Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Uncompahgre Gorge

On the other side of President Obama's inauguration I was blogging about ice climbing in Ouray's Ice Park. The ice park is situated in a very tight gorge just outside the city. It is perfect for keeping ice because there is very little direct sunlight at anytime of the year.

This time I wanted to show the place in the summer time. It is still chilly at the bottom of he gorge but not nearly as it is in the winter!

This image was taken from the "upper bridge" part of the new Ouray perimeter trail. The canyon is cut into the Precambrian Uncompahgre Formation, a quartzite. You can see it here as the almost vertical relict bedding. The gorge then drops for another couple of hundred feet below this point. The almost horizontal layer on top is the Devonian Elbert Formation, a sandy, shaly limestone (or a shaley, limy sandstone or perhaps a sandy, shaly limy rock) ...anyway
What cool geology just staring you in the face. It is so obvious that I have overheard tourists mention it while taking pictures.

If you are interested, the Ouray Perimeter Trail cuts into a short hard rock tunnel right after leaving the bridge. The bridge is cut through the Uncompahgre Formation and gives a good look at a relatively fresh (the tunnel was cut awhile ago) samples. A fun hike!


Kim said...

I hadn't heard about that trail - thank you for posting that! I'm going to have to go hike it as soon as the snow's clear. (I've had students map around Box Canyon, and I'm curious whether the trail give good access to some places that were a bit dangerous. Plus the Uncompaghre Formation is my 2nd favorite rock in the Southwest - 1st is its possible lower section, the Vallecito Conglomerate.)

MJC Rocks said...

Thanks for the post! Box Canyon is a great site, and is sometimes one of our stops when we come through on field trips. It is a marvelous example of an angular unconformity.