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New Mexico Geology

2016, Volume 38, Number 3, pp. 52-65.

Geologic origin of the source of Bearhead Rhyolite (Paliza Canyon) obsidian, Jemez Mountains, Northern New Mexico

Shackley, M Steven; Goff, Fraser; Dolan, Sean,

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Recent field and analytical studies of what has been traditionally called “Paliza Canyon obsidian” in the archaeological vernacular show it to be Bearhead Rhyolite that is part of the Late Tertiary (Neogene) Keres Group of the Jemez Mountains, northern New Mexico. The geological origin of all other archaeological obsidian sources in the Jemez Mountains have been reported and are well documented in the literature. But the so-called “Paliza Canyon” source, important as a toolstone to Pueblo Revolt Colonial period occupants of the Jemez Mountains area and present in regional archaeological contexts throughout prehistory, had remained unlocated and undocumented. The Bearhead Rhyolite origin for the “Paliza Canyon” obsidian (which we suggest should now be named “Bearhead Rhyolite”) solves this ambiguity and provides more precise geological and geographical data for archaeological obsidian source provenance in the region.

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