Dark Canyon Complex in southeastern Utah • Earth.com

Dark Canyon Complex in southeastern Utah

Today’s Image of the Day from NASA Earth Observatory features the Dark Canyon Complex, which is a rugged, remote area in southeastern Utah. It’s part of the larger Cedar Mesa Plateau and includes both the Dark Canyon Wilderness and Dark Canyon Primitive Area. 

These are areas of steep canyons, high plateaus, and rock formations that are characteristic of the Colorado Plateau.

“Deep, meandering canyons cut through the Colorado Plateau in southeastern Utah in this photograph, taken by an astronaut on the International Space Station on April 6, 2023,” says NASA.

“These canyons, known as the Dark Canyon complex, have distinctive geology, ecology, and archeology. They are some of the only intact protected canyons in the United States.”

“This rugged and remote landscape has been shaped by erosion. Over thousands of years, the Colorado River and smaller tributaries have eroded winding, steep-walled canyons into the sedimentary rock. Dark Canyon – one of seven canyons within the complex – cuts diagonally across the photo.”

“Within this canyon, sandstone walls tower up to 3,000 feet, shading visitors from morning and afternoon sun – hence its name. The canyon’s steep walls expose roughly 250 million years of geologic history and contain deposits from the Permian period. Cockleshell and crinoid stem fossils have been found in the area.”

The photograph was captured on April 6, 2023 by an astronaut onboard the International Space Station.

Image Credit: NASA Earth Observatory 

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