2016– Trace Fossils in Relation to Eolian Stratification In the Lower Jurassic Aztec Sandstone




















Trip Leaders: Steve ROland, PhD (UNLV) and Mario V. Caputo, PhD (SDSU)

Valley of Fire State Park, Southern Nevada

October 1, 2016



Valley of Fire State Park is the crown jewel of Nevada State Parks. It is famous for its spectacular exposures of red Jurassic Aztec Sandstone and panels of petroglyphs; it is preserved within the footwall of the Muddy Mountains Thrust. The Aztec Sandstone is correlative with—and was originally contiguous with—the Navajo Sandstone of southern Utah and the Nugget Sandstone of northern Utah and adjacent states; these sandstones preserve portions of a huge Early Jurassic eolian sand sea (erg) desert which occupied a portion of northwestern Pangaea. On this field trip we will examine sedimentological features of the southwestern margin of the Aztec-Navajo-Nugget erg and the footprints of the animals that lived in this ecosystem. Recent research by University of Nevada Las Vegas paleontologists and colleagues has revealed a diversity of trace fossils, including those of theropod dinosaurs, therapsids (protomammals), and arthropods. We will see examples of trackways made by each of these groups of animals. Several sites within Valley of Fire State Park will be visited, including the Visitor Center.