strata and exposed them in the wall of that plateau. The 
rocks exhibited in the valley proper are aU volcanic. They are chiefly 
trachytic, and only here and there project above, the masses of alluvial 
matter which is gradually burying them. Just south of East Fork Canon 
a few large coulees of basalt are seen, and they appear to have emanated 
from the vicinity of the Awapa fault. They form broad ten-aces, rising one 
behind another, and ending in cliff and talus CO to 80 feet in height. They 
have been much battered by erosion and are no doubt of considerable 
antiquity. Basalts of similar character are found overspreading consider- 
able tracts upon the sununit of the Awapa Plateau near its western verge 
and upon the northwestern edge of the Aquarius. 

PAUNSAgUNT plateau and PiRIA WLLEY. 

Crossing the Panquitch Hayfield we reach the foot of a very gentle 
slope, which rises almost insensibly to the southward, forming a plateau of 
the ordinary type called the Paunsdgunt* Its length is about 25 miles 
and its width from 8 to 12 miles. It lies in the southward prolongation of 
the major axis of the Sevier Plateau, from which it is separated by the 
shallow depression of the Panquitch Hayfield. Its western front is formed 
by the uplifted side of the Sevier fault. Its eastern front is a cliff of ero- 
sion looking down into the Upper Pdria Valley ; a valley of erosion drain- 
ing into the Colorado. There is a fault a little distance from the eastern 
wall running north-northeast, but the Paunsdgunt is upon the thrown side 
of it. So great has been the erosion in Pdria Valley that, notwithstanding 
the greater altitude of the strata within it than the altitude of their con- 
tinuations in the plateau, the valley is from 3,000 to 3,500 feet below the 
plateau summit. If the denuded strata could be restored, they would make 
the locus of the valley nearly 2,000 feet higher than the plateau. 

The Paunsdgunt is composed wholly of sedimentary beds: Eocene 
resting upon Cretaceous. The stratification is sensibly horizontal, though 
at several localities on the eastern flank the junction of the two series is 

*Pann8^^nt meanu the ** place of ihc beavers/' 



252 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

unconformable. In the cliffs of the eastern and southern margins the fol- 
lowing series is presented : 

Feet. 

1. Gray calcareous sandstone 180 

2. White limestone ICO 

3. Eed marly limestones and calcareous shales 300 

4. Red pinkish limestone 450 

5. Conglomerate, with small pebbles and gravelly sandstone 190 

1,280 

Below these are the characteristic gray Cretaceous shales, somewhat 
arenaceous, forming long spurs and foot-hills. They do not here form 
cliffs, but long slopes, descending into the lower regions adjoining. From 
the southern extremity of the Paunsdgunt they rise with a slight inclination 
towards the south and are beveled off by erosion. At one point the sec- 
tion crosses (southward) a decided monoclinal flexure with a maximum dip 
of about 10° to 12° trending east and west, but quickly reflexing back to 
a dip of 3° to 4°. One after another the formations end in cliffs and 
ledges, and the profiles drop at each crest-line upon lower beds, until at a 
distance of about 23 miles from the southern end of the plateau the carbon- 
iferous forms the final platform, and rises gently but continuously to the 
Grand Cafion. 

The western side of the plateau looks down from its northern half 
upon the valley which carries the upper waters of the South Fork of the 
Sevier River. Across this valley the gentle slopes of the Markdgunt rise 
towards the west. Along this base of the Paunsdgunt runs the Sevier fault, 
but before reaching the end of the plateau its course changes from south 
to the southwest. Just where this change occurs is the divide between the 
valley of the Sevier and the headwaters of the Virgin, a tributary of the 
Colorado. The wall of the plateau thenceforward becomes a cliff of ero- 
sion gradually swinging to the southeast, then around the end of the table 
(which projects southward like a great promontory), and finally trends to 
the northward. The summit of the table has a central stream which 
gathers all the drainage and carries it northward to the Panquitch Hay- 
field, thence into the East Fork by the w<iy of Grass Valley, and finally 
through East Fork Cafion into the Sevier River. 



I 




FABlA. AMPHITHEATER. 253 

From the southern cape of the plateau we look southward over an 
immense expanse. The Kaibab is in full view, stretching away south- 
ward until its flat summit and straight palisade is lost in illimitable distance. 
To the southwest Mount Trumbull is seen nearly a hundred miles away. 
To the southeast a farrago of cliffs and buttes of strange forms and vivid 
colors breaks up the monotony of the scene. But the eastern and north- 
eastern view is one which the beholder will not easily forget. It is the 
great amphitheater of the Par! a.* 

An almost semicircular area, with a chord 30 miles in length, has been 
excavated into a valley by numberless creeks and brooks, which unite into 
one stream named the Paria. This stream is at present a mere thread of 
water flowing southward to the Colorado, which it reaches at the head of 
the Marble Caiion. During nine months of the year so feeble is the stream 
that it sinks in the sands before reaching the Colorado, but it is a raging 
torrent during the months when the snows are melting. The many tribu- 
taries which ramify in all directions are generally dry during the greater 
part of the year, but a few of them are perennial. Every one of these 
little streamlets has cut its caiion, and nearly all of them are abrupt and 
impassible save by very difficult and tortuous trails made by Indians and 
preserved from obliteration by the few herdsmen who pasture cattle in the 
vicinity. Yet it seems that at a comparatively late geological epoch the 
climate may have been much moister than at present, and these many 
water-ways earned perennial streams. Such a climate in all probability 
prevailed during the glacial period and during the Miocene age. The 
amount of erosion which has here been produced is very great By refer- 
ence to the stereogram it will be seen that the locus of the Paria Valley is 
constructed as a great uplift. The strata which are found within its con- 
fines occupy much higher horizons than their continuations beneath the 
Kaiparowits Plateau on the east and the Paunsdgunt Plateau on the west. 
In these two plateaus the erosion has been small for some reason, while in 
the Paria Valley it has been very great, approaching Jii extent the vast 
erosion which has taken place to the southward in the Kaibab district. 

* In the pronunciation of this name the vowels have the Oerman sound, and the accent is on tho 
middle syllable (Pah-rf-ah). It is the Ute name for elk. 



254 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

From the center of the great Pdria Valley or amphitheater the dip of the 
strata is semi-quaquaversal ; that is, towards the east, north, and west, and 
all intermediate directions ; but towards the south the strata incline upwards. 
The erosion has been greatest in the center of the amphitheater, and has 
proceeded radially outwards just as in the San Rafael Swell. This process 
has left the strata in terraced cliflFs facing the center of the amphitheater, 
and as we look across from the southern cape of the PaunsAgunt to Table 
Cliff and Kaiparowits Peak, more than 30 miles distant, we behold the 
edges of the strata, sculptured and carved in a fashion that kindles enthusi- 
asm in the dullest mind. At the base of the series the vermilion sandstones 
of the Upper Trias are seen in massive palisades and gorgeous friezes, 
stretching away to the southward till lost in the distance. Above them is 
the still more massive Jurassic sandstone, pale gray and nearly white, 
without sculptured details, but imposing from the magnitude and solidity 
of its fronts. Next rises in a succession of terraces the whole Cretaceous 
system more than 4,000 feet in thickness. It consists of broad alternating 
bands of bright yellow sandstone and dark iron-gray argillaceous shales, 
the several homogeneous members ranging in thickness from 600 to 1,000 
feet. But the glory of all this rock-work is seen in the Pink Cliffs, the 
exposed edges of the Lower Eocene strata. The resemblances to strict 
architectural forms are often startling. '^I'he upper tier of the vast amphi- 
theater is one mighty ruined colonnade. Standing obelisks, prostrate col- 
umns, shattered capitals, panels, niches, buttresses, repetitions of sym- 
metrical forms, all bring vividly before the mind suggestions of the work 
of giant hands, a race of genii once rearing temples of rock, but now 
chained up in a spell of enchantment, while their structures are falling in 
ruins through centuries of decay. Along the southern and southeastern 
flank of the Paunsdgunt these ruins stretch mile after mile. But the crown- 
ing work is Table Cliff in the background. Standing 11,000 feet above 
sea-level and projected against the deep blue of the western sky, it presents 
the aspect of a vast Acropolis crowned with a Parthenon. It is hard to 
dispel the fancy that this is a work of some intelligence and design akin to 
that of humanity, but far grander. Such glorious tints, such keen con- 
trasts of light and shade, such profusion of sculptured forms, can never be 



PAElA AMPHITHEATER. 255 

forgotten by him who has once beheld it. This is one of the grand pano- 
ramas of the Plateau Country and typical in all respects. To the eye which 
is not trained to it and to the mind which is not inured to its strangeness, 
its desolation and grotesqueness may be repulsive rather than attractive, 
but to the mind which has grown into sympathy with such scenes it con- 
veys a sense of power and grandeur and a fullness of meaning which lay 
hold of the sensibilities more forcibly than tropical verdure or snow-clad 
Alps or Arcadian valleys. 

The Amphitheater or Upper Valley of the Pdria seems from the sum- 
mit of the Pink CliflFs to be a slightly rugged basin, but like most of the 
Plateau Country it is found to be a difficult field to traverse. A network of 
sharp cailons several hundred feet in depth ramifies through it, and the 
traveler is apt to become entangled in their mazes, and find himself con- 
fronted every few miles with an impassable chasm, never seen until he is 
almost upon the point of driving his mule into it. A few tortuous traits 
wind deftly among them, leading by break-neck paths into their depths 
and out again, and finally into the broad and grotesquely picturesque bot- 
tom of the Pdria River. 

The Paunsdgunt is the southernmost extension of the system of the 
High Plateaus, and is a promontory thrust out into the terraces which step 
by step drop down to the Kaibab district. In this series of ten-aces are 
exposed the edges, almost always cliffwise, of the entire Mesozoic system 
of the region. Just here the Cretaceous does not form such conspicuous 
cliffs as it presents farther east, but the Jurassic and Triassic series are seen 
to the southward in their most typical forms. The exposures are truly 
magnificent. While the cliffs front southward, presenting in naked walls 
their entire thickness and disclosing every line, they are also cut from north 
to south and sometimes diagonally by caGons, which reveal their dip and 
structure. But as these terraces are more properly a part of the Kaibab 
system, no detailed description will be given of them here. The Paunsa- 
gunt itself is a simple tabular block of Lower Eocene beds, of which a 
section has just been given. It is exceedingly simple in^its structure, and, 
further than has been already described, presents very little matter for 
special remark. It is destitute of eruptive rocks, except at its northern 



256 GEOLOGY OF THE fflGH PLATEAUa 

end, where a number of basalt streams appear to have burst oat of the 
western wall near the sammit and poored down upon the talus and 
slopes below. They are of small extent and mass, and are noteworthy 
only as an instance of the peculiar positions from which basalt sometimes 
breaks out 

A few miles to the south of the southern cape of the plateau is another 
small field of basaltic eruption. It is located in the bottom of a rather 
broad valley or basin. A large cinder-cone is still standing singularly 
perfect in symmetrj^ and perfect also in its preservation. The cup at the 
summit is not broken down, but still preserves a continuous rim. From 
this cone streams of basalt flow southward, and entering a caiion in the 
Jurassic sandstone reach the front of the White Cliflb nearly 12 miles from 
their source. The individual streams have spread out very thin, and are 
in some places very slender, with every indication of extreme fluidity at 
the time of their passage. In the cafion the basalt is nearly all swept 
away by erosion, only a few small patches (in situ) being left to indicate 
its former existence. But beyond the canon larger remnants are seen, and 
these evidently formed the terminations of the coulies. It is impossible to 
affiiTn anything as to the age of this basalt, though I have little doubt that 
all the damage it has suffered from weathering and erosion might surely 
have been accomplished in the period of a thousand years and perhaps in 
a shorter time. On the other hand, it may be several thousand years since 
the vent became silent Four miles to the west of this cone stand half a 
dozen others, perched high upon cliffs or mesas, and sending their streams 
into the upper cafion of Kanab Creek. These appear to be older and more 
weather-beaten, though evidently belonging to the most recent geological 
history of the country. 



CHAPTER XII. 

THE FISH LAKE PLATEAU.— THE AWAPA.— THOUSAND LAKE 

MOUNTAIN. 

Southern extension of the Wasatch monocline across Saliua CaOo.i. — It« bifurcation int-o the Sevier and 
Grass Valley faults. — Strawberry Valley. — Ascent of the northern slopes of Fish Lake Plateau. — 
Summit Valley. — Tertiary exposures. — Fish Lake Plateau. — Its summit. — The great gorge and 
cliffs. — Sources of the volcanic sheets. — Origin of the gorge. — Fish Lake. — Moraines. — Reversal of 
the course of the drainage. — Alcoves in the plateau wall. — Succession of beds. — ^Trachytes and 
dolerites. — Augitic andesites. — Location of the vents and sources of the lavas. — Outlet of the lake. — 
Mount Terrill. — Mount Marvine. — Origin of Summit Valley. — Isolation of Mount Marvine from 
its parent mass. — Moraine Valley. — Exposures of Tertiary beds. — Mount Hilgard. — Gllson's Crest. — 
Lavas of Mount Hilgard. — The Awapa. — Its general configuration and structure. — Its desolate 
character. — Great variety of rocks displayed in the Awapa. — Homblendic and granitoid tra- 
chytes. — Conglomerates. — Propylites. — Basaltic fields of ancient date. — Rabbit Valley. — Its 
structural origin. — Erosion of the lava sheets around the borders of the valley. — ^Accumulation 
of modem alluvial conglomerates. — Exposures of Tertiary beds in Rabbit Valley. — Thousand 
Lake Mountain. — A remnant of the grand erosion of the Plateau Province. — Lava Cap. — Under- 
lying Tertiary. — Absence of the Cretaceous and unconformity of the Tertiary with the Jurassic. — 
The Water Pocket flexure and its age. — Jurassic sandstone. — ^Triassic beds. — ^The Shin^^rump 
and its sculptured cliff. — ^The Red Gate. — ^The separation of the mountain from the Aquarios 
Plateau. 

