Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Farmington, NM To Page, AZ (4/13 - 4/14/2016)

While in Farmington, I drove over to one of the sacred sites for the Navajo, a place called Shiprock, near the town that is named for it.  The Navajo call it Tsé Bitʼaʼí, "rock with wings" or "winged rock".  Whatever its name, it is a geological feature known as a monadnock that rises nearly 1600 feet above the surrounding plains, or 7200 feet above sea level.  This type of formation occurs when a volcano is erupting and a gigantic explosion occurs, creating a plug from an excess of magma.  Since the main avenue for escaping debris is suddenly blocked, the pressure sends magma toward any weakness in the earth's crust.  In this case, the blast sent stuff in six different directions radiating from the volcano's throat, forming hardened dykes resembling spokes on a wheel.  All this happened way below ground, maybe 1000 feet or more.  Over the eons, erosion has removed all the softer surrounding material, leaving the tower and parts of some of the dykes.  There are other examples of this in the highly volcanic region around here, but this one is most famous, and I've wanted to photograph it at dawn for a long time.  This was my opportunity.

The sunrise that morning was OK, just not what I had hoped for.

Still, the early light really made Shiprock glow red for me.

I moved to another location and made sure one of the dykes was included in the shot.

This is a better view of the largest remaining dyke.

There are countless scenic formations along the highway on the drive to Page.  Unfortunately, I was unable to stop for a photograph of most of them.  These few had places where I could pull over long enough to snap a photo.

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