Thursday, January 31, 2013

Sunrise over Bryce Canyon

The stunning image below shows the sun rising over Bryce Canyon, located in Utah, USA. Bryce Canyon is famous for its spectacular rock outcrops showing many different colours.

The rocks were deposited in differing environments which included marine shale, lake limestone and delta plain sandstone over a time span from the late Mesozoic to the middle Cenozoic.

The unique outcrop pattern comes from a combination of uplift - two events: the Laramide orogeny (70-50ma) and the uplift of the Colorado Plateau (during the Miocene, around 20-16ma) - and erosion.

The uplift caused vertical joints to appear, and the rock was preferentially eroded along these joints creating the columns seen in the image. The columns are known as hoodoos, and Bryce Canyon has the highest concentration of hoodoo features of anywhere on Earth.

The colours in the hoodoos are from different concentrations of minerals; the reds, browns and pinks are from hematite, the yellows from limonite and the purples from pyrolusite.

Image: Munish Singla

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