The Pennsylvanian to Lower Permian, (end of the Paleozoic Era), Supai Group, is a slope-forming section of red bed deposits found at the southwest-to-south Colorado Plateau. Cliff-forming interbeds (sandstone) are noticeable throughout the group, as well as the largest cliff-former the topmest member Esplanade Sandstone. The Supai Group is especially exposed throughout the Grand Canyon in northwest Arizona, as well as local regions of southwest Utah (Virgin River valley region). It outcrops southeastwards in Arizona at Chino Point (south Aubrey Valley), Sycamore Canyon, and famously at Sedona as parts of Oak Creek Canyon. In the Sedona region, it is overlain by the Hermit Formation, and the colorful Schnebly Hill Formation.

Supai Group
Stratigraphic range: Pennsylvanian—Lower Permian, 318–287 Ma
Grandcanyon view5.jpg
Example Supai red beds, north projecting ridgeline, South Rim, Grand Canyon
TypeGeologic group
Sub-units4 named subunits, Esplanade Sandstone, Wescogame Formation, Manakacha Formation, Watahomigi Formation
UnderliesHermit Formation-(Permian), Grand Canyon; (Hermit elsewhere in Arizona, (west) Oak Creek Canyon region, Sedona, AZ (townsite))
OverliesRedwall Limestone; locally in Grand Canyon,[1] Surprise Canyon Formation
Naco Formation, south and southeast Mogollon Rim region, central Arizona[2]
Thickness1,000 feet (300 m) approximate maximum[3]
Primarysandstone, siltstone, mudstone
Region(southwest)-Colorado Plateau
Northern Arizona, Grand Canyon; basement rocks of Verde Valley, Mogollon Rim, etc. AZ; also, southwest Utah
ExtentExtreme southwest Utah (Virgin River valley region; in Arizona: Grand Canyon, Sycamore Canyon, Verde Valley, and buried units at south of Colorado Plateau

The Supai Group is coeval with the Hermosa Group of east and south Utah; the Hermosa Group extended southeastwards from Utah to Durango,[4] extreme southwest Colorado, and adjacent to the Hermosa type section.

Geology of the 4 member unitsEdit

The oldest member (Early Pennsylvanian), the Watahomigi Formation is from sedimentary basins. It is composed of red mudstone, sandstone, and tan limestone.[5] As ocean levels rose, basins filled, and the Manachka Formation was laid down (especially in the Grand Canyon). Continentally aeolian sand became more widespread; the coeval Weber Sandstone was deposited in northeast Utah (Dinosaur National Monument region, northeast of the Uncompahgre Uplift).[6]

Entire, 4-member sequence, Isis Temple, N. Granite Gorge, Grand Canyon (atop 800-ft vertical cliff of Redwall Limestone)
(photo from 2-mi south on Tonto Trail, S. Granite Gorge).[7]

From Middle to Late Pennsylvanian, the Ancestral Rocky Mountains, the northeast spur from Colorado, (the Uncompahgre Uplift) became the source region for further continental river and stream deposits. Rising sea levels and erosion led to the deposition of the Wescogame Formation, (Grand Canyon) by Late Pennsylvanian time, and in east Utah, (Paradox Basin, southwest of Uncompahgre Uplift, the Honaker Trail Formation); northeast of the Uncompahgre Uplift, the Weber Sandstone continued deposition.

By Permian time, the Esplanade Sandstone (Supai Group member 4) was being laid down in northwest Arizona (Grand Canyon), and southwest Utah;[8] the coeval Cedar Mesa Sandstone was being deposited in east Utah.

Geologic sequenceEdit

The geologic sequences of the coeval Supai and Hermosa Groups.[9]

Geologic sequenceEdit

The Late Pennsylvanian-Early Permian geologic sequence of the Supai Group common in the Grand Canyon:[11] The Pennsylvanian is the Late Carboniferous.

The Supai Group members were created from marine (oceanic) sequences of marine transgression, and regression, thus the alternating sandstone, siltsones, conglomerate subsections (facies); the subsections are not always a continuous transition into the above section, mostly due to ocean levels, falling, or rising, glaciation, or regional subsidence-(basins, etc.) or uplift of land. Today's Wasatch Front is the approximate lineage, NNE to SSW of the western coast region of North America from where the oceans transgressed. The ancient Antler Mountains-(Antler orogeny, off-shore volcanic island arch(es)), of ancient Nevada supplied material, from the west, off the 'ancestral' West Coast. The continent supplied material from the east, both directions supplying the offshore basin, the Cordilleran Basin which became part of the Basin and Range Province, in later epochs. Three other basins were involved in this history: southwest of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains was the Paradox Basin-(eastern Utah to Southwest Colorado), northeast was the Central Colorado Basin-(NW Colorado, NE Utah, SW Wyoming); the Oquirrh Basin was north-northwest, at present day northwest Utah.

