A morning with the Barstow Formation

Greg Wiles explores the top of a wadi in Owl Canyon. The debris here consists of blocks of Barstow Formation eroded during recent floods.

ZZYZX, CALIFORNIA–It is hard to believe that the Mojave region once had vast lakes, erupting volcanoes and a diverse mammalian fauna including camels and horses. The most important record of this time is the Barstow Formation (Miocene — about 15 million years ago). This unit contains river and lake sediments along with volcanic ash, all of which produce a diversity of colors leading to the name “Rainbow Basin” for the best exposures outside Barstow, California.

The Wooster geologists spent the morning with the Barstow Formation in Owl Canyon and Rainbow Basin. The highlights included a group analysis of dozens of rock specimens, a desert tortoise crossing the road, and meeting old friends Buzz and Phyllis Sawyer from Barstow.

The Wooster geologists in Rainbow Basin with the Barstow Syncline in the background. Image by Buzz Sawyer.

About Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a Professor of Geology at The College of Wooster. He specializes in invertebrate paleontology, carbonate sedimentology, and stratigraphy. He also is an expert on pseudoscience, especially creationism.
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6 Responses to A morning with the Barstow Formation

  1. Micah Risacher says:

    Love the traditional Wooster geologist field picture! Reminds me of just how truly wonderful the structures are out there!

  2. Sandra says:

    The only thing missing from the Owl Canyon trip was me! Sorry I missed you and your class. Mom and Dad really enjoyed meeting up with you as always. Thank you for including them in your outings…it means so much.

  3. Mark Wilson says:

    Your parents are always a treat, Sandra. I wish I could see them more often. They always give us such good information and ideas when we meet them on this trip.

  4. Hilary Lackey says:

    Mark and Greg,
    Next time let us know when you are coming out to the Mojave. We’re less than 2 hours’ drive from Owl Canyon and would love to meet up with Wooster folks!
    -Hilary and Jade Star
    (and Finn and Siri)

  5. Mark Wilson says:

    A great idea, Hilary and Jade Star. We shall!

  6. Pingback: Wooster Geologists » Blog Archive » Wooster’s Fossil of the Week: a cameloid footprint (Miocene of California)

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