The third range of plateaus, including the Fish Lake, the Awapa, and 
the Aquarius, are not inferior in interest to those already described. Con- 
nected with them are the masses of Mounts Marvine and Hilgard with the 
intervening valleys. Far to the northward, in the extension of the same 
line, is the Wasatch Plateau, of which the structure has already been 
described. The great monoclinal slope which forms its western flank splits 
gradually into two displacements in its southward extension, one of which 
forms the Sevier fault, and the other, passing gradually from a monoclinal 
into a sharp dislocation, forms the Grass Valley fault on the eastern side of 
Grass Valley. The uplifting along the coui-se of the Sevier fault has pro- 
duced the Sevier Plateau. The uplifting along the other branch or Grass 
Valley fault has given rise to the Fish Lake table and the Awapa Plateau. 

257 
17 H P 



258 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

As we go southward from the Wasatch Plateau, crossing SaKna Cafion near 
its middle, we at once begin to ascend the northern slopes of the third 
chain. Wo are among the sedimentaries, which dip gently to the westward ; 
and descending from the south, a noble valley opens into the middle of 
Salina Cafion, with the edges of the lowest Tertiary beds walling it abruptly 
on the west and the surface of the Upper Cretaceous rising gradually on 
the east. This lateral valley is named, locally. Strawberry Valley — a name 
which recurs with great frequency throughout the mountain regions of the 
West. As we move upward towards the south the dip of the beds increases, 
and the very long and gentle inclination of the strata at length becomes 
wrinkled into a monoclinal of large proportions. We perceive this readily 
when, at a distance of 4 or 5 miles south of Salina Cafion, we climb the 
western wall of Strawberry Valley, and see directly in front of us to the 
southward the Tertiary beds covered with immense sheets of old lava, 
but exposed beneath in a deep ravine. We see them rising monoclinally 
from the west and smoothing out eastwardly to a sensibly horizontal posi- 
tion at a high altitude. The underlying sedimentaries are well exposed, 
for erosion has carved away much of the country to the northward and 
given admirable sections transverse to the main structure lines and axes. 
Three days' inspection of these northern flanks will convey a full concep- 
tion of the general features of the structure, for they are very easily read. 
Climbing the western wall of Strawberry Valley, we reach a platform 
about 2 miles wide, from which start the long slopes leading up to higher 
levels. Immediately in front is the Fish Lake Plateau, full 4,000 feet above 
us. To the south-southeast is an easy ramp leading up to Summit Valley, 
an elevated interspace between Fish Lake Plateau and Mount Marvine. 
As we ascend this grade, we have on the right a deep ravine carved into 
the general plateau mass, laying bare, in an admirable manner, the sweep- 
ing curves of the Tertiary beds, overlaid by trachyte, both being bent into 
typical monoclinal form. The strike of this monoclinal is visible, extending 
south-southwest nearly 15 miles, giving origin to a slope varying in inclina- 
tion from 18° to 20°, and with no other ravines than the one just mentioned. 
It conveys to the eye an impression of singular smoothness — like a vast roof. 
The slope we are ascending is much more uneven ; and, at an altitude of 



SUMMIT VALLEY. 259 

about 9,300 feet, brings us upon the floor of Summit Valley. Upon the west 
is a sharp crest-line, constituting the eastern verge of Fish Lake Plateau, 
which overlooks the valley from an altitude of 11,000 to 11,400 feet. 
Upon the east side rise two conspicuous masses — Mount Terrill and Mount 
Marvine. This valley is an excellent starting-point, from Avhich we may 
make excursions radiating in many directions, and study in detail the diver- 
sified objects which compose the surrounding country. And, first, let us 
look at the nature of the valley itself. 

Not the smallest among iiss attractions for the geologist is the fact that 
it is a most eligible summer camping-place. In the daytime, through- 
out July, August, and most of September, it is mild and genial, while 
the nights are frosty and conducive to rest. The grass is long, luxuriant, 
and aglow with flowers. Clumps of spruce and aspen furnish shade 
from the keen rays of the sun, and fuel is in abundance for camp-fires. 
Thus the great requsites for Western camp-life, fuel, water, and grass, are 
richly supplied, while neither is in such excess as to be an obstacle to pro- 
gress and examination. 

The valley floor is, for the most part. Lower Tertiary. For a consider- 
able portion of the length the edges of these beds are exposed upon the 
eastern side of the valley, forming the lower slopes of Mounts Terrill and 
Marvine. They are also seen at the base of the Fish Lake slopes ; but a 
little higher up they are covered with ancient lavas. Northward, however, 
lavas form the floor of the valley. Proceeding in that direction a few miles, 
the mountain-walls which inclose the valley rapidly decline in altitude 
and die away in steep slopes, while the platform on which we travel at 
length becomes the summit of a plateau, having an altitude about 2,000 
feet lower than the neighboring tables; and projecting 4 or 5 miles farther 
northward, it ends in abrupt volcanic cliff's, from the crests of which we 
overlook all the space which intervenes between them and the Wasatch 
Plateau, 20 miles distant. The thickness of the lava at these cliffs is about 
700 feet, and is composed of hornblendic trachytes in very massive sheets, 
alternating with augitic andesites, which are much thinner. Retracing our 
steps and travehng to the southern end of the valley, we find its floor undu- 
lating with little hills, a part of which are Eocene beds and a part are old 



260 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

tenninal moraines, of which more will be said hereafter. A fine stream 
runs along the valley, and at the southern end is joined by a still larger one, 
issuing from Fish Lake, a few miles to the south-west. 

FISH LAKK PLATEAU. 

An easy way of reaching the top of this plateau is by ascending its 
northeastern angle from Summit Valley. If the route be well chosen, we 
may reach the highest point without once dismounting. The summit is 
about 12 miles in length and 2 miles in width; is nearly level, or very sliglitly 
undulated ; and stands about 11,6(J0 feet above sea-level. On every side it 
is bounded by precipitous clifi«, except along a part of its southwestern 
flank, but here and there the walls are broken and notched. Along the side 
facing west-northwest runs a cliff of vast proportions, second only to 
the western front of the Sevier Plateau in magnitude and grandeur. Upon 
the very brink of this wall is the highest point of the plateau, from which, 
in a clear day, we may easily discern the peaks of the Wasatch around 
Salt Lake City and beyond. These are more than 150 miles distant. 
Mount Nebo, 70 miles northward, seems like a near neighbor, and the gray 
peaks of the Tushar are seen towering beyond the heights of the Sevier 
Plateau. To the southward looms up the grandest of all the plateaus— the 
Aquarius — its long straight crest-line stretched across the whole southern 
horizon, and seeming but a few hours' ride away from us. Here we do not 
feel that sense of being upon a plain which impresses us while traveling 
upon the other plateaus, but we realize that this summit is at a great eleva- 
tion ; for we may look afar off in every direction to valleys and plains 
which lie thousands of feet below us, and beyond which we perceive other 
summits rising to altitudes nearly or quite equal to our own. But perhaps 
the most impressive feature of the scenery lies almost beneath our feet It 
is a grand amphitheater, eroded deep into the plateau mass. Its dimensions 
and grandeur are surpassed only in the great amphitheater in the Sevier 
table near Monroe. It is less rugged and diversified than the latter, but is 
more picturesque, chiefly because the eye can command the whole of it at 
once. The summit upon which we stand is upon the edge of a straight 
unbroken wall 4 miles long and nearly vertical for 1,200 feet, then descend- 



FISH LAltE PLATEAU— THE GRAND GORGE. 261 

ing in steep slopes to the central line of depression, which declines to 
the westward until the gorge opens into Grass Valley, 4,300 feet below. 
Across the abyss rises the other wall, somewhat less lofty and abrupt than 
this, and we can look over it to the great irrigated farms of the Lower Sevier 
Valley, 40 miles away. In this gorge a grand section of volcanic rocks is 
exposed, of which the total thickness now visible will aggregate very 
nearly 4,000 feet. The exposure, however, is not so advantageous for 
study as might be desired, since the upper third is inaccessible cliff and the 
lower two-thirds are heavily mantled with soil held in place by forests of 
spruce and aspen, or are hidden beneath huge banks of coarse talus. The 
disconnected exposures, however, are very many ; and, so far as each one 
individually extends, it exhibits distinctly the local attitudes of the rocks. 
The first inquiiy which arises is, whence came all these lavas ? The 
question is not easy to answer satisfactorily, for they were erupted far 
back in Tertiary time, and the changes which the country has undergone 
since their outpouring are very great. The nearest great centers of erup- 
tion which we are now able to identify with certainty are Blue Mountain, 
nearly 12 miles distant across Grass Valley, and Mount Hilgard, nearly as 
tar in the opposite direction. As for the Fish Lake table itself, it does not 
furnish very decisive indications of being an eruptive center. In the cliff 
wall which faces the great amphitheater the successive sheets are seen to lie 
nearly horizontal, parallel, and continuous over great distances. Although 
they cannot be reached from below, yet they can be distinguished by their 
colors, wliich are apparently identical with those in the great west wall of 
the Sevier table overlooking Monroe. The beds are very massive and are 
dark iron-gray (hornblendic trachyte), alternating with a number of shades 
of red (augitic andesite, argilloid trachyte, and dolerite). No distortion or 
confusion of the layers and no dikes were observed. None of tliose signs 
of a volcanic core or center which are seen in Blue Mountain or in por- 
tions of the Monroe amphitheater are here apparent. Nevertheless, it seemed 
to me that the source of these lavas could not be far distant. Since the face 
of the great cliff is parallel to the general course of the structure lines, it is 
not surprising that the evidences of an eruptive center should be few and 
inconspicuous, or even escape notice altogether. 



262 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS- 

The gorge itself is the work of erosion, and its apparent history is 
woi-thy of passing mention. The course of this valley cuts obliquely across 
the great monoclinal flexure which forms the western flank of the Fish Lake 
Plateau, and was in process of excavation before that flexure was formed. 
Like almost all other valleys, its position and direction are quite independ- 
ent of the structural features of the country, and when the final upHfting 
took place it did not divert here the course of the drainage. Its only effect 
was to increase the amount of excavation to be done. The position of the 
gi'eat gorge upon the shoulder of the monocline and running obliquely 
across it is very striking, and might have given rise to a great deal of specu- 
lation, as to its origin, were Ave not able to apply to it the exceedingly simple 
solution of the antecedence of drainage courses to the structural features 
of the country and their persistence in spite of changes of great magnitude. 
At first the interior of the gorge suggests a vast caldera, like those described 
by Lyell in the Cape de Verde Islands or the Val del Bove at -^tna. But 
it is neither a caldera nor a Val del Bove, as a study of the surrounding 
country abundantly proves. 

Passing across the nearly level summit a distance of 2 miles we reach 
the southeastern verge of the plateau, whence we may look down upon the 
beautiful surface of Fish Lake. This sheet of water, about 5 J miles in length 
and a mile and a half in breadth, is walled in by two noble palisades. The 
one on which we imagine ourselves to stand — the plateau summit — is about 
2,600 feet above the water; the other is nearly a thousand feet less lofty. 
The lake itself is about 8,600 feet above the level of the sea. No resort 
more beautiful than this lake can be found in Southern Utah. Its grassy 
banks clad with groves of spruce and aspen; the splendid vista down 
between its mountain walls, with the massive fronts of Mounts Marvine and 
Hilgard in the distance ; the crystal-clear expanse of the lake itself, com- 
bine to form a scene of beauty rarely equaled in the West. 

The subjects of geological interest to be found in the vicinity are nu- 
merous. First may be mentioned the origin of the lake itself Mr. 
Howell's first impression was that glaciation had played an important part 
in its excavation. Mr. Gilbert expressed the opinion that it might have 
been caused by the sinking of a block between two faults. But 1 have 



FISH LAKE. 263 

been unable to discover sufficient evidence to sustain ether view. Although 
the traces of ancient glaciers are conspicuous in the vicinity, nothing can 
be more sharply defined than the places where they terminated ; and we 
are able to affirm confidently, by a comparison of places in close juxta- 
position, that in one place the sculi)ture is due to glaciation and in another 
it is not. It does not appear any wliere in this part of the phiteaus that the 
glaciers ever extended much below the 9,000 feet level, for at about that 
level the terminal moraines cease and give place to other forms of sculpture. 
As regards the possibility of a sunken block between two fault*, it seems to 
me that the evidence is not sufficient to establish it, and there is decided 
evidence that it is an ancient valley of erosion, having its main features 
marked out afid partially developed before the present elevation of the 
country had been reached. At the southwestern extremity is a low divide, 
scarcely 30 feet above the water level, which forms the local watershed 
between the Colorado drainage system and that of the Great Basin. At 
present the lake drains into the Colorado system ; but at no distant epoch 
it apparently drained into the basin system, flowing over this low divide. 
Its ancient channel, leading down into Grass Valley (tributary to the Sevier 
River), is as distinct and unmistakable as if it had dried up only a few years 
ago. Mr. Ilowell, who recognized this channel and its obvious meaning, 
supposed that the barrier now forming the divide had been produced by 
morainal debris brought down from the Fish Lake Plateau and deposited 
athwart the channel. More careful scrutiny, however, shows that the bar- 
rier consists of volcanic rock in place. Hence it appears that the course of 
the drainage has been reversed. Originally it flowed out of the lake to 
the southwest ; but as the gradual uplifting went on the Avhole lake basin 
was tilted, so that it began to flow out of the opposite end and over a low 
barrier to the east and southeast. A very slight tilting only was required to 
effect the change ; and a drop of 40 or 50 feet on the western side would 
again reverse it to its original channel and pour it down the Awapa wall 
into Grass Valley. 

