POTD March 14, 2017: Big Cottonwood Canyon, Wasatch Range

Big Cottonwood Canyon, Wasatch Range
Photographer: Mike Hylland © 2017

The waters of Lake Blanche reflect Sundial Peak, composed of quartzite of the Big Cottonwood Formation. Rocks in this basin, which formed from sediment that accumulated along a continental margin 900 million years ago, preserve striations (parallel scratches and grooves) that record the down-valley flow of Ice Age glaciers.

POTD March 07, 2017: Needles District, Canyonlands National Park

Needles District, Canyonlands National Park, San Juan County
Photographer: J. Lucy Jordan © 2017

POTD February 28, 2017

View east from Jackson Bottom along the Colorado River, Grand County.
Photographer: Brian Butler © 2017

POTD February 21, 2017: Goblin Valley State Park

Goblin Valley State Park

Photographer: Michael Vanden Berg © 2017

Early morning sun casts shadows on “goblins” formed within the Entrada Sandstone, which consists of sediment deposited 160 million years ago in tidal flats and coastal dunes. Erosion forms the goblins, leaving resistant sandstone boulders perched atop softer siltstone and shale layers that erode more quickly.

POTD February 14, 2017: Arches National Park, Grand County

Arches National Park, Grand County
Photographer: Gregg Beukelman © 2017

Defying gravity, an estimated 3500-ton sandstone boulder of Jurassic-age Entrada Formation perches atop a pedestal of less resistant sandstone of the Dewey Bridge Member of the Carmel Formation and forms Balanced Rock at Arches National Park. Snow-capped peaks in the background are the La Sal Mountains, a Tertiary-age laccolith.

POTD February 07, 2017: Thor’s Hammer, Bryce Canyon National State Park

Thor’s Hammer, Bryce Canyon National State Park

Photographer: Grant Willis © 2017

Thor’s Hammer, named for the Norse God of Thunder who controlled the air and storms, is probably the best-known hoodoo in Bryce Canyon National Park, and is also the icon for the Utah Geological Survey logo. It formed as the result of differential weathering of sandstone and siltstone layers in the Claron Formation, with the softer layers weathering and eroding faster than the harder layers. The retreating escarpment that forms Bryce Canyon owes its existence to the Paunsaugunt fault, which elevated Powell Point in the distance, and which also “sank” the Sinking Ship in middle distance.


POTD January 31, 2017: Little Cottonwood Canyon, Wasatch Range

Little Cottonwood Canyon, Wasatch Range

Photographer: Mike Hylland © 2017

Devils Castle exposes tilted layers of limestone and dolomite of the Deseret, Gardison, and Fitchville Formations above Albion Basin at the head of Little Cottonwood Canyon. Discoveries of silver, gold, copper, lead, and zinc in the area led to establishment of the Little Cottonwood mining district and the town of Alta in the late 1800’s.

POTD January 24, 2017: Antelope Island, Salt Lake and Davis Counties

Antelope Island, Salt Lake and Davis Counties
Photographer: Andy Cvar © 2017

Evening skies are reflected in Great Salt Lake south of Antelope Island. Otherworldly scenes of wide mudflats are exposed as lake level nears record low elevation.

POTD January 17, 2017: Silver Lake, Wasatch Range

Silver Lake, Wasatch Range

Photographer: Kent Brown © 2017

At 11,749 feet, Mount Timpanogos is the second-highest peak in the Wasatch Range, and is formed of 300 million-year-old limestone and sandstone of the Oquirrh Formation.

POTD January 10, 2017: Bell Hill Mine, Juab County

Bell Hill Mine, Juab County
Photographer: Mark Milligan © 2017

Vibrant purple fluorite, composed of calcium and fluoride, exposed at the Bell Hill mine in the Spor Mountain mining district. Fluorite is chiefly used as flux for steel manufacturing and in making hydrofluoric acid.