Friday, August 17, 2007

Buckhorn Wash

The bravery of rescue workers is astounding. I am thinking both of the people in Huntington and those in Peru. Rescue so often entails going into unstable conditions.

While watching the news stories on the mine collapse, I realized that I wasn't seeing much about the geology of the area. Huntington, Utah is one of the most geologically interesting areas in the United States. To the West is the Wasatch Mountains. The Wasatch defines the Eastern edge of the Great Basin. The Great Basin stretches from the Wasatch in Utah to the Sierra Nevada in California.

Wedge OverlookTo the East of Huntington is the Colorado Plateau. If you take a nondescript dirt road heading West out of Huntington, you end up in a desolate part of the world called Buckhorn Wash. This wash cuts through the heart of a thing called the San Rafael Swell.

The San Rafael is one of the most bizarre places on the face of the Earth. The area is a anticline dome of standstone (with a very thick layer of Navajo Sandstone). Imagine a bubble in the earth that is 75 miles long, 45 miles wide and a thousand feet high. This sandstone has been eroded away through the ages into massive sandstone towers and deep chasms. A few areas, like Little Wild Horse Canyon, are slit canyons that are just a few feet wide but hundreds of feet deep. The canyons include arches, ancient petroglyphs and other cool stuff.

Currently, the Swell is administered by the Bureau of Land Management. Politically, the there is big battle between those who wish to make the Swell a National Monument and the locals who want to keep the secret to themselves.

Anyway, if you start at this page, you can take a quick tour through Buckhorn Wash. I really need to redo this gallery with my new camera.

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