Feb 13, 2008
Southern Utah’s Catastrophic Past
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and other
wilderness preserves reveal the signs of electric discharge
machining on an immense scale.
In our continuing investigation into the geological features of planet Earth, we
find that one of the most important regions to consider is the
Four Corners area where the borders of Colorado, Utah, New Mexico and
previous Thunderbolts Picture of the Day article we mentioned in passing the
giant sandstone tors of Monument Valley, Arizona. Such monolithic structures are
said to be millions of years old and are commonly thought to be the result of
erosion from wind and rain. There are difficulties with such a theory, however –
not the least of which is that the
layered strata are uniformly carved without regard to the hardness or the
permeability of the rocks involved.
The contours of the gigantic
buttes and buttresses are invariably shaped in
sweeping curves that meander through the landscape for hundreds of miles.
Interspersed with the vertical ridges (most with their bases surrounded by
are ancient cone-shaped vents and
deep canyons containing terraces and thin fractures in the rockface. The
formations, particularly those found in the
Canyon de Chelly region, are somewhat reminiscent of
Grand Staircase-Escalante National Monument and the Capitol Reef National Park
provide remarkable examples of stone monoliths, valleys, arches and cliffs that
cannot be easily explained by the terrestrial forces of weather. Because
figures on Mars resemble those we find here on Earth, and Mars has virtually
no atmosphere and no water, what force can sculpt the shapes we find in the
landscape of both planets?
Domes and other uplifted terrain can be
found in many places on Earth. The
Brandberg Massif is one example of a gigantic stone mound that rises out of
flat topography, surrounded by incised striations and Lichtenberg figures burned
into the rocky overburden. In Grand Staircase-Escalante there are smaller
relatives to the gigantic Massif, like
Navajo Sandstone Dome. Situated in the
Navajo Mountains of Utah, near the park, it is only one of many
unique features found there. The 120-meter rounded mound of solid rock is
crowned with a 35-meter-deep, circular pocket filled with bright orange sand.
From the center of the depression rises a 12-meter column of white sandstone.
Also found in the local environs are the “reefs”
for which Capitol Reef National Park is named. These curvilinear, dual-ridge
structures are comparable to those in the
Massanutten Mountains of Virginia, or the
Zagros Mountains, Iran. We have also noted that “lava dikes” that sweep away
from the central complex in similar fashion surround
Shiprock, New Mexico.
So many examples of bizarre landforms could
be listed that it would require dozens of articles just to describe them. A
small sample includes:
"It requires a very unusual mind to undertake the analysis of the obvious."
--- Alfred North Whitehead
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