Waterpocket Fold

This is the bizarre geologic formation known as Waterpocket Fold. This is located on the border between the Escalante Grand Staircase National Monument (right side of the image) and Glenn Canyon Wilderness (on the left) and Capitol Reef (straight down the middle vertically).

Running down the middle of the gulch in this image are 2 separate creeks, on the left is Bullfrog Creek and on the right is Hall Creek. On the left above the creeks lays Big Tompson Mesa and further to the left just outside this image lies the tiny community of Eggnog.

Waterpocket fold is a monoclinal fold that extends for nearly 100 miles (160 km) in the semi-arid plateau of the central part of Utah. It can be seen via three scenic routes in the park. One route leads to a famous landmark known as the Golden Throne. This landmark is covered in golden sandstone that gives it its name.

The very small jagged looking area that sits at the bottom of Waterpocked Fold on the right side of the gulch is called Oyster Sell Reef and is an exposed section of the fold along the headwaters of Halls Creek, south of Divide Canyon. This is where ancient fossilized oyster shells are exposed along the reef.

Looking very much like a set of giant geological sharks teeth this image below is a close up of the Waterpocket Fold formation.

The Waterpocket Fold defines Capitol Reef National Park. A nearly 100-mile long warp in the Earth’s crust, the Waterpocket Fold is a classic monocline, a “step-up” in the rock layers. It formed between 50 and 70 million years ago when a major mountain building event in western North America, the Laramide Orogeny, reactivated an ancient buried fault in this region. Movement along the fault caused the west side to shift upwards relative to the east side. The overlying sedimentary layers were draped above the fault and formed a monocline. The rock layers on the west side of the fold have been lifted more than 7,000 feet (2,134 m) higher than the layers on the east.

More recent uplift of the entire Colorado Plateau and the resulting erosion has exposed this fold at the surface within the last 15 to 20 million years. The name “Waterpocket Fold” reflects this ongoing erosion of the rock layers. “Waterpockets” are small depressions that form in many of the sandstone layers as they are eroded by water, and are common throughout the fold at Capitol Reef. Erosion of the tilted rock layers continues today forming colorful cliffs, massive domes, soaring spires, stark monoliths, twisting canyons, and graceful arches.

In this image below looking to the northeast across Waterpocket Fold, you can see where the canyon splits off to the east at Wildcat Mesa and the Elbow Of Sandy.


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