Clarno Fossil Beds Field Trip

  • 14 Sep 2018
  • 9:00 AM - 6:00 PM
  • 12


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Clarno Fossil Beds Field Trip

Friday, September 14 8:00AM to 6:00PM

Few places contain as remarkable a record of long-term climatic and biotic change as the John Day Basin of Central Oregon. On this trip, we will visit the Clarno Unit of the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, located about 90 miles NE of Bend (~2 hours drive-time). As described on the NPS website, the Palisades are the most prominent landform and are volcanic lahars, or mudflows, that formed 54-40 million years ago in a lush semi-tropical rainforest environment. Tiny four-toed horses, huge rhino-like brontotheres, crocodilians, and meat-eating creodonts that once roamed ancient jungles are now found in the rocks of the Clarno Unit, as well as an incredibly diverse range of plant life. Leaves, fruits, nuts, seeds, and petrified wood from 173 species of trees, vines, shrubs, and other plants have been found here thus far.

 This trip, led by Bob Timmer & Derek Loeb, will focus on the volcanism, sedimentation, paleo-climate, and flora & fauna recorded in the Clarno Formation. We will depart Bend at 8:00AM and arrive at the Clarno Unit picnic area along highway 218 at about 10AM. After an overview of the geology and a bathroom break, we will then drive 1 mile west to the parking area at the Hancock Field Station. We will hike the geo-loop trail past the Hancock Tree, to the Ignimbrite Rim (basal welded tuff of the John Day Formation), the Mammal Quarry, the Nut Beds, and Red Hill. The hike will be about 4 miles with an elevation gain of about 700 feet. Lunch will be along the trail and we should return to the cars by 3PM.

 We will then return to the Clarno Unit picnic area to meet members of the Geological Society of the Oregon Country (GSOC). They are holding the Presidents Field Trip at Clarno (Hancock Field Camp) and we will join them at the picnic area for refreshing beverages and snacks before departing by 4PM for Bend. We should arrive back in Bend by 6PM.

 Temperatures at Clarno can range from quite warm to chilly in September, dress accordingly, bring plenty of water and sunscreen, and bring a sack lunch. This trip should be suitable for all geologic backgrounds. A restroom is available at the Clarno picnic area. Please send an email to to register or for more information and include a cell phone number. Participants need to be a member of COGS or guest of a member and please leave your pets at home. Participation on the trip will be limited to 12 per our permit from the National Park Service.

Central Oregon Geoscience Society

P.O. Box 2154,  Bend, Oregon 97709

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