Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Arches and Monument Valley

One of the more fantastic and uniquely southwestern geologic regions lies on the route between Arches National Park, UT and Monument Valley, AZ.   My recommendation for those of you who are musicians is to grab your guitar, ukulele, harmonica or whatever you play and find a campsite along Hwy 128 just south of the park.  It sits right on the banks of the Colorado River with incredible scenery and a beautiful orange glow that fills the canyon and reflects off the canyon walls at sunset.  If that doesn't provide inspiration for music, I don't know what will... The unique nature of the sedimentary rock layers that lie within the Colorado Plateau in this area provide for an absolutely fascinating landscape. Here are a few glimpses into this area from my stops.
How did the Arches form you ask?
Right here:
Role of fracture localization in arch formation at Arches National Park, Utah
Unweaving the joints in Entrada Sandstone, Arches National Park, Utah, U.S.A.
Development of natural sandstone arches in south-eastern Utah- Robert Blair (1987)

An animation of Arch formation within Arches National Park:

This video attempts to show how the "monuments" of Monument Valley have formed:
Monument Formation ...Although I don't agree with it... As one of my professors once told me, "It has a lot more to do with down-dip cuesta scarp retreat." So, this animation is just a little too simple...but not bad.

Oh, and make sure to stop at Moab Brewery. Pretty refreshing!!!!
My music choice for this road trip from Hwy 128, to Arches, to Canyonlands, to Monument Valley?
Mumford and Sons (never a bad choice!), 1, 2, 3
Trampled by Turtles, 1
Old Crow Medicine Show, 1
Avett Brothers, 1, 2

Grand Canyon

I think everyone knows what this place is all about...if you dont? GO!  This place is of particular interest to me as it is the subject of much of what I teach and am currently conducting my dissertation research on.  If you haven't yet visited the canyon I have a few suggestions for you:
- Definitely hike into the canyon via Grandview, South Kaibab, or Bright Angel Trail.  There is nothing quite like this in the world.
- The view from the North Rim is exponentially better than from the South Rim...at least that's my opinion.
- If you're a musician, hiking the South Kaibab Trail to Skeleton Point with my guitar was possibly one of the most incredible experiences in my life.  Playing Beatles songs half way into the canyon gave me feeling about as close to euphoria as I have ever felt.

Back to the science...

My opinion on how it formed?  Right here: by Lake Overflow-pdf

Other ideas of how it formed? Right here: Pederson, 2008, GSA Today -origin of Colorado River and Grand Canyon

This is nice video on the subject of the Grand Canyon's formation:

Geologic History? Right here: http://alliance.la.asu.edu/gph211/GrandCanyon/presentationstuff/gc%20presentation/index.htm

So, what do I listen to at the Grand Canyon?  Here are a few...

And, if you're in need of refreshment? A quick drive (little over an hour) to Flagstaff can satisfy that need. There are three very nice breweries downtown and the town is a high country gem.  Love that place!

Randoms from the Desert

This is just a collection from random trips through the southwest.  They include: Horseshoe Bend, Antelope Canyon, Flagstaff Arizona area, Joshua Tree, and others... Enjoy!

Zion and Bryce Canyons

Although I have yet to conduct research in these areas I teach a LOT about them.  These are two of the most beautiful places I have ever been...and likely ever will go.  Someday I hope to be the one who explains the timing of the formation of Zion Canyon...someday...

Want some more geology info on Bryce?
Right here:
And a very cool geologic road guide: http://www.sirtf.nau.edu/~koerner/ast184l/park_guides/brycecyn.pdf

Want some more geology info on Zion?
Right here:
Unlocking the Secrets of Zion - landforms/rock
The Sculpturing of Zion: with Road Guide to the Geology of Zion National Park- Hamilton, 1984 (Great if you can get your hands on it!)

A classic book on the region by McKee, 1931:
Ancient Landscapes of the Grand Canyon Region (Must read!!! Classic doesn't begin to describe it.)

I'm not sure why...but these two places have always been Bob Marley country for me...probably the whole "Zion" thing?
1, 2, 3, 4, 5