Category Archives: Geology

The Reef

“The Reef”
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park encompasses the Waterpocket Fold. This fold runs about 100 miles north and south. It was formed 50 -70 million years ago along a fault during a mountain building period in the Western states. Movement along the fault created these monoclines rising as much as 7000 feet. More recent activity 15- 20 million years ago of the Colorado Plateau uplift and resulting erosion exposed the surface of the monoclines. As much as 10,000 feet of strata representing 270 million years of geological history has been exposed in some areas.

The Badlands

The Badlands National Park, South Dakota

The Badlands were formed by a series of depositions and then erosion. Seventy-five million years ago, the area what is now the Badlands was a part of an inland sea extending from the Gulf of Mexico to the North Pole. The lowest levels are sea bed depositions. From 75 to 45million years ago, plate movement gradually forced up the Rocky Mountains and created a depression which is now the Badlands. During this period, erosion from the raising mountains and volcanic action deposited various layers of material in the depression. Starting about 500,000 years ago the Cheyenne and White Rivers carved out the deep valleys through the area. Torrential rain storms and wind have been eroding the area at a rate of one inch per year.

Deep Blue

Crater Lake & Wizzard Island
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon

If you you want to see the deepest blue, just gaze into Crater Lake. It is the deepest lake in the United States at nearly 2000 ft. depth. The crater was created around 7,000 years ago when Mt. Mazama exploded in a violent eruption. Local Native American tribes witnessed the eruption and have passed down many legends of how it was created.

Crater Lake National Park was established in 1902 by Teddy Roosevelt as our sixth National Park.

Death Valley Mystery

“The Race Track”
Death Valley National Park, Nevada

What the ????? How did the rock get here? Who or what pushed it? Or was it pulled? Scientists have been studying this since the early 1900’s. Theories have changed over time. In fact, the prominent theory at the time I took this image seven years ago has changed.

The current theory is developed from using time-lapse photography, weather stations, and GPS devices. During the winter of 2013, the elements came together and scientists were able to record the phenomenon of the sliding rocks. During a rain fall followed by an extreme cold night, a thin layer of ice formed. The ice lifted the rocks from the playa surface. The next morning, the ice started to melt creating a thin layer of water between the ice and the playa. The ice sheet started to break up leaving sections of the sheet floating on the water. Winds came up blowing the smaller ice sheets with the embedded rocks across the playa.

Related Images:

Looking Back, Looking Forward

“The Badlands”
Wall, South Dakota

I’ve been laid up for the last couple of weeks and have not been able to get out and do any photographing. As such, I have been catching up on various photography topics. Jason O’Dell just put out a webcast on the Badlands that caught my eye. Jason, thanks for the stimulus. I was there for just a few hours as I drove across country from Philadelphia to Washighton. The day wasn’t the best for photography, but I was able to come up with a few that had potential. My visit was more of a scouting trip, hopefully for a return visit when I can spend the time to explore. I look back to my short visit. I look forward to when I will return.

Golden Hour

Selah Ridge Golden Hour”
Heatherwood Spring

This image was also taken from our view point shown in my 29 April post. From our “Perch” I look up and see history in front of me. Selah Ridge is part of the Yakima Folds running East and West. The rock outcroppings are part of the Columbia Basin basalt flows which occurred around 18 million years ago. Beneath the basalt there are layers of sandstone that once were part of the Pacific Ocean. The brown structure in the lower right is a piece of more recent history. It is part of the Naches-Selah irrigation canal built in the 1890’s. It still has a few years left until it will be torn down and replaced with a “modern” underground pipe. I will hate to see it go!

The day I created this image was a very unusual afternoon. It had been dark and cloudy for most of the day. Then around 5:00 PM the sun broke out and lit up the ridge in a golden orange-brown. The contrast between the warm orange ridge and the dark blue sky was breathtaking. There is always something interesting going on here at Heatherwood.

New Path to More Exploration

“On the Way to the Ridge”
Selah Ridge, Washington

During my walk to the top of the cherry orchard I found a new way to get up to the top of Selah Ridge that overlooks the hillside where we live. There are so many places around our neighborhood to explore. The trek to the top of the ridge from here will be one that I plan to wander and explore.

Looking at this line of basalt rock, I ask myself how this remnant of a lava flow got way up here. Beneath this level of basalt lay strata of limestone-type sediments from an ancient sea bed. How did a sea bed get up here? Piecing the little that I know of the geologic history of the area, the following is what I think happened: First, this area at one time was under the Pacific Ocean. Then the volcanic Cascade Mountains were formed which separated Eastern Washington from the coastal plain. Later, the Eastern Washington, Eastern Oregon, Southern Idaho basalt flows covered what is now the Columbia Basin. Then the moving continental plates slowly forced up the Yakima Folds creating a line of ridges across south central Washington. We live at the base of one of these ridges.

Navaho Dome

Navaho Dome
Capitol Reef National Park, Utah

Capitol Reef National Park is full of unusual forms, outcroppings, ridges, valleys, and canyons. Everywhere I turned, I saw a different formation. Questions flashed across my mind. How were they formed in the first place? When were they created? What was the landscape like at the time of the creation? What was the driving natural force that changed the landscape? What forces caused the erosion to occur in a specific way? Why are there different colors and tones? What are the legends that surround the formation’s history?

Does Navaho Dome reflect the lined face fo wisdom or the peaks and swirls of child’s play? Maybe it is both …


Mid-Day Shadows

Bullfrog Road Near Capitol Reef

On my last day at Capitol Reef I decided to just drive around and scout some of the areas for a future trip. It was mid-day when I saw some interesting shadows on these rock protrusions. The scene looked pretty flat in color. My mind turned black and white. I like clouds and shadows. Here were both.