Supai Group and Hermosa Group, coeval unitsEdit

The coeval Supai and Hermosa Groups, Arizona, Utah, and northwest Colorado:[12]

Arizona —
Grand Canyon & central-northeast AZ
Utah — east and southeast Uncom-
(proto)-Uintah Basin
Supai Group
~330-(318) to 285 Ma
Hermosa Group "Ancestral Rocky Mtns"
(eroded to sea level, 165 Ma)[13]
Hermosa Group
4-Esplanade Sandstone-(Grand Canyon & Verde Valley region) Cedar Mesa Sandstone "Ancestral Rocky Mtns" xxxxxxx
3B-Pakoon Limestone-(west)-Grand Canyon, & NV Elephant Canyon Formation-(east and southeast) Utah "Ancestral Rocky Mtns" Hermosa
3-Wescogame Formation (Hermosa) "Ancestral Rocky Mtns" Hermosa
2-Manakacha Formation (Hermosa) "Ancestral Rocky Mtns" Hermosa
1-Watahomigi Formation (Hermosa) "Ancestral Rocky Mtns" Hermosa

Because marine transgressions cover distances, over time, the coeval units are separated by distance, and type of deposition material; the local subsidence, or uplift, as well as glaciation, and sea level changes, can cause variations in the deposition sequences of transgression-regressions. The ocean was to the west of the proto-North American continent, but also northwest, or southwest.

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ Geologic Map of the Grand Canyon in the Vicinity of the South Rim Visitor Center, based on: Geologic map of the eastern part of the Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona, P. W. Huntoon and others, (c. 1995, Grand Canyon Association), (from Geologic Highway Map of Arizona, from Reynolds, c. 1988).
  2. ^ Blakey, Ranney, 2008. Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau, from Correlation of the Permian rock units from Chino Point near Seligman, to Fossil Creek southeast of Sedona (Mogollon Rim), p. 129 (graphic).
  3. ^ Blakey, Ranney, 2008. Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau, p. XVIII.
  4. ^ Blakey, Ranney, 2008. Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau, "Geologic X-sections", (cross-sections), p. XVIII. Type section, pg. 54.
  5. ^ Blakey, Ranney, 2008. Chapter 4, (Pennsylvanian-Permian), pp. 29-55, p. 31.
  6. ^ Blakey, Ranney, 2008. Chapter 4, (Pennsylvanian-Permian), p. 31.
  7. ^ Arizona Road & Recreation Atlas, c. 1998, Map: The Grand Canyon, pp. 12-13.
  8. ^ Esplanade Sandstone, geologic sequence, southwest Utah
  9. ^ Blakey, Ranney, 2008. Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau, p. XVIII, Chapter 4, pg. 54.
  10. ^ Blakey, Ranney, 2008. Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau, from Chapter 4, Continental Unrest and Geologic Cycles: Pennsylvanian and Permian, 318 to 251 Million Years Ago, pp. 29-55, p. 54.
  11. ^ Blakey, Ranney, 2008. Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau, p. XVIII.
  12. ^ Blakey, Ranney, 2008. Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau, "Geologic X-sections", (cross-sections), p. XVIII.
  13. ^ Blakey, Ranney, 2008. Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau, 165 Ma map: (upper)-Carmel Formation, with Sundance Sea, p. 76, and p. 78.
  • Arizona Road & Recreation Atlas, Benchmark Maps, 2nd Edition, c. 1998, 112 pages, Map: The Grand Canyon, pp. 12–13.
  • Blakey, and Ranney, 2008. Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau, Ron Blakey, Wayne Ranney, c 2008, Grand Canyon Association (publisher), 176 pages, with Appendix, Glossary, Index. Contains approximately 75 shaded topographic maps, for geology, etc., with 54 (23 pairs, (46)) for Colorado Plateau specifically; others are global, or North American.
  • Lucchitta, 2001. Hiking Arizona's Geology, Ivo Lucchitta, c 2001, Mountaineers's Books. (softcover, ISBN 0-89886-730-4)

External linksEdit