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Jack Castellano

Field Geology- Six Mile Fold


March 4th, 2015
Geologic History of Neva Road as revealed by Six Mile Fold
The geology of this area is particularly interesting as it clearly demonstrates some very
significant episodes of geologic activity along the Colorado Front Range area. The layers
observed here are within the Benton formation and the Niobrara Formation; the Benton
sandstone, the Fort Hayes limestone, and the Smoky Hill mudstone.
The oldest member, the Benton sandstone, is a fine grained well sorted sandstone. The
sandstone has no clasts and is only very fine quartz grains. This small grain well sorted sandstone
is indicative of low energy depositional environment and the homogeneity of the formation
suggests that it was deposited in a costal setting, this could be marine or lake front but it is not
easy to tell from the small outcropping observed. However the next layer is more telling of the
environment.
The Fort Hayes limestone follows strategraphically above the Benton sandstone and
answers the question of lake vs marine. Limestone only forms in areas of deep water due to the
presence of (usually) foraminifera and other small algae which produce calcium carbonate shells.
However, the Fort Hayes limestone also contains many fossils within its layers, one in particular,
a bivalve called Inoceramus, is known to only occur in deep ocean settings, meaning there was
most likely a sea at one time in this area. This clarifies that the Benton sandstone was deposited
in a costal marine setting.
The next strategraphic layer, the Smoky Hill mudstone, is the youngest of the layers and
tells us what happened after the deep ocean environment of the Fort Hayes limestone. Because
this is mudstone, and there was an ocean here, it can be assumed that this was probably a low
energy environment, potentially a river plume into a shallow ocean setting.

These layers tell us first there was a coast line here at one time. Then due to transgression
of the ocean, this area became covered in water and allowed for the survival (and deposition) of
deep sea life. After some time the ocean began regressing and allowed for the shallow ocean
conditions which gave the low energy conditions required to deposit mudstone.
After all of this happened something caused these layers to be folded, bent and twisted to
be exposed and shaped as they are now. The presence of Inoceramus within the limestone puts
the deposition of this layer around 65Ma and the mudstone shortly thereafter. Therefore
sometime around 30-40Ma some great tectonic event caused the formation of the fold now seen.
This is roughly around the time proposed for the formation of the Rocky Mountains. The area
visible here consists of an anticline and a sincline running north south. The North South axial
plane suggests great amounts of East West crustal shortening. The presence of the flat irons and
the probably age of the folding suggests that it was during the formation of the rockies, and more
specifically during the laramide orogeny, that the folding occurred.