The cross-bedded Coconino Sandstone (lower Permian, Arizona) is often used as a “type” ancient eolian sandstone. Previous field and laboratory work by the author have revealed data that instead support a marine origin for this sandstone. Using primarily the COSUNA data compiled by the AAPG in the 1980s, Permian and Pennsylvanian sandstones were correlated across western and central United States with special emphasis on lower Permian formations. It was found that the Coconino could be correlated as a diachronous sand body from southern California to North Dakota, and from Texas to Idaho, an area of approximately 2.4 million km2. Formations included the Glorieta Sandstone (New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma), the Lyons Sandstone (Colorado), the Wood River Formation (Idaho), the Weber Formation (Utah), the Tensleep Sandstone and Casper Formation (Wyoming), the Minnelusa Formation (Montana, South Dakota) and the Broom Creek Formation (North Dakota). A literature review of these sandstones revealed many common characteristics with the Coconino including paleocurrent directions, the presence of dolomite and tetrapod footprints. Textural similarities were also recognized in the field and under the microscope including angular grains, poor to moderate sorting and mica. The sandstones are usually found below a chemically rich marine rock layer containing gypsum, phosphate, salt or limestone, and zircons show common Appalachian sources. A literature review of Permian cross-bedded sandstones in Canada, Europe, South America, and Saudi Arabia revealed similar characteristics to these western United States sandstones.
Several implications are discussed, including: 1) The similarities of other Permian cross-bedded sandstones to the Coconino imply that they are also likely marine sandstones. 2) Consistent paleocurrents are best explained by marine processes, not subaerial ones. 3) Provenance studies of the Coconino equivalents show a large portion of the sand originated from eastern North America. Combined with paleocurrent data, it appears a massive amount of sand was transported across the continent by marine currents and not by rivers or wind. 4) Some creationists have denied the validity of the geological column. While a single “blanket” sandstone is not a column, many “blankets” stacked on top of one another, are a column. 5) Similar Permian sandstones around the world not only strengthen the validity of the geological column, but they argue that these sandstones were also made by similar processes as the Coconino during a singular period of time.
Sand waves may not be an exact analogue of how the “blanket” of the Coconino and other sandstones were deposited, but we envisage something similar depositing shallow marine sands all over the Pangean supercontinent as it was underwater during the Flood.
In the first chapter of his insightful book, The Nature of the Stratigraphical Record, Derek Ager (1981) discusses a concept which he refers to as the persistence of facies. What Ager means by this is that during certain periods of geologic time, specific facies inexplicably appear around the world over and over again. For example, he talks about the basal Cambrian sandstones, the Cretaceous chalks, the Permo-Triassic redbeds, the Carboniferous coals and the Mississippian limestones. Although Ager was clearly a catastrophist but not a creationist, he understood that his data and ideas could have implications for those who were looking for evidence to support Noah’s Flood (see p. 20 for example). This is because deposits like this imply similar events and processes occurring over widespread areas. Pennsylvanian-Permian-Triassic sandstones are a clear example of some of the persistent facies that can be found worldwide during this interval. A few examples would be the Coconino Sandstone of Arizona, the Tensleep Sandstone of Wyoming the Lyons Sandstone of Colorado, the Rotliegendes Sandstone of Germany, the Hopeman, Corrie, and Corncockle Sandstones of Scotland, the Penrith, Bridgnorth and Yellow Sands Sandstones of England, part of the Champenay Formation of France, the Pirambóia Formation of Brazil and the Andapaico Formation of Argentina (see Brookfield 1978; Clemmensen and Hegner 1991; Duncan 1830; Glennie 1972; Hurst and Glennie 2008; Karpeta 1990; Limarino and Spalletti 1986; Maithel, Garner, and Whitmore 2015; McKee and Bigarella 1979; Newell 2001; Steele 1983; Swezey, Deynoux, and Jeannette 1996; Waugh 1970a, 1970b). Conventional geology has usually explained the persistence of facies, not in terms of Ager’s catastrophism, but in terms of similar climatic conditions over widespread areas united by a common paleogeography (see Blakey and Ranney 2018, for example). In the case of the Pennsylvanian and Permian sandstones of the western United States, they are explained as desert sand dune deposits occurring on the western side of the Pangean continent. Or, if they have marine fossils, as many of them do, shallow marine sands proximal to the Pangean coast.
The Coconino Sandstone is one of the more well-known Permian sandstones of the western United States. It is part of familiar cliff exposures in places like Grand Canyon and Sedona, Arizona (fig. 1). It consists almost entirely of large cross-beds (fig. 2) composed of moderately- to poorly-sorted, subangular, fine-grained sand (fig. 3). Whitmore et al. (2014) gave a comprehensive report on the petrology of the formation showing that the commonly held beliefs that the Coconino contains well-rounded, well-sorted sand grains were false. Maximum thickness is reached near Pine, Arizona where it is about 300 m thick; in areas like the Grand Canyon, it averages around 90 m thick. The eminent Grand Canyon geologist, Edwin McKee was the first geologist to do an extensive study of the formation early in his career (McKee 1934). McKee maintained an eolian interpretation for the Coconino throughout his prestigious career (McKee and Bigarella 1979). The Coconino has become somewhat of a “type” example of what an ancient eolian sandstone is supposed to look like.
The goal of this particular project was to correlate the Coconino Sandstone from Arizona to surrounding western states. It is well known that many Pennsylvanian to lower Permian sandstones occur in this area; but understanding how they correlate with one another has sometimes proved difficult primarily because of their lack of fossils (see the discussion in Baars 1979 and Dunbar et al. 1960). The problems with correlation of Permian units not only occur in the western United States, they occur worldwide (Baars 1979). With that in mind, the lithological equivalents in this paper should be seen as general trends based on contained fossils (which are sparse), presumed conventional age, and the presence of these sandstone formations often directly below rocks of chemical origin (most commonly limestone, dolomite, gypsum, salt, and phosphate). At their edges, these sandstones often change in character quickly and often grade into various siltstones, mudstones, limestones, dolomites, and rocks of chemical origin. One should not interpret the sandstones contained within the maps and cross-sections of this paper as identical in nature to the Coconino. The Coconino is an end member of a continuum from a relatively pure cross-bedded quartz arenite to planar-bedded feldspathic sandstones with diverse mineralogies and intervening silts and muds.
Because the data were primarily gathered from AAPG’s (American Association for Petroleum Geology) COSUNA (Correlation of Stratigraphic Units of North America) project for the correlations (where each column in the charts is only a generalization of the stratigraphy in any one particular area), this project is only an attempt at correlating the sandstone units across the western United States. More detailed columns that are spaced closer and show the detailed stratigraphy could be gathered in the future for an extension of this project. However, this project will show there are many close relationships between the Pennsylvanian and Permian sandstones of the western United States.
Many of the relationships shown in this paper have been known for years (see for example, Blakey, Peterson, and Kocurek 1988; Dunbar et al. 1960; Mallory 1972b; McKee and Oriel 1967; Rascoe and Baars 1972). This paper attempts to:
- include some further data not mentioned in these other projects,
- show the units are widespread across the western United States as a single lithostratigraphic sand body, where other projects have simply showed relationships of sandstones mostly across state borders,
- demonstrate the consistency and importance of paleocurrents in these formations,
- interpret the results within a catastrophic framework, and
- compare the western USA sandstones with some sandstones in South America and Europe.
- Finally, a correlation project like this clearly strengthens the reality of the geological column over the area covered.
Some creationists have denied the reality of the global geological column (Oard 2010a, 2010b; Reed and Froede 2003; Woodmorappe 1981). But patterns documented in this paper and in larger projects like COSUNA, and in Clarey’s intercontinental correlations (Clarey and Werner 2018), clearly demonstrate the reality of the column, despite claims otherwise.
