"Geology" Red Rock Favorite Tip by Sharrie

Red Rock General: 8 reviews and 8 photos


Favorite thing: Have some background knowledge about Geology in order to appreciate fully the beauty of this unspoiled & timeless landscapes.

Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area (NCA) is very very ancient. It has a geologic history of 600-million years!!! Wow! You don't say! Yep, my friends... 600-million years! Ok, now get over the shock & start appreciating this miracle.

Let's start from the very beginning...
Before I begin, just know that 3 elements have shaped this amazing vistas.
1) Water
2) Sand Dune
3) Winds

Sounds incredible & impossible, right? All are but the softest elements on their own!
This is one great lesson I've learned in life. The soft touch is always the strength, be it in nature or human relationships. Think about it. Make sense?!

Fondest memory: Now, back to geologic history:
Mesozoic Age of Dinasaurs (225 million yrs ago):
* During this period, the earth's crustal movements caused the seabed to rise. Known as Moenkopi formation, this can be seen at the eastern part of the valley; just look out for the gray rock outcropping from sediments.
* As the sea became shallower, streams shaped the landscape. The muds & sands washed in from emerging land areas in turn can be seen in the south & southeast areas in the form of white-streaked red & chocolate-brown shales.
Dunes (180 million yrs ago):
*As Red Rock became more arid it was then buried by the massive Sahara-like dunes instead of water. It stretched 100s of miles & buried 1000-feet deep in sand.
*As iron oxide & calcium carbonate interacted with water, windblown sand solidified into rock. Formations changed directions due to the shifting winds which resulted in cross-bedded sandstone as seen on Red Rock's Calico Hills.
The alternating hues of red, yellow & white are believed to be the result of groundwater filtering through the sand & leaching out oxidized iron.
Earth Movements (100 million yrs ago):
* Rock began moving, formation changed positions.
* 60 million yrs ago: Keystone thrust occurred; a fracture in the earth's crust where one rock plate is pushed at very low angle over another. The harder gray limestones overlaid the softer sandstones thereby pushing the rock as much as 60 miles from west to east. Limestones were crushed into pieces at the fault zone & blocks of sandstones were incorporated into the limestone. These activities in turned caused vertical cracks in the sandstone. Snow & rain eroded along the cracks & carved the rugged & amazing canyons that we see today.

Review Helpfulness: 2.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Written Feb 25, 2003
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