A journey along the bank of the lake towards its outlet is instructive 
as well as entertaining. The trail (I believe there is now a wagon-road) 
leads along the base of the plateau wall, rising more than 2,000 feet above 



264 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

us and notched deeply here and there by great recesses of peculiar form 
and appearance. These alcoves are half a mile or more in width, and set 
back into the plateau mass a mile or two. They are filled with coarse 
broken rubble or talus, over which it is extremely diflScult to make progress, 
but still practicable. These alcoves are the work of ancient glaciers, and 
extending from the opening of each of them is a pile projecting out towards 
or even into the lake basin and forming a terminal moraine. Near the 
lower end of the lake is a moraine a projecting a mile and a half from the 
plateau, and consisting of soil, rubble, and bowlders piled in a confused 
mass to the height of nearly 200 feet and having a width of nearly a mile. 
It almost divides the lake into two. The summit of the moraine holds 
many pools of water embowered in aspens and bushes of many kinds, invit- 
ing to lovers of the picturesque, but disappointing to him who accepts the 
invitation. This is the largest moraine in the vicinity, though absolutely 
it is not a very extensive one. It is instructive chiefly because it indicates 
how small a part glaciation has played in the sculpture of this country. 
There is never any diflSculty in distinguishing the work which has been per- 
formed here by ice from that which has been accomplished by the more 
usual processes of degradation. The effects of glaciation are distinct and 
peculiar, and cannot easily be confounded by a skilled observer with the 
results of any other action. Doubtful cases do not seem to occur ; at least 
I cannot recall any which conveyed doubt to my own mind. The ice which 
formed the ancient glaciers of course accumulated upon the summit of the 
plateau. That summit is about 12 miles in length and 2 to 3 miles in width. 
It is very nearly level and is not deeply scored by ravines in the central 
parts, but only upon the edges of the walls which bound the table on nearly 
all sides. The ice may have accumulated to a considerable thickness upon 
this summit, so broad and so nearly level, before attaining sufficient mass to 
flow readily. Most of the effects were exerted upon the eastern and south- 
eastern walls of the plateau, for such inclination as it possesses is in those 
directions. The grander wall, which overlooks the great gorge, is not per- 
ceptibly affiected by glacial action, and it is not probable that the ice flowed 
over it to any considerable extent. 

In the glacial gorges the rocks are very accessible for study. They form 



VOLCANIC ROCKS OF FISH LAKE PLATEAU. 265 

a great aggregate thickness of trachytes, alternating with augitic andesites 
and some dolerites. The intercalary relations of the trachytes with the augitic 
sheets is conspicuously markett, as is also the transition from hornblendic 
trachytes near the base of the exposures to argilloid, granitoid, and even 
hyaline trachytes at the summit of the exposures. These older trachytes 
are dark gray, sometimes with a greenish or olive tinge, suggestive of the 
andesitic gi'oup, but retaining a predominance of the trachytic characters. 
Among them are found what appear to be augitic trachytes, but they have 
not yet been studied very critically, and they differ notably in their macro- 
scopic facies from the more abundant and voluminous augitic trachytes 
lying at lower levels around Salina Cailon. About the middle, or a little 
below the middle, of the mass are found very heavy beds of argilloid 
trachyte. Throughout the northern part of the district there is no single 
variety of rock which occurs in such massive beds or with such frequency. 
Its texture and habit are strongly individualized and peculiar. It varies 
somewhat in color, ranging fi'om dull red to a dark purplish hue; in 
fact, having the same range of colors as common clay-slate. It is soon 
recognized in the great walls of the plateaus by its color, especially at 
sunset, when the cliff faces the west, or in the morning when the cliff 
faces the east. At such times the color charactei's come out strong and 
clear, and the greater thickness of the beds also adds confidence to the 
recognition. Higher up many varieties of light-gray trachyte are found, 
belonging to the sanidin-trachyte group. Many of these have the char- 
acters of clinkstone (not phonolite), being resonant and foliated in a peculiar 
manner. Some of the sheets are broken up by a system of cleavage joints 
into regular tiles an inch or two in thickness, and having from one to three 
square feet of surface in the broader faces. In other sheets the cleav- 
age, though conspicuous, is not so regular. Upon the extreme summit of 
Fish Lake Plateau is a small remnant of an ancient couUe^ which was once 
no doubt of large proportions. It is of the granitoid variety, and all that 
now remains are some large blocks (as large as cottages), looking like huge 
bowlders clustered together. Several of these are poised upon smaller 
blocks, and during a keen blast of hail and snow I had once an occasion to 
feel grateful for the shelter afforded me when I crept beneath one large 



266 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

mass supported upon four comer-stones. Where lavas are disjointed into 
large blocks of this kind it is not uncommon to find them, in the last stages 
of decay, taking the aspect of a heap of gigantic bowlders. Granites and 
massive sandstones sometimes exhibit the same behavior. The compan- 
ions of these blocks have in this case probably been carried off by ice into 
the gorges, and thus, instead of being erratics, they are the source from 
which many erratics have probably emanated. 

In addition to the trachytic rocks of Fish Lake Plateau, many flows 
of augitic andesite and dolerite are also found. These occur as intercala- 
tions between the trachytes, and are very numerous; but as they lie in much 
thinner sheets their aggregate mass is much less. The augitic andesites are 
older than the dolerites, and are seen in greatest frequency at the lower 
horizons. They vary considerably in character, some being hardly dis- 
tinguishable from the augitic varieties of trachyte, and having a grayish 
color, while others merge into dolerites. Several varieties were found, which 
were of a bright red color, and which might, upon hasty examination, have 
been very deceptive. The iron contained in these varieties appears to be 
largely in the form of peroxide, and both the magnetite and augite have been 
altered, not by ordinary weathering, but by some metasomatic change which 
I have not met with elsewhere. It does not appear to be identical alto- 
gether with that alteration which reddens the scoria of basaltic cinder cones, 
though the two changes may have much in common. In these varieties 
the plagioclase crystals are well developed and retain their lively polaiiza- 
tion, and are exquisitely striated. 

No particular portion of Fish Lake Plateau could be designated as a 
focus of the very many eruptions which constitute its mass. Nothing like 
a cone or crater is anywhere discernible, unless in some spot there may yet 
remain the ruins of such a feature so nearly obliterated as to escape ordinary 
or cursory observation. The several beds appear to lie in well stratified 
sheets, somewhat irregular in form, occasionally highly so, but on the whole 
decidedly like a series of coarse sedimentary strata in their general group- 
ing. This, however, does not necessarily involve the inference that the 
lavas came from a distant source or were not erupted from numerous fis- 
sures and orifices in the vicinity and within the plateau mass itself. In 



MOUNT TERRILL AND MOUNT MARVINE. 267 

truth, it seems little doubtful that the Fish Lake Plateau is a great center 
of eruption. A general fact in support of this view is that in three direc- 
tions — north, south, and east — and in all intermediate directions, the mass 
of erupted material attenuates gradually. Whether this be true also of the 
west side it is impossible to say, because the great monocline carries every- 
thing down beneath the alluvium of Grass Valley. But in the other direc- 
tions we can form a fair notion of the general arrangement of the total 
extravasation, and the attenuation and radiation from a central locality is 
sufficiently clear. The most probable view of the original arrangement is 
that the lavas emanated from many orifices and fissures scattered over the 
surface of an extensive volcanic pile, not unlike that of Mauna Loa, but on 
a smaller scale. 

From the outlet of Fish Lake, at its northeastern end, we may pursue 
our way down the noble valley which carries the effluent stream. About 
4 miles from the outlet we again enter Summit Valley, and, turning north- 
ward, we may ascend it to the first camping-ground from which we started 
to ascend the plateau. On the trail thither we pass two great terminal 
moraines projecting from the openings of gorges cut back into the plateau 
mass. Like the one projecting into the lake, they are well preserved and 
quite typical in their features. 

MOUNT TERRILL AND MOUNT MARVINE. 

Upon the eastern side of Summit Valley rise two conspicuous masses, 
which present to the eye nothing suggestive of a plateau. The northern 
one is Mount Terrill, the southern is Mount Marvine, both being in the 
prolongation of the same axis. Although in external form they are great 
mountain piles, their origin is due to circumdenudation, just as a great 
butte owes its individuality to the removal of the strata around it. They 
.consist of lavas, resting upon Lower Tertiary calcareous beds, and both the 
lavas and the sediments are nearly horizontal so far as stratification is con- 
cerned ; but the lavas were obviously outpoured over a much eroded sur- 
face, with hills and valleys of some magnitude. The volcanic sheets may 
have been continuous with those of Fish Lake Plateau., since they have the 
same lithological characters and varieties as the more striking trachytic 



268 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

members, but are less numerous and of less thickness in the aggregate. 
Whether once continuous or not, it seems evident that the separation of 
these two mountains from the plateau was eflfected by the gradual excavation 
and enlargement of Summit Valley. As we view the objects on the ground 
and try to reconcile ourselves to this notion, the magnitude of the process 
seems to make it incredible. Yet, as a common cafion valley is the self- 
evident result of erosion, so may such a valley as this be produced by the 
operation of the same general process, if suflSciently long continued. And 
this valley is very ancient. It is a remnant of a topography existing before 
the general uplifting of the platform on which the plateau and mountains 
stand. The volcanic rocks are probably as old as the Miocene, and the 
inception of Summit Valley may have occurred late in that age or in the 
early Pliocene. Judging comparatively by the effects of erosion here and 
in the adjoining country, the isolation of such a mountain as Mount Mar- 
vine is by no means a disproportionate work, when the duration of the 
process is considered. This view is abundantly confirmed when we exam- 
ine the positions of the Tertiary strata beneath the lavas. There has been 
no downthrow sufficient to cause the valley, and the beds are seen to curve 
gradually downwards towards the west in their normal attitudes on the 
shoulder of the great monoclinal. (See Section 3, Atlas sheet, No, 6.) 

Mount Terrill is a long narrow ridge, consisting of trachytic lavas, rest- 
ing upon calcareous beds of Lower Eocene age. The trachytes are rather 
thin, their aggregate thickness being from 250 to 450 feet only. The 
varieties are very similar to those of the Fish Lake Plateau. The extreme 
summit is a remnant of a light-gray clinkstone (not phonolite, but a 
sanidin-trachyte), which weathers into slabs about 3 inches thick by hori- 
zontal planes of cleavage and by vertical joints. Underneath is a large 
mass of light-red argilloid trachyte and several bodies of light-gray 
trachyte, and one dark mass which may be an augitic variety. The sedi- 
mentary beds upon which they He are not well exposed. As is almost 
always the case at such high altitudes (over 10,000 feet), they are covered 
with soil and talus. No fossils were discovered, but their continuity has 
been traced with strata of known age, and these are found in the ravine 



MOUNT MAEVEra:— MOEAINB VALLEY. 269 

under the northeast comer of the Fish Lake Plateau. They are Lower 
Eocene, equivalent to the Bitter Creek of Powell. 

The altitude of the ridge forming Mount Terrill declines towards the 
south until a lofty col or "saddle" is reached, which divides it from Mount 
Marvine. The latter is one of the most striking features of the region. It 
is a long ridge reduced to a mere knife-edge at the summit, and having 
rocky fronts on either side, sloping about 60°. A transverse section of 
the upper 2,000 feet of the mountain would be an equilateral triangle. 
For several years it was named by our parties The Blade. When seen 
from the south or north it has a most abrupt and peaked appearance, which 
becomes more pronounced the nearer we approach it. Viewed laterally 
from Summit Valley at its base, it presents a serrated summit, notched with 
many gaps and bristling with many cusps. The altitude of the mountain 
above the valley is about 2,700 feet and 11, 400 feet above the sea. It con- 
sists of alternating trachytes and augitic rocks, resting upon Lower Eocene 
strata. The thickness of the volcanic beds is, in the aggregate, from 1,200 
to 1,800 feet, being least at the northern end, and increasing towards the 
south. There is a succession of beds having the same general lithological 
characters as those in Fish Lake Plateau, except that the augitic members 
seem to be less numerous but more massive. Here, also, the dominant rock 
is the argilloid variety of trachyte. 

The origin of this mountain becomes quite apparent when studied from 
both sides. It has been isolated, like a gigantic butte, from the adjoining 
country by the erosion of the valleys upon either flank. The inception of 
this work is very ancient, since it undoubtedly antedates the uplifting of the 
platform on which the mountain stands, and may therefore be referred to 
any epoch more ancient than the latter part of the Pliocene and more 
recent than the Eocene. 

MOUNT HILGARD AND MORAINE VALLEY. 

Before proceeding southward it is desirable to look briefly at Mount 
Hilgard and at the intervales which separate it from Mounts Terrill and 
Marvine. From Summit Valley we may easily cross the col which separates 
the two latter summits, and descending the other side we find ourselves in 



270 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS 

a broad valley parallel to the one just left. This has been named Moraine 
Valley, from a rather large and conspicuous relic of glacial times, which 
could not escape observation because it is so well preserved and tells its 
story so plainly. It fills a lateral valley, heading near the summit of Mount 
Terrill and extending eastward into the broader expanse of Moraine Valley. 
It is covered with pools and lakelets bowered with aspen and spruce, and 
has the ordinary terminal character where its proper bed opens into Mo- 
raine Valley ; beyond which no ti"aces of glaciation are recognizable. The 
altitude of the termination is veiy nearly 9,000 feet, showing the same gen- 
eral ftict which has already been spoken of, that the glaciers did not, in 
this part of the country descend to low levels, but were confined to the 
highest parts of the region. 

In the northern part of Moraine Valley the sedimentary beds are occa- 
sionally revealed in insulated exposures surrounded by trachytic and ande- 
sitic beds in an advanced stage of decay. They are of Tertiary age and 
are found on the western side of the valley, where considerable spaces are 
uncovered. They dip slightly towards the east, being, in fact, the eastern 
branch of an anticlinal swell, while the beds of Summit Valley form the 
western branch and Mount Terrill occupies the summit. (See Sec. 3, 
Atlas Sheet No. 6.) Their Tertiary age is inferred from their position, 
but no fossils have been obtained from them. The volcanic rocks of the 
northern part of the valley seem to have been of much gi-eater volume 
formerly than at present, and to have been much wasted by erosion, though 
it is also inferred that they were never so extensive and massive here as to 
the southward. They are all, so far as observed, trachytic ; some of them 
belonging to the dark hornblendic division, others to the sanidin division, 
the latter predominating upon the western side of the valley. 

The principal drainage is to the southward, running parallel for a con- 
siderable distance to that from Summit Valley, and at length the two unite 
and form a noble stream as large as the Sevier, which has volume enough 
to reach the Colorado. The northern part of the valley is drained by a 
few rills, which find their way into Gunnison Valley to the northeast and 
thence through Salina Canon to the Sevier. Thus the divide between the 



MOUNT HILGAED. 271 

Colorado and Basin drainage systems crosses the upper part of Moraine 
Valley ti'ansversely, and the same is true of Summit Valley. 

