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GeoSights—Comb Ridge, San Juan County, Utah

One may say Comb Ridge was Mother Nature’s way of splitting southern San Juan County with an enormous
wall. Another may say it was a giant skateboard ramp for dinosaurs. One thing is certain: Comb Ridge is a spectacular
ridge of steeply tilted sandstone rock layers, trending north-south for approximately 80 miles from Utah’s Abajo Mountains to Kayenta, Arizona. Similar to a rooster’s comb, the jagged appearance of Comb Ridge provides the logic behind its name.

GeoSights—Notch Peak—Big Cliff, Millard County, Utah

The enormity and vastness of the cliff forming the north face of Notch Peak is difficult to describe. Standing near the cliff’s base and looking up is awe inspiring. The view while standing at the top and looking over the edge? I would not know as I was on my hands and knees, too fearful to stand and look over the edge at one of the greatest vertical drops in the contiguous U.S.
Reported estimates of the cliff’s actual height vary significantly from under 2,000 feet to over 4,500 feet, which is likely due to differences in defining where the base of the cliff starts. Photogrammetry (measurements from digital stereoscopic photographs), verified with a paper 7.5′ topographic map, suggests the cliff has an uninterrupted near-vertical drop of over 1,500feet. The addition of cliff below a small bench 50 to 100 yards wide increases the distance to approximately 2,250 feet. Adding a portion of the very steep base of the sheer drop  increases the distance to nearly 2,900 feet.

SURVEY NOTES volume 44 number 1

This Issue contains:

  • Northwest Utah—Could it be Utah’s Newest Energy Hotspot?
  • What is a Metamorphic Core Complex?
  • Every Record Must Fall—An Update on the Largest Arches in the World
  • Energy News: Utah’s Gordon Creek Field to Test Commercial-Scale Storage of
  • Carbon Dioxide
  • Glad You Asked: Is There Coral in Great Salt Lake?
  • GeoSights: The Honeycombs Juab County, Utah
  • Survey News
  • Teacher’s Corner
  • New Publications

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Utah Has Two Wives, and Other Interesting Geographic Facts

It sounds like a bad joke: What has 29 Bars, 69 Devils, and 13 Heavens? Utah does. Those are part of the names of geographic features found throughout the state. The topic of interesting names was recently tackled by the Utah Geological Survey (UGS) in its “Glad You Asked” section of Survey Notes.

“Utah has more bars than Arizona, Nevada and Wyoming combined,” said Mark Milligan, a UGS geologist. Bars, in this case, are elongated ridges of sand, gravel or other sediment.

Utah beats other states by having ‘Wife’ in the name of two locations. Utah’s 69 Devils are trumped by God and Jesus, which total 1,163 combined. However, Hell is found 55 times, but Heaven only 13.

There are 104 ‘Strange’ names and 311 ‘Odd’ names in the United States, but surprisingly none are in the Utah. But Utah is swell having one of only 12 ‘Swell’ places across the U.S.

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IN THE MEDIA

ksl.com

deseretnews.com

SURVEY NOTES volume 43 number 1

This Issue Contains:

  • Land Subsidence and Earth Fissures in Cedar Valley
  • Updated Landslide Maps of Utah
  • GPS Monitoring of Slow-Moving Landslides
  • Liquefaction in the April 15, 2010, M 4.5 Randolph Earthquake
  • Glad You Asked: What are the Roots of Geobotany?
  • Teacher’s Corner
  • GeoSights: Devils Kitchen, Juab County, Utah
  • Survey News
  • Energy News: Energy Office in Transition
  • New Publications

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SURVEY NOTES volume 42 number 3

This Issue Contains:

  • Utah’s Glacial Geology
  • Utah’s Pleistocene Fossils: Keys for Assessing Climate and Environmental Change
  • Glad You Asked: Ice Ages – What are they and what causes them?
  • Survey News
  • Teacher’s Corner: Teaching Kits Available for Loan
  • GeoSights: Glacial Landforms in Big and Little Cottonwood Canyons, Salt Lake County, Utah
  • Energy News: Uranium – Fuel for the 21st Century?
  • New Publications

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GeoSights—Cascade Falls, Kane County, Utah

Nestled in the northwestern corner of Kane County is a geologically unique feature that receives relatively few visitors. Although most people in Utah have seen caves and waterfalls, it is peculiar for a waterfall to emerge from a cave system. Cascade Falls does just that, as an underground river emerges from a deep cave system and cascades down a steep cliff face.

The cave system is the product of sinkholes within the water-soluble rocks of the Claron Formation of the Markagunt Plateau. This incredible cascading waterfall first formed when an ancient lava flow dammed the drainage in a narrow valley, creating Navajo Lake.

Water from this lake found its way through the water-soluble marl (freshwater limestone) of the Claron Formation, eventually forming a cave system that extends a little over a mile from below the southeastern end of Navajo Lake to the Pink Cliffs escarpment at Cascade Falls.

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Glad You Asked—What are those lines on the mountain? From bread lines to erosion-control lines

by Mark Milligan

Recent photo of erosion-control terraces constructed by the CCC in the 1930s, above the Bonneville shoreline in North Salt Lake, Davis County.

Sometimes I get a public inquiry that leads to a “Glad You Asked” article, and sometimes I see something interesting in the field and wish I would get a question about it. This time it was a case of the latter.

A gentleman called and asked, “What are the lines up on the side of the mountain?” Along the Wasatch Front we have fault lines, shorelines, lines from rock layers (bedding planes), lines formed by volcanic dikes, and lines formed by other natural phenomena.

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SURVEY NOTES volume 42, number2

This Issue Contains:

  • Modeling Ground-Water Flow in Cedar Valley
  • Bringing Earth’s Ancient Past to Life
  • Ground-Water Monitoring Network
  • Energy News: Saline Water Disposal in the Uinta Basin, Utah
  • Glad You Asked: How many islands are in Great Salt Lake?
  • GeoSights: Fremont Indian State Park, Sevier County, Utah
  • Survey News
  • New Publications

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GeoSights— Utah's belly button, Upheaval Dome

Upheaval Dome in Canyonlands National Park, Utah, is a colorful circular “belly button,” unique among the broad mesas and deep canyons of the Colorado Plateau.

The rim of Upheaval Dome is 3 miles across and over 1000 feet above the core floor. The central peak in the core is 3000 feet in diameter and rises 750 feet from the floor.

Since the late 1990s, the origin of the Upheaval Dome structure has been considered to be either a pinched-off salt dome or a complex meteorite impact crater; in other words the “belly button” is either an “outie” (dome) or “innie” (crater).

Both origin hypotheses account for the overall structure of Upheaval Dome, assuming approximately a mile of overlying rock has been eroded. The main differences between the two hypotheses are the amount of time and the pressures needed to produce the structure.

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