Rivers of Time
Colorado’s Black Canyon of the Gunnison River - so named because the canyon walls are often hidden in shadows, thus making them appear black - is one of the steepest, deepest, baddest, narrowest canyons in the world. And even with all the physical dimensions that help describe this amazing place, it’s the one worldly dimension we cannot see that has most made the Black Canyon possible today.
In his wonderful book “The Black Canyon of the Gunnison,” published by the U.S. Geological Survey in 1965, Wallace R. Hansen calls it “an incomprehensible immensity of time.” Here we see overwhelming evidence of this time in the river far below - the Gunnison River - which has been downcutting the canyon at a rate of approximately one foot per thousand years for the last two million years. We see it too in the distinctive "streamers" of pegmatite in the Painted Wall - it’s muscovite mica and potassium feldspar, geologists say - that are rather like rivers, rivers of hot igneous rock now animating these towering cliffs, having forced their way up into the cracks millions of years ago.
Rivers of water, rivers of rock: while standing enthralled above it all, on just any old day in late March, it seemed they never will stop flowing.
Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park
The image was made using a Canon EOS 5D Mark IV digital body and a Zeiss Milvus 21mm f/2.8 ZE lens. At f/8.0 and ISO 100, seven exposures shot at shutter speeds from 1/400 second to 1/6 second were combined to expand dynamic range.
Copyright © Eric Glaser. All Rights Reserved.
coloradolandscapelandscapesblack canyongunnisoncimarronnpnational parknational parksmontrosenpsnational park servicepainted wallpegmatitegunnison rivergneissschistcanyonsgrand junctiongeologywestamerican westscenicscenerynatureprecambrianbasementcrosscuttingdikesgorgegorgesmetamorphicigneousrockeric glaserEric Glaser, from
The Best of Colorado