Stratigraphic charts and electronic data sheets compiled for the COSUNA project by the AAPG in the 1980s were used to gather the primary data for this project (Adler 1986; Ballard, Bluemle, and Gerhard 1983; Bergstrom and Morey 1984; Hills and Kottlowski 1983; Hintze 1985; Kent, Couch, and Knepp 1988; Mankin 1986). Sixty-four columns from the COSUNA data and some other sources (Adkison 1966; Dunbar et al. 1960; Hintze 1988; Langenheim and Larson 1973; Maher 1960; Mallory 1972b; McKee and Oriel 1967; Stokes 1986) were drafted for stratigraphic correlation.
Often charts from sources like this are time-stratigraphic, so these columns were redrawn to show their lithostratigraphic characteristics and rock thicknesses (instead of time duration). Within the drafted columns, lithology is shown in two different ways: by color and by symbol. Colors represent general overall lithology (yellow = sandstone, for example) and the symbols illustrate the more varied lithology and sedimentology that might occur within a particular formation. When numerous lithologies occurred in a single formation, only a generalized section was drawn to illustrate the varied facies present, as in columns 63 and 64 (Nevada) for the Pequop Formation. Columns focus on sandstones conventionally assigned to Pennsylvanian through early Permian age. Several units above and below the sandstones in this age range were usually included in the columns. To gain confidence in the correlations, not only were the lithologies and conventional “stages” of the rocks considered, but gypsum-carbonate beds, or other chemically rich units just above the sandstones, were used as marker beds and were correlated across the area as well. Priority was given to lithostratigraphic correlation over chronostratigraphic correlation when a choice needed to be made between the two. A table that compares North American and global chronostratigraphic units in use when the COSUNA project was published, with currently recognized international standards (International Commission on Stratigraphy) can be found in the Appendix 1. For consistency, chronostratigraphic stage names used with the COSUNA project (Childs et al. 1988), and almost exclusively used in the literature gathered for this project, were maintained. No attempt was made to make conversions between the two conventions because some of the differences are quite large. The stratigraphic columns were “hung” on the Pennsylvanian-Permian boundary. Some of the units were examined in the field (fig. 4) and sampled during previous studies by the current author (Whitmore et al. 2014; Whitmore and Garner 2018) and his team. Primary literature on global Permian sandstone units was collected, but more attention was paid to those in the western United States. Cross-bed dips and azimuths for some of these formations were measured in the field and others were collected from various sources in the literature (Brand, Wang, and Chadwick 2015; Knight 1929; Lawton, Buller, and Parr 2015; Opdyke and Runcorn 1960; Peterson 1988; Poole 1962; Reiche 1938).
It was found that the Coconino could be correlated with sandstones occurring on both the east and west sides of the Rocky Mountains and into the Great Basin of California, Nevada, and Utah. Units could be traced from California to the Dakotas and from Texas to Idaho (fig. 5). Outcrops were absent in the general area of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains (Uncompahgre Uplift). Some details on many of the correlated sandstone units are reported in Appendix 2. Details on some other sandstone units in Canada, South America, Europe and Saudi Arabia are reported in Appendix 3. Eastern European sandstones could potentially be correlated with each other in a separate project. Cross-bed dips for some of the formations are illustrated in fig. 6. Paleocurrent patterns for some of these sandstones are shown in fig. 7. Paleocurrent directions for most Pennsylvanian and Permian sandstones in the United States are consistently to the south (fig. 7). Detrital zircon studies have been completed on some of these formations showing that much of the sand for these formations originated in the Appalachian area; those results are discussed below.
Permian (P) Units
- Pabo – Abo Fm
- Padm – Admiral Fm
- Pbc – Broom Creek Fm
- Pblc – Bell Canyon Fm
- Pblf – Blaine Fm
- Pblg – Blaine Gyp
- Pbrc – Brushy Canyon Fm
- Pbs – Bone Spring Ls
- Pbur – Bursum Fm
- Pbwd – Brown and White Dol
- Pcas – Cassa Fm
- Pch – Cedar Hills Fm
- Pcha – Chase Grp
- Pchc – Cherry Canyon Fm
- Pclf – Clear Fork Grp
- Pcm – Cedar Mesa Ss
- Pcma – Cimarron Anh
- Pco – Cutoff Sh
- Pcoc – Coconino Ss
- Pcon – Concha Ls
- Pdc – De Chelly Ss
- Pdic – Diamond Creek Ss
- Pdun – Duncan Ss
- Pear – Earp Fm
- Pec – Epitaph Fm and Colina Ls
- Pelc – Elephant Canyon Fm
- Pflp – Flowerpot Sh
- Pfv – Furner Valley Ls
- Pges – Goose Egg Fm and Satanka Sh
- Pglo – Glorieta Ss
- Pgmpc – Grandeur Mbr of Park City Grp or Fm
- Pgs – Goat Seep Ls
- Phal – Halqaito Fm
- Phen – Hennessey Sh
- Pher – Hermit Fm
- Phsc – Hudspeth Cutoff Fm
- Phsp – Harper Salt Plain Fm
- Phue – Hueco Fm
- Ping – Ingleside Fm
- Pkai – Kaibab Fm
- Pkmn – Kirkman Ls
- Pkmn – Kirkman Ls
- Plor – Loray Fm
- Plue – Lueders Ls
- Plyf – Lykins Fm and Forelle Ls
- Plyk – Lykins Fm
- Plyn – Lyons Ss and Satanka Sh
- Pmcl – Moore County Ls
- Pmink – Minnekahta Ls
- Permian (P) units, cont.
