Dockum Group

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The Dockum is a Late Triassic (approximately late Carnian through Rhaetian, or 223-200 Ma) geologic group found primarily on the Llano Estacado of western Texas and eastern New Mexico with minor exposures in southwestern Kansas, eastern Colorado, and Oklahoma panhandle. The Dockum reaches a maximum thickness of slightly over 650 m but is usually much thinner. The Dockum rests on an unconformity over the Anisian (242-234 Ma) aged Anton Chico Formation. The Dockum and Chinle Formation were deposited roughly at the same time and share many of the same vertebrates and plant fossils. They appear to have very similar paleoenviroments. The two units are approximately separated by the Rio Grande in central New Mexico. The Chinle and Dockum are thought by some to be two separate units, deposited in separate depositional basins.

History of investigation[edit]

There is no designated type locality for this formation. The Dockum was named by Cummins for a good exposure in vicinity of town of Dockum in Dickens County, Texas, in 1890. Lucas included the Dockum Group within the Chinle when he raised the Chinle to group status. Most researchers still maintain the Chinle is a formation and separate from the Dockum Group. It should be pointed out that the Dockum was named before the Chinle, and if Lucas is correct, his "Chinle Group" should be named the Dockum Group due to stratigraphic nomenclature rules.


Lehman (1994) advocated a simplified stratigraphy of up to five geologic formations. The basal unit is the Santa Rosa Sandstone, a braided stream channel-related facies. The Santa Rosa is overlain by the Tecovas Formation, which is dominated by overbank (distal floodplain) deposits with lenses of channel-deposits. Minor lacustrine deposits are also occurring. The Trujillo Sandstone, channel-deposits, and Cooper Canyon Formation, overbank deposits with minor channel and lacustrine deposits, are separated from the Santa Rosa-Tecovas by an unconformity. In eastern New Mexico, the Redonda Formation overlies the Cooper Canyon Formation. The Redonda has gradational eastward transition into the upper Cooper Canyon Formation.

The Santa Rosa-Tecovas sequence has sediments made up of clasts derived from the north, northeast, and east of the Dockum, very similar to clasts found in the lower Chinle. However, the Trujillo-Cooper Canyon sequence’s sediments are derived from the Ouachita orogenic belts of the Marathon Uplift.

Dockum/Chinle correlation[edit]

Correlations and ages based on Spencer G. Lucas' Land Vertebrate Faunachrons. The faunachrons are based on first and last appearances of phytosaurs. Simplified Chinle stratigraphy based on Litwin.

Sub-stage Faunachron Chinle Dockum
Late Norian-Rhaetian Apachean Rock Point/Church Rock Redonda
Early to Middle Norian Revueltian Owl Rock

Upper Petrified Forest

Cooper Canyon
upper Late Carnian Adamanian lower Petrified Forest

Moss Back

Monitor Butte



lower Late Carnian Otischalkian Shinarump

Temple Mountain

Santa Rosa

See also[edit]


  • Cornet, B., 1993. Applications and Limitations of palynology in age, climatic, and paleoenviromental analyses of Triassic sequences in North America. New Mexico Museum of Natural History Bulletin, v 3., p. 75-93.
  • Dunaway, R.E., and Fisher, M.J., 1979. Palynology of the Dockum Group (Upper Triassic), Texas, U.S.A. Review of Paleobotany and Palynology, v. 28, p. 61-92.
  • Lehman, T.M., 1994. The saga of the Dockum Group and the case of the Texas/New Mexico boundary fault. New Mexico Bureau of Mines & Mineral Resources Bulletin, v. 150, p. 37-51.
  • Lehman, T.M., and Chatterjee, S., 2005. Depositional setting and vertebrate biostratigraphy of the Triassic Dockum Group of Texas. Journal of Earth System Science, v. 114, p. 325-351.
  • Litwin, R.J., Traverse, A., and Ash, S.R., 1991. Preliminary palynological zonation of the Chinle Formation, southwestern U.S.A., and its correlation to the Newark Supergroup (eastern U.S.A.). Review of Paleobotany and Palynology, v. 77, p. 269-287.
  • Lucas, S.G., 1993. The Chinle Group: revised stratigraphy and biochronology of Upper Triassic Nonmarine strata in the western United States. Museum of Northern Arizona Bulletin, v. 59, p. 27-50.
  • Lucas, S.G., 1998. Global Triassic tetrapod biostratigraphy and biochronology. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, and Palaeoecology, v. 143, p. 347-384.

USGS resources[edit]