Ancient Soils, John Day Fossil Beds
Besides hosting one of the world's foremost collection of vertebrate fossils, the John Day Formation displays an amazing sequence of ancient soils, called paleosols. These soils formed by weathering of the many volcanic ash fall deposits that accumulated during this time, between about 22-39 million years ago. These soils are also very colorful, reflective of the climatic conditions at the time. In general, thte darker red the paleosol, the deeper the weathering and the wetter and warmer the climate. Green paleosols in the John Day Formation (not shown here) formed by even later alteration of an originally brown soil. Because of their high clay content, these paleosols now weather and erode into beautiful badlands.

My friend Lorna and I came through here during sunset in the summer of 2011 as I was researching the area for Roadside Geology of Oregon, to be published by Mountain Press. We stayed in the nearby town of Mitchell --and the following day drove east to the town of John Day and then south to Steens Mountain.

See more images of the John Day Fossil Beds --then type "John Day ".

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