- Pminl – Minnelusa Fm
- Pmpm – Meade Peak Mbr of Phosphoria Fm
- Pnin – Ninnescah Sh
- Pop – Opeche Sh
- Por – Organ Rock Sh
- Powl – Owl Canyon Fm
- Ppak – Pakoon Ls
- Ppcg – Park City Grp or Fm
- Ppcph – Park City and Phosphoria Fm
- Ppcs – Pole Creek Sequence
- Ppeq – Pequop Fm
- Pph – Panhandle Ls
- Ppho – Phosphoria Fm
- Pply – Plympton Fm
- Pque – Queantoweap Ss
- Pris – Riepe Spring Ls
- Prit – Riepetown Ss or Fm
- Prv – Rain Valley
- Psad – San Andres Dol
- Psan – San Andres Fm
- Psc – Stone Coral Fm
- Psh – Schnebly Hill Fm
- Pshe – Shedhorn Fm
- Pspl – Salt Plain Fm
- Psrr – Scherrer Fm
- Ptor – Toroweap Fm
- Ptub – Tub Ss Mbr of Clear Fork Grp
- Pund – undifferentiated
- Pval – Valera Fm
- Pvp – Victoria Peak Ls
- Pwel – Wellington Fm
- Pwr – White Rim Ss
- Pyes – Yeso Fm
Permian/Pennsylvanian (ℙP) Units
- ℙPcas – Casper Fm
- ℙPfne – Fountain and Ingleside
- ℙPfnt – Fountain Fm
- ℙPjgsc – Juniper Gulch Member of Snaky Canyon Fm
- ℙPminl – Minnelusa Fm
- ℙPsdc – Sangre de Cristo Fm
- ℙPsup – Supai Fm
- ℙPtc – Trail Canyon Fm
- ℙPweb – Weber Fm
- ℙPwls – Wells Fm
- ℙPwor – Wood River Fm
Pennsylvanian (ℙ) Units
- ℙabm – Alaska Bench Mbr of Amsden Fm
- ℙams – Amsden Fm
- ℙbmf – Bingham Mine Fm
- ℙbmsn – Bloom Mbr, Snaky Canyon Fm
- ℙbup – Butterfield Peaks Fm
- ℙesp – Esplanade Ss
- ℙels – Ely Ls
- ℙfbk – Fairbank Fm
- ℙfnt – Fountain Fm
- ℙgpsn – Gallagher Peak Ss, Snaky Canyon Fm
- ℙhay – Hayden Fm
- ℙhel – Helgar Canyon Fm
- ℙhms – Hermosa Fm or Grp, undivided
- ℙhon – Honaker Trail Fm
- ℙhor – Horquilla Ls
- ℙmad – Madera Ls
- ℙminl – Minnelusa Fm
- ℙmor – Morgan Fm
- ℙqua – Quadrant Ss
- ℙrdt – Roundtop Fm
- ℙrdv – Round Valley Ls
- ℙrec – Reclaimation Fm
- ℙsdc – Sangre de Cristo Fm
- ℙsup – Supai Fm or Grp
- ℙten – Tensleep Fm
- ℙtf – Tyler Fm
- ℙtfag – Tyler Fm of Amsden Grp
- ℙtus – Tussing Fm
- ℙwc – West Canyon Ls
- ℙweb – Weber Fm
- ℙwen – Wendover Fm
1. Depositional environment of the sandstones
The author has been part of a team that has been studying the Coconino Sandstone. In our studies we have examined many dozens of outcrops, have collected hundreds of samples (cutting corresponding thin sections for microscope work), and have studied numerous samples with XRD (X-ray diffraction) and SEM (scanning electron microscopy). In the summary of our findings (Whitmore and Garner 2018) and in other papers (Whitmore et al. 2014, 2015) we have presented numerous evidences that the Coconino is not an eolian deposit, but clearly a marine sandstone. Data that we have presented in support of a subaqueous origin of the Coconino includes:
- The sandstone is only poorly- to moderately-sorted and is only occasionally well-sorted,
- the grains of the Coconino can best be described as subangular to subrounded,
- K-feldspar is a common accessory mineral and is often more angular than the quartz, despite it being softer on Mohs Scale (see Whitmore and Strom 2017, 2018),
- muscovite, despite being extremely soft, was present in almost every thin section and our experimental results show that it disappears quickly in simulated eolian settings (Anderson, Struble, and Whitmore 2017),
- features resembling primary current lineation (parting lineation) are commonly found on most foreset surfaces,
- avalanche tongues, a feature common on steep slopes of eolian sand dunes, are missing in the Coconino; instead laminae can be followed in a straight line along exposed bounding surfaces,
- cross-bed dips average about 20° and our hundreds of measurements agree with hundreds of other measurements made by Reiche (1938) and Maithel (2019),
- large folds similar to parabolic recumbent folds (which are penecontemporaneous with cross-bed formation and cannot form from slumping dunes) are present in several places in the Sedona area,
- dolomite (we believe it is primary) occurs in many places and forms in the Coconino including as beds, ooids, clasts, rhombs and cement, and
- the expected sedimentary details commonly found in eolian sands (as far as grainfall, grainflow and ripple structures [Hunter 1977, 1981]) are for the most part absent or have been difficult to recognize in the Coconino (Maithel 2019).
- Outside of our work, Brand (Brand 1979; Brand and Tang 1991) has reported compelling evidence from vertebrate trackways in the Coconino, whose characteristics seem to be best explained by underwater origin.
Although we have not studied the other sandstones correlated in this paper to the degree that we have studied the Coconino, similar features are present in many of them that also point toward a subaqueous origin. We describe muscovite and angular K-feldspars in some of these sandstones in the United States along with Permian sandstones in the United Kingdom (Borsch et al. 2018; Maithel, Garner, and Whitmore 2015; Whitmore and Strom 2018). Fig. 8 illustrates just a small sampling of the mica and angular K-feldspar present in these sandstones. Mica is an indicator of aqueous processes because it deteriorates in a matter of days with continuous eolian activity (Anderson, Struble, and Whitmore 2017) and angular K-feldspars are important because they become quickly rounded only with hundreds of meters of eolian transport (Whitmore and Strom 2017).
Dolomite has been found to form in small quantities in specialized desert settings (Arvidson and Mackenzie 1997; Bontognali et al. 2010; Wright 1999), but it is not an analog for much more extensive dolomite ooids, clasts, widespread cement and even dolomite beds that can be found within some of the formations in this report (fig. 9). The formation of dolomite is one of the biggest geological mysteries, because its formation requires fluids (Lippman 1973), high temperatures (>100°C) and/ or high pressures (Arvidson and Mackenzie 1997). Water circulation must be constant and there must be a steady supply of Mg2+ and CO32- ions (Morrow 1988). These conditions must all be met in order for the mineral to form; conditions that are much more likely in a marine setting rather than a sabkha or a desert. Although dolomite has been found in sabkhas (Bontognali et al. 2010), these environments also have specific sedimentary features which seem to be missing in the studied sandstones (Kendall 2010).
The following Pennsylvanian and Permian sandstones were found to have considerable amounts of dolomite within them: Broom Creek (Condra, Reed, and Scherer 1940; McCauley 1956), Casper (Agatston 1954), Cassa Group (Condra, Reed, and Scherer 1940; McCauley 1956), Coconino (Whitmore et al. 2014), Diamond Creek (Bissell 1962), Fairbank Formation (McCauley 1956), Fort Apache Member of the Schnebly Hill Formation (Blakey 1984, personal observations), Ingleside Formation (Maughan and Ahlbrandt 1985), Quadrant (James 1992; Saperstone and Ethridge 1984), Scherrer Formation (Luepke 1971), Tensleep (Agatston 1954; James 1992; Mankiewicz and Steidtmann 1979), Toroweap Formation (Rawson and Turner-Peterson 1980), Tubb Sandstone Member of the Clear Fork Group and Abo Formation (Hartig et al. 2011), Weber (Driese 1985), and the Yeso Formation (Baars 1979).
In addition the following Pennsylvanian and Permian sandstones (or the carbonate beds within the sandstones) in this report have fusulinids or other types of marine fossils: Bingham Mine Formation (Tooker and Roberts 1970), Broom Creek (Condra, Reed, and Scherer 1940), Brushy Canyon Formation (Harms 1974), Bursum Formation (Myers 1972), Casper Formation (Hoyt and Chronic 1962), Hudspath Cutoff Formation (Roberts et al. 1965), Scherrer Formation (Luepke 1976), Tensleep (Verville 1957; Verille, Sanderson, and Rea 1970), Toroweap (Rawson and Turner-Peterson 1980), and the Weber Formation (Bissell 1964b).
We have found what we interpret as parabolic recumbent folds in the Coconino and in the Toroweap (Whitmore, Forsythe, and Garner 2015). Rawson and Turner-Peterson (1980, 349) report recumbent folds in the cross-beds of the Toroweap and we think the ones they mention are some of the same ones we have also identified. McKee and Bigarella (1979, 202) picture a fold from Wupatki National Monument that we also believe is a parabolic recumbent fold when we field checked it (Whitmore, Forsythe, and Garner 2015). These specific types of folds have not been reported in the other formations is this paper, as far as we know. The significance of these folds is that they only form penecontemporaneously during the process of subaqueous cross-bed formation. Knight (1929) describes some folds that might be parabolic recumbent folds in the Casper Formation of Wyoming. The present author tried to locate these during the 2011 field season, but the location that Knight described is located on inaccessible private property. Knight described trough cross-bedding in the Casper; it is interesting that trough cross-bedding is also present in the Pennsylvanian Sharon Conglomerate (Formation) of northeast Ohio where these types of folds are dramatically displayed (Wells et al. 1993), and have been field checked by the author. One small fold that resembles a parabolic recumbent fold was found in the Tensleep Sandstone (fig. 10) in Wyoming.
