Photo Gallery of
Some of My Favorite Geological Localities in the American Southwest

All photos by Jim Reynolds unless otherwise credited

The tracks of two different dinosaurs are preserved in the Cretaceous limestones at Dinosaur Valley State Park near Glen Rose, Texas. The tracks on the left were made by a carnivorous theropod (perhaps Acrocanthosaurus) and those on the right were made by an herbivorous sauropod (perhaps Pleurocoelus). One hypothesis is that the therpod was attacking the sauropod as these tracks were made. It is impossible, however, to determine whether or not these tracks were made at the same time or minutes, hours or even days apart. Other tracks are visible in the nearby Paluxy River. This is also the site where creationists claim that human footprints occur in the same strata as the dinosaur prints. Upon viewing the evidence, I determined that their claim must be an alcohol-related incident!

El Capitan is a Permian-aged limestone reef exposed at Guadalupe Mountains National Park in West Texas. A trail through the reef reveals fossils of the organisms that made up the reef community at the end of the Paleozoic Era. Most of these organisms became extinct at the end of the Permian when about 90% of Earth's life forms died out during the greatest crisis ever experienced by the biosphere.

Winds blowing across Jurassic-aged gypsum deposits to the west of White Sands National Monument in southern New Mexico created a large dune field of low, white gypsum dunes. The Jurassic gypsum was deposited in a restricted bay off of a seaway that flooded most of this region. The world's first atomic explosion took place near here.

At Bandelier National Monument, near Santa Fe, New Mexico, members of the indigenous Anasazi culture lived in holes in the rock that were created when large blocks of pumice weathered out of the rock. The rock is the Bandelier Tuff--an explosive volcanic rock of rhyolitic composition. It blanketed the entire region when an enormous eruption occurred in the nearby Jemez Mountains about a million years ago. (Photo by Haidee Wilson)

A cliff of the Bandelier tuff exposed in the Jemez Mountains of New Mexico. The tuff is actually composed of the deposits of two major eruptions of the volcano seen in the two large cliff faces. Subsequent eruptions during the last million years produced the deposits at the top of the cliff.

Valle Grande is the floor of the Valles Caldera--the volcano in the Jemez Mountains that erupted the Bandelier Tuff. The surrounding mountains are composed of rhyolitic domes. The base of the distant forested slope is more than 10 km away. The valley floor has been owned by the same family since it was granted to them by the King of Spain in the 1600's. Numerous cattle, as well as deer and elk, can often be seen grazing in the meadow.

A large dinosaur trackway is exposed in Cretaceous strata at the spillway at Clayton Lake State Park, New Mexico, near the NM-TX-OK state lines.

The Capulin volcanic field, in northeastern New Mexico, has numerous cinder cones and basaltic lava flows, many of which erupted during the last one million years.. This photo was taken from the summit of the cone in Capulin Volcano National Monument looking to the east.

The Río Grande cuts through the Mio-Pliocene basaltic lava plateau that accumulated in the Río Grande Rift near Taos, New Mexico. Numerous individual lava flows are exposed in the cliffs in the canyon at the Orilla Verde campground. The rift marks the eastern boundary of the Colorado Plateau. (Photo by Haidee Wilson).

Cabezon is the largest of numerous volcanic necks exposed in a volcanic field northwest of Albuquerque, New Mexico. This field aligns with the Jemez Mountains and the Capulin volcanic field, as well as other volcanic features to the southwest, suggesting that a linear structure is responsible for much of the volcanism in the region.


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Last updated February 21, 2006