Mount Hilgard is a lofty headland, rising upon the eastern side of Mo- 
raine Valley to an altitude of about 11,000 feet. Towards the north and 
east it presents inaccessible battlements of dark volcanic rock, consisting 
chiefly of hornblendic trachyte and augitic andesite. Towards the west it 
presents an abrupt face, which, however, is easily scaled. To the south it 
extends in a long ridge of diminishing altitude until it reaches the vicinity 
of Thousand Lake Mountain. To the eastward are seen the sedimentary 
formations stretching away indefinitely. They are Cretaceous, with a thin 
fringe of Lower Eocene capping them just at the base of the volcanic wall 
of which Mount Hilgard forms the loftiest part. To the northward the 
volc>anic wall extends at an altitude 2,000 feet lower than the mountain top, 
and gradually swings westward until it nearly joins the wall which forms 
the northern salient at the head of Summit Valley, being divided from it 
only by a narrow ravine heading near Mount Terrill. This northern 
extension of the volcanic battlement has been named Gilson's Crest. This, 
together with the great ridge formed by Mount Hilgard and its southern 
extension, forms the eastern boundary of the great eruptive masses which 
cover almost the entire expanse of the District of the High Plateaus. There 
are, however, two or three outlying patches to the eastward of small extent, 
evidently independent centers of eruption, but no special significance seemed 
to attach to them. 

The ridge of which Mount Hilgard is the culmination is evidently a 
chain of volcanic vents along a fissure, and the extravasation appears to 
have taken place along its entire extent. There are no individualized 
peaks or cones suddenly springing up at various points of the chain, but a 
broad summit platform, slowly and pretty regularly diminishing in altitude 
through a distance of nearly 20 miles, and it is difficult to point to any par- 
ticular spot as possessing a more distinctly focal character than the others. 
The outpours appear to have occurred all along the line, with an approxi- 
mation to uniformity, or possibly with a gradual increase of magnitude and 
frequency, as we approach the summit of Mount Hilgard. From that head- 
land southward the top of the platform widens out, becoming 4 miles wide 



272 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

at a distance of 8 miles south. The mass of lavas appears to be of great 
thickness, and the sedimentary beds are not seen beneath them until we 
approach the vicinity of Thousand Lake Mountain. The eruptions were of 
the most massive character, being in some instances more than a hundred 
and twenty feet thick, and presenting ledges of rock several miles in length. 
The eruptive materials are of the same general character as those ob- 
served in the Fish Lake Plateau. They are mostly trachytic, with subor- 
dinate though considerable masses of augitic andesite and dolerite interca- 
lating. All of the trachytes liave a dark, somber appearance, and belong to 
both of the divisions of that group. The older varieties are homblendic, 
with considerable plagioclase, and among them are also found augitic tra- 
chytes. The younger members are chiefly of the argilloid varieties, and, as 
elsewhere, they occur in immense beds. 

THE AWAPA PLATEAU. 

The Awapa and Aquarius Plateaus have not been studied in detail, and 
my knowledge of them is such only as has been derived from a few rapid 
transits across the former in different places, and about three weeks spent 
upon the flanks of the latter. Their area is very great, and, in order to 
acquire sufficient data to give any detailed account of them, much more 
labor and travel is necessary. I have been much indebted to some notes 
prepared by Mr. E. E. Howell, whose observations have supplemented my 
own in some very important particulars, and have prepared the way to the 
determination of many points ; especially those relating to the stratigraphy 
and structure of the Aquarius Plateau. 

The separation of the Awapa from the Fish Lake Plateau is probably 
more justifiable on the ground of convenience of discussion than of reality, 
for the latter passes directly into the former. A sudden descent across a 
steep slope brings us from one to the other. For a short space the lake 
may be regarded as a natural barrier, but east of the lake it is not practi- 
cable to say where the one ends and the other begins. The Fish Lake 
table has an altitude of more than 11,000 feet, and where its southern end 
drops down upon the Awapa the altitude of the latter is less than 9,000 
feet ; and genei*ally the altitude of the Awapa is the least of the several 



THE AWAPA PLATEAU. 273 

masses constituting the High Plateaus. The slopes of the entire mass all 
converge towards a centi*al depression called Rabbit Valley. It is not an 
inclined plane or roof, but the segment of a dish. Everywhere the general 
inclination is very slight, though undulating with low hills. The western 
boundary is a wall from 1,800 to 3,0U0 feet high, plunging down into Grass 
Valley, sometimes by a grand precipice, sometimes by a steep, diflScult 
slope and always abruptly. The length of the plateau, though its bound- 
aries are for the most part difficult to locate with precision, is about 35 
miles and its breadth about 18 miles. 

It is a dreary place. Upon its broad expanse scarcely a tree lifts its 
welcome green, save a few gnarled and twisted cedars. Its herbage con- 
sists only of the ubiquitous artemisia and long nodding grasses. Not a spring 
or stream of water is known upon all its area, except at the lowest part, where 
its slope merges into the floor of Rabbit Valley. And yet most of its sur- 
face is at an altitude where verdure and moisture abound, and where the 
summer is like the spring of more favored regions. But here the snows of 
winter are melted early, and tlie summers are nearly as hot and dry as those 
of the plains below. A ride across it is toilsome and monotonous in the 
extreme. It takes us over an endless succession of hills and valleys, clad 
with a stony soil, usually just steep enough to worry the animals, but not 
enough so to require us, or to even encourage us, to dismount. Here 
and there a sharp caiion opens across the path in an unexpected manner, 
compelling a long detour to find a crossing. These are usually shallow, 
rarely exceeding 400 or 500 feet in depth, but are as typical in their forms 
or sections as the caQons in the sedimentary strata. 

The whole mass of the Awapa consists of volcanic materials. The 
only localities where sedimentary beds are seen are in Rabbit Valley and 
low down in the western flank opposite East Fork Canon in Grass Valley. 
In the latter locality the great fault has brought them to daylight, and 
the ravines have still further opened them to view. They are Lower Ter- 
tiiiry, corresponding to the Bitter Creek beds of the northern plateaus. 
Above them are 3,000 feet of volcanic conglomerates and lavas. In Rab- 
bit Valley beds presumed to be of the same age are also discovered 
beneath thin capptngs of trachyte and basalt Hence it appears that the 

18 H p 



274 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

lavas gradually attenuate from west to east, or rather from the peripheiy 
of the plateau towards its central depression. 

The variety of the rocks displayed is truly astonishing. It seems as 
if two exposures rarely presented the same description of lava. The great 
majority of them belong to the tmchytic group, and it is surprising to see 
what numberless changes can be rung upon materials which vary so little 
in their ultimate composition. This manifold variation is displayed in the 
Sevier Plateau and in the Markagunt ; but for some reason I was more 
profoundly impressed with it in the Awapa than elsewhere, though, pos- 
sibly, it may be no greater in the latter than in the former. But assur- 
edly the number of distinct coulees is extremely great, and it is hard to find 
two precisely alike. Some of the trachytic beds are quite thin, being not 
more than 20 to 25 feet thick, and successions of these variegated layera are 
frequently met with. On the other hand, some of the grandest and most 
massive sheets in the High Plateaus are found here. On the north side of 
Rabbit Valley the plateau slope ends in a low wall about 100 to 120 
feet in height and nearly 4 miles in length, which seems to be one indi- 
vidual sheet of argilloid trachyte. Some very grand sheets of homblendic 
trachyte are also displayed hard by, having the exceedingly rough, coarse 
texture which is so characteristic of that variety. In the large coulees 
of homblendic trachyte, and sometimes also in the granitoid variety, 
may be seen that rough, broken aspect of the lava suggestive of flow- 
ing in a very viscous and almost solid state, as if the whole mass were 
continually rending itself into fragments, as it crept along like a huge 
glacier, while more fluent portions from within the flood worked their way 
into the rifts, and there congealed. In the smaller and thinner sheets this 
phenomenon is not seen; but a more mobile character is indicated. The 
grander flows generally belong to the granitoid and argilloid varieties, while 
the smaller and more fluent ones are sometimes hyaline and sometimes 
augitic trachyte. Vitreous products also are common, and at the parting of 
the beds trachytic obsidian is found in abundance. No rhyolites have been 
detected in this plateau, but a few pitch-stones, with the trachytic character 
rather than the rhyolitic, were observed. This indicates a considerable 
range in the chemical constitution, and is accompanied with a correspond- 



THE AWAPA PLATEAU. 275 

ing range in the superficial aspects of the beds. In the northern part of the 
plateau the dark argilloid and hornblendic trachytes predominate. They 
agree in their characters and aspects with those which occur in the Fish Lake 
Plateau and Mount Marvine. There is also decided evidence that the 
main sources from which they outflowed were around the southeastern bor- 
ders of the lake. This evidence is substantially the fact, that the sheets 
increase in thickness and become more rugged in that quarter, and all the 
phenomena of flow indicate movement from that direction. The supposed 
location of the vents, however, was not visited. No augitic andesites were 
noticed intercalating with the northern trachytes of the Awapa, though 
large bodies of them may have escaped observation, owing to the superficial 
and cursory character of the investigation. 

No conglomerates or tufas were seen in the northern part of the Awapa, 
and these would have been noticed if they really exist there in masses of 
any importance. As such bodies are usually very bulky and conspicu- 
ous, it is hardly possible to overlook them. In the western part of the pla- 
teau, however, they are found in great volume. They are stratified in the 
usual manner, with nearly horizontal bedding or with that peculiar cross- 
bedding which may be seen in Panquitch Cailon (Heliotype No. 4). In 
the western wall of the plateau, a little north of East Fork Cafion, these 
conglomerates form a grand cliff and talus rising about 3,400 feet above 
Grass Valley, and the total thickness of the fragmental beds is roughly 
estimated at 1,600 feet. Large masses of hornblendic trachyte are found 
beneath them, and granitoid trachyte above them. These beds of conglom- 
erate stretch north and south from tliis point, forming the most conspic- 
uous part of the plateau wall, for a distance of 21 or 22 miles. Their deg- 
radation gives rise to a precipitous escarpment, broken in several places by 
ravines and gorges. They are also found in great bulk in the cations which 
cut into the heart of the plateau. They are believed to be alluvial in their 
origin. The fragments which they contain are exceedingly varied in their 
composition and texture. Hornblendic andesites and trachytes are commin- 
gled in the same stratum, and of each kind there are very many varieties. 
In one of the deeper cafions some propylitic fragments were found, but 



276 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

whether they were derived from conglomerates or from rocks in situ farther 
up the gorge was uncertain. 

A considerable number of basalt fields are found upon the surface 
of the Awapa. In no instance was any considerable mass of this lava 
encountered, and wherever found it formed only a rather thin local veneer 
rarely so much as 100 feet thick, and generally much less. These basaltic 
sheets have been greatly ravaged by erosion, and their fragments scattered 
far and wide. No trace of a basaltic cone or monticule was anywhere 
seen. If any such ever existed it has been totally demolished. I incline 
to the opinion that none were ever built in those portions of the Awapa 
which were visited, but rather that the basalt quietly outflowed in the same 
manner as it did from some of the very recent vents on the Markdgunt. 
From the orifices it seems to have spread out at once in thin, diffuse pools 
or lakes, where it has slowly weathered away. Wherever it occurs, it is the 
most recent of the eruptive masses. None of it belongs to so late an epoch 
as those of the Markdgunt or the southern terraces overlooked by the Pink 
Cliffs. In some localities the sheets of basalt are wasted to mere heaps of 
disjointed blocks, thickly strewing the platform and partly buried in soil. 
In others, the continuity of the sheets is tolerably well preserved. It is 
impossible to fix the age of those eruptions, though I infer that none are iis 
old as Middle Pliocene ; perhaps not so old as the close of that age. They 
seem to have been erupted after the movements of displacement which 
blocked out the plateau had well advanced, and these are held to be 
among the most recent events of Tertiary time. 

I have not attempted to delineate these basalts upon the geological 
map, being uncertain as to their extent and outlines. 

« 

RABBIT VALLEY. 

The slopes of the Awapa all converge towards a central depression 
called Rabbit Valley. The trachytic beds descending towards it end sud- 
denly, sometimes in low cliffs, sometimes in steep slopes. The eastern 
side of the valley is walled by the great uplift of Thousand Lake Mount- 
ain. Along the western base of that mass runs one of the great faults of 
the district, with a maximum throw of more than 4,000 feet On every 



RABBIT VALLEY. 277 

side the valley is girt about by imposing masses; on the north and west 
by the slopes of the Awapa, and on the south by the Aquarius. Its floor 
is a broad alluvial plain, receiving the wash of all the surrounding uplifts, 
and carrying a noble stream, whicih is fed from all directions by rivulets 
which have brought down their loads of debris and, reaching the nearly 
level bottom, have deposited it. Those coming from the Awapa are always 
dry in summer, excepting one which heads near the foot of the slope, but 
the other tributaries from the north and south are perennial. The accumu- 
lation of detritus through the ages has produced a broad expanse of alluvial 
plain through which the Fremont River meanders, and nothing but a moist 
atmosphere is wanting to make this valley an Eden. 

It is somewhat unusual to find so large an area in this elevated region 
in which the accumulation is in excess of the power of the rivers to carry 
it away. But this exceptional condition appears to have prevailed in 
Rabbit Valley for a considerable time. It was apparently brought about 
by the last stage in the uplifting to the eastward across the great fault, or, 
what is the same thing, the downthrow of the valley itself; for these 
vertical movements must be considered in a purely relative sense and as 
meaning simply the difference of elevation between the lifted and thrown 
sides, respectively, of the displacement. The Thousand Lake fault cuts 
across the outlet of Rabbit Valley, which passes between Thousand Lake 
Mountain and the northern salient of the Aquarius, and it has had the effect 
of an increasing barrier to the outflow of the Fremont River and has 
slackened its waters within the valley. Hence the loads of ditritus which 
its affluents bring down from the plateaus on every side are thrown down 
in the valley. Since the last paroxysm of uplifting the river has taken to 
meandering, in consequence of the progressive building up of its channel 
and has repeatedly shifted its bed over different parts of its flood plain. Old 
cafions in the borders of the lava sheets coming down from the Awapa have 
been partially filled up and the river has abandoned them. In truth, a con- 
siderible number of low cafions of this sort are still discernible in the lower 
portions of these old trachytic beds, and it is apparent at a glance that they 
have nothing in common with the cafions and ravines which descend the 
slopes of that plateau, except to form the old trunk channel into which the 



278 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

latter debouched. The Fremont River, however, still maintains its course 
in one of those old canons for a distance of 4 or 5 miles. It leaves the low 
flats of the valley to enter the rising slopes of the Awapa and flows through 
a rocky gorge which becomes four or five hundred feet deep. Thence it 
emerges into the valley plain again and pursues its way to the foot of the 
valley, where a salt marsh, covered with saline pools, has been built up by 
the accumulation of fine silt. 