Brand has done exceptional work in interpreting the tetrapod footprints found in the Coconino (Brand 1979; Brand and Tang 1991). He experimented with salamanders—observing their tracks in dry sand, damp sand, and subaqueous sand. Based on his experimental observations, the subaqueous salamander tracks were the most similar to the Coconino tracks. Marchetti et al. (2019) disagreed with Brand (1979) after completing their own set of laboratory experiments. They interpret the Coconino trackways as indicative of tracks being made in dry sand. However, from personal observations of trackways in the Coconino, the trackways Marchetti et al. made in dry laboratory sand lack the digit details that are in the Coconino and in Brand’s underwater experiments. Francischini et al. (2019) have recently discussed the possibility of some of the Coconino tracks belonging to diadectomorphs, their first known (and unexpected) occurrence in “eolian” environments. Toepelman and Rodeck (1936) describe some tracks from the Lyons Sandstone of Colorado, which is sometimes known as the “twin of the Coconino” (McKee and Bigarella 1979). Mancuso et al. (2016, 374) report similar tracks “essentially belonging to the ichnogenus Chelichnus” from the Weber, Coconino, De Chelly, Lyons, Cedar Mesa, and Casper Formations. They also report occurrences in two Permian cross-bedded sandstones from Argentina and four sandstones from Europe. Studies and observations like Brand’s on the Coconino have not been completed on these other sandstones to see if the trackways have the same characteristics as those in the Coconino; perhaps because the trackways are not as common in these other sandstones. However, based on similar characteristics of these other sandstones with the Coconino, it is predicted some of the same subaqueous interpretations could be reached.
Average degrees of foreset dips in modern eolian settings can be in the mid-20s and even lower. For example, Ahlbrandt and Fryberger (1980) reported average dips from foresets of three dune types in the Nebraska Sandhills (fig. 11 A–C): 22° for barchans (n = 149), 24° for transverse ridge dunes (n = 72) and 16° for blowout dunes (n= 120). However, a significant percentage of the foresets had dips greater than 25° (about 37% for barchans, about 52% for transverse ridge and about 13% for blowout dunes, with many dips in the 30° range. There is a significant difference between the foreset dips of modern dunes, like those in the Nebraska Sand Hills, and those of supposed ancient eolian facies. In supposed ancient eolian facies, individual dips are only rarely greater than 25° (see fig. 6 A–O), while those preserved in Nebraska have frequent dips greater than 25°. This is graphically illustrated in fig. 12 where some ancient cross-bed dips are compared with the Nebraska Sand Hills. Some have claimed that cross-bed dips of supposed eolian sandstones have average angles in the low 20s because of compaction during diagenesis (see discussion on page 280 of Walker and Harms 1972, for example). However, when these sandstones are examined under the microscope, there is little evidence for the severe compaction that is probably needed to reduce the dips from the angle of repose to the low 20s. We have done some preliminary investigation on this problem (Emery, Maithel, and Whitmore 2011), but more work is needed. At this juncture, we believe that if these sandstones were eolian, they would contain a significant number of dips greater than 25°, more in line with the data from the Nebraska Sand Hills.
One of the most basic and overlooked observations that one can make when standing on the rim of the Grand Canyon is the significance of the planar contacts between rock layers that can be traced as far as the eye can see. Ariel Roth (2009) calls them “flat gaps.” Between some of the layers, like the Hermit Formation and Coconino Sandstone (fig. 1E), a sharp, flat contact can be found. Both of the formations are supposed to be formed in terrestrial settings: a floodplain for the Hermit and an erg for the Coconino. Yet, the contact between the formations is everywhere flat, even where the contact is transitional in the eastern end of Grand Canyon (Whitmore and Peters 1999). From a conventional view, there must be a significant amount of missing time (5–10 Ma?) because just 125 km south of Grand Canyon, one can find about 300 m of Schnebly Hill Formation sandwiched in between the Hermit and Coconino (Blakey and Knepp 1989). In Holbrook, the Schnebly Hill is even thicker! Time must have passed between the deposition of the Hermit and the Coconino to allow for the thick Schnebly Hill Formation to be deposited, assuming the top of the Hermit is isochronous. Especially in a terrestrial setting one might expect gullies, valleys, and canyons to be cut into the Hermit before the Coconino was deposited. While the example might seem extreme, there is more than 1.5 km of relief in the landscape of the Grand Canyon, perhaps made in six million years or less according to the most recent conventional estimates. In Death Valley, the relief is even greater when you consider the height of the mountain ranges to the west. In just about any terrestrial setting considered, there are often elevation changes of several meters over short distances. Exceptions might be a lake bed, but no one is suggesting that for the Hermit/Coconino contact. And yet, the contact between the two formations is flat. While flat surfaces are uncommon in terrestrial settings, they are quite common on the seafloor. So, it is not surprising that we see flat contacts between marine layers, which are most of the rocks in Grand Canyon, even from a conventional perspective. There is still missing time in between many of these layers from a conventional view, sometimes in excess of 100 Ma, but at least that is easier to explain in a marine setting. Thus, the flat contact between the Hermit and Coconino is best interpreted in a marine setting. This is not only true for the Coconino, but for all of the other supposed “erg” deposits that correlate with the Coconino. They have flat basal contacts as well.
In modern desert settings, like Death Valley or the Sahara, sand dunes are not the most common topographic feature. Actually, sand dunes comprise a very small percentage of the surface area of most deserts (Wilson 1973). Covering the floor of most deserts is bedrock, coarse alluvium (desert pavement), or fine-grained playa deposits with various salts and desiccation features. It is significant that these kinds of features are either missing or poorly defined beneath what are considered to be ancient eolian deposits. Some have suggested that the sand-filled cracks that can be found at the Hermit/Coconino contact are desiccation cracks that have been filled with sand from the Coconino, but the Hermit lacks the appropriate clays for them to be desiccation cracks and the sand-filled cracks have features of sand injectites, not desiccation cracks (Whitmore and Strom 2010).
In summary, the grain sorting, grain rounding, angular K-feldspar, muscovite, primary current lineation, lack of avalanche tongues, shallow cross-bed dips, parabolic recumbent folds, frequent dolomite, general lack of specific eolian sedimentary patterns, fossil footprint characteristics, flat contacts, the presence of marine fossils and facies, and the observation that these formations can be correlated with each other are difficult to explain if the rocks represent a fossil erg, but fit nicely with a marine depositional environment. Some have suggested the cross-bedded sandstones described in this study formed in a coastal setting and correlate directly with associated marine sands (see for example Rawson and Turner-Peterson 1980; Blakey and Ranney 2008), but the diagnostic sedimentary structures (like those typical of beach facies) that would support this hypothesis have yet to be reported.
A number of paleocurrent studies have been completed on the upper Paleozoic and lower Mesozoic sandstones of the western United States, most with the goal of determining wind directions of the giant ergs believed to have been present during the time they were deposited (Brand, Wang, and Chadwick 2015; Marzolf 1983; Opdyke and Runcorn 1960; Parrish and Peterson 1988; Peterson 1988; Poole 1962; Reiche 1938; Saperstone and Ethridge 1984). Some of these paleocurrent patterns are illustrated in fig. 7; many of these authors have noted a general trend of these current indicators from north to south. Statistics probably should be developed to determine the relative strength of the current patterns in a uniform way; some of the azimuths on fig. 7 indicate multiple dozens of measurements, while others indicate only a few measurements. However, it still appears that there is some kind of trend. Much has been written about the consistent southerly-directed cross-bed dip pattern in many of these formations. But, should cross-bed azimuths be expected to show the same directional pattern for eolian dunes across a wide geographical area like western North America during the Permian? In looking at wind data for the Sahara and all of its many ergs (fig. 13), wind directions and dune azimuths are extremely variable across the area, even when considering the same latitude. The varied directions are caused by various topographic obstacles that shift the wind (Mainguet 1978). Note the large circular gyre in the middle of the area; this means winds are blowing every single direction when the whole area is considered.
