Wednesday, February 13, 2013
The Answer to Sunday's Mystery Quiz...And Where I'm Headed Tomorrow
I admit that I was trying to be a bit deceptive with my pictures. Many people have a stereotypical image of Death Valley that includes salt flats, sand dunes, and miners with their burros tramping over barren desert mountains. Those things are part of what Death Valley is, but there is so much more.
I mentioned in Sunday's post that Death Valley is possibly the most geological park in the entire National Park System. The reasons for saying this include what I pointed out before: "the park contains rocks from every major era, ranging in age from as much as 2.3 billion years ago, including perhaps the most complete Paleozoic sequence of rocks found anywhere (something like 20,000 feet of Paleozoic rocks, including formations from each period), rocks from the Mesozoic (including plutonic granitic rocks), and a sequence of early Cenozoic sediments known for their mammalian fossils. The youngest rocks in the park may be only a few hundred years old."
There's more: the Ubehebe Craters, classic maar volcanoes that may have exploded only a few centuries ago, the badlands topography of Zabriskie Point, the Badwater salt pan, evidence of previous Death Valley type grabens that formed 15-20 million years ago, Neogene tuff deposits recording a wave of rhyolite eruptions across the American West, and the iconic sand dune fields.
The third picture is one of the unexpected pleasures of exploring Death Valley. In the newer part of the park on the western side of Panamint Valley there is a permanent spring system and a 20 foot high waterfall. Darwin Falls is only a mile of hiking, and is a pleasant contrast to the barren desert.
recently posted some neat shots of the folds in the lower canyon.
So that's where I'm taking 25 or so students tomorrow. It's hard for me to think of another single park or region that offers so much geologic diversity in one place.
Of course, you may have a different opinion...is there a place in the world that has more geologic diversity than Death Valley? I would love to know what you think!