Monday, November 30, 2009

Southwest Trip 2009

El Capitan, also known as Agathla Peak is a sheer volcanic pinnacle, 1,500 feet in height, and an elevation of 6,890 feet. El Capitan is a landmark commanding a view of the entire Kayenta - Monument Valley region. Agathla is derived from the Navajo Indian word 'ag ha la' meaning 'much wool', apparently for the fur of antelope and deer accumulating on the rock. It is considered sacred by the Navajo. El Capitan is an eroded volcanic plug consisting of volcanic breccia cut by dikes of an unusual igneous rock called minette. It is one of many such volcanic diatremes that are found in Navajo country of northeast Arizona and northwest New Mexico. El Capitan and Shiprock in New Mexico are the most prominent. These rocks are part of the Navajo Volcanic Field, in the southern Colorado Plateau. Ages of these minettes and associated more unusual igneous rocks cluster near 25 million years.

The light was flat and overcast So I shot this image with Dave showing what photographers do "to get the shot". Watch out for the barbed wire!

Friday, November 27, 2009

Southwest Trip 2009

Look, Wupatki "Swiss cheese" rocks! The grains in this sandstone are cemented with calcite which dissolves with rain water. Weathering pits form, which collect more water, enlarging the pits. The dissolved calcite moves downward into any porous rock or soil. Concentration build, then moisture creates capillary action which draws the solution to the surface where it precipitates out, creating the white deposits on soil and rocks.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Southwest Trip 2009

The eruption of nearby Sunset Crater volcano some time between 1040 and 1100 predated the founding of this pueblo. The settlement of Wupatki followed but it's uncertain if there was a direct cause and effect. People may have been drawn by the eruption and stayed. Or, perhaps those displaced by the eruption moved to this lower elevation. People gathered here during the 1100s, gradually building this 100-room pueblo with a community room and ballcourt. By 1182, perhaps 85 to 100 people lived at Wupatki Pueblo, the largest building for at least fifty miles. Within a day's walk, a population of several thousand surrounded Wupatki. Wupatki appears empty and abandoned. Though it is no longer physically occupied, Hopi believe the people who lived and died here remain as spiritual guardians. Stories of Wupatki are passed on among Hopi, Zuni, Navajo, and perhaps other tribes. Members of the Hopi Bear, Sand, Lizard, Rattlesnake, Water, Snow, and Katsina Clans return periodically to enrich their personal understanding of their clan history. Wupatki is remembered and cared for, not abandoned. Imagine these stories as you cast your eyes on this pueblo.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Southwest Trip 2009

Once again I am back home from a wonderful trip through the Southwest. This time Northern Arizona and Southern Utah was my destination. May you enjoy these images as much as I enjoyed taking them. As I take you down this journey stay on the trail (sometimes), stay off the walls (mostly) and do not pick up pottery (never). You may (as always) download these images to use as a free screen saver -(Left click to view image full size, then right click to download).

Today’s image is the entrance to the Wupatki Pueblo.