Following the footsteps of Dr. Robert Young - across the Mancos desert and back again
There are at least two ways to begin a geologic field study. One is to read the literature, form a hypothesis, and test the hypothesis in the field. I prefer a second way, in which, after a general review, an independent study is conducted, a hypothesis is developed, and a comparison is made to the prevailing interpretations. It was in this way that I came to agree with the correlations of Dr. Robert Young in his landmark 1960 study published in an AAPG Bulletin entitled 'Dakota Group of Colorado Plateau'. In my preliminary work on the Dakota Sandstone in the San Rafael Swell in Utah, my attempts to correlate individual sandstones were largely unsuccessful, but I came to realize that the mudstones seemed to be unique. While studying Bob's paper, I recognized he had already come to that conclusion in his correlations. Thus, in spite of the controversy about his paper that had been raised earlier, his correlations have provided the basis for today's accepted stratigraphic correlations. I also have had the opportunity to see all of the shoreface units above the Mancos Shale on the way back across the desert, and once again, a classic paper by Dr. Young published in a 1955 GSA Bulletin provided a guide to the stratigraphy that, in basic form, has held up all these years and is still a primary reference for Upper Cretaceous rocks in the Book Cliffs. It has been a privilege to follow his footsteps and a pleasure to interact with a consummate stratigrapher of the Book Cliffs.
AAPG Search and Discovery Article #90156©2012 AAPG Rocky Mountain Section Meeting, Grand Junction, Colorado, 9-12 September 2012