It is interesting to pursue this subject further and to view it in relation 
to future instead of past time. The river leaves the valley through the 
great gap between the mountain and the Aquarius, and the passage has 
been named the Red Gate. Thence it flows off into the heart of the 
Plateau Country, reaching the Colorado by a profound cation. Throughout 
the greater part of this distance the river is a rapid stream and is slowly 
sinking it« channel. Its rapid descent begins half a mile beyond the point 
where it crosses the great fault, and it is apparent that here, too, it is 
lowering its bed; for old terraces of river gravel and loess are seen at 
different levels within the Red Gate in an excellent state of preservation, 
and the river has cut a broad and deep channel through them. It is only 
a question of time how deep the channel may be cut, for where it leaves 
Rabbit Valley the altitude is almost exactly 7,000 feet above sea-level, and 
the junction of the river with the Colorado is less than 4,500 feet Esti- 
mating the course of the stream between the two points at 100 miles, the 
average descent is not far from 25 feet to the mile, which is about the same 
fall as prevails in nearly all the tributaries of the Colorado in this part of 
the country. All of them are evidently corrading their beds. Here and 
there local flood plains are formed, occurring along stretches of the streams 
where the fall is slight ; but such flood plains are merely temporary in the 
secular life of the river. The)'^ are succeeded by rapids which are grad- 
ually eating their way backwards, and in a brief period the stretches of still 
water will become rapids in turn. In time, then, the Fremont River will cut 
down its channel at the outlet of Rabbit Valley unless the fault at the Red 
Gate increases its throw. In the absence of such increase in the fault the 
stream will ultimately carry back the excavating process into the valley 
and the extensive alluvial beds will be gradually attacked and eroded away. 



ALLUVIAL FORMATIONS— THOUSAND LAKE MOUNTAIN. 279 

These alluvial masses are partly conglomeritic in texture, especially 
near the borders of the lava sheets and at the foot of the plateau slopes. 
Towards the middle of the valley they become finer, shading into sandy or 
fine gravelly deposits. They are instances of the formation of conglom- 
erates upon a considerable scale by the alluvial process, but under condi- 
tions somewhat different from those disclosed in Sevier and Grass Valleys. 
The included fragments upon the western and southern portions are always 
volcanic and exceedingly varied. The debris derived from Thousand Lake 
Mountiiin on the eastern side consists mainly of fine quartz sand coming 
from the decay of the Jurassic and Triassic sandstones of that structure. 

In the northwestern part of Rabbit Valley a few exposures of Ter- 
tiary beds are found beneath the terminal trachytic sheets. Upon the 
eastern side of the valley are still better exposures upon the lowest slopes 
of Thousand Lake Mountain. In the latter locality they are soon cut off 
by the great fault, and reappear nearly 4,000 feet above, beneath the lava 
cap upon the summit. Below they abut against the Lower Trias. Laterally 
they run beneath extensive outpours of basalt, which, though not of very 
modem origin, are still comparatively recent. 

THOUSAND LAKB MOUNTAIN. 

Thousand Lake Mountain is an exceedingly interesting object. The 
name was given by the Mormons who pasture flocks in the valley below. 
They derived it from a group of pools of glacial origin upon the sum- 
mit. Structurally and morphologically it is a small plateau, in some 
respects very similar to the other and larger members of the district, but 
possessing, also, features peculiar to itself The coimtry to the west of it is 
thrown down by a profound fault forming the depression of Rabbit Valley, 
The country to the east of it is the inner region of the Plateau Province, 
from which thousands of feet of strata have been removed by the grand 
erosion of Tertiary time, while the mountain itself has been left like a 
gigantic butte or cameo upon the border of the region. Upon its southern 
flank the Fremont River has cut a wide passage, which has separated it 
from its mighty parent, the Aquarius Plateau. 

Upon the summit is a lava cap from 400 to 500 feet in thickness and 



280 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

quite flat, giving a tabular summit to the mass about 5 miles long and 
nearly 2 miles wide. An almost impassable talus surrounds the scarped 
edges of this cap, and renders the ascent difficult except at a few points 
upon the eastern side, 'i'he lavas are homblendic trachytes and augitic 
andesites, heavily interbedded and made up of numerous flows. These 
rest upon a layer of Lower Tertiary, of which the thickness is not precisely 
known, but which cannot well exceed 700 feet Whether the diminished 
volume of the Tertiary here is due to an originally small amount of depo- 
sition or to an erosion of the upper members prior to the volcanic overflow 
is not yet determined, but I incline to the former explanation. And the 
general indications seem to be that over the area occupied by the eastern 
part of the Aquarius and Thousand Lake Mountain the Tertiary deposition 
was locally nmch thinner than elsewhere. Immediately beneath is the 
Jurassic white sandstone. The Cretaceous is absent from its place in the 
stratigraphical series. Yet a few miles to the northeastward the whole 
vast Cretaceous system is rolled up and cut off on the slopes of a grand 
monoclinal. 

This monoclinal is the Water Pocket Foldj which is probably the grand- 
est feature of the kind in the Plateau Country, so far as known, and per- 
haps the most typical. Its first appearance is beneath Thousand Lake 
Mountain (see Atlas Sheet No. 4), where the trend is east-southeast and it 
gradually swings around towards the south-southeast, reaching to the Colo- 
rado River, in the heart of the Glen Caflon. It crosses the river into 
unknown regions. Upon the northwestern side of the mountain it is cov- 
ered up by Tertiary beds and lava sheets and is wholly concealed, so that 
neither its northern nor its southern terminations are at present known. 
The great fault upon the west side of the mountain cuts across this mono- 
clinal nearly at right angles, and has dropped the platform to the west 
several thousand feet. The age of the great flexure is evidently older than 
Tertiary time, for the Lower Eocene beds lie nearly horizontally across 
the upturned edges of the whole Cretaceous system and upon the deeply- 
eroded surface of the Jurassic sandstone. Inasmuch as the entire body of 
Cretaceous strata, including the Laramie beds, appear in succession as we 
cross the strike of the flexure and as they are all upturned upon its flanks, 






i 


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im 




'■'"ii 


,4'^-' 




"*■■" 




«.-,n'., 




'^' 










^i',w: 



ii>!5S!;E 



v.- ;^ 'i <' 'V' 





*: 



THOUSAND LAKE MOUNTAIN. 281 

the first conclusion seems to be that the movement took place after the 
Laramie beds were deposited and before the Tertiary strata were laid down. 
The contacts, however, between the Tertiary and Laramie beds have not 
yet been studied and analyzed, nor have any good exposures of those con- 
tacts in this vicinity been discovered. It is not impossible that through a 
large portion of Cretaceous time this area was a part of. an island under- 
going a slow erosion, while just beyond the flexure to the eastward the 
later Cretaceous members were accumulating upon an island coast ; that at 
a later epoch the island was submerged, and received a deposit of Lower 
Eocene beds. This supposition has considerable support in facts which 
will be brought forward in the next chapter, and leads to the conclusion that 
a long interval of disturbance and erosion separated the Cretaceous from 
the Tertiary throughout this part of the Plateau Province. The absence 
of more than 5,000 feet of strata between the Lower Eocene and the for- 
mation upon which it reposes is a very striking fact, and the simplest expla- 
nation is here the best 

The Jurassic white sandstone is disclosed all around the mountain. It 
has the same familiar fades which has been adverted to in the preceding 
chapters upon the Markdgunt and Paunsdgunt Plateaus — a grayish-white 
massive sandstone, wonderfully cross-bedded, and weathering into inacces- 
sible domes of peculiarly solid and bold aspect. The upper Jurassic shales 
appear to be absent, at least they were not detected, and the eroded con- 
dition of the sandstone at the time of the deposition of the Tertiary is a 
sufficient reason for presuming that if the shales once existed here, and I 
doubt not that they did, they have been swept away. 

Beneath the Jurassic appear in normal order and relations the Ver- 
milion Cliff sandstones (Upper Trias) and the ShinArump shales. These 
formations have the same aspect as in the lower terraces which front the 
Kaibabs in the Grand Caiion District. The Vermilion Cliff series has the 
same succession of sandstones and siliceous shales, usually bright red, but 
sometimes patched with bright yellowish brown. They are best exposed 
upon the southern flank of the mountain at the Red Gate. The Shindrump 
has the same band of conglomerate, consisting of fragments of silicified 
wood imbedded in white sand, which is seen in the vicinity of the Hurri- 



282 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

cane fault, 150 miles to the southwest. The shales also present the same 
striking and constant appearance as if in all that interval not a layer or line 
had lost its identity. At the base of the mountain, upon the southern side, 
the Shindrump shales form a broad platform or terrace skirting the south- 
eastern flank, and ending in a beautifully sculptured cliff about 600 feet 
high, eminently characteristic .of the formation. The architecture is repre- 
sented in Heliotype X, but the colors are such as no pigments can portray. 
They are deep, rich, and variegated, and so luminous are they, that light 
seems to glow or shine out of the rock rather than to be reflected from it 

The Red Gate has already been alluded to as the passage by which 
the Fremont River leaves Rabbit Valley and flows off into the heart of the 
Plateau Country. As we approach it from the west the flaming red of the 
Trias is seen reaching out southward from Thousand Lake Mountain in a 
rocky wall which has been breached by the river. These beds curve down- 
wards on the south side of the gate and disappear beneath the spurs of 
the Aquarius. The great fault along which Thousand Lake Mountain has 
been upheaved continues southward across this passage, cutting into the 
mass of the Aquarius. The downward flexure of the Trias is simply the 
effect of diminished uplift on the south side of the gate. The passage itself 
has been cut by the river, which has occupied its present locm for an im- 
mense period, which may reach back as far as Miocene time. Some changes 
may have occurred in its course through the repeated outflows of lava across 
and into its valley. But there are independent considerations which lead 
to the conclusion that the Fremont River is one of the more ancient tribu- 
taries of the Colorado, bom with the country itself far back in Eocene time, 
though its upper branches may have been much modified by the violent 
changes accompanying the great volcanic activity of the Middle Tertiary. 
Beyond the Red Gate the relations of the river to the structural features of 
the region through which it flows, and also to the imposed sculpture of the 
country, are such as to compel the conviction that the river must antedate the 
Tertiary deformations of the strata which are there found, and also antedate 
the great erosion of the Plateau Province. Through all those vast changes 
by displacement and erosion the river has ever maintained its thoroughfare. 
The passage through the Red Gate is part and parcel of the same history. 



THE BED GATE. 283 

We may in imagination look back of an immense geological period to an 
epoch when the platform of the Aquarius reached far beyond its present 
boundaries and included the whole mass of Thousand Lake Mountain and 
the whole country as far as the eye can reach to the eastern and southern 
horizons. The cutting of the passage through the Red Gate is but an insig- 
nificant factor in the total process, and falls far short of what we know has 
been accomplished in other portions of the wonderful country of which it is 
the portal. 



CHAPTER XIII. 

THE AQUARIUS PLATEAU. 

Distant views and the approach to the Aqnariiis. — Its grandeur. — Its summit. — Scenery and vegeta- 
tion. — Glacial lakes. — The lava cap. — ^Tho southern sloi)e8.— Panorama from its southeastern 
salient. — View to the northeastward. — ^The Water Pocket fold. — Inconsequent drainage. — View 
of the Henry Mountains and La Sierra Sal. — ^The Circle ClifiGs. — A labarynth of eaflons. — Cafious 
of the Escalauto River. — Exposures of the Jura and Trias. — ^Navajo Mountain. — ^The great wall of 
the Kaiparowits Plateau. — Distant view of Table Cliff and Kaiparowits Cliff. — ^The great southern 
amphitheater of the Aquarius. — ^Tho grand erosion. — Former extension of the Cretaceous and 
Eocene strata over the Plateau Country. — Greneral structure of the Aquarius. — ^Faults in the cen- 
tral portion. — ^The Escalante monocline and its Pre-Tcrtiary age. — A Cretaceous island. — ^Western 
wall of the Aquarius. — Trachytes, andesites, and basalts. — Complicated faulting. — ^Table Cliff. — 
Kaiparowits Peak. 

The Aquarius should be described in blank verse and illustrated upon 
canvas. The explorer who sits upon the brink of its parapet looking off 
into the southern and eastern haze, who skirts its lava- cap or clambers up 
and down its vast ravines, who builds his camp-fire by the borders of its 
snow-fed lakes or stretches himself beneath its giant pines and spinices, 
forgets that he is a geologist and feels himself a poet. From numberless 
lofty standpoints we have seen it afar off, its long, straight crest-line stretched 
across the sky like the threshold of another world. We have drawn nearer 
and nearer to it, and seen its mellow blue change day by day to dark som- 
ber gray, and its dull, expressionless ramparts grow upward into walls of 
majestic proportions and sublime import. The formless undulations of its 
slopes have changed to gigantic spurs sweeping slowly down into the 
painted desert and parted by impenetrable ravines. The mottling of light 
and shadow upon its middle zones is resolved into groves of Pinus ponde- 
rosa, and the dark hues at the summit into myriads of spikes, which we 
know are the storm-loving spruces. 

284 



THE SUMMIT OF THE AQUARIUS. 285 

The ascent leads us among rugged hills, almost mountainous in size, 
strewn with black bowldei-s, along precipitous ledges, and by the sides of 
caiions. Long detours must be made to escape the chasms and to avoid 
the taluses of fallen blocks ; deep ravines must be crossed, projecting crags 
doubled, and lofty battlements scaled before the summit is reached. When 
the broad platform is gained the story of ** Jack and the beanstalk," the 
finding of a strange and beautiful country somewhere up in the region ot 
the clouds, no longer seems incongruous. Yesterday we were toiling over 
a burning soil, where nothing grows save the ashy-colored sage, the prickly 
pear, and a few cedars that writhe and contort their stunted limbs under a 
scorching sun. To-day we are among forests of rare beauty and luxuriance; 
the air is moist and cool, the grasses are green and rank, and hosts of 
flowers deck the turf like the hues of a Persian carpet The forest opens 
in wide parks and winding avenues, which the fancy can easily people with 
fays and woodland nymphs. On either side the sylvan walls look impene- 
trable, and for the most part so thickly is the ground strewn with fallen 
trees, that any attempt to enter is as serious a matter as forcing an abattis. 
The tall spruces (Abies subalpina) stand so close together, that even if the 
dead-wood were not there a passage would be almost impossible. Their 
slender trunks, as straight as lances, reach upward a hundi'ed feet, ending 
in barbed points, and the contours of the foliage are as symmetrical and 
uniform as if every tree had been clipped for a lordly garden. They are 
too prim and monotonous for a high type of beauty ; but not so the Engel- 
mann spruces and great mountain firs (A. Engelmanni, A. grandis), which are 
delightfully varied, graceful in form, and rich in foliage. Rarely are these 
species found in such luxuriance and so variable in habit. In places where 
they are much exposed to the keen blasts of this altitude they do not grow 
into tall, majestic spires, but cower into the form of large bushes, with their 
branchlets thatched tightly together like a great hay-rick. 

