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The Maze

The Maze
Photo Information
Copyright: James Parker (Jamesp) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Note Writer [C: 1369 W: 9 N: 6334] (18906)
Genre: Landscapes
Medium: Color
Date Taken: 2004-11-25
Categories: Desert
Camera: Canon 1D Mark II, Canon 24-70 mm f 2,8 L-USM
Exposure: f/5.6, 1/125 seconds
More Photo Info: [view]
Photo Version: Original Version
Theme(s): Earth from Above, Geological Wonders, RARE or SIGNIFICANT contributions to TN 4 [view contributor(s)]
Date Submitted: 2008-09-24 8:17
Viewed: 9177
Points: 36
[Note Guidelines] Photographer's Note
I have been unusually busy just recently - I do not like to post unless I can do some crits as well.

This shows part of the Maze district of Canyonlands National Park in Utah. The reason for the name is, I think, self evident from the shot. The sandstone here has been subjected to massive folding and fautling along the Moab Fault and also affected by salt intrusions, giving rise to this weird eroded and weathered landscape.

The complicated landscape made this a perfect location for one of the hideouts of Butch Cassidy and his Gang.

A subsiding basin and nearby uplifting mountain range (the Uncompahgre) existed in the area in Pennsylvanian time. Seawater trapped in the subsiding basin created thick evaporite deposits by Mid Pennsylvanian. This, along with eroded material from the nearby mountain range, become the Paradox Formation, itself a part of the Hermosa Group. Paradox salt beds started to flow later in the Pennsylvanian and probably continued to move until the end of the Jurassic. Some scientists believe Upheaval Dome was created from Paradox salt bed movement, creating a salt dome, but more modern studies show that the meteorite theory is more likely to be correct (curent view but it exhibits more features of a salt intrusion).

A warm shallow sea again flooded the region near the end of the Pennsylvanian. Fossil-rich limestones, sandstones, and shales of the gray-colored Honaker Trail Formation resulted. A period of erosion then ensued, creating a break in the geologic record called an unconformity. Early in the Permian an advancing sea laid down the Halgaito Shale. Coastal lowlands later returned to the area, forming the Elephant Canyon Formation.

Large alluvial fans filled the basin where it met the Uncompahgre Mountains, creating the Cutler red beds of iron-rich arkose sandstone. Underwater sand bars and sand dunes on the coast inter-fingered with the red beds and later became the white-colored cliff-forming Cedar Mesa Sandstone. Brightly-colored oxidized muds were then deposited, forming the Organ Rock Shale. Coastal sand dunes and marine sand bars once again became dominate, creating the White Rim Sandstone.

A second unconformity ( An unconformity is a buried erosion surface separating two rock masses or strata of different ages, indicating that sediment deposition was not continuous. In general, the older layer was exposed to erosion for an interval of time before deposition of the younger, but the term is used to describe any break in the sedimentary geologic record)was created after the Permian sea retreated. Flood plains on an expansive lowland covered the eroded surface and mud built up in tidal flats, creating the Moenkopi Formation. Erosion returned, forming a third unconformity. The Chinle Formation was then laid down on top of this eroded surface.

Increasingly dry climates dominated the Triassic. Therefore, sand in the form of sand dunes invaded and became the Wingate Sandstone. For a time climatic conditions became wetter and streams cut channels through the sand dunes, forming the Kayenta Formation. Arid conditions returned to the region with a vengeance; A large desert spread over much of western North America and later became the Navajo Sandstone. A fourth unconformity was created by a period of erosion.

Mud flats returned, forming the Carmel Formation and the Entrada Sandstone was laid down next. A long period of erosion stripped away most of the San Rafael Group in the area along with any formations that may have been laid down in the Cretaceous period.

The Laramide orogeny started to uplift the Rocky Mountains 70 million years ago and with it the Canyonlands region. Erosion intensified and when the Colorado River Canyon reached the salt beds of the Paradox Formation the overlying strata extended toward the river canyon, forming features such as The Grabens. Increased precipitation during the ice ages of the Pleistocene quickened the rate of canyon excavation along with other erosion. Similar types of erosion are ongoing, but occur at a slower rate.

nglen, jaycee, Heaven, gracious, matatur, vanderschelden, cicindela, rousettus, CeltickRanger, tuslaw, Evelynn, goldyrs, horia has marked this note useful
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Critiques [Translate]

  • Great 
  • nglen Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2883 W: 30 N: 9683] (36145)
  • [2008-09-24 9:25]

Hi James. What an amazing place you need to be in the air to get this view. Nature has made such unusual shapes and colours. Not a place to get lost in. very interesting notes again so thanks for that.

Hello James
This is a fantastic geography lesson in photo and text...Absolutely fascinating.
It reminds me of Old Hunstanton....Albeit on a much lesser scale!!
All the Best
When I say lesser I mean Hunstanton!!

  • Great 
  • jaycee Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2454 W: 10 N: 8044] (25460)
  • [2008-09-24 11:35]

Hi James,

I have never been to Canyonlands but knew immediately this was Utah. It looks very much like Bryce. It is so difficult to get a perspective as good as this in a photo. You captured the colors, details, complexities of this scene perfectly.


  • Great 
  • Heaven Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 996 W: 123 N: 2341] (7912)
  • [2008-09-24 11:53]

Hi James!

You present us what I would define as the perfect posting: a delightful picture, technically perfect, and interesting notes that content many different subjects as geology and history. A very precious contribution.

Kind regards


Hello James,
Nice to see your posting with such quality of the Canyonland from above!
It really looks like a complete fortress well protected! beautiful with those lighting!
many thanks for your effort for sharing such beauty!
take care

A perfect aerial view of a geological formation with quite an interesting past James, your exposure is very good it is easily possible to differentiate between the sandstones, salt beds and the various limestone strata. Wouldn't like to get lost among those formations though...

Hello James,
Awesome shot. I remember Crook's corner in South Africa but I believe this was a bit too far away for our friend Butch.:-)
No,seriously...it's like dried oil paint. It's a very fascinating landscape.
Lastly I like the point of view.
Well done

Hi James!
Wonderful view! I like a lot this panoramic POV! It is simply great! And many thanks for showing us so beautiful place!
All the best,

Hello James
very interesting place. but its landscape shot great. Nicely composed rocks. colors and light great as like POV and notes. TFS, best wishes

hello James

excellent aerian shot with fine POV and DOF,
great luminosity and excellent sharpness and details of the rocks



  • Great 
  • tuslaw Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2754 W: 282 N: 4931] (19883)
  • [2008-09-24 19:35]

Gorgeous shot James,
When I first saw the thumbnail I thought it was Bryce Canyon, but after bringing it up I realized it was a completely different area.
You've captured this beautiful canyon perfectly for all to enjoy viewing. TFS

I think it is only from the air that one can get a sense of the structure of Canyonlands. What a forbidding landscape. Goodness what a long note! It is a lot for my feeble brain to absorb at once. I suspect that you have other photos of the area that would illustrate some of what you describe??? Would you ever consider doing a series of posts of an area. What good geology lessons they might be. Maybe there is just too much overlap of events and it isn't possible.

Once again you managed great sharpness from the air.

Evelynn : )

  • Great 
  • joey Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1739 W: 224 N: 6872] (24909)
  • [2008-09-25 14:15]

What an incredible place!
The intricate maze of cliffs is amazing.
Very good composition.
Superb exposure.

Very well done,

Hi James

Great landscape, I guess you can only appreciate it from the air.
a great geology shot.


This is well......... a maze, indeed!And what an amazing maze, it is!
Very well done!

Hi James
Fantastic place. Firs of all I like the POV. Very good photo, great geological presentation with good note
I like it very much

  • Great 
  • EOSF1 Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 1393 W: 119 N: 5267] (23955)
  • [2008-09-27 17:36]

Hello James, excellent landscape shot, very sharp and with a perfect exposure, it's fantastic! Thanks!


  • Great 
  • horia Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2158 W: 224 N: 4749] (16656)
  • [2008-09-29 8:47]

Hi James

Another aerial shot from you and another stunner :)
This is really a massive geological structure and the shape that it takes makes a man dizzy. One can actually get lost down there…
I think this is the best place you could have photographed this from: you have a good view of its impressive size, you have a great perspective and also a 3D structure that adds a lot to the compositional value of the shot.
Overall, this is a fantastic shot and presentation, my friend!

Bravo and TFS

Hi James,
This birds eye view gave a very good impression of this