Sperry Wash

Geology of the Area:

The Sperry Wash in the Alexander Hills near Death Valley contain sediments from the surrounding China Ranch beds. The China Ranch beds are over 5000 feet thick and contain conglomerate Pleistocene lake deposits. The upper beds contain marly limestone and tuffs.

Paleontology:

Although before 1966 the area was considered unfossiliferous in exception to the wood fragments found in the stretch of road described below,  permineralized tree ferns, palm axes, cycads, rootlets, and material referred to as petrified bog have been found in the area. Additionally, permineralized grass species such as Tomlinsonia are fossilized in the sediments.

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Directions:

According to Gail Butler’s Rockhounding California, From the interstate 127, turn east on Furnace Creek Road. After driving for 4 miles southeast, stay on Furnace Creek when it branches right away from Old Spanish Trail Road. Turn right on Western Talc Mine Road and drive 2.5 miles to the talc mine. Fossil algae and talc can be found by the mine. Then back out and continue driving for another 4.7 miles farther. Agate and petrified wood can be found on both sides of the road in that stretch of road.

Works Cited:

Tidwell, William D. and Nambudiri, E. M. V., “Tomlinsonia stichkania sp. nov., a permineralized grass from the Pliocene to (?)Pleistocene China Ranch beds in Sperry Wash, California” (1990). All Faculty Publications. Paper 1446. http://scholarsarchive.byu.edu/facpub/1446 

 

Gail Butler, “Rockhounding California,” (Morris Book Publishing, 1995)

 

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Shell Creek

Geology of the Area:

The area contains Cenezoic marine strata, which is part of the Temblor Formation.

The Fossils:

In the cliffside just off the road are clams, sand dollars, and Oysters, likely dating to the Miocene or Pliocene epoch.

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