If one examines the tectonic elements of the western United States during the late Paleozoic (fig. 14) it is difficult to image why all the cross-bed dips trend in the same direction, if the subaerial topography was so variable. Across the area there are multiple uplifts and basins which should have caused shifts in wind patterns. Blakey (2009) and Blakey and Ranney (2008, 2018) have drawn paleogeographic maps that illustrate their interpretation of what western Pangea may have looked like during the Late Paleozoic from a conventional viewpoint. Would not a paleogeography like this have caused multiple prevailing wind directions similar to what is observed in the Sahara today? Most significantly, in the middle of this ancient area is the Uncompahgre Uplift also known as the Ancestral Rocky Mountains, within which all of the units described in this paper are absent. Features like this should cause marked changes in cross-bed azimuths because of wind direction shifts around this feature. Additionally, it becomes problematic how the sand in a giant erg like this could survive during the forthcoming marine transgression. Recall, covering the Permian sands are formations like the Kaibab Limestone, the Phosphoria Formation, the Blaine Formation and other marine deposits, many containing gypsum. In order for a giant erg to be preserved, the whole area needs to undergo slow subsidence, without erosion. Rodriguez-López et al. (2014, 1493) state it like this: “Long-term preservation of aeolian accumulations in the ancient record requires that the body of strata is placed below some regional baseline, beneath which erosion does not occur (Kocurek and Havholm 1993). Thus, the rate of generation of accommodation space and the rate at which aeolian accumulations fill that space is a fundamental control on preserved architectural style (e.g. Howell and Mountney 1997).”
Cross-bed data from the sources listed above are not specific enough to decide between aqueous or an eolian origin. It is predicted that if this could be done, that not much of a difference would be seen between the two sets of data. (Note: Rawson and Turner-Peterson  were trying to accomplish something similar to this, because they compared cross-bed dip angles and azimuths in the Toroweap and Coconino and used the similar measurements to argue that parts of the Toroweap were eolian.) However, from a conventional view, there should be a difference. Cross-bed azimuths in eolian settings should be fairly indicative of wind regime, especially for transverse-type dunes.
However, if this area were primarily underwater, as we might predict with a Flood model, we might expect many of the currents to trend in the same general direction, only occasionally being deflected by obstacles such as the Uncompahgre Uplift. In the analysis of paleocurrent trends for major periods of geological time, it can be discerned from the data of Brand, Wang, and Chadwick (2015) that whole-continent paleocurrent patterns existed in the Paleozoic and Mesozoic, but not so much in the Cenozoic, where the currents are highly variable in the American West (personal communication with A. Chadwick, 2017). During the Flood itself, we might expect paleocurrents to be driven primarily by tectonic forces or strong tidal activity and uplifts, which were probably of greater influence than the wind (Genesis 7:11, 8:1). As the mountainous regions of the continents rose while the Flood was ending, a more variable pattern in paleocurrents should arise—which we see in Brand et al.’s data for the Cenozoic. The currents would be variable because water (this author believes rivers) would flow in all directions away from a topographic high.
Strong ocean currents can produce large sand waves, which can have similar characteristics (size, shape, cross-beds, etc.) as eolian dunes (Barnard et al 2006; Cartwright and Stride 1958; Poppe et al. 2006, 2007, 2011). The Coconino and other associated cross-bedded sandstones may not have been deposited precisely by sand waves, but this would be a working model to consider. Although there are factors that can deflect ocean currents, just like wind currents can be deflected, it might be expected that cross-bedded features produced by ocean currents would be more consistent over a broader area. It is much easier to deflect an air current than a water current because of the amount of mass that needs to be redirected. It would be interesting to collect cross-bed data from the sandstones in this study and compare cross-bed azimuths for those beds that are clearly marine (that have fusulinids, for example) with those that are thought to be eolian. It is predicted that the azimuths would not be significantly different if the cross-beds were made by the same mechanism.
Furthermore, it might be predicted from a conventional paradigm that offshore current features would have different cross-bed azimuths than onshore eolian features. This is because ocean currents are deflected to the right of prevailing wind directions (in the northern hemisphere) due to the Coriolis Effect. Ekman (1909) was able to show net water deflection could be as much as 90° to the right of prevailing winds. Thus, if the conventional paradigm is correct, with rock units having both offshore dune features (to explain abundant fusulinids and dolomite in the sand, for example) and onshore eolian deposits, the offshore features should have consistent cross-bed azimuths to the right of the eolian features and should be separated by distinctive beach facies. To the author’s knowledge, this has yet to be demonstrated in the literature for any of the deposits discussed in this paper. Instead, consistent cross-bed dips for all of the formations suggest a singular, subaqueous origin.
3. Provenance studies
Johansen (1988) suggested a northwestern North American cratonic source for the upper Paleozoic sandstones in western United States. However, more recent provenance studies with detrital zircons have been completed on some of the sandstones in the present study. Link et al. (2014) studied the Wood River Formation (Idaho), the Tensleep Sandstone (Wyoming) and the Weber Sandstone (Utah, Colorado). They concluded that “a continental-scale system transported most of the sand grains in the Wood River and Tensleep Sandstone” (133). This sand arrived from the northeast and likely had its origin from the Grenville Province of eastern North America. There were also significant zircon contributions from the Yavapai-Mazatzal provinces of northwest Colorado, the Copper Basin Group of Idaho and from an area in the western Cordillera, especially for the Weber Sandstone.
Soreghan and Soreghan (2013) examined zircons from the Permian Delaware Basin, and of particular interest for this paper, the Brushy Canyon Formation. The authors state that there has been a long belief that the clastic sediments that fill the Delaware Basin originated from the Ancestral Rocky Mountains. However, their zircon studies show origin from Paleozoic, Neoproterozoic, and Mesoproterozoic (Grenville) sources. They conclude (798) the sediment may have come from the Ouachita system, recycled Appalachian material, and sources now in Mexico and Central America.
Dickinson and Gehrels (2003) and Gehrels et al. (2011) examined zircons from many of the formations in Grand Canyon including the Pennsylvanian and Permian Esplanade Sandstone, Hermit Formation, Coconino Sandstone, Toroweap Formation, and Kaibab Limestone. Zircon-age results showed similar patterns for all of the Permian units in Grand Canyon and the authors concluded that an Appalachian source was most likely for the zircons found in these units.
Lawton, Buller, and Parr (2015) studied zircons from Diamond Creek, Castle Valley, White Rim, and Cutler Group sandstones. They found that the Cutler Group strata were mostly sourced from the Uncompahgre Uplift, a source not more than 40 km away. However, the Diamond Creek, Castle Valley, and White Rim Sandstones all showed a significant proportion of zircons that were likely sourced from Appalachian and eastern Laurentian sources, not unlike the other cross-bedded sandstones in this study. The authors suggest that sand was carried by transcontinental rivers from Appalachia to the western edge of Laurentia where these sandstones accumulated.
The four studies cited above all agree that sand for these western United States Permian sandstones originated from various source rocks in the Appalachian area and then was transported westward by rivers. Some of the sand was sourced locally from the Ancestral Rocky Mountains (Uncompahgre Uplift), but it is surprising that more sand did not originate from there. From the data collected thus far from zircon studies, the Uncompahgre Uplift only contributed sediment to formations that were most near to it (Weber and Cutler). Other formations have primary contributions from the Appalachian area, even though that source is much more distant than the Uncompahgre Uplift. Authors have primarily suggested fluvial and eolian transport of sand from the Appalachians to the western margin of Pangea. Eolian transport seems unreasonable because of the micas and angular feldspars that are found in some of these formations. Micas and angular K-feldspars could survive fluvial, or even marine transport intact; but it seems likely they could not arrive this way from simple eolian transport because of the abrasion that easily happens to these minerals in eolian settings (Borsch et al. 2018; Whitmore and Strom 2017, 2018). Fully marine currents, as indicated by the paleocurrent data (Brand, Wang, and Chadwick 2015), seem to be a more attractive option for transportation of distant sand.
