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Abstract

This field trip in the vicinity of the Florissant fossil beds includes five stops that examine the Precambrian Cripple Creek Granite and Pikes Peak Granite, and the late Eocene Wall Mountain Tuff, Thirtynine Mile Andesite lahars, and Florissant Formation. The Cripple Creek Granite and Pikes Peak Granite formed in balholilhs ca. 1.46 and 1.08 Ga, respectively. Uplifted during the Laramide Orogeny of the Late Cretaceous and early Tertiary, the Precambrian rocks were exposed along a widespread erosion surface of moderate relief by the late Eocene. The late Eocene volcanic history of the Florissant area is dominated by two separate events: (1) a caldera eruption of a pyroclastic flow that resulted in the emplacement of the Wall Mountain Tuff, a welded tuff dated at 36.73 Ma; and (2) stratovolcanic eruptions of tephra and associated lahars from the Guffey volcanic center of the Thirtynine Mile volcanic field. This volcanic activity from the Guffey volcanic center had a major influence on the development of local landforms and on sedimentation in the Florissant Formation, which was deposited in a fluvial and lacustrine setting and is dated as 34.07 Ma. The Florissant Formation contains a diverse flora and insect fauna consisting of more than 1700 described species. Most of these fossils are preserved as impressions and compressions in a diatomaceous tuffaceous paper shale and as huge petrified trees that were entombed in a lahar deposit.

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