An unusual geologic structure at
Island in the Sky in Canyonlands National Park
southwest of Moab, Utah
Page, photo & graphics work by Bill Allen
Above: A panorama stitched from photos taken from the south rim looking northward into the structure in Sept. 2004.
At right: An illustration of Upheaval Dome created in 3D with ESRI ArcScene using a 10m-resolution DEM (digital elevation map) and 4m-resolution DOQ (orthorectified aerial photography). The view is from the southeast looking northwest, with the road to the visitor area entering from the frame bottom. (The seeming "shadow" is from one DOQQ being darker than the other three.)
Some interesting points about Upheaval Dome:
- Upheaval Dome is about three to six miles wide (4.8-9.7 km.), depending on where you measure. It is circular in shape and has at its center an uplift typical of impact structures.
- It is still believed by some geologists to be a collapsed salt dome, where movement of highly compressed salt deformed overlying rock layers.
- It is now believed by other geologists to be the relic of an impact that some sources say occurred less than 170 million years ago (mya), and others put more exactly at 60-90 mya, when an asteroid maybe 600 yards/meters across hit at 25,000 mph (40,250 kph).
- It is located about 250 miles (400 km.) north of Arizona's Barringer Crater (better known simply as "Meteor Crater"), which is a mile wide (1.6 km.) and was caused only 50,000 years ago by an asteroid about 30 yards/meters in diameter.
- It lays entirely within Canyonlands National Park, in an area called "Island in the Sky," immediately southwest of Moab, Utah, and is accessible by a short trail.
- Geologically speaking, it is located in the Hermosa and Paradox formations of the Colorado Plateau. The National Park Service says that, "Rock layers now at the surface within the dome were once buried at least a mile underground and are not visible anywhere else in the nearby area."
This page is a result of a student project by Bill Allen as part of Geographic Information Technology studies at the Albuquerque, N.M. Technical-Vocational Institute (TVI
) in 2005 thanks to a Vietnam Veterans Scholarship from the state of New Mexico and the support of my wife, Sally.
New: 18 June 2005
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