Upon the broad summit are numerous lakes — not the little morainal 
pools, but broad sheets of water a mile or two in length. Their basins were 
formed by glaciers, and since the ice-cap which once covered the whole 
plateau has disappeared they continue to fill with water from the melting 



286 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS 

snows. Early in autumn tho snows have disappeared and the lakes cease 
to outflow, but never dry up. 

The length of the Aquarius from northeast to southwest is about 35 
miles, and its breadth from 10 to 18 miles. Its altitude varies from 
10,500 to 11,600 feet above sea-level. Over three-fourths of its periphery 
is bounded by massive cliffs, while along the remaining fourth it declines 
gently to its confluence with the Awapa. Its upper portion is a lava-cap 
of vast dimensions, varying from 1,000 to 2,000 feet in thickness. Its lavas 
are seen in greatest mass at the northwestern flank, overlooking the south- 
ern part of Grass Valley and the Panquitch Hayfield. Upon the southern 
and eastern sides, at the foot of the volcanic wall, the long slopes begin, 
which reach far out into the mesas of the inner Plateau Country. Their 
descent is slow and easy to all appearance, but they are deeply gashed with 
profound cailons and terrible gorges, among which it is dangerous to ven- 
ture. To traverse these slopes it is necessary to keep high up near the base 
of the lava-cap, where the ravines head, and where they are sufficiently 
open to afford a practicable trail. Even here the journey around the base 
of the cliff is laborious, involving the constant ascent and descent of vast 
gorges and amphitheaters, and requiring many days to accomplish it. Yet 
the traveler who has abundant strength and perseverance will be amply 
rewarded, provided he has chosen his way with pnidence and good judg- 
ment Upon these slopes the structure of the plateau is revealed. 

In truth, there is but little "structure." Tlie plateau is simply a rem- 
nant left by the erosion of the country around its southern and eastern 
flanks. A few of its minor features are due to displacements, and its west- 
ern wall originated in a gi'eat fault or rather in several faults. The rest of 
the mass owes its pre-eminence to circumdenudation. We may gain some 
notion of the stupendous work which has accomplished this result by taking 
our position upon the southeastern salient at the verge of the upper platform. 

It is a sublime panorama. The heart of the inner Plateau Country is 
spread out before us in a bird's-eye view. It is a maze of cliffs and ter- 
races lined off with stratification, of crumbling buttes, red and white domes, 
rock platforms gashed with profound cailons, burning plains barren even of 
sage — ^all glowing with bright color and flooded with blazing sunlight 



/ 



WATER POCKET FOLD— INCONSEQUENT DRAINAGE. 287 

Everything visible tells of ruin and decay. It is the extreme of desola- 
tion, the blankest solitude, a superlative desert 

To the northeastward the radius of vision reaches out perhaps a hun- 
dred miles, where everything gradually fades into dreamland, where the air 
boils like a pot, and objects are just what our fancy chooses to make them. 
Perhaps the most striking part of the picture is in the middle ground, where 
the great Water Pocket fold turns up the truncated beds of the Trias and 
Jura, whose edges face us from a great quadrant of which we occupy the 
center. Where the strata are cut off in this way upon the slope of a 
monocline they do not present to the front a common cliff and talus with 
a straight crest-line, but a row of cusps like a battery of shark's teeth on a 
large scale. But even in this relation the Jurassic sandstone is peculiar, 
for it is hero of enormous thickness and so massive that it is virtually one 
homogenous bed, and the great gashes cut across the fold or perpendicular 
to the face of the outcrop have carved the stratum into colossal crags and 
domes. By these tokens we can trace the Water Pocket fold from the 
eastern slopes of Thousand Lake Mountain around a quadrant, whence its 
course flies off in a tangent far into the south and is lost to view beyond 
the Colorado. Its total length thus displayed must be about i)0 miles. 
Across this monocline run the drainage channels which head in the amphi- 
theaters along the eastern front of the Aquarius. It is interesting to note 
how completely independent are these streams of the structural slopes of 
the country. They rush into a cliff or into a rising slope of the strata as 
if they were only banks of fog or smoke. It matters not which way the 
strata dip, the streams have ways of their own. The Fremont River and 
the creeks which flow down from Thousand Lake Mountain present a very 
striking relation to the strata. They at first run very obliquely into the 
fold, and thence by an equally oblique course run out of it again. Nearer 
to us Temple Creek plunges right into the flexure perpendicular to its strike 
and in the somewhat uncommon relation of a stream running with the dip 
of the strata. Still nearer, Tantalus Creek runs across the fold in the same 
general relation but meanders about within it. 

In the first chapter I have explained this independence of drainage 
channels of the structural slopes and attitudes of the strata by the general 



288 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

proposition that the rivers are older tlian these structural features, that 
their courses were initially determined by the configuration of the surface 
when the region emerged from its lacustrine condition in Middle Eocene 
time, and have persisted in holding those initial positions in spite of all 
changes. It happens, however, that in the cases before us the flexure is 
much older than the rivers. The age of the Water Pocket monocline is 
Pre-Tertiary, at least in the northern part, and we infer that the whole 
monocline is of one age. This seems at first to be in contravention of the 
law. But the anomaly is apparent only and not real. For we have seen 
that in Thousand Lake Mountain the Tertiary lies nearly horizontally 
across the denuded edges of the Cretaceous and Upper Jurassic and rests 
upon the Jurassic white sandstone. The same relation is found in the 
Aquarius. In the eastern half of the plateau the Cretaceous is wanting 
and the Tertiary rests upon the Jura. A little west of the middle of the 
plateau upon the southern flank is seen another ancient monocline with its 
throw in an opposite direction to that of the Water Pocket flexure. This, 
too, is of Pre-Tertiary age, and upon its slopes the Cretaceous again comes 
in with full force, and across its beveled edges lies the Lower Eocene hori- 
zontally. Thus while this pair of flexures was forming the intervening 
uplifted block was undergoing erosion, and at a later epoch it was submerged 
to receive a blanket of Lower Eocene strata. If now we attempt to replace 
the beds which have been stripped off by the later erosion of Miocene and 
Pliocene time, we must extend the Tertiary beds eastward (and southward) 
indefinitely, so as to cover the Water Pocket flexure unconformably, and 
also to cover the Cretaceous mesas which lie beyond it. Thus, after the 
Middle Eocene, the locus of the flexure was covered with a sensibly hori- 
zontal stratum of Lower Eocene beds upon which the local drainage sys- 
tem was laid out As the erosion went on the streams sank their channels 
and the upper strata were denuded. The Water Pocket fold was in time 
exhumed and the streams cut down into it from above. And since its 
exhumation it has been greatly ravaged by erosion. 

Directly east of us, beyond the domes of the flexure, rise the Henry 
Mountains. They are barely 35 miles distant, and they seem to be near 
neighbors. Under a clear sky every detail is distinct and no finer view of 



CmOLE CLIFFS— ESCALANTE CASTONS. 289 

them is possible. It seems as if a few hours of lively traveling would 
bring us there, but it is a two days' journey with the best of animals. They 
are by far the most striking features of the panorama, on account of the 
strong contrast they present to the scenery about them. Among innumer- 
able flat crest-lines, terminating in walls, they rise up grandly into peaks of 
Alpine form and grace like a modem cathedral among catecombs — ^the 
gothic order of architecture contrasting with the elephantine. Beyond the 
spurs of Mount Ellen may be seen the northernmost summits of the Sierra 
La Sal, 120 miles distant; but the main range is hidden by the mass of the 
Henry Mountains. 

The view to the south and southeast is dismal and suggestive of the 
terrible. It is almost unique even in the catagory of plateau scenery. The 
streams which head at the foot of the lava-cap on the southern wall of the 
Aquarius flow southward down its long slopes. The amphitheaters soon 
grow into cations of profound depth and inaccessible walls. These pas- 
sages open into a single trunk cation, and their united waters form the 
Escalante River, which flows out of Potato Valley due eastward for 12 or 
1 5 miles, and then turns to the southeastward, reaching the Colorado about 
50 miles from the turn. It enters its cation at the foot of Potato Valley 
(see map. Atlas Sheet No. 1), and at no point can its walls be scaled.* 
Numberless tributary cations open into it along its course from both sides, so 
that the entire platform through which it runs is scored with a net-work of 
narrow chasms. The rocks are swept bare of soil and show the naked 
edges of the strata. Nature has here made a geological map of the coun- 
try and colored it so that we may read and copy it miles away. The rocks 
exposed are Trias and Jura, each preserving emphatically its characteristic 
color and architecture. 

The descending spurs from the southeastern salient terminate upon a 
spot which is about as desolate as any to be found on earth. It is a large 
plain, about 25 miles long and 1 miles wide, elHptical in shape and girt 
about by a circuit of cliffs of great altitude. On the eastern, side are the 

* Mr. Jacob Hambliu, of Kaaab, eutored this chasm and traversed it nearly to the Colorado River, 
but at length found it impassable on account of quicksands and fallen rocks. His journey was a terri- 
ble onO| and he sought in vain to reach the country above. The depth of the Escalante Ca&on where 
its river first enters the Monocline is about 1,600 feet, and increases as the river flows on. 

19 H P 



290 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

domes and crags of the Water Pocket fold, huge promontories of red and 
white massive sandstone, separated by narrow clefts, many of which are 
cut down to the level of the plain and even lower, so that they carry a 
portion of the drainage from within the "Circle CliflFs" to the Water Pocket 
Canon. On the west side of the plain the mesa which looks down upon it 
is slashed by many narrow and profound caiions, which wind about within 
it and open into the caflon of the Escalante. These carry the remaining 
drainage of the plain — i. e., when there is any to carry, which I warrant is 
seldom enough. The floor of this cliflF-bound area is Lower Trias (Shind- 
rump), and the walls which inclose it upon the west are Vermilion Cliff 
Trias, and those upon the east are the same, with the Jurassic sandstone a 
little beyond them. The plain is barren, treeless, and waterless, so fai* as 
known. It constitutes one of the centers of erosion of this part of the 
Plateau Country, from which the waste of the strata edgewise has pro- 
ceeded radially outwards. Probably the Cretaceous was eroded from its 
surface prior to the Eocene, and the Tertiary afterwards deposited upon the 
Jura in the same relation as is now seen high up on the flanks of the Aqua- 
rius. The late erosion has removed the Eocene, the Jura, and the Upper 
Trias. 

Far to the southeastward, upon the horizon, rises a gigantic dome of 
wonderfully symmetric and simple form. It is the Navajo Mountain. 
Conceive a segment of a sphere cut off by a plane through the 70th parallel 
of latitude, and you have its form exactly. From whatsoever quarter it is 
viewed, it always presents the same profile. It is quite solitary, without 
even a foot-hill for society, and its very loneliness is impressive. It stands 
upon the southern brink of the Glen Cafion of the Colorado, at the junction 
of the San Juan River. Its structure is believed by Mr. G. K. Gilbert to 
be laccolitic. Its summit has not yet been reached by any exploring 
party, and the approaches to it from all sides are extremely difficult* On 
the north side runs the profound chasm of the Colorado, on the east the 
cafion of the San Juan, and on the west another side gorge. South of 

* Professor l*owell, dnriug his descent of the Colorado River, climbed out of the colion and ascended 
about half-way to the summit. He believed that if time had permitted he could have gained the top of 
the mountain. 



NAVAJO MOUNTAIN— KAIPARO WITS CLIFF. 291 

it, for 60 miles, the country is dissected by a net- work of deep, narrow 
chasms, among which are trails of a most intricate and difficult nature, 
known at present only to Indians. The mountain is inhabited by a band 
of renegade Indians, chiefly Navajos, who are very jealous of all inti*usion 
into their fastnesses, and great caution is requsite when venturi^ng near 
their retreat. 

Due aaftftward rises the gi'eat wall of the Kaiparowits Plateau. This 
giant cliff is GO miles in length and nearly 2,000 feet high. Throughout 
its coui-se it wavers but little from a straight line. Almost all the great 
cliffs of the Plateau Country are very sinuous, being in fact a series of pro- 
montories, separated by deep bays, like the lobes of a "digitate" leaf. 
The cause is readily discerned The bays are produced by the widening 
of the caflons, which, in a great majority of cases, emerge from the cliffs 
and seldom ran down into them. Erosion thus not only saps the main 
front of the cliff, but attacks it through these side-cuts. But the Kaiparo- 
wits cliff has only a single cafion emerging from it, and this is near the 
northern end. From the very crest-line the drainage is to the southwest, 
while the cliff faces northeast, and thus the eroding agents can attack it 
only in front. Since the strata are homogeneous in their horizontal exten- 
sions, and heterogeneous vertically, the effect of erosion has obviously been 
to produce a straight wall, broken only at the point where the single canon 
emerges from it. The beds of which the Kaiparowits is composed are 
Middle Cretaceous. We can see, from our standpoint, their characteristic 
colors, which present a very striking appearance. Broad bands of bright 
yellow sandstone, alternating with the dark gray of the argillaceous shales, 
produce a contrast which is not only visible, but even emphatic, at a dis- 
tance of 60 miles. These belts of light and shade are 300 to 400 feet 
thick, and apparently quite horizontal. 

