The Cerro Summit quadrangle covers 58 square miles of dissected plateau on the south flank of the Gunnison uplift in southwestern Colorado. It lies east of the Uncompahgre River valley and south of the Black Canyon of the Gunnison River. Rocks dip gently in most of the quadrangle, but they are locally upturned and faulted on the margin of the Gunnison uplift and are intensely deformed in the core of the uplift. The rocks exposed are of Precambrian, late Mesozoic, and Cenozoic age.
Precambrian rocks include metasedimentary schist and gneiss, granitic pegmatite, and olivine gabbro. The oldest Mesozoic rocks exposed are continental, fresh-water, and lagoonal deposits in the Late Jurassic Entrada Sandstone, Wanakah Formation, and Morrison Formation. Channel-fill deposits that unconformably overlie the Jurassic rocks are possibly the Burro Canyon Formation of Early Cretaceous age. Upper Cretaceous rocks include marine and nearshore deposits of the Dakota
Sandstone, Mancos Shale, and Pictured Cliffs Sandstone, and the fresh- and brackish-water sandstone, shale, and coal of the Fruitland Formation. Rocks of Late Cretaceous age that crop out in the adjacent Cimarron Ridge area may also have been deposited in this quadrangle but are now eroded; these rocks include the nonmarine Kirtland Shale and an unnamed volcanic conglomerate and tuff breccia. Nine faunal zones in the Mancos Shale help to establish the correct correlation of units in the Upper Cretaceous. The Pictured Cliffs Sandstone, Fruitland Formation, and Kirtland Shale of the Cerro Summit area have been mapped by some geologists as the Mesaverde Formation. Fossils indicate that the rocks are younger than the type Mesaverde. The unnamed volcanic rocks represent major volcanism in nearby areas. A Late Cretaceous (Maestrichtian) age for the volcanism is indicated by palynological evidence and an isotopic age of approximately 66 million years. Middle Tertiary rocks are conglomerate and tuff breccia. Upper Tertiary or lower Quaternary rocks include gravel along Pool Gulch and older landslide debris on Waterdog Peak. Pleistocene and Recent deposits consist of the older stream gravel of Shinn Park, valley-fill deposits of Bostwick-Shinn Park, and pediment, landslide, eolian, alluvial, and colluvial deposits. P1elstocene valley-fill deposits of Bostwick-Shinn Park were deposited during the Cedar Ridge, or Kansan, to Pinedale or late Wisconsin times. The valley-fill deposits are divided into five units that are separated by strong Interglacial or Interstadial soils and that contain three volcanic ash beds. Chemical and petrographic data suggest that the middle ash bed may correlate with the Pearlette Ash Member (late Kansan) of the Sappa Formation in Nebraska. Alluvium on two pediment surfaces seems to be of Sacagawea Ridge or Illinoian age. Landslide deposits, of Pleistocene and Recent age, cover about 85 percent of the quadrangle; most of the deposits were formerly mapped as till. The name Cerro Till was abandoned because till does not occur in the type area.
The dominant tectonic structures are the high-angle Cimarron fault of a few thousand feet displacement and the broad Montrose syncline. Evidence in the Cimarron Ridge area suggests that these structures formed in Late Cretaceous (Maestrichtian) time. Much of the strata near the surface of the quadrangle has been involved in landsliding that has continued from late Tertiary to the present.
Additional publication details
USGS Numbered Series
Geology of the Cerro Summit quadrangle, Montrose County, Colorado