Painted Desert

Painted Desert
The Painted Desert is a crescent-shaped arc which begins north of Cameron and curves to the Southeast to just beyond the Petrified Forest - however geologists are unsure as to where exactly its boundaries should be drawn. A large chunk of the Painted Desert falls under the protection of the Petrified Forest National Park.

Navajos call the Painted Desert halchíítah meaning "amidst the colours" referring to the wonderful array of pink, grey, red, white, blue and purple hues of this vast expanse of north-eastern Arizona. These amazing colours are mainly the responsibility of the Chinle Formation. Resembling a multicoloured layer cake - the Chinle Formation consists of a variety of sedimentary rock types - mainly soft, siltstone, claystone and fine-grained mudstone, although it also contains beds of coarser, much harder sandstone. As the sediments were deposited slowly the soils had time to develop. Oxides of iron, aluminium and manganese became concentrated in the soil and ultimately gave rise to the striking reds and purples found in the northern part of the Petrified Forest. The greys, greens and blues in other parts resulted from reduction (the opposite of oxidisation), when oxygen was removed from the environment.

The Petrified Forest National Park is home to a rich and varied collection of fossils - a large proportion of which are under an area known as the Badlands, or the Blue Mesa. Palaeontologists have studied fossils in the Petrified Forest National Park since the 1920s. Some of the more important finds have included a crocodile-like phytosaurs, one of North America's earliest dinosaur fossils, affectionately nicknamed "Gertie" and the aetosaur - Stagonolepis. View images of the Petrified Forest and Painted Desert by Richard Lumb here. Read about the Petrified Forest by Jacquie Lumb here

Other Images of Arizona include: flora, wildlife, trees,

National Parks: Grand Canyon, Walnut Canyon, Sunset Crater and Wutapki Monument, Montezuma Castle and Well, Petrified Forest.

Attractions: Apache Trail, Phoenix Desert Botanical Garden, Meteor Crater, Monument Valley Tribal Park, Oak Creek Canyon, Taliesin West, Flagstaff Arboretum, and Towns and Cities: Flagstaff and envrions, Prescott.

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