Eastern Mojave Vegetation Inyo-White Geology -- A Botanist's View  

Tom Schweich  

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Topics in this Article:
Rock Units
Economic Geology
Literature Cited
 Try as I might, I am unable to ignore the substrate for the plants I study. Over the years, notes about rock units, sand dunes, and mines have accumulated at such a rate as to present the alarming possibility that I might be nearly as interested in the geology as the botany. My intention for this page is to present those notes as a very brief review of the geology immediate to Lobo Point and the Mid Hills.




These notes comprise readily accessible data about the rock units, the common geomorphic features and the economic geology of the eastern Mojave. There are many other sources of information. The Reynolds and Reynolds (1995) volume and the web sites prepared by the U. S. G. S. are also excellent starting places for additional information.

Both the National Park Service and the United States Geological Survey have web pages about the geology of Mojave National Preserve. You can find them at:

  This article is one of three geology articles on my web site. The other two pages are: Death Valley Geology and Eastern Mojave Geology.



Geologic Time Scale.

The University of California Museum of Paleontology has a excellent Geologic Time Scale.




Rock Units

  In this chapter, rock units are presented in time sequence from oldest rocks to youngest rocks.




Precambrian metamorphic gneiss and schist crop out just north of the North Wild Horse Mesa and Lobo Point.





Proterozoic Era







Literature Cited:
- Corsetti, Frank A., and James W. Hagadorn, 2003.
- Smith, E. F., L.L. Nelson, M.A. Strange, A.E. Eyster, S.M. Rowland, D.P. Schrag, and F.A. Macdonald, 2016.
- Stewart, John H., 1970.

Locations: Mount Dunfee.  

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Generalized tectonic setting of the Precambrian-Cambrian margin of North America.
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Rough correlation of rock units between western, central , and eastern regions of the southern Great Basin.
The succession of Precambrian-Cambrian rock units from the southeast near Las Vegas to the northwest in the Inyo-White mountain ranges show facies changes from continental deposits through shallow water or continental margin deposits in the death Valley area to deep water deposits in the Inyo-White Mountains.
Edicarian Period

Literature Cited:
- Smith, E. F., L.L. Nelson, M.A. Strange, A.E. Eyster, S.M. Rowland, D.P. Schrag, and F.A. Macdonald, 2016.

Locations: Mount Dunfee.  

Ediacaran-Cambrian strata in the Great Basin of Nevada and California were deposited on the western margin of Laurentia (present coordinates) during the rift-drift transition, with the strata at Mount Dunfee representing one of the most distal, carbonate-dominated sections that is preserved. The Ediacaran to lower Cambrian Deep Spring Formation consists of three members: the Dunfee (lower), Esmeralda (middle), and Gold Point (upper) Members, which are also exposed in the White-Inyo Mountains (Smith, et al., 2016).







Campito Formation

  ... upper Fallotaspis zone ... lower Nevadella zone ... Fallotaspis, Daguinaspis, "Judomia" faunas ... Holmia faunule ... upper Stirling Quartzite and lower Wood Canyon Formation of the Death Valley facies. ... uppermost has Archaeocyathids (Gangloff, 1976).
  In vicinity of Papoose Flat pluton, south of Wacoba Springs ... Montenegro member of the Campito is more shaly ... everywhere full of fossils, but here is more cooked up and fossils are blurred

Poleta Formation

  ... upper Nevadella zone ... lower Bonnia-Olenellus zone ... Nevadella faunule ... Olenellus A faunule ... upper Wood Canyon Formation and lower Zabriskie Quartzite of the Death Valley facies ... no corresponding formation in Craton facies ... (Nelson, 1976).
  ... has best preserved specimens of Archaeocyathids in the White-Inyo Mountains (Gangloff, 1976).

Harkless Formation

  : ... mid Bonnia-Olenellus zone ... lower Ogygopsis 2 faunule ... Ogygopsis faunule ... mid Zabriskie Quartzite ... lowest Prospect Mountain Quartzite of the Craton facies (Nelson, 1976)
  ... lower Harkless Formation has Archaeocyathids (Gangloff, 1976).

Saline Valley Formation

  : ... mid Bonnia-Olenellus zone ... lowest Bristolia faunule ... upper Ogygopsis 2 faunule ... lowest Carrara Formation and topmost Zabriskie Quartzite of the Death Valley facies ... topmost Prospect Mountain quartzite and lowest Latham shale of the Craton facies (Nelson, 1976).

Mule Spring Limestone

  ... topmost Bonnia-Olenellus zone ... Bristolia faunule ... upper Carrara Formation of the Death Valley facies ... upper Latham Shale, Chambless Limestone and Cadiz Formation of the Craton facies (Nelson, 1976).




  At the beginning of the Mesozoic, the continents of the Earth formed a supercontinent called Pangea. The western or northwestern coast of the supercontinent was the Panthalassa Ocean.















Sand Dunes





Economic Geology





Literature Cited

  A list of all literature cited by this web site can be found in the Bibliography.
  Corsetti, Frank A., and James W. Hagadorn. 2003. The Precambrian-Cambrian transition in the southern Great Basin, USA. The Sedimentary Record. 1(1).
  Smith, E. F., L.L. Nelson, M.A. Strange, A.E. Eyster, S.M. Rowland, D.P. Schrag, and F.A. Macdonald. 2016. The end of the Ediacaran: Two new exceptionally preserved body fossil assemblages from Mount Dunfee, Nevada, USA. Geology. 44(11):911-914. {TAS-pdf}
  Stewart, John H. 1970. Upper Precambrian and Lower Cambrian Strata in the Southern Great Basin, California and Nevada. Geological Survey Professional Paper 620. Washington, DC: U. S. Government Printing Office, 1970.
If you have a question or a comment you may write to me at: tomas@schweich.com I sometimes post interesting questions in my FAQ, but I never disclose your full name or address.  

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Date and time this article was prepared: 7/13/2024 8:12:04 AM