Geodiversity refers to the full variety of natural geologic (rocks, minerals, sediments, fossils, landforms, and physical processes) and soil resources and processes that occur in the park. A product of the Geologic Resources Inventory, the NPS Geodiversity Atlas delivers information in support of education, Geoconservation, and integrated management of living (biotic) and non-living (abiotic) components of the ecosystem.
Geologic Features and Processes
The unique and colorful scenery in Bryce Canyon National Park has been formed by differential erosion of the freshwater limestones of the Tertiary-aged Claron Formation that are exposed along and below the rim of the Paunsaugunt Plateau. The park has world renowned hoodoos, fluted cliffs, columns, spires, windows, and arches formed along a system of joints (fractures) in the rock. Minute cracks form and are enlarged by freeze thaw, water erosion, and chemical weathering (Bowers, 1991, USGS map and report I-2108). Additionally, klippe features are present in the northern part of the park where older Cretaceous strata have been thrust faulted over younger Tertiary strata.
Fossils at the park include marine & terrestrial organisms (ammonites, turtles, dinosaurs, early mammals) which lived in or along the shores of an inland sea which dissected North America during the Cretaceous Period (100-65 million years ago). Fossils in the Tertiary Claron Formation are scarce.
All NPS fossil resources are protected under the Paleontological Resources Preservation Act of 2009 (Public Law 111-11, Title VI, Subtitle D; 16 U.S.C. §§ 470aaa - 470aaa-11).
Geology Field Notes
Students and teachers of college-level (or AP) introductory geology or earth science teaching courses will find that each park's Geologic Resource Inventory report includes the Geologic History, Geologic Setting, and Geologic Features & Processes for the park which provides a useful summary of their overall geologic story. See Maps and Reports, below.
Bryce Canyon National Park is a part of the Colorado Plateaus Province and shares its geologic history and some characteristic geologic formations with a region that extends well beyond park boundaries.
Geologic significance is not explicitly noted in Presidential proclamation or the park’s enabling legislation. However, logical inference can be drawn from secondary source information (Congressional committee reports) that the park was set aside primarily for geologic significance (preservation of outstanding scenic beauty and unique erosional features of the Claron Formation).
Geologic Resources Inventory
- Scoping summaries are records of scoping meetings where NPS staff and local geologists determined the park’s geologic mapping plan and what content should be included in the report.
- Digital geologic maps include files for viewing in GIS software, a guide to using the data, and a document with ancillary map information. Newer products also include data viewable in Google Earth and online map services.
- Reports use the maps to discuss the park’s setting and significance, notable geologic features and processes, geologic resource management issues, and geologic history.
- Posters are a static view of the GIS data in PDF format. Newer posters include aerial imagery or shaded relief and other park information. They are also included with the reports.
- Projects list basic information about the program and all products available for a park.
Related ArticlesBryce Canyon National Park
National Park Service Geodiversity AtlasThe servicewide Geodiversity Atlas provides information on geoheritage and geodiversity resources and values within the National Park System. This information supports science-based geoconservation and interpretation in the NPS, as well as STEM education in schools, museums, and field camps. The NPS Geologic Resources Division and many parks work with National and International geoconservation communities to ensure that NPS abiotic resources are managed using the highest standards and best practices available.
For more information on the NPS Geodiversity Atlas, contact us.
Part of a series of articles titled National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas.