Interpretation of the


The Hermit Shale - 280 million years old

 The Hermit Shale is the uppermost of a series of brilliant red cliffs and slopes which comprise much of the exposed depositional layers at the Grand Canyon. The iron-rich red beds of the Hermit Shale provide much of the red color characteristics of the Grand Canyon. In the central portion of the canyon the Hermit Shale forms a soft, deep red slope immediately below the sheer, light-colored cliff of Coconino Sandstone. It is about 300 feet thick along the Bright Angel Trail and extends to the top of the Supai Group. In places the wide slope of the Hermit Shale broadens into a shelf known as the Esplanade (primarily in the western portion of the Grand Canyon).

The deep red and maroon siltstones and mudstones of the Hermit Shale represent a coastal lowland environment (lagoon) on the edge of a sea, with occasional swampy conditions. This layer is rich with plant fossils in areas.

The animal in this scene is a Dimetridon. There is also a giant dragonfly. The trees are conifers (Araucarian Pines) which are similar to the trees responsible for the petrified wood today at the Petrified Forest southwest of the Grand Canyon. Giant Horsetails and ferns fill out the scene.