The Pennsylvanian–Permian Maroon Formation of northwest Colorado is an up to 4,600 m thick succession of mainly siliciclastic continental red-beds deposited in equatorial intermontane basins of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains. Sedimentary surfaces of fluvio-lacustrine to eolian siltstones and fine-grained sandstones from various stratigraphic levels within the Maroon Formation preserve cm-sized straight to gently curved sediment-filled acicular structures referred to five morphological groups: single, branched, stellate, rosette, and bunched. Depositional environment, shape, and size of the structures are most similar to ice crystal marks that result from freezing of water-saturated fine-grained substrate at the sediment-air interface. They differ from other syngenetically produced crystals and crystal pseudomorphs in sedimentary rocks mainly by crystal shape and environmental conditions. The potential ice crystal marks of the Maroon Formation are notable for the fidelity and morphological diversity of the crystal casts and could be a key for the understanding of similar but hitherto often only called enigmatic structures of the sedimentary rock record. The ice crystal mark occurrences in the Maroon Formation suggest that night frost affected lower elevation equatorial areas during the climax of the Late Paleozoic Ice Age and may stimulate research on evolutionary adaptations of early terrestrial biota to overcome significant air temperature fluctuations.

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