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Painted Desert

Arizona USA

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“painted by nature!”

The Painted Desert is a United States desert of badlands in the Four Corners area, from the Grand Canyon to Petrified Forest National Park. Much of the area within the Petrified Forest National Park is protected as the Petrified Forest National Wilderness Area. Much of the Painted Desert region is within the Navajo Nation. The desert is composed of stratified layers of easily erodible siltstone, mudstone, and shale of the TriassicChinle Formation. These fine grained rock layers contain abundant iron and manganese compounds which provide the pigments for the various colors of the region. Thin resistant lacustrine limestone layers andvolcanic flows cap the mesas. Numerous layers of silicic volcanic ash occur in the Chinle and provide the silica for the petrified logs of the area. The erosion of these layers has resulted in the formation of thebadlands topography of the region.[4][5][6]In the southern portions of the desert the remains of a Triassic period coniferous forest have fossilized over millions of years. Wind, water and soil erosion continue to change the face of the landscape by shiftingsediment and exposing layers of the Chinle Formation. An assortment of fossilized prehistoric plants and animals are found in the region, as well as dinosaur tracks and the evidence of early human habitation.

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