Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Why I love Flying. (hint, it's all about the window seat!)

I have flown a lot over the course of my life, probably more than most folks who don't have to travel for a job.  I have always loved occupying the window seat.  Being able to look down at buildings and cars and the landscape was always magical, but it wasn't until getting into geology that I began to really appreciate flying in a window seat.

Seeing geologic structures from the air makes me feel like a superhero (Geology Girl! photographing plunging synclines in a single shot!), so now I carry a camera whenever I'm on a flight. Here is a series of the Colorado Plateau from Phoenix, AZ to Grand Junction, CO taken upon returning from lab work at University of Arizona's LaserChron Center.

Much thanks to Google Earth for helping me locate the photos!

Looking towards west towards Navajo National Monument in Arizona with Navajo Mountain peaking out in the background.
Navajo Mountain is actually just over the border in Utah. It shares a similar history as the Henry Mountains and the La Sal Mountains as they are all intrusive laccoliths within the Colorado Plateau.

The southern end of Monument Valley in Arizona. Boot Mesa is in the center of this photo.

Oljato-Monument Valley. Oljato Mesa is in the center of the photo, and Train Rock is present on the right.

The Permian DeChelly Sandstone is responsible for the large vertical cliffs of the buttes, mesas and spires within Monument Valley. The underlying shales are Permian in age as well and are of the Organ Rock Formation.  The formations overlying the DeChelly are the Triassic Moenkopi and Chinle formation.

Here is a link to an amazing Gigapan (read really detailed large photograph) of  Monument Valley  by Geologist Ron Schott.
According to, Goosenecks State Park covers 300 million years of time through the rocks of the canyons.  Here is another Gigapan by Ron Schott looking into the goosenecks.

Goosenecks State Park in southern Utah.

Looking northwest towards the entrance to the Needles district of Canyonlands Nation Park in Utah.
This valley holds the road into the entrance of the Needles district.  You can find petroglyphs on the canyon walls before reaching Canyonlands.  Below is a shot of Newspaper Rock taken on my last trip to Moab.

Looking northwest at the La Sal Mountains- Mt. Peale, Mt. Tukuhnikivatz and Mt. Mellenthin
As mentioned above, the La Sal Mountains are an exposed laccolith. They sit on the eastern edge of Utah on the Colorado border.  Edward Abbey wrote about Mt. Tukunikivatz in his book Desert Solitaire.

Overlooking Ute Canyon in the Colorado National Monument with Grand Junction and the Bookcliffs in the background.
Looking north towards the East Entrance of CNM and the Serpents Trail with Grand Junction in the Background.
Oh give me a home...where the monocline roam...or something like that.   Colorado National Monument is part of a huge monocline (which I'm pretty sure I have mentioned before).  In fact, there is a picture of the Monument on the linked page.  Anyway, with all the traveling this summer, it was sure nice to come home to beautiful weather and clear enough skies to take these couple pictures.  The last time I flew from Arizona, it was dark before hitting Utah!


  1. Grand Junction, CO is a great base to be flying out of - great geology in every direction - I'm envious.

    Don't know why I hadn't stumbled onto your geoblog until today, but I'm subscribed now. Welcome to the Geoblogosphere (belatedly)!

  2. And thanks Ron for spreading the word - I am following now, too!

  3. Great photos! Whenever I fly: Step 1. Window seat. Step 2. Profit.

  4. Thank you guys! I realize my posts(and responses as it's almost a year later, yikes!) are somewhat few and far between. I tend to use my personal profile for a lot of photos and suck, but I'm working on combining the two so I can start updating more regularly.
    Thanks again for following!