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Lithostratigraphic Correlation of the Coconino Sandstone and a Global Survey of Permian “Eolian” Sandstones: Implications for Flood Geology

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Answers Research Journal



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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.


Coconino Sandstone, Permian sandstones, COSUNA, correlation of Permian sandstones, Leonardian sandstones, Pennsylvanian sandstones, cross-bedded sandstones, cross-bed orientations, paleocurrent directions, cross-bed dips, Coconino Sandstone stratigraphy, reality of the geological column, thin widespread deposits, sand waves

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Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.