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Geologic Wonders of the National Parks, site 7-12


Badwater Alluvial Fan7. Death Valley National Park, California and Nevada - Death Valley is world-famous for the incredible size, shape, and exposure of alluvial fans. One of the most stunning and archetypal is the Copper Canyon Fan, spreading out from the Black Mountains. The Black Mountain front is defined by a prominent fault scarp and the abrupt topographic transition from the mountains to the flat valley bottom creates ideal conditions for the formation of alluvial fans. In the deep channels cut into alluvial fans, the succession of fan deposits is easily observable with the darkest, most deeply desert varnished being the oldest. More

Half Dome8. Yosemite National Park, California - Half-Dome is the classic and jaw-dropping example of an exfoliation dome. Located in perhaps the world's best example of a glacially carved canyon, Half-Dome's rounded appearance is due to sheet jointing (or exfoliation). The granitic pluton that formed the Sierra Nevada was slowly eroded, releasing pressure and causing the expansion of the underlying rock. Joints formed parallel to the earth's surface, which have since been exhumed and exposed. The sheer vertical face of Half-Dome, parallels regional joints and was carved out by glaciers. More

Carlsbad Cavern9. Carlsbad Caverns National Park, New Mexico - The Park contains more than 100 known caves, including the nation's deepest limestone cave at 1,567 feet and third longest. Carlsbad Cavern, with one of the world's largest underground chambers, displays an amazing array of cave and karst features. Rising sulphur-rich fluids mixed with fresh ground water to form sulphuric acid, which is responsible for the formation of this cave system. More

A Yellowstone Geyser10. Yellowstone National Park, Wyoming, Montana, and Idaho - Contains over half of the 1,000 or so known geysers in the world, including "Steamboat," the world's tallest geyser. Yellowstone National Park sits inside an ancient volcanic caldera with magma, in some places only a few miles underground, powering the park's famous geysers, hot springs, fumaroles, and mud pots. Super-heated water, trapped in underground channels, sends bubbles of steam upwards which eventually "lifts" the water and causes the geyser to overflow. The overflowing geyser releases enough pressure to allow the trapped water to violently boil and the resulting steam shoots the water dramatically out of the ground. More

Cheif Mountain11. Glacier National Park, Montana - The Lewis Overthrust is one of the world's largest and most famous thrust faults. A slice of Precambrian sedimentary rocks, over two kilometers thick and hundreds of kilometers wide, was thrust 80 kilometers eastward over softer Cretaceous rocks. Recent glaciations have exposed both layers and internal structures. In the eastern side of Glacier National Park, Chief Mountain provides a world class example of a klippe (an erosional remnant of a thrust sheet). More

The Quarry Wall12. Dinosaur National Monument, Utah and Colorado - Dinosaur National Monument is the archetypal dinosaur quarry and protects and displays classic fossil dinosaur bones including Allosaurus, Stegosaurus, Apatosaurus, and Archaeopteryx. The Quarry Wall in the visitor center houses over 1500 in situ bones, held within the world renowned Morrison Formation, a river deposit. More

updated on 01/04/2005  I   http://nature.nps.gov/geology/geologic_wonders/7_12list.cfm   I  Email: Webmaster
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