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
[Site Under Development]
The three bridges in Natural Bridges National Monument, Sipapu, Kachina, and Owachomo, are among the ten largest in the world, and they are all developed in the Lower Permian Cedar Mesa Sandstone. Although the Cedar Mesa Sandstone was deposited about 270 Ma, the bridges are likely less than 30,000 years old (Huntoon et al., 2000).
There is very limited evidence in the Cedar Mesa Sandstone for invertebrate burrows and root casts. The presence of Pleistocene-Holocene vertebrate remains, bones and dung are present in packrat middens.
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).
Biological soil crusts in Natural Bridges contribute to a number of functions in soil ecosystems. Because they are typically concentrated in the top 1 to 4 mm of the surface of the soil, they affect processes that occur at the land surface or soil-air interface. These include improving soil aggregate stability and ability to resist forces of erosion, facilitate atmospheric fixation of nitrogen, provide nutrient contributions to plants, enhance soil-plant-water relations, increase infiltration of water into the soil, and help to preserve soil resistance and resiliency to numerous stressors.
Soils in the park play a key role in many biological and physical processes. Soil is involved in nutrient cycling, the hydrologic cycle and energy capture and transfer. Its capacity to perform soil and ecological functions depends upon the condition of the soil resources. See Baseline Inventories, below.
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.
Natural Bridges National Monument is a part of the Colorado Plateaus Physiographic Province and shares its geologic history and some characteristic geologic formations with a region that extends well beyond park boundaries.
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.
- Natural Bridges—Geologic Formations
- Natural Bridges—Potholes
- Natural Bridges—Biological Soil Crust
- Natural Bridges—Photo Gallery: Bridges
- NPS—Arid and Semi-arid Region Landforms
- NPS—Plate Tectonics
- NPS—Geologic Time
- NPS—Explore Regional Geology
Related ArticlesNatural Bridges National Monument
National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas
The 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.
Series: National Park Service Geodiversity Atlas
Last updated: October 25, 2019