Easy Science of Geological Wonders

Colorful strata created by volcanic heat and weathering. Death Valley, California, USA

Artist’s palette of the Black Mountains Pale purple, blue-green, ochre, white, red, orange, brown, and black. These colorful mountains are the Black Mountains, which form the northeastern slopes of Death Valley in California, USA. As the name suggests, the mountains are black in color, but some parts of the slopes have vivid colors that look as if they have been painted with paint, giving them the name “artist’s palette”. Of course, it is not an artificially painted color, but a naturally formed one. In the Black Mountains, a volcanic area, hot groundwater (hydrothermal water) from the volcanoes acted on the stratum formed by the volcanic ejecta, concentrating various metallic elements, […]

A lava pipe connecting the mantle to the ground. Black Rock, Wyoming, USA

Rare lava with its source in the mantle In the southwestern part of Wyoming, there is a volcanic rock area called the Leucite Hills. The lava that can be seen in this area was spewed out between about 3 million and 900,000 years ago, and there are many table-shaped rocks made of lava scattered here and there in the Leucite Hills. The photo at the top shows one of them, Black Rock. There are several types of lava, but the lava in the Leucite Hills is a very rare type called lamproite. The lamproite lava was formed over a billion years ago when the mantle underwent chemical changes deep underground, […]

Swirling fire rocks and rainbow-colored rocks. Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada, USA

Sandstone with swirling flame-like patterns In the Valley of Fire State Park in southeastern Nevada, USA, there is a distinctive sandstone formation with beautiful red and white swirling patterns. As the name “Valley of Fire” implies, the formations look like swirling flames. When the sunrise or sunset lights up the area, it looks even redder. The location of Valley of Fire State Park is about 80 kilometers northeast of Las Vegas. The flame-streaked sandstone is said to have been formed about 150 million years ago. In terms of geological time, this period corresponds to the end of the Mesozoic Jurassic era, when a wide variety of dinosaurs evolved and flowering […]

A colorful cliff filled with earthen pillars. Bryce Canyon, Utah, USA

Numerous earthen pillars fill the bottom of the cliff This is Bryce Canyon in southern Utah, United States, where countless earthen pillars stand at the bottom of a cliff. The brightly colored rocks, such as orange, pink, brown, and white, were gradually eroded by rainwater and crushed by freezing weather to form these pillars.   The geological formation of Bryce Canyon is approximately 63 to 40 million years old and consists mainly of mudstone, limestone and conglomerate (rocks consisting of coarse sand and pebbles). Most of these rocks have a reddish color, such as orange, pink or brown, which is basically caused by the color of oxidized iron (iron rust […]

A colorful rainbow-colored hydrothermal spring. Grand Prismatic Spring, Wyoming, USA

A rainbow-colored hydrothermal spring with a diameter of 110 meters Blue, green, yellow, orange, red. This hydrothermal spring in a rainbow of colors is the Grand Prismatic Spring, located in Yellowstone National Park in northwestern Wyoming, USA. It was named after the prism that divides sunlight into the seven colors of the rainbow. It is about 110 meters in diameter and about 50 meters deep. It is the third largest hydrothermal spring in the world, after Flying Pan Lake in New Zealand and Boiling Lake in Dominica (not the Dominican Republic).   Located in the largest volcanic area in North America, Yellowstone National Park is home to a variety of […]

Hot spring area with travertine terraces. Yellowstone National Park in Wyoming, USA

Travertine terraces overlapping each other in a stair-like formation Yellowstone National Park stretches around the northwestern part of the state of Wyoming in the United States. The hot spring area in the photo is called Mammoth Hot Springs, and the terrace topography here is said to be the largest in the world. Calcium carbonate has precipitated over thousands of years to form these terraces of travertine. Travertine is often found in hot spring areas, but it is not because of the hot springs. Travertine is formed because this is a limestone area. In the area of Mammoth Hot Springs, salt water heated by magma at a depth of more than […]

Flowing spiral stripes. Antelope Canyon, Arizona, USA

Rock arch with flowing patterns Smooth and delicate stripes, like swirling streams of water. The Antelope Canyon in northern Arizona, USA is a narrow canyon created by the erosion of sandstone. The shadows of the stripes appear on the rock surface illuminated by the light, and it is a very mysterious scenery. It is located on the land of the Navajo people, one of the indigenous Indian tribes, and is called “Hasdeztwazi” in the Navajo language. It means “spiral rock arch”. Narrow canyons like Antelope Canyon are called “slot canyons,” and many other small canyons have been formed in the sandstone formation (called the “Navajo Sandstone Formation”) where Antelope Canyon […]

The mystery of river erosion that gave birth to the Grand Canyon. Colorado River, Arizona, USA

Erosion process of the Grand Canyon shrouded in mystery A great canyon carved deep into the flat reddish brown highlands, the Grand Canyon in northern Arizona, USA, is a canyon of the Colorado River. The canyon is 446 kilometers long and ranges from 6 to 29 kilometers wide, with an average depth of 1,200 meters. The most common explanation is that the Grand Canyon was created by the erosive action of the Colorado River, but the erosion process is still a mystery. The controversial question is, “When was it formed?” There are two arguments for this. One is the “young Grand Canyon” theory, which says that it was eroded over […]

2 billion years of complete geological buildup. Grand Canyon, Arizona, USA

The most complete stack of geological formations on earth Horizontal strata piled up endlessly on the cliffs of a deeply carved canyon. The Grand Canyon, which stretches across the northern part of the U.S. state of Arizona, is said to be “the most perfect place on earth where you can see the accumulation of strata”. From the approximately 2 billion year old strata exposed at the bottom of the canyon to the approximately 230 million year old strata at the top, you can see almost continuous layers of strata here. The average thickness of the exposed strata is about 1,200 meters. The maximum thickness is 1,800 meters. You can feel […]