Travel log, in time and space, Canyonlands National Park
Posted: 08 May 2011 12:53 PM   [ Ignore ]
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I spent a couple days out in the Colorado Plateau near Canyonlands National Park, a couple hours away from home.  Being out there and present to it all, is an experience I keep wanting to describe but it goes beyond thoughts and words, to some timeless connection with being alive and part of this astounding pageant that has created the Earth as we know it.

What’s fun is with every trip out there my grasp of it increases and the image becomes more incredible and wonderful.  This trip was another milestone thanks to a fascinating talk I heard by Robert Fillmore - Who’s book: “Geological Evolution of the Colorado Plateau of Eastern Utah and Western Colorado.” has just been published.

He focuses
on Cataract Canyon; and the area to the west “The Maze” district; and east the Needles district of Canyonlands National Park

So the gist of the story as I understand it!  red face ,
for a long stretch during its N/S meander the Colorado River straddles a slip fault ~ that turns out to be a thrust fault.  The Western continent plate which keeps getting shoved East by the Pacific Plate.  Meets the Rocky Mtn. massif which is being pushed up by interior forces.

The twist in the story is that long ago large shallow oceans deposited massive amounts of salt before finally drying up, whereupon eons of sand dunes were piled up by winds, packed down by rain mixed around by braided stream flows*, originating in a previous generation of Rocky Mtn. uplift being worn away.

More eons passed, so that today we have all these rock layers sitting on massive layers of salt, while the entire platform continues being pushed up.  Thus the grabens and other origins of today’s weird formations.  Robert Fillmore traces the story of recent discovers and understanding that these rocks are literally sliding along the inclined plan of the salt layer, towards the west only to meet the irresistible Pacific forces pushing towards the east. Thus Cataract Canyon rapids has been there for millions of years and unlike most other rapids won’t smooth out, since new rock falls will be continually replacing what the Colorado River takes away.
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So this past visit was a wonderful time of digesting that stuff while looking at the landscape.  In my minds-eye, for the first time I could actually imagine the ocean over my head and all that.  Which then matured into another musing that’s been slowly growing… stay tuned.{We’ll see, what I wanted to share is already as long as this one and I’m barely half way through the story.  Think I better let my cryptobiotic soil/stromatolite story digest a bit longer.}

PS.  I can’t talk about the Colorado Plateau geology without mentioning the number one go-to book for any non-geologist wanting to grasp and appreciate the pageant that has created this great land.
“Ancient Landscapes of the Colorado Plateau”
By Ron Blakey and Wayne Ranney

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* Keep in mind, before half a billion years ago there was only rocks, sand and clay, no soil, no plants ~ wind, rain, rivers, gravity ruled the landscape.

[correcting typos, blind spots, edits]

[ Edited: 09 May 2011 09:54 AM by ]

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