Fountain Formation

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Fountain Formation
Stratigraphic range: Late Pennsylvanian
Fountain fm garden of the gods 2003.jpg
Outcrop of the Fountain Formation at Garden of the Gods. Scale bar on notebook is 10 centimetres (3.9 in)
UnderliesLyons Formation
OverliesGleneyrie Formation
Thickness0–4,500 feet (0–1,372 m)[1]
Primarysandstone, conglomerate
Otherlimestone, shale
RegionDenver Basin
ExtentColorado, Wyoming
Type section
Named forFountain Creek
Named byC. W. Cross, 1894

The Fountain Formation is a Pennsylvanian bedrock unit consisting primarily of conglomerate, sandstone, or arkose, in the states of Colorado and Wyoming in the United States, along the east side of the Front Range of the Rocky Mountains, and along the west edge of the Denver Basin.

Origin of name[edit]

The Fountain Formation was named by geologist W. C. Cross in 1894 for exposures along Fountain Creek in El Paso County, Colorado.[2]


Fountain Formation unconformably overlying Precambrian rocks at the parking lot of Red Rocks Park

The Fountain Formation is found along the Front Range of Colorado. To the north, the Formation unconformably overlies Precambrian granite and gneiss. To the south, it overlies Mississippian, Ordovician and Devonian Limestones, as well as Cambrian sandstones. Outcrops of the formation typically dip steeply to the east.

Depositional environment[edit]

The formation was formed by the erosion of the Ancestral Rocky Mountains, and deposition by fluvial processes as alluvial fans. The characteristic predominant red color and the composition of the Fountain reflect that of the granites and gneisses from which it was eroded.

Notable outcrops[edit]


Marine invertebrates have been discovered in a limestone and shale member of the Fountain Formation, cropping out on a low hogback in Perry Park. Invertebrates include bryozoans, brachiopods, crinoids, echinoids, and gastropods.[3]

Plant fossils have been discovered in Garden Park north of Cañon City, including Lepidophloios laricinus, Sigillaria, Syringodendron sp., Lepidophyloides sp., Lepidostrobus sp., Lepidostrobophyllum sp., Calamites, Neuropterus sp., Cyclopteris sp., and Stigmaria ficoides.[4]


Rocks of the Fountain Formation are considered to be of Late Pennsylvanian age, and are between 290 and 340 million years old.


  1. ^ Frederickson, E.A., De Lay, M., and Saylor, W.W., 1956, Ralston formation of Canon City embayment, Colorado: American Association of Petroleum Geologists Bulletin, v. 40, no. 9, p. 2120-2148.
  2. ^ Cross, C.W., 1894, Description of the Pikes Peak sheet [Colorado]: U.S. Geological Survey Geologic Atlas of the United States, Pikes Peak folio, no. 7, 5 p.
  3. ^ Ellis, C.H., 1966, Paleontologic age of the Fountain Formation south of Denver, Colorado: The Mountain Geologist, v. 3, no. 4, p. 155-160.
  4. ^ Jennings, J.R., 1980, Fossil plants from the Fountain Formation (Pennsylvanian) of Colorado: Journal of Paleontology, v. 54, no. 1, p. 149-158.

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