Friday, February 27, 2009

the subtle desert

I grew up in New England amidst all kinds of trees that hid the geology from my young inquiring mind. My move west for school opened my eyes to a more grand landscape. I am sorry but Massachusetts is lacking in the 14,000 foot mountain department. My trips to the desert and the canyons of SE Utah was filled with the long view. I loved the naked geology and being able to study the landscape without all that biology in the way. I was into the big picture...

Over time, I have been seeing the desert in a smaller more subtle way. I still get excited about that view from Waterpocket fold out towards the Henry Mountains, just the largeness of it! But... I am also looking at the small things. How the desert varnish highlights the conchoidal fracture patterns on sandstone. The difference in the sand grains on the wind and lee side of obstacles. Following old moki ( is there a better name?) steps up a sandstone wall or the small prints of a rodent who visited camp the night before. And, of course finding evidence of water!

I was reminded that I should explain the picture. This is the Wingate sandstone which has a nice homogeneous grain structure. When a chunk of the sandstone broke off, it broke away making a nice conchoidal fracture. We find these same structures often in strata that exhibit homogeneous grain structure. On one of my first visits to the canyons, I was told that these semi-circles were made by UFO's during the uranium days. Glad I was only 7 when they told me that.

The desert has always been a special place.


Silver Fox said...

Nice post! The desert is special.

Leslie said...

Lovely photos. I agree with you about the view towards the Henry Mountains and did a painting titled just that years ago after a wonderful backpacking trip in Arches.

jadams6431 said...

And all of this happened when we had to wait for that acceptence letter from UC.