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Self guided field trip;


Garrik Robinson
Geology 1110

Havasupai self guided Field trip

The geology of Havasupai Indian reservation is truly amazing, it's
an area with the shared border with the Grand Canyon and
carved out by the Colorado River. It is hit often by flash flood's
that reshape much of the region at a time. The blue green water
that attracts many tourists to the area is not only a major factor
in the landscape from erosion but also possesses minerals with
strange depositional properties.

Building an oasis
The Havisupai area is made up of the kaibab limestone, toroweep
formation, coconino sandstone, hermit shale which makes up
about 500 feet of the canyon wall and parts of the Supai group.
The massive canyon was most likely carved out by the Colorado
River eroding the sandstone as the Colorado Plateau was rising
this combined with precipitation and the stones lack of structure
allowed the river to cut the deep chasms. Eventually the
Colorado River and its tributaries cut deep enough into the
canyon to set its course in the rock and has been widening and

deepening that channel. One of the things that I found most

amazing when visiting the havasu area was that some layers of
rock were so weak that just touching the wall would cause large
amounts of sediments to crumble. I believe these layers were in
the hermit shale formations and on multiple occasions when
observing this layer pieces of fossilized leaves would become

Mass wasting also plays a major role in shaping the walls of the
canyon when the river undercuts a section of stone or ice pries
the stones apart the affected area will often topple off widening
the canyon and placing large boulders inside the slot canyons.
Toppled stones on trail

Clues from fossils

When visiting Havasupai I was able to find many fossils The most
common being shells and leaves however also some horn corals
and trace fossils were also found at first it confused me to find
fossils from both land and sea in the Same Canyon however upon
further research I found all of the Marine fossils in the Havasupai
campground, main village, and parts of the lower river which
were all parts of the Supai group limestone, all leaves trace
fossils and other terrestrial fossils were found when the trail cut
up to the hermit shale layer. This is because the area has gone
from a marine environment in the supai formation to terrestrial in
the hermit shale and Coconino layers then back to Marine in the
toroweap and kaibab layers.

The main reason most people travel to the Havisupai reservation
is to see the beautiful blue green water and the massive
waterfalls and pools. The reason for this color as well as for the
waterfalls cascading features lies in the mineral content of the
water. The water is high in calcium carbonate and magnesium
which cause of the beautiful blue green color these minerals also
are very quick to deposit creating travertine formations and
arching layers of rock where the waterfall used to be as well as
lithifying tree roots.

Flash floods
The have a Supai area is subjected to flash flooding very often
and flash flood rarely occurs without changing the landscape.
One such example is the flash flood in 2008. The flood rushed
through the canyon and diverted the river away from Navajo falls
yet created two new falls namely upper and lower Navajo falls.
Video of 2008 flash flood

Pre 2008 flash flood

Flow post flood

"Grand Canyon Rock Layers." Grand Canyon Rock Layers. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2015.
N.p., n.d. Web. <>.
"USGS National Research Program: Tucson AZ." USGS National Research Program:
Tucson AZ. N.p., n.d. Web. 05 Dec. 2015. <>.

"Havasupai Falls." Havasupai Falls. N.p., n.d. Web. 06 Dec. 2015.

Melis, Theodore S. When the Blue-green Waters Turn Red: Historical Flooding in Havasu
Creek, Arizona. Tucson, AZ: U.S. Dept. of the Interior, U.S. Geological Survey, 1996. Print.

Sediment shows height of water at last flood.

Lithified tree roots.

Overhanging stone from past waterfall

Uneven weathering

Tree covered by sediment.

Position of tree.