To the southwest rise Kaiparowits Peak and Table Cliff, of which 
more will be said hereafter. Between those points and our own position is 
a great depressed area, of which the lowest part is Potato Valley. The 
altitude of its floor is about 5,600 feet above the sea. Towards it conver- 
ges the drainage of all the highlands lying north, west, and southwest, and 
the confluence of the streams from those directions forms the Escalante 



292 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

River. The country which thus concentrates its waters into Potato Valley 
may be regarded as a vast amphitheater, with a radius vector varying in 
length from 12 to 18 miles, and of which the ramparts of the Aquarius and 
Table Cliff form the upper rim. The amphitheater is the work of erosion, 
being a westward extension of that vast denudation which has removed 
thousands of feet of strata from the whole region spread out before our 
gaze. 

As we study the panorama before us, the realization of the magnitude 
of this process gradually takes form and conviction in the mind. The 
strata which are cut off successively upon the slopes formerly reached out 
indefinitely and covered the entire country to the ^remotest boundary of 
vision. Their fading remnants are still discernible, forming buttes and 
mesas scattered over the vast expanse. The same process of reasoning by 
which the mind joins the edges of strata across the abyss of a narrow 
caflon enables us to join their edges across wider intervals. The restora- 
tion of the Trias to its Pre-Tertiary condition is made almost at a glance, 
since the vacant spaces are few. The restoration of the Jurassic and Cre- 
taceous is precisely the same in nature and equally simple, though the 
spaces to be covered by it are much wider. The Tertiary is wholly want- 
ing to the eastward. There remains only a singly outlier to the southward — 
Kaiparowits Peak. But its former extension over the whole of the Plateau 
Country admits of no serious doubt after we have once mastered the plan 
of the drainage system and of the Post-Eocene displacements. The rivers 
alone might not be sufficient to demonstrate the conclusion, nor would a 
restoration of the displacements, but the two together admit of no other 
interpretation. How far eastward and southward the lava-cap extended 
cannot be determined. Remnants of alluvial conglomerates, with large frag- 
ments of trachytes and augitic andesites, are found more than 20 miles 
eastward, and they are indistinguishable from the rocks now forming the 
summit of the plateau. But how far they have been carried is a question 
which it is impossible to answer. 

The altitude of the eastern front of the Aquarius above the country 
which it overlooks is upon an average about 5,500 to 6,000 feet, and the 
thickness of the strata removed from its vicinity is probably about 4,000 to 



STRUCTXJEE OP THE AQUAEIUS. 293 

5,000 feet. In some localities the denudation has been much greater, in 
others considerably less. The preservation of the Aquarius has no doubt 
been due to its immense roof of hard lava. 

The eastern part of the plateau is the loftiest, being about 11,600 feet 
above sea-level. Its platform here is believed to be nearly horizontal, as 
indicated by the projection of its summit against the sky from every point 
of view around the horizon. When seen from Thousand Lake Mountain, 
which is very nearly as high, no peak, nor even a hill, breaks the monotony 
* of the almost level crest. But the summit is so densely forest-clad that no 
effort was made to penetrate its interior spaces. The upper wall of dark 
volcanic rock is seen to extend completely around the eastern third of the 
plateau. A little east of the center of the plateau a fault throws down the 
platform west of it from 600 to nearly 1,000 feet. This fault is a south- 
ward extension of the one which runs along the western base of Thousand 
Lake Mountain and across the Red Gate. South of the Gate its throw 
gradually diminishes, and on the southern slopes of the Aquarius, a few 
miles south of the lava-cap, it runs out. This fault is comparatively recent 
for the most part, and is probably coeval with the other great displacements 
of the Pliocene-Quaternary system. On the northern slopes it splits into two 
branches, which reunite near the southern verge.* This movement has 
produced a sag in the central part of the plateau, but the altitude of the 
summit is nearly all regained towards the west by a gradual ascent. 

Of the rocks upon the summit I can say but little, having traversed 
only the central part of the plateau. Those which were observed were 
chiefly dark homblendic trachytes commingled with very extensive masses 
of augitic andesites. In their general aspect they resemble those which 
are found on Thousand Lake Mountain and northward as far as Mount 
Hilgard, but with a somewhat larger proportion of augitic lavais. The 
bedded lavas exposed edgewise in the upper cliff's are highly varied within 
their limits of chemical and mineral constitution. No acid rocks were 
observed, and only a few very basic ones. But the sub-acid and sub-basic 

* Mr. Gilbert is of the opinion that the displacement is mnch more complicated. Ascending the 
face of this faalt and reaching the summit, he found a narrow valley near and parallel to the fault, 
which valley he believes was caused by the sinking of a narrow wedge. He has also suggested to me 
several other minor features of inequality in the surface which he regards as due to minor faulting. 



294 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

rocks present a great deal of variation in their aspect. A body of lavas so 
enormous as that which caps the Aquarius cannot be discussed with profit 
until it has been studied long and patiently, and inasmuch as my own 
observation has been extremely superficial, I do not feel justified in attempt- 
ing to give any further account of them. 

The structure of the plateau is best studied upon the southern slopes. 
Here the most striking feature is a large monoclinal, already alluded to as 
a companion to the Water Pocket fold. It comes up from the southeast, 
crossing the lower end of Potato Valley, and trends along the slopes north- ' 
westwardly, disappearing beneath the lava-cap. The throw of the mono- 
cline is to the westward. Upon its flanks the Cretaceous system is turned 
up and dips westward beneath the southwestward extension of the general 
plateau mass. The edges of its strata are truncated by erosion, and over 
them lies unconformably the Tertiary. (See Atlas Sheet No. 7, Section 
No. 7.) The upthrow of the monocline heaves up the Jurassic white sand- 
stone, which is seen rolling up in a huge wave 1,200 to 1,800 feet high 
across the lower end of Potato Valley. The position of this flexure rela- 
tively to the plateau mass is peculiar and very striking ; indeed, at first 
sight it appears altogether anomalous. We are accustomed in the western 
regions to see the strata rolled up on the flanks of a mountain range like a 
great wave urged onward towards a coast and breaking against its rocky 
barriers. But the Escalante flexure is like a wave sweeping along parallel 
to the coast, the crest-line of the wave being perpendicular to the trend of 
the shore. Its line of strike runs up the slope and disappears beneath the 
Tertiary near the summit of the plateau. A fine steam of water (Winslow 
Creek) runs upon this monocline parallel to its strike, precisely as Water 
Pocket Creek runs upon and parallel to the course of that flexure. 

The age of the Escalante monocline is evidently Pre-Tertiary. It has 
been exhumed by the general erosion after having been buried beneath 
Eocene strata, and after these strata had been overflowed in great part 
at least by many hundreds of feet of lavas. The stream had its course 
laid out prior to this erosion, and held its position after it had cut through 
lavas and Eocene beds into the. underlying Jurassic sandstones. 

The area included between the Escalante fold on the west and tlie 



WESTERN PORTION OP THE AQUARroS. 295 

Water Pocket fold on the east appears to have been, during the latter part 
of the Cretaceous age, an island. It is apparently possible to designate 
roughly the positions of large portions of its east and west coast-lines. In 
a word, those coast-lines may have been approximately coincident with the 
axes of those two flexures. The northern part of this island cannot at 
present be ascertained, because the lavas have deeply buried it, and there 
is not even sufficient basis for conjecture. But of the portions now indi- 
cated it is possible to infer that the length of this island must have been at 
least 90 miles and its maximum width about 35 miles. 

The northwestern angle of the Aquarius is laid open by an immense 
gorge. A mass of lavas and conglomerate more than 2,000 feet tliick is 
revealed, and beneath them lies the Tertiary. Near the opening of this 
gorge the Grass Valley fault cuts across it, throwing down the platform to 
the west. Along the western base of the Aquarius the faulting becomes 
very complicated, and the displacements are great in their vertical extent 
The faults are repetitive, or " stepped," with numerous instances of the 
dropping of large blocks between faults of opposite throw. These blocks 
usually sag in the middle, and there is occasionally some chaos produced 
in the component masses. An effort was made to find the proper restor- 
ation, but I am doubtful whether it has been very accurately done. (See 
stereogram.) 

The western wall of the Aquarius, which looks down upon the south- 
em portion of Grass Valley and the Panquitch Hayfield, is of great gran- 
deur, rising more than 4,000 feet above the valley below. Apparently it 
is composed of volcanic materials from top to bottom, but the thickness of 
the volcanic masses is less than it seems at first. The wall rises by success- 
ive steps, and each step represents a fault, so that the aggregate thickness 
of lava and conglomerate probably will not exceed 2,000 feet on the aver- 
age. The rocks are mainly trachytic, but a large proportion of augitic 
andesites is associated with them. At the summit of the plateau near the 
western crest and upon the thrown blocks which are successively passed 
as we descend, are numerous fields of ancient basalt much eroded, and 
presenting a similar appearance to the scattered basalts spoken of in the 
preceding chapter as occurring upon the surface of the Awapa. Their 









296 GEOLOGY OF THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

extent and distribution is not accurately known. They cover a consider- 
able area, but in a disconnected way, and their eruption appears to have 
occurred prior to the principal epoch of faulting. The mass of conglomer- 
ates is very great. They are composed wholly of the d&>r%8 derived from 
the destruction of the more ancient trachytes and andesites, and are well 
stratified in layers which are nearly horizontal. 

The age of the principal eruptions of trachyte and andesite cannot be 
ascertained, but it is very ancient, going back probably into the early Mio- 
cene. The same indications of gi'eat antiquity are found here which have 
been observed in the Sevier Plateau and in the Tushar — eruptive epochs in 
which lavas in enormous quantities were outpoured with hundreds and per- 
haps even thousands of individual eruptions, epochs of erosion during which 
were accumulated heavy beds of conglomerate, periods of faulting and dis- 
location which liave given a new topography to the country, periods of 
renewed activity of volcanic forces, and a long final period of waste and 
decay. All this conveys the impression of immense duration ; how long 
the era may have been we do not know, even in terms of the geological 
calendar. But the interval which separates us from the Eocene must in 
some way be filled, and these operations are all that we have to fill it with. 

The western front of the Aquarius, from the grand gorge of Mesa Creek 
to its southern termination, is about 17 miles in length. The lavas and 
conglomerates are heaviest at the northwestern angle, and diminish in bulk 
towards the south. The northwestern part of the plateau seems to have 
been one of the great centers of trachy tic and andesitic eruption from which 
the extravasated masses flowed outward in all directions. No cones or 
mountain piles, however, are now visible. If any formerly existed they 
have been leveled down nearly to a common platform, and can no longer 
be distinguished from the rolling hills which have been sculptured by the 
protracted erosion. There is, however, this peculiarity in the locality: 
the lava-sheets are less stratiform and more chaotic than in localities where 
they are collectively thinner. They are also more varied in kind and in 
texture. As we recede from this locality the sheets become more unifonu 
and even in their bedding, as if they had spread out and become thinner. 



TABLE CLIFF AND KAIPAEOWITS PEAK 297 

Many dikes are also visible around the gorge of Mesa Creek, while none 
were observed in the bedded lavas farther south. 

TABLE CLIFF. 

The southwestern cape of the Aquarius ends at a high pass separating 
the Escalante drainage from that of the Panquitch Hayfield. This pass is 
thus in the main divide between the drainage system of the Colorado and 
of the Great Basin. At this cape the lava-cap of the Aquarius terminates, 
but beneath it the Tertiary thrusts out a long peninsula to the southward. 
The altitude of these beds is very nearly 11,000 feet above the sea, and the 
peninsula which they form is Table Cliff. Upon its summit is an outlying 
remnant of lava a few hundred feet thick, which was once, no doubt, con- 
tinuous with the lava-cap of the Aquarius. The table is practically a large 
butte left by the denudation of the surrounding country. I have explained 
in the first chapter how the degradation of the Plateau Country has to a 
great extent proceeded from a number of centera, extending radially out- 
wards, wasting the edges of the strata, partly by direct attack upon the 
fronts of cliffs, partly by the interlacing of cafions, but each series of beds 
being gradually wasted backwards, and their terminations forming ever- 
expanding circles facing the center of erosion. The erosion of the Tertiary, 
which spread from the center now occupied and inclosed by the Circle 
Cliffs, has met the outward-spreading erosion from a center now occupied 
by Pdria Valley, and the cusp formed by the meeting of the two circles is 
the locus of Table Cliff. The table is interesting on account of the splen- 
did exposures of the Cretaceous system upon its western and southwestern 
flanks. While the beds in the mass of the table are nearly horizontal, the 
ledges of the Cretaceous projecting towards the west are turned upwards 
at a very moderate inclination, and in passing to the floor of Pdria Valley 
wo cross the whole Cretaceous system, of which the thickness here is 
5,000 feet. The series consists of heavy members of bright yellow sand- 
stone and gray argillaceous shales. Each member is from 300 to 500 feet 
in thickness. The cliff sculpture is about as fine as any in the Plateau 
Country. We have noted its appearance from the western side of Pdria 
Valley at the foot of the Paunsdgunt slopes (Chapter XI), and a nearer 



298 GEOLOGY OP THE HIGH PLATEAUS. 

view, though less pleasing, is no less impressive. None of the cliflfe are 
lofty, but the grandeur of the spectacle consists in the great number of 
cliffs rising successively one above and beyond another, like a stairway for 
the Titans, leading up to a mighty temple. The Eocene beds which fonn 
the upper table are rosy red, and carved in a manner which is so suggestive 
of intelligence that it is difficult to persuade ourselves that the blind forces 
of nature could have achieved such a result. 

KAIPAKOWITS PEAK. 

Kaiparowits Peak is a mountain-like butte south of Table Cliff, capped 
by Tertiary beds, with the Upper Cretaceous upon its flanks. It is obvi- 
ously a mere remnant of the continuous Eocene formation which formerly 
stretched indefinitely southward. Its slopes descend to the platform of the 
Kaiparowits Plateau, which is composed of Middle Cretaceous beds. This 
plateau is properly a member of the Kaibab system, and is one of the most 
interesting. It is a broad causeway, reaching to the Colorado, where it is 
cut off momentarily by the Glen Caiion. Beyond the river the Cretaceous 
beds continue far into Arizona, and expand into the great mesas and ter- 
mces which cover a large part of that Territory. Along this plateau there 
are still preserved the unity and virtual continuity of the formations which 
constitute the District of the High Plateaus and the mesas of New Mexico 
and Arizona, while elsewhere throughout the heart of the Plateau Province 
they have been removed by the great erosion. The little remnant of Ter- 
tiary beds upon the summit of Kaiparowits Peak is one of the many indi- 
cations that the Lower Eocene also once reached across the same interval. 



INDEX. 



