• Spires of Cedar Mesa sandstone in Chesler Park (Needles District)

    Canyonlands

    National Park Utah

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Paradox Formation

Grabens caused by movement in the Paradox Formation
Movements in the Paradox Formation cause dramatic changes on the surface, such as the creation of grabens.
NPS Photo by Neal Herbert
 

Deposited:
Pennsylvanian Period (286 to 320 million years ago)

Depositional Environment:
Evaporites (salts) from landlocked seas

Appearance:
Salt and Gypsum with black shales

Examples:
Pockets are exposed along the Colorado River in Cataract Canyon

Note:
The Paradox Formation has played a large role in shaping the landscape of southeast Utah, especially around Arches and Canyonlands. When conditions are right, the weight of overlying rock causes the deposits in the Paradox Formation to liquefy and flow through whatever channels offer the least resistance. This subsurface movement can have drastic effects on the surface, causing rock layers to uplift or sink and fracture under the stress. This sets the stage for the creation of arches, grabens, and needles.

Did You Know?

Detail of the Great Gallery pictograph panel

Some of the rock art in Horseshoe Canyon was painted over 3,000 years ago. Now known as "Barrier Canyon" style rock art, it was painted by nomadic groups of hunter-gatherers that roamed throughout the southwest. More...