The Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations have an area of about 25,000 square miles and are in the south-central part of the Colorado Plateaus physiographic province. The reservations are underlain by sedimentary rocks that range in age from Cambrian to Tertiary, but Permian and younger rocks are exposed in about 95 percent of the area. Igneous and metamorphic basement rocks of Precambrian age underlie the sedimentary rocks at depths ranging from 1,000 to 10,000 feet. Much of the area is mantled by thin alluvial, eolian, and terrace deposits, which mainly are 10 to 50 feet thick.
The Navajo country was a part of the eastern shelf area of the Cordilleran geosyncline during Paleozoic and Early Triassic time and part of the southwestern shelf area of the Rocky Mountain geosyncline in Cretaceous time. The shelf areas were inundated frequently by seas that extended from the central parts of the geosynclines. As a result, complex intertonguing and rapid facies changes are prevalent in the sedimentary rocks and form some of the principal controls on the ground-water hydrology. Regional uplift beginning in Late Cretaceous time , destroyed. the Rocky Mountain geosyncline and formed the structural basius that influenced sedimentation and erosion throughout Cenozoic time.
Regional hydrogeology of the Navajo and Hopi Indian Reservations, Arizona, New Mexico, and Utah, with a section on vegetation