History of the Chuckanut Formation
Some fifty million years ago, much of the Pacific Northwest was covered by a giant swampy flood plain, spanning the area between where the cities of Vancouver BC and Everett are found today. Over time, layers of sediment were deposited in this flood plain, which became the Chuckanut Formation. The Chuckanut Formation consists of a nearly four-mile thick deposit of sedimentary sandstone deposits, the largest formation of its kind in North America! Over time, this deposit has been broken and fractured through the motion of the earth’s tectonic plates -- you’ll be able to see a great example of this phenomenon at this Earthcache. As you approach the Earthcache along Chuckanut Drive, you’ll be able to see that the rock is now in pieces that tilt and point in directions different from the horizontal layers of sediment that were originally laid down in the rivers and swamps.
What did this area look like fifty million years ago when the Chuckanut Formation formed? During the Eocene era, the dinosaurs were already gone, but other animals like the Dawn Horse and ancient relatives of the Tapir roamed this area, which was also home to a wide array of tropical plants. Many of these plants, including their seeds, nuts, and leaves, became trapped in the river sediment, forming fossils over time.
In order to log this Earthcache, you’ll need to email me with a description of at least three different fossilized objects that you find at this location and their approximate sizes, and post a photo of you or your group in front of the fossil area. Take only photos -- do not collect the fossils or disturb the area in any way. Be sure that you don’t include spoiler comments or photos in your log entry. As required for Earthcache listings, incomplete logs will be deleted or changed to a note until all logging requirements have been completed.
Parking and Access
Parking is available in a small pullout about 150 feet north of the fossil location. This road can be busy at times -- be careful crossing the road and watch small children carefully.