Add looks. (See Bhyolite.) 

Ages of eraptions 39,56,59,61 

AUavial cones 39,214,249,277 

Alluvial cooglomerates, general discussion of 214 

Alumina in volcanic rocks 89,117,123 

Andesite, augitic: 

Classification of .101,108,109 

Occurring in the— 

Aquarius Plateau 293,295 

Awapa Plateau 275 

Fish Lake Plateau ; 261.266 

Mount Hilgard 272 

Marki^nt Plateau 196,204 

Monroe Amphitheater 229,239 

Sevier PlateUu 229,232,235,242 

Tushar 177,181 

Order of sequence 63,65,67, 131-137 

Andesite, homhlendic: * 

Classification of 110 

Occurrences 230,237,242,260 

Order of sequence 67,131-137 

Andesite, quartz. (^Dacite.) 

Aquarius Plateau, general discussion of (Chap. XII) 284 

Relations to District of the High Plateaus 5 

Argilloid trachyte. (iS^M Trachyte.) 

Archsean rocks 143 

Awapa Plateau, general discussion of 272 

Relations to District of the High Plateaus 4 

Baldy, Mount 172 

Basalt: 

Chemical constitution of 123 

Classification of 101,110 

Leucito Ill 

Liquidity of _ 135 

Nephelin Ill 

Order of sequence 67,131-137 

Sui>orfu8ion of 135 

Synthetic character of 122 

299 



300 INDEX. 



Basalt — Continued. 

Occurring in the — 

Aquarius Plateau 2% 

Archsean 93 

Awapa Plateau 276 

Carboniferous 93 

Dog Valley 190 

Grass Valley 260 

Markdgunt Plateau 197,199,200,202 

Pamifuignnt Plateau 256 

Permian 93 

Silurian 93 

Triassic 93 

Tushar 177,180,183 

Basaltic cones 62,198,256 

Basic rocks. (See Basalt.) 

Basin Proviuce, its topography 6 

Mountain ranges . 47 

Structaral features 51 

Bear Peak 192 

Bear Valley 191 

Belknap, Mount 172 

Bitter Creek bods («» Eocene) 12, 73, 158, 159, 195, 2:'>8 

Blue Mountain 228,232 

Bonnevillu Lake 41,211 

Book Cliffs 161 

Bullion CaAon 174 

Canons 8.252,286.290 

Carbonaceous shales 10,156 

Carboniferous strata 143,184 

Centers of erosion 18,297 

Circle Cliffs 289 

Circle Valley 213 

Chalcedony _ 205,238 

Chemical characters of volcanic rocks 88, 117,123 

Classification of volcanic rocks (Chap. IV) 82 

Coal 155,156 

Cones, basaltic 62,198,256 

Colorado River 8,15,278,287,289 

Cotta, B. von, Pre-Tertiary eruptions 96 

Conglomerates, general discussion of the formation of 214 

Conglomerate, Shintfnimp 147 

Conglomerates, volcanic 39,70,75,178,214,237,238,275,295 

Crotaceons, the — 

Brackish wat^r beds of 10 

Carbonaceous shales 10 

Condition of Plateau Country during 9 

Correlations of 9 

Extent of, in the West 9 

Island 295 



Of th< 

Aquarius Plateau 288 

Kaiparowits Plateau 291 

Miirk^gunt Plateaa 206 



• 



niDBX 301 

CretaceouH, tbe— Continued. 
Of the— 

Paans^ignnt Plateau •••.. ^1 

Table Cliff 297 

Wasatch Plateau 1G2 

Stratigraphy of . 154 

Subsidence of 13 

Unconformities at the close of 10,156,168,280,288 

Cross-bedding 153 

Dacit« : 

Classification of : 110 

Order of sequence of 10,138 

Dawson, J. W., Triassic basalts 93 

Delano, Mount • 172 

Density of lavas '. 88,90,132,134 

Desiccation of the EocenceLake 15,73 

Diabase, mode of occurrence 95 

Diorite, mode of occurrence 95 

Dog Valley 182,189 

Dolerite: 

Classification of j Ill 

Occurring in — 

Dog Valley 190 

Fish Lake Plateau 261,265,266 

Hilgard, Mount 272 

Sevier Plateau 230,234,2:)9 

Tushar 177 

Order of sequence of 67,131-137 

Drainage, inconsequent 162,287 

System of Plateau Province 16 

Dynfunics of eruptions 125 

East Fork Canon 70,236,243 

Echo CUff flexure 44 

El Late 50 

Eocene, lacustrine condition during the 12 

Of the— 

Aquarius 288,290,292 

Awapa 273 

Fish Lake Plateau 257 

Hilgard, Mount 271 

Kaiparowits Peak 298 

Markiigunt 189,191,204 

Paunsiiigunt 250 

P^vant 170 

Rabbit Valley 273 

Sevier Plateau 237,246 

Summit Valley 259,267,269 

Table Cliff 253,297 

Thousand Lake Mountain 280 

Wasatch Plateau 166 

Shoreline 71,184 

Unconformity with Cretaceous 11,280,292,288 

Erosion of the Plateau Country 14,17,21,36,37,161,239,253,286,290,292,298 



> 



302 INDEX 

Pige. 

Emptions, cansesof 113,125,129 

Centers of 18,297 

Cyclical character of 126 

£8calantc Cofions 289 

Monocline 288,294 

River 291,292 

Faults, general dittcussion of (Chap. II) 25 

homology of, with monoclinal flexures 26 

location of Aquarius 293 

East Kaibab 32 

East Mnsinia 34 

Grand Wash 7,28 

Grass Valley 32,256,273,295 

Gunnison Valley .• 1G2, 104 

Haylield ; 33,295 

Hurricane 7,28,189,194,202,208 

Piiria Valley 33 

Sevier 30,163,225,238 

Thousand Lake 33,277,293 

Toroweap SO 

Tnshar 29,178,180 

West Gunnison .* 164 

Western Kaibab 32 

Fish Lake 202 

Fish Lake Plateau, general discussion of (Chap. XII) 256 

Relations to District of High Plateaus 4 

Fr6mont River 270,277,287 

Fusibility of volcanic rocks 88,90,132,134 

Geikie, A., Carboniferous dolerite and basalts 93 

Gilbert, G. K., lacoolitic rocks 94 

Navigo Mountain 290 

Origin of Fish Lake 264 

Water-Pocket fold 45 

Glacial Period 35,41 

Phenomena 35,41,264,270,285 

Grand Wash fault 7,28 

Grand CaQon of the Colorado 18,20,37,209 

Granite-porphyry 119 

Grass Valley, discussion of 227,248 

Fault 32,257,273,295 

Relations of, to District of High Plateaus 4 

Gray Cliffs (see also Jurassic sandstone) 207 

Green River beds 159,167,205 

Gunnison Valley 162,267 

Henry Mountains 18,19,288 

High Plateaus, component members of the 2 

Hilgard, Mount 271 

Homblendic andesite. (See Andesite.) 
Hornblendic propylite. (See Propylite.) 
Homblendic trachyte. (See Trachyte.) 

Howell, Edwin E., on — 

Aquarius Plateau 272 

Origin of Fish Lake 262 

Tertiaricsof the Marki^gunt 204 

Wasatch Plateau 164 



INDEX. 303 

Page. 

Hunt, T. S.y on ArchsDan tiachytosiuid baaalts ...>. p. 93 

HydroBtatio theory of emptions 114 

Iron oxide in basalt « • 122 

Volcanic rocks 117,123,245 

Inconsequent drainage 162,287 

JnDghnhn, Batavian volcanoes 128 

Jukes, Carboniferons basalts 93 

Jurassic sandstone 20,150,176,184,281,287,289 

Shales 153,163 

Wedge 163 

Kaibab District ^ 209,254 

Kaibab Plateau - 209,252 

Kaiparowits Peak , 253,291,298 

Kaiparowits Pb,teau 23, 151,252,291 

Kauab, formations around ^ 151 

King, C, liquefaction of lavas 128 

Permo;Carboniferons .«• 146 

Segregation of crystals in lavas 124 

Laccolitic structure 50 

of Navajo Mountain.. 290 

Lakes, glacial >....... 285 

Laramie beds (ace also Cretaceous) ^.*. 10,155,280,281 

Leucite 89,102 

Leucite basalt, classification of ^.^ Ill 

Lignite 156 

Lime in eruptive rocks 89,117,123 

Liquidity of basalts 11^ 

Liparite. (See also Rhyolite.) 

Classification of « 104 

Order of sequence ^.. 67,131-137 

Of theTnshar 175 

Little Creek Peak 192 

Logan, Sir W., Archaean basalts • 93 

Lower Trias. (See Shin^nunp.) 

Magnesia in eruptive rocks 89,117,123 

Mammoth Creek 211 

Markdgunt Plateau, general discussion of (Chap. IZ) - 188 

Relations to the District of the High Plateaus 3 

Marsh, O. C, mammals of Lower Eocene 11 

Marviuc, Mount ^ 259 

Marysvale .• /. 174 

Mesa Creek 249,295 

Metamorphic rocks compared with eruptive 117 

Tufas of East Fork Cafion 234 

Metamorphism of tufaceous beds 79,243 

Midget's Crest 181 

Miocene erosion 21,40 

Time 21,40 

Monoclinal flexures 26 

East Kaibab 32 

Echo Cliffs 44 

Escalante 288,294 

Grass Valley 32,257 

San Rafael 44 

Wasatch 160 

Water Pocket 44,287 



304 INDEX* 



Monroe Amphitheater 56,227 

Moraine Valley 2(J7 

Musinia 169 

Kav^jo Mountain 290 

Nobo, Mount 2,260 

Nepholin 89 

Nephelin- basalt, claHsilication of Ill 

Nephelin-dolerite, classification of Ill 

Nevadite. (See Rhyolitc.) 

Obsidian 103,107 

Olivin 89 

Order of emptioiis 62,131-137 

Orographic forms 51,54 

Palseozoio formations 143 

Panquitch Cafion 212 

Hayfield 238,295 

Lake 199 

Valley 212 

Pilria Valley 252,297 

TdrisL fold (see Echo Cliffs' monocline) 44 

Pannsiigunt Plateau 3,251 

Pdvant 3,169,170 

Park Mountains 48 

Park Province 3 

Parallelism of faults 27 

to ancient shore lino 45 

Permian or Permo-Carboniferons (wfl Shinimmp) 146 

Phonolite, classification of 107 

of East Fork Cafion 248 

Pink Cliffs 159,204,211,253 

Plasticity of the earth 20 

Plateau Province 5,8,49 

Plateau scenery 1 8,208,252,286 

Plication 46 

Pliocene erosion 21,40 

Faulting 28,34 

Porphyritic granite 119 

Texture 92 

Trachytes 94 

Potash in volcanic rocks 89,117,123 

Potato Valley i 289,291 

Powell, J. W 5,19,27,143,158,290 

Pre-Tertiary flexures 43 

Primordial magma 114,124 

Propylite, augitic, classification of 109 

Classification of 102,108 

Earliebt eruptions of 39,57 

Homblendic, classification of 108 

Awapa Plateau 275 

Monroe Amphitheater 229,242 

Sevier Plateau 229,237,242 

Order of sequence 63,67,138 

Quartz 69,109 

Pumice 103 

Quartz propylite 69,109 



INDEX. 305 

Page. 
Rabbit Valley _ 273,i>7G 

RercDoy of faults 42 

Roccsfiioii of cliffs 19 

RiHlGate 278,281 

RUyolito, classification of . 101,10:J 

Occurrence in — 

MaikfTf^unt 01,60,193,107 

Sevier Valley GC,2i:J 

Tiishar 00,60,175,177,180 

Order of sequence 03,07, 131-137 

Ricbtliofen, cla-ssification of volcanic rocks 103, 105 

Order of sequence of eruptions 02 

Rivers, persistence of 16 

Roan Cliffs 161 

Salina 170 

SalinaCafion 163,256 

San Juan River 290 

San Rafael monocline 44 

San Rafael swell 19 

San Pete Plateau 166 

San Pete Valley 101 

Scrope, G. P., lavas of tbe Auvergne 50, 2:J1 

Seleuite in Jurassic sbales 154 

Sequence of eruptions 02, 131-137 

Sevier fault 30, 10:$, 225, 238 

Sevier Plati^au, general account of (Cliap. XI) 225 

Relations to District of Iligli Plateaus 3 

Western front 171,220 

Sevier River 212 

Sevier Valley 3,211 

Sbiu^irump, tbe 144 

Markdgunt 208 

Tbousaud Lake Mountain 281 

CircleCliffs 290 

SbortOiue of tbe Eocene Lake 44,184 

S'H'rra Abajo 50 

Sierra La Sal 289 

Si liei lied wood 117,207 

Silica, percentage of, in lavas 88, 117 , 123 

Soda in volcanic rocks 89, 117, 123 

Stratigrapby of tbc Iligb Plateaus (Cbap. VI) 243 

Strawbtrry Valley 2r»8 

Structural geology (Cbap. 11) 25 

Sub-aeid rocks. (iSrr Tracbyte.) 
Sub-basic rocks. (*SV(j Andesite.) 

Subsi<leneo of Cretaceous- Eoceuc beds 13 

Siumuit Valley 259 

Taldc Cliff 2:>3,291,257 

Taebylite HI 

Tantalus Creek 287 

Temple Creek 2.*^ 

Terrill, Mount 2:.9,2(i7 

Terliury fonnaticniM 158 

20 II P 



INDEX. 307 

Page. 

Unconformity of Tertiary and Cretaceous ^.11,57,280,281,388 

Uplifting at centers of erosion .'..-.• 18, 20 

of Plateau Province .- 15, 18 

Vermilion Cliils (we also Triassic) 148 

Virgin River, cafions of ^ 209 

Volcanic conglomerates 39,70,75,178,190,214,237,238,244,275,295 

Volcanic eniptions, causes of (Chap. V) 113 

Wasatch monocliuo .- 1()0,237 

Wasatch Mountains ;.'. 2 

Wasatch Plateau, general discussion of (Chap. VII) 1(50 

Relat ions to Plateau Province 4,19 

Water-Pocket fold 44, 280, 2»>, 287 

West Gunuison fault 1C4 

West Kaibab fault... 92 

Zirkel, F., augltic andesitos 65 

Propylites 108 

Rhyolites 104 

Zone of diverse displacement '. 162 



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