4. The reality of the geological column
Some creationists have denied the reality of the geological column (Oard 2010a, 2010b; Reed and Froede 2003; Woodmorappe 1981). But patterns demonstrated in this paper, as well as in larger projects like COSUNA and Clarey’s intercontinental correlations (Clarey and Werner 2018), clearly demonstrate that some rock layers are “blankets” that cover wide areas of the continents. (Note: The “blankets” being referred to here are high above modern sea levels, and not like the widespread deposits close to modern sea level as in the carbonates surrounding Africa as in fig. 9b of the Tejas sequence of Clarey and Werner 2018.) The Coconino and the formations that have been demonstrated to correlate with it, are one of these “blankets.” This has been recognized for many years. Donald Baars published a paper titled “Permian blanket sandstones of Colorado Plateau” in 1961. The Geologic Atlas of the Rocky Mountain Region (edited by Mallory 1972a) is a resource that shows how not only the Permian units can be traced over the Rocky Mountain region, but many of the other Paleozoic and Mesozoic formations as well (the “blankets” are not so widespread in the Cenozoic). Multiple rock units that can be traced over wide areas are the very essence of the definition of an ordered “geological column” and demonstrate that similar processes were happening over wide geographic areas at some particular points in time. When widespread rock layers can be correlated with one another, it seems as though an “event” is the most reasonable explanation for the origin of the rocks. Rock layers like the Coconino and its equivalents should be viewed as diachronous layers, in the sense that the northern units are mostly Pennsylvanian and the southern units are early Permian in age. In the case of the Coconino, it appears the northern part was deposited first (and is slightly older), followed by the southern part (which is slightly younger) as evidenced by regional cross-bed trends (which have a southerly direction).
5. Significance of these sandstones worldwide
Many of the Permian sandstones that can be found around the world (Appendix 3) have the same characteristics as the Permian sandstones of the western United States including footprints, association with deposits of a chemical nature (dolomite, halite, gypsum), large cross-beds with dips in the low 20s, laminated sands, textural characteristics, mica (Borsch et al. 2018) and angular K-feldspars (Whitmore and Strom 2018). Many times, these formations are directly associated with marine deposits that lead many of the authors to suggest the eolian sandstones were deposited in coastal environments. From the data gathered in Appendix 3, it appears there were four areas of primary sand deposition during the Permian: western United States, maritime Canada-western Europe, Brazil-Argentina and Saudi Arabia (fig. 15).
It was observed that many of the sandstones listed in Appendix 3 have similar characteristics as those found in the Coconino (Whitmore and Garner 2018). While working on the Coconino project many of the sandstones described in Appendix 3 from western North America and Europe were visited and sampled. In addition, our study of the literature, outcrop observations and examination of thin sections shows that these formations have many similarities to the Coconino.
While some criteria have been established to recognize ancient eolian sandstones (Hunter 1977; McKee and Bigarella 1979), this study found that most papers ignore the fine details, and instead attribute an eolian origin on the basis of just a few characteristics. The most commonly cited evidence for an eolian origin are “steep” cross-bed dips and large-scale cross-beds. Rarely is any petrographic data presented, but often claims of exceptional sorting, exceptional rounding, and grain frosting are presumably made based on only hand sample observation with a low-power loupe. While precursory observations are necessary in any study, most do not realize they may have missed details such as mica and angular K-feldspar which are clear indicators of subaqueous transport and deposition (Borsch et al. 2018; Whitmore and Strom 2017, 2018). In the large amount of literature that was examined for this present paper, petrographic analysis and the presence of mica or angular K-feldspar was only rarely mentioned. In our limited study outside of the Coconino it appears marine indicators may be fairly common in all of these sandstones.
It has been argued by many that Pangea, during the Permian, was a dry and arid supercontinent (Blakey and Ranney 2018, Chapter 6). The evidence for this rests primarily with the eolian-like sandstones described in this paper and the presence of halite, gypsum, phosphate, and anhydrite that are often associated with these cross-bedded sandstones. These deposits are often interpreted as “evaporites” formed by the evaporation of sea water in large marine basins forming the minerals in an arid environment. The closest modern analogy might be the sabkhas around the edges of the Persian Gulf. It is beyond the scope of this paper to argue for a marine origin for these minerals, but it is interesting that many of these minerals, along with dolomite, are often associated with the Permian cross-bedded sandstones. Hovland et al. (2006) and Hovland, Rueslåtten, and Johnsen (2014) have argued that some of these kinds of deposits, especially halite, could be explained by the presence of supercritical water rising from volcanic vents on the seafloor.
Although clear stratigraphic connections cannot be made between the four areas highlighted on fig. 15, the upper Paleozoic sandstones clearly fit Ager’s definition of persistence of facies. They have many common features including bedding style, petrographic details, paleontology (or lack thereof), color and associated rock units of chemical origin. It is believed that there is no other interval in the geological column where all of these features come together. It is similar to the Cretaceous chalks, the Carboniferous coals, the Mississippian limestones, the basal Cambrian sandstones, etc. A feature that may tie the four widely separated areas together are paleocurrents. At least for the western sandstones in the United States the paleocurrents are fairly uniform. As was demonstrated from the Sahara (fig. 13) wind currents are highly variable, even across the same latitude because of various topographic barriers that the air needs to move around. However, with water currents, a more uniform direction might be expected and this could potentially be the one thing that unites these sandstones together and would be inexplicable with an eolian paradigm. Modern deposits that are similar to what the Coconino “blanket” may represent (but probably not exactly analogous) are sand waves. Sand waves contain large cross-beds and form on continental shelves in areas where there are strong currents. The data is sparse for the types of sediment and the cross-bed angles within sand waves (Garner and Whitmore 2011), but there is reason to suspect that modern sand waves have similar cross-bed dips to those found in the Permian sandstones.
The Coconino Sandstone of Arizona is one of the most well-known cross-bedded sandstones and historically has formed the basis for comparison for all other ancient “eolian” deposits. Edwin McKee was the first to publish an in-depth study of the Coconino (1934) and near the end of his career used it as an example to establish criteria for the identification of an eolian sandstone (McKee and Bigarella 1979). The present author has completed further study on the Coconino (summarized in Whitmore and Garner 2018) which included extensive microscopic study, techniques that were not refined when McKee studied the sandstone in 1934 and were not relied upon in his report with Bigarella of 1979. Based on thin section study, outcrop observations and other data, the author believes that the marine origin for the Coconino can now be firmly established and is the best explanation for this iconic sandstone.
During our study of the Coconino, similar sandstones were visited in the field and sampled, both in the United States and Europe as a basis for comparison to the Coconino. In this paper it has been shown that the Coconino can be correlated as a single lithostratigraphic package across the western United States. Thin sections, outcrop observations, the literature and now these correlations—all suggest that the Coconino is a “blanket” sandstone that was deposited in a marine setting that reached from California to North Dakota and from Texas to Idaho. Details that suggest a marine origin for the Coconino were also found in many of these other sandstones, although these other sandstones were not studied in such great detail. It was found that paleocurrent directions are fairly uniform throughout the western U.S. in the Permian sandstones, an observation that would be difficult to explain from the conventional eolian perspective, but would make much more sense if the deposits were marine. The establishment of this “blanket” sandstone along with other blanket layers of the western United States refute those who would suggest the geological column is imaginary.
