Arches National Park and the Formation of Arches

In: Historical Events

Submitted By sodagolfer
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Next, how are the arches actually formed after the fins have been started. The arches and alcoves form when horizontal bedding planes in the rock fins are attacked by weathering and erosion. One major section of weakness is the contact between the Dewey Bridge and Slick Rock Members. The groundwater is slightly acidic and percolates along this contact point which dissolves the calcite cement releasing grains of sand and silt. Over time, the fin is breached and a small opening is created at the contact between the Dewey Bridge and Slick Rock Members. Gravity then fractures the the unsupported sandstone above the breach allowing blocks of Slick Rock sandstone to fall from the bottom of the opening. Once the opening is at least three feet in either direction, the opening qualifies as an arch.
Lastly, even geologist are still trying to figure out all that can affect an arch and the formation of it, as well as, the length of time the arch will last. Many different theories have been established and five of those were listed above, but this goes to show that the park is always changing. Each arch has a different lifespan and their are many different factors that go into finding that time frame. These factors are still studied today as well as the many other geological features that the park has to other. As stated earlier, this park to home to many different things to study. Geologists continue to flock to this park because they can study more than one topic and get a better understanding of the entire region. Not only was this National Park created to preserve the beauty of the region, but also to protect these geological features to allow geologists to get a better understanding of some of earth’s greatest features.

Mattox, R.B., 1980, Arches National Park, Utah; an excellent field laboratory: Abstracts with Programs ­ Geological…...

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