Three informal palynological assemblage zones can be distinguished in samples from Chinle Formation outcrops in Utah, Arizona and New Mexico. The oldest zone (zone I) is in the Temple Mountain Member in southeastern Utah; the middle zone (zone II) is in the Shinarump, Moss Back, Monitor Butte and (lower part of the) Petrified Forest Members (Utah, Arizona and New Mexico); the youngest zone (zone III) is in the upper Petrified Forest Member and silstone member in Arizona and Utah and the silstone member in northcentral New Mexico. Present palynological evidence suggests that Chinle deposition on the Colorado Plateau began locally in late Carnian time and continued at least into the early part of Norian time of the Late Triassic period. Because the upper boundary of the Chinle Formation is an unconformity and the overlying formations are palynologically barren, the length of time represented by this stratigraphic hiatus is not known with certainty. Current palynological evidence suggests, however, that the unconformity at the top of the Chinle cannot be older than early Norian nor younger than Hettangian. Zones I, II and III can now be recognized in the palynomorph assemblage sequences from the Eastern Mesozoic basins, which modifies earlier palynological zonations for the lower portions of the Newark Supergroup. This is based on our identification of palynomorphs not previously known from portions of the Newark Supergroup and the discovery that specific biomarker taxa combinations are the same for both the western and eastern palynomorph sequences. At present palynomorph assemblages from the Chinle Formation and Newark Supergroup compare more closely for zones II and III than they do for zone I, but research is still in progress. ?? 1991.
Additional publication details
Preliminary palynological zonation of the Chinle formation, southwestern U.S.A., and its correlation to the Newark supergroup (eastern U.S.A.)