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Geosciences 2017, 7(3), 82; doi:10.3390/geosciences7030082

The Bruneau Woodpile: A Miocene Phosphatized Fossil Wood Locality in Southwestern Idaho, USA

1
College of Natural Sciences Education and Outreach Center, Colorado State University, Ft. Collins, CO 80523, USA
2
Geology Department, Western Washington University, Bellingham, WA 98225, USA
3
Evolving Earth Foundation, P.O. Box 2090, Issaquah, WA 98027, USA
4
Department of Geosciences, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID 83209, USA
*
Author to whom correspondence should be addressed.
Received: 3 June 2017 / Revised: 27 August 2017 / Accepted: 5 September 2017 / Published: 9 September 2017
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Abstract

The Bruneau Woodpile site has long been popular among fossil collectors; however, the deposit has received scant attention from scientists. Our research reveals that the fossilized wood was deposited ca. 6.85 Ma, within the Chalk Hills Formation, and was mineralized with carbonate-fluorapatite. The diverse assemblage of conifers and hardwoods is representative of the warm temperate forests that flourished in southwest Idaho, USA during the late Miocene. Limb and trunk fragments preserved in a single thin sandstone bed appear to represent woody debris that was transported by streams. One possible explanation is that wood, pumice, and sandy volcaniclastic sediment arrived separately as a result of ordinary stream action, and later were combined into a single assemblage during a subsequent high-energy sedimentation event. We favor an alternate hypothesis: a catastrophic event (e.g., a windstorm) damaged trees on slopes bordering the ancient lake. Branches and small trunk fragments were carried by wind and rain into local streams and ponds where they became waterlogged. After a delay that allowed pumice and wood to become saturated, storm water transported these materials, along with finer volcaniclastic sediment, into a lake. The resulting density current produced a fining-upward sedimentary cycle where wood was preserved in the lowest, coarsest stratum. View Full-Text
Keywords: apatite; carbonate-fluorapatite; Chalk Hills Formation; Chalk Hills Lake; ancient Lake Idaho; Idaho; Mount Saint Helens; Snake River Plain; phosphatized wood; paleobotany; Bruneau Woodpile; petrified wood apatite; carbonate-fluorapatite; Chalk Hills Formation; Chalk Hills Lake; ancient Lake Idaho; Idaho; Mount Saint Helens; Snake River Plain; phosphatized wood; paleobotany; Bruneau Woodpile; petrified wood
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This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. (CC BY 4.0).

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MDPI and ACS Style

Viney, M.; Mustoe, G.E.; Dillhoff, T.A.; Link, P.K. The Bruneau Woodpile: A Miocene Phosphatized Fossil Wood Locality in Southwestern Idaho, USA. Geosciences 2017, 7, 82.

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