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Geologic Wonders of the National Parks, site 19-24


Gypsum Sand Dunes19. White Sands National Monument, New Mexico - Great wave-like gypsum sand dunes engulf over 275 square miles of desert and have created the world's largest gypsum dune field. Rain and snow melt flows from the surrounding mountains into the closed Tularosa Basin. Water pools in various playas and evaporates slowly causing gypsum to be deposited in a crystalline form called selenite. The forces of nature (freezing and thawing, wetting and drying) eventually break down the crystals into sand-size particles light enough to be moved by the wind and deposited in the White Sands dune field. More

Columns in Mammoth Cave20. Mammoth Cave National Park, Kentucky - The longest recorded cave system in the world with over 360 mapped miles. Mammoth preserves part of an archetypal karst landscape in South-Central Kentucky with sinkholes, vertical shafts, windows, and springs amongst other features. More

A Cypress Stand in Everglades21. Everglades National Park, Florida - Florida's great subtropical swamp is actually the widest river on earth, although it is only inches deep in many places. Before dams and development altered its inflow, Lake Okeechobee would periodically overflow, spilling water out onto a great flat plain that might advance as little as half a mile per day. More

The trans_Alaska oil pipline deflected across the Denali Fault22. Denali National Park, Alaska - The Denali Fault is the largest crustal break in North America. It stretches for 1,300 miles from the Yukon border down to the Aleutian peninsula. The Denali Fault is responsible for the largest North American earthquakes (magnitudes 8-9) in recent years. The Denali fault marks the boundary where the Pacific Plate is being subducted by the North American Plate. More

An arial view of the Waterpocket Fold 23. Capitol Reef National Park, Utah - Contains a classic and well exposed monocline, the Waterpocket Fold. This nearly 100-mile long warp in the Earth's crust has lifted the rock layers on the west side more than 7,000 feet higher than the layers on the east. This giant fold has been deeply eroded exposing over 10,000 feet of continuous sedimentary strata. The Waterpocket Fold formed between 50 and 70 million years ago during the Laramide Orogeny. More

A freshwater fish fossil24. Fossil Butte National Monument, Wyoming - Includes some of the most nearly perfectly preserved fossils of ancient plant and animal life in the world. Within the world renowned Green River Formation, Fossil Butte contains one of the world's best collection of fossilized freshwater fish, hundreds of insect species, uncounted plant species, and various other organisms such as bats, birds, turtles, and crocodiles. Fossil Butte originated as Fossil Lake, in which the constant precipitation of calcium carbonate helped to preserve the organisms which fell to the bottom of the lake. More

updated on 01/04/2005  I   http://www.nature.nps.gov/geology/geologic_wonders/19_24list.cfm   I  Email: Webmaster
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