A survey was completed not only of Permian sandstones in the United States, but for those around the world. Microscopic thin sections of European sandstones showed many of the same characteristics that we found in sandstones of the western United States: mica, angular K-feldspars, dolomite, angular sand grains, poor sorting, and other characteristics not usually found in modern eolian sands. Additionally, details like paleontology, associated deposits, cross-bed angles (much less than the angle of repose) and other features show these deposits are similar to the Coconino and probably had a similar origin. It is argued that Permian sandstones are exceptional examples of what Ager (1981) called the phenomenon of the persistence of facies.
Modern marine sand waves occur in multiple areas on continental shelves where there are strong currents. They are the same scale as modern desert dunes and also contain cross-beds and migrate with a current as do eolian dunes. Sand waves may not be an exact analogue of how we believe the “blanket” of the Coconino was deposited, but we envisage something similar depositing shallow marine sands all over the Pangean continent as it was underwater during the Flood.
Ray Strom, Paul Garner, and others have been significant contributors to the Coconino project that we started so many years ago. This paper is just a small part of the larger project. Countless hours have been spent in the field, the lab, and in the office— of which Ray and Paul have been an integral part. Cedarville University provided logistical support and funding to complete this particular paper. Institute for Creation Research and Calgary Rock and Materials Services Inc. contributed significantly, especially in funding the field work and thin section production that has been such an important part of the Coconino project as a whole. The helpful comments and rewording suggestions from the reviewers were much appreciated.
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A comparison of currently recognized chronostratigraphic (time-rock) designations for the Pennsylvanian and Permian by the International Commission on Stratigraphy (column 1), Global Chronostratigraphic Units at the time the COSUNA project was published (column 2) and North American Stratigraphic Units at the time the COSUNA project was published (column 3). Conventional ages (Ma) are shown on the right and apply to all three columns. Note that this table is not meant to show stage equivalencies of the columns because the accepted boundary dates fluctuate. For example, “Wolfcampian” in column 3 is not equivalent to the Artinskian and Kunguian in column 1. Wolfcampian rocks would include the Asselian and Sakarian of column 1.
Catalog of selected Upper Pennsylvanian and Lower Permian sandstones of the western United States. Note: some of the formations found above and below the units will vary depending on where they are located within a particular area. Paul A. Garner contributed some of the research and text contained in this table, but any errors are my responsibility.
|Sandstone and column numbers in fig. 5, if applicable||Age (stage in NA chron. units) of sandstone||Stratigraphy above and below sandstone and COSUNA chart abbreviation||Location and max. thickness (m)||Primary reference(s)||Description and notes|
|Abo Formation 5– 8||Leonardian
|NM 305||Lee and Girty 1909; Melton 1925; Needham and Bates 1943|
|Bingham Mine Formation 41, 43||Wolfcampian(?)
|UT 2,228||Tooker and Roberts 1970|
|Broom Creek Group 55, 57, 58, 60||Wolfcampian||
|MT, ND, NE, SD, WY 98||Condra, Reed, and Scherer 1940; McCauley 1956|
|Brushy Canyon Formation 9, 10||Guadalupian||
|TX 300||Harms 1974; Soreghan and Soreghan 2013|
|Bursum Formation 7, 8||Wolfcampian||
|NM 71||Myers 1972|
|Casper Formation 23, 24||Wolfcampian
|WY 212||Agatston 1954; Hoyt and Chronic 1962; Knight 1929; McKee and Bigarella 1979; Sando and Sandberg 1987; Steidtmann 1974|
|Cassa Group 57, 58||Wolfcampian||
|CO, NE, SD, WY 122||Agatston 1954; Condra, Reed, and Scherer 1940; McCauley 1956|
|Castle Valley Sandstone||Leonardian||
|UT 183||Lawton, Buller, and Parr 2015|
|Cedar Hills Sandstone 15–18||Guadalupian
|CO, NE, KS 91||Macfarlane et al. 1993; Moore et al. 1951|
|Cedar Mesa Sandstone 26, 27||Leonardian
|UT 427||Baars 1979; Condon 1997; Loope 1984; Mack 1977; Mountney and Jagger 2004; Ohlen and McIntyre 1965; Roberts et al. 1965|
|Cherry Canyon Formation 9, 10||Guadalupian||
|TX 391||King 1948; Soreghan and Soreghan 2013|
|Coconino Sandstone 1–3, 25, 26, 35||Leonardian||
|AZ, CA, NV, UT 300||Baars 1961, 1962; Baltz 1982; Beard et al. 2007; Billingsley and Workman 2000; Blakey 1988, 1990; Blakey, Peterson, and Kocurek 1988; Blakey and Knepp 1989; Brand and Tang 1991; Castor et al. 2000; Doelling et al. 2003; Hintze 1986, 1988; Luepke 1971; McKee 1934; Middleton. Elliott, and Morales 2003; Miller and McKee 1971; Whitmore and Garner 2018; Whitmore et al. 2014; Whitmore, Forsythe, and Garner 2015|
|Cutler Formation 26||Leonardian
|AZ, CO, NM, UT 1,800||Baars 1962, 1979; Condon 1997; Kamola and Chan 1988; Lawton, Buller, and Parr 2015; Melton 1925; Steele 1987|
|De Chelly Sandstone 26, 27||Leonardian||
|AZ, CO, UT, NM 230||Baars 1979; Blakey 1990; Condon 1997; Lessentine 1965; Ohlen and McIntyre 1965; Stanesco 1991|
|Diamond Creek Sandstone 41–43||Leonardian||
|UT 701||Baker, Huddle, and McKinney 1949; Bissell 1962; Hintze 1988; Meibos 1981; Nielson 1994, 1999; Roberts et al. 1965|
|Duncan Sandstone 14||Guadalupian||
|OK 60||Scott and Ham 1957|
|Esplanade Sandstone 25||Wolfcampian
|AZ 100||Baars 1962, 1979; Blakey 1990, 2003; McKee 1982|
|Fairbank Formation 57–59||Morrowan||
|SD 30||Condra, Reed, and Scherer 1940; MacLachlan and Bieber 1963; McCauley 1956|
|OK 180||Siemers, Stanley, and Suneson 2000|
|Glorieta Sandstone 5-9, 11–13, 19, 20||Guadalupian
|NM, OK, TX 90||Baars 1974; Blakey 1990; Brill 1952; Dinterman 2001; Irwin and Morton 1969; Krainer and Lucas 2015; Needham and Bates 1943|
|Hudspeth Cutoff Formation 47||Leonardian
|ID, NV, UT 700||Cramer 1971; Isaacson, Bachtel, and McFaddan 1983; Roberts et al. 1965; Yancey, Ishibashi, and Bingman 1980|
|Ingleside Formation 21, 22||Wolfcampian||
|CO 100||Hoyt 1961; Lee 1927; Maughan and Wilson 1960; Maughan and Ahlbrandt 1985; McKee and Oriel 1967; Pike and Sweet 2018|
|Juniper Gulch Member and Gallagher Peak Sandstone of Snaky Canyon Formation 50||Leonardian
|ID 59/597||Isaacson, Bachtel, and McFaddan 1983; Skipp et al. 1979|
|Lyons Sandstone 21||Leonardian||
|CO 107||Brill 1952; Hubert 1960; Lee 1927; Maher 1954; Maher and Collins 1953; McKee and Bigarella 1979; Pike and Sweet 2018; Ross et al. 2010; Thompson 1949; Walker and Harms 1972|
|Minnelusa Formation 32, 53, 54, 56, 59||Wolfcampian
|MT, SD, WY 250–366||Condra, Reed, and Scherer 1940; Fryberger 1984; McCauley 1956; Thompson and Kirby 1940; Verville and Thompson 1963|
|Oquirrh Formation 42||Wolfcampian
|UT, ID 8,000||Bissell 1959; Isaacson, Bachtel, and McFaddan 1983; Roberts et al. 1965; Yancey, Ishibashi, and Bingman 1980|
|Quadrant Sandstone 51, 52||Desmoinesian||
|ID, MT 533||James 1992; Reeves 1931; Saperstone and Ethridge 1984; Thompson and Scott 1941|
|Queantoweap Formation 35–39||Wolfcampian||
|UT, NV 610||Bissell 1962; Hintze 1986; McNair 1951|
|Rib Hill Sandstone||Wolfcampian||
|NV 305||Bissell 1964a; Langenheim and Larson 1973; Steele 1960|
|Riepetown Formation 40, 62–64||Wolfcampian||
|NV, UT 366||Bissell 1962, 1964a; Steele 1960|
|Rush Springs Sandstone||Guadalupian||
|OK 25–125||Kocurek and Kirkland 1998; Poland and Simms 2012|
|Sangre de Cristo Formation 19, 20||Wolfcampian
|NM 2,900||Baltz 1965; Bolyard 1959; Melton 1925; Read and Wood 1947|
|Scherrer Formation 4||Leonardian||
|AZ, NM 210||Blakey and Knepp 1989; Butler 1971; Gilluly, Cooper, and Williams 1954; Luepke 1971; Zeller 1965|
|Schnebly Hill Formation 3||Leonardian||
|AZ 600||Blakey (1984); Blakey and Knepp (1989); Blakey and Middleton (1983)|
|TX 30||Mazzullo, Malicse, and Siegel 1991|
|Shedhorn Formation (Sandstone) 51, 52||Guadalupian||
|MT, WY 36||McKelvey et al. (1959)|
|Talisman Quartzite 37||Wolfcampian||
|UT 369||Baetcke 1969; Whelan 1982|
|Tensleep Sandstone 29, 30, 33, 34||Wolfcampian
|MT, WY 25–305||Agatston 1952, 1954; Andrews and Higgins 1984; Curry 1984; Darton 1904; Hoare and Burgess 1960; Kerr and Dott 1988; Kerr et al. 1986; Lane 1973; Link et al. 2014; Mankiewicz and Steidtmann 1979; Sando, Gordon, and Dutro 1975; Verille, Sanderson, and Rea 1970|
|Toroweap Formation 3, 25, 35–37, 39, 40, 61||Leonardian||
|AZ, UT, NV 100–300||Blakey 1990; Rawson and Turner-Peterson 1980|
|Tubb Sandstone Member of Clear Fork Group and Abo Formation 11–13||Leonardian||
|NM, TX 65||Hartig et al. 2011|
|Tussing Formation 47||Missourian
|ID 1,300||Cramer 1971; Isaacson, Bachtel, and McFaddan 1983; Yancey, Ishibashi, and Bingman1980|
|Tyler Formation 34, 53–56, 60||Morrowan||
|MT 30–60||Maughan and Roberts 1967|
|Weber Sandstone 28, 29, 44, 45||Leonardian
|UT 100–700||Bissell 1964a, 1964b; Bissell and Childs 1958; Chure et al. 2014; Doe and Dott 1980; Donnell 1958; Driese 1985; Fryberger 1979; Koelmel 1986; Link et al. 2014; Melton 1925; Roberts et al. 1965|
|Wells Formation 46||Wolfcampian
|ID, MT, UT, WY 732||Richards and Mansfield 1912; Yancey, Ishibashi, and Bingman 1980|
|White Rim Sandstone 27, 38||Leonardian||
|UT 80||Baars 1979; Baars and Seager 1970; Baars 2010; Blakey, Peterson, and Kocurek 1988; Chan 1989; Ohlen and McIntyre 1965; Steele 1987; Steele-Mallory 1982; Tubbs 1989|
|Wood River Formation 48, 49||Guadalupian
|ID 2983||Isaacson, Bachtel, and McFaddan 1983; Link et al. 2014; Skipp and Brandt 2012; Skipp et al. 1979|
|Yeso Formation 5–8, 19, 20||Leonardian||
|NM 300–600||Baars 1979; Dinterman 2001; Needham and Bates 1943|
Details and references for selected Permian sandstones occurring in Canada, Europe, South America, and Saudi Arabia. Paul A. Garner contributed some of the research and text contained in this table, especially for some of the UK sandstones, but any errors are my responsibility. Some material was found in Rodríguez-López et al. 2014, Supplementary Table S2 (Compilation of main Cambrian, Ordovician, Silurian, Devonian, Carboniferous, and Permian eolian sand systems). Some material comes from the table in Whitmore and Strom’s 2018 ICC paper.
|Sandstone||Conventional age||Location and maximum thickness, if known (m)||Primary reference(s)||Description and notes|
|Andapaico Formation||Permian||Argentina, 5||Correa, Carrevedo, and Gutiérrez 2012|
|Bridgnorth Sandstone||Lower Permian||England, 180||Karpeta 1990; Mader and Yardly 1985; Shotton 1937, 1956|
|Brumund Formation||Permian||Norway, 800||Larsen et al. 2008|
|Champenay Formation||Upper Permian||France, 110||Swezey, Deynoux, and Jeannette 1996|
|Corncockle Sandstone||Lower Permian||Scotland, 1000||Brookfield 1977, 1978; McKeever 1991|
|Corrie Sandstone||Lower Permian||Scotland, 700||Clemmensen and Abrahamsen 1983; Gregory 1915; Piper 1970|
|Dawlish Sandstone||Upper Permian||England, 120||Newell 2001|
|De la Cuesta Formation||Permian||Argentina, 1600||Limarino and Spalletti 1986; Spalletti, Limarino, and Piñol 2010|
|Hopeman Sandstone||Permian||Scotland, 60||Maithel, Garner, and Whitmore 2015; Ogilvie, Glennie, and Hopkins 2000; Peacock 1966; Peacock et al. 1968|
|Juruá Formation||Lower Pennsylvanian||Brazil, 30–40||Elias et al. 2004|
|La Colina Formation||Lower Permian||Argentina||Limarino and Spalletti 1986|
|Locharbriggs Sandstone||Permian||Scotland, 1000||Brookfield 1977, 1978; McKeever 1991|
|Los Reyunos Formation||Permian||Argentina||Limarino and Spalletti 1986; Mancuso et al. 2016|
|Ojo de Agua Formation||Permian||Argentina||Limarino and Spalletti 1986|
|Patquía Formation||Carboniferous to Permian||Argentina, >150||Caselli and Limarino 2002; Krapovickas et al. 2010; Limarino and Spalletti 1986|
|Penrith Sandstone||Lower Permian||England, 100–400||Arthurton, Burgess, and Holliday 1978; Lovell et al. 2006; Smith 1884; Waugh 1970a, 1970b|
|Pirambóia Formation||Permian||Brazil, 20–-200||Delorenzo, Dias, and Scherer 2008; Francischini et al. 2018|
|Rotliegendes and Wiessliegendes||Permian||Western continental Europe, UK, 225–1500||Glennie 1972; Kiersnowski and Buniak 2016; McKee and Bigarella 1979|
|Santa Brígda Formation||Permian||Brazil||Jones, Scherer, and Kuchle 2016|
|Unnamed sandstone in Maritimes Basin||Permian||Eastern Canada, Prince Edward Island area, 800||Calder, Baird, and Urdang 2004; Gibling et al. 2008; Lavoie et al. 2009|
|Unayzah A member||Middle Permian||Saudi Arabia, 45–90||Melvin, Sprague, and Heine 2010|
|Yellow Sands||Lower Permian||England, 20||Pryor 1971; Steele 1983; Versey 1925|