Sixty-million years ago the area where Cedar Breaks now stands was not the highest point, but rather it was the lowest and the bottom of a seventy mile long lake. As time passed, more changes occurred until sand, gravel and sedimentary deposits filled the ancient lake. The lake dried over and over again for a period of about twenty-five million years and each time the cycle resulted in laying down more layers of material. These materials compressed and hardened into sedimentary rock. The rock "rusted" when iron, oxygen and water combined, giving the coral color to the sediments. It's these sediments that became the siltstone, sandstone and limestone of the Claron formation of Cedar Breaks.
Over time, uplifting occurred to form the gorgeous amphitheater seen at Cedar Breaks National Monument today. The Cedar Breaks hoodoos are over 60-million years old. The rock statues are sculpted claron rock formations which consist of sandstone, limestone, dolomite and siltstone layers. The sedimentary layers contain lignite, coal and fossils, including evidence of the lush mesozoic period, when the now cool climate of the mountain was tropical and different plants and animals flourished.
Cedar Breaks is located at the Markagunt Plateau rim were conditions are ideal for hoodoo formation. The steep slope gives the environment required where faults and joints from compressional forces guide patterns of erosion. The yearly weather cycle aids in the process. During the cold months of the year a cycle of freezing and thawing loosens the slope surface, allowing debris to be sluffed away by runoff. The material carried works on the softer rock to create gullies, and ultimately canyons. The hard rock left behind is further eroded along its vertical cracks, again subjected to the freeze - thaw cycle, carving the hoodoos.
Hoodoos at Cedar Breaks
The showcase of Cedar Breaks Hoodoos will ultimately turn to grains of sand. The patterns of rock formations show off their unique crisscross design formed through the long process of freezing and thawing. The process continues today, and rock formations continue to be designed by nature. When water seeps into the fractures of the rocks, it dissolves the calcium carbonate that holds the small rock particles together. In cold weather the water turns to ice as temperatures drop, then the ice expands pushing the fractures open. The overnight freezing and daytime thaw are abundant, occurring two to three hundred times a year. Since different rocks are of varied hardness, erosion takes place at different rates. Just like Zion National Park, erosion will continue until the plateau is flattened and the rocks turn to sand.
Where does the beautiful coral color at Cedar Breaks come from?
What is the elevation at Cedar Breaks?
Utah's Dixie National Forest: Cedar Mountain
Cedar Breaks National Monument, Utah
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