Fossil Flora of the John Day Basin, Oregon

Bulletin 204



For a number of years I have been gradually accumulating material for a thorough revision of the Tertiary floras of the Pacific slope. Fossil plants are known to occur at numerous points within this area, and their study and identification has already furnished valuable data bearing on the geological history of the region, and when still further exploited it is confidently expected that they will afford more exact data for the use of geologists. This investigation is progressing satisfactorily, and at no distant day it is hoped to have it in form for final publication. From time to time various members of the United States Geological Survey, as well as others not connected with this organization, have sent in small collections of fossil plants for determination. These have been studied and reported upon as fully as the condition of the problem permitted, so that the determinations could be immediately available to geologists, but with the reservation that none of the questions could be fully settled until all known material had been studied and properly correlated. The rich fossil plant deposits in the John Day Basin, as set forth more fully in the historical account which follows, have been known for a period of nearly fifty years, but their study has been carried on in a more or less desultory manner. There has also been considerable confusion as to the horizons whence these plants came. As various species of plants described originally from the John Day region were detected in various other localities in Oregon, and in surrounding areas, as central Washington, western Idaho, and northern California, it became more than ever apparent that a thorough study of all material obtainable from this type area would be necessary before any definite or satisfactory conclusions could be reached. The immediate incentive for this revision was furnished by the receipt of a considerable collection of plants, made by Dr. John C. Merriam in 1900 while he was in charge of an expedition into this region made under the auspices of the University of California. When these plants were submitted to me for study, it was thought possible to present their description, together with a revision of our knowledge of the previously known forms, within a space sufficiently small to permit the publication of the matter as an appendix to a paper on the general geology of the area, then in preparation by Dr. Merriam. But it soon became apparent that this could not be adequately done within the space available, and a short preliminary report was prepared for and published by Dr. Merriam. The results of a complete restudy of all available fossil plant material from the John Day Basin are now presented. I wish to record my great indebtedness to Dr. Merriam, who not only accompanied me at a considerable personal sacrifice on a trip through the region in 1901, but placed unreservedly at my disposal all material bearing in any way on the problem then in the paleontological museum of the University of California. To Dr. Arthur Hollick I am indebted for the loan of all material from the John Day region belonging to Columbia University, and now deposited in the New York Botanical Garden at Bronx Park. This material, together with the rich collections belonging to the United States National Museum, represents practically all now known to have come from the John Day Basin.

Additional publication details

Publication type Report
Publication Subtype USGS Numbered Series
Title Fossil Flora of the John Day Basin, Oregon
Series title Bulletin
Series number 204
DOI 10.3133/b204
Edition -
Year Published 1902
Language ENGLISH
Publisher U.S. Geological Survey
Contributing office(s) U.S. Geological Survey
Description 153 p.
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