Geologic Points of Interest by Activity - Fluvial Activity
The Parting of the Waters National Landmark
This landmark is in the Teton Wilderness 50 miles northeast of Jackson, WY and about 7 miles south of the Yellowstone National park border. Site is accessible by a 15 mile hike from the Pacific Creek Trailhead (off Highway 89, just north of Moran Junction, at the end of Pacific Creek Road) or from the Turpin Meadow trailhead (on Forest Service Road 30050 east of Moran Junction).
Two Ocean Creek parts ways on the continental divide with one branch, Atlantic Creek, flowing east, and the other, Pacific Creek, flowing west. This point can claim to be part of the headwaters of both the Missouri and Columbia River systems. Origins of the Snake, Yellowstone, Colorado, and Green Rivers can also be traced to other regions within the Bridger-Teton National Forest. Can you guess where Tri-Basin Divide is on the Bridger-Teton National Forest (see photo of sign below)?
Big Fall Creek
Just after entering the Forest on LaBarge Creek Road , turn right up a dirt road ( Forest Service Road 10089) that follows Big Fall Creek.
Multiple waterfalls over spring-deposited tufa make this creek an interesting visit. The creek follows tufa terraces and falls for two miles. The cold springs are located in the Triassic Dinwoody Formation, but the source of the water is probably the Madison Limestone to the east. The area is associated with the Cabin Creek overthrust, part of the imbricate thrusting seen in this area of Wyoming. (Breckenridge et al. 1978).
Tufa is found mainly in areas where resurgences of ground water have traversed limestone formations. The tufa is spongy or cellular in character and encloses fragments of rocks and plants. It also cements the bottom of the streambed into a material known as calcrete. The build up of tufa encrusted moss, algae and other debris create barriers to stream flow and produce water falls and cascades. The water in the stream has a distinct sulfer smell. Sulfer is a common element in sedimentary rocks and dissolves readily into ground water.