Artist’s Drive

Artist Palette – Death Valley
Furnace Creek – California
36° 21′ 48″ N, 116° 48′ 15″ W

California – Day 5:
A short drive from Zabriskie Point you will come across Artist’s Drive, which rises up to the top of an alluvial fan fed from a deep canyon cut into the Black Mountains.  A trip through the valley will bring you upon the polychromatic views of the Artist’s Palette, an area on the face of the Black Mountains noted for it variety of rock colors.  These colors are caused by the oxidation of different metals (iron compounds produce red, pink and yellow, decomposition of tuff-derived mica produces green, and manganese produces purple).

Named the Artist Drive Formation, this kaleidoscopic area shows evidence for one of the Death Valley’s most violently explosive volcanic periods.  The Miocene-aged formation is made up of cemented gravel, playa deposits, and volcanic debris, perhaps 5,000 feet (1500 m) thick.  Chemical weathering and hydro-thermal alteration cause the oxidation and other chemical reactions that produce the variety of colors displayed in the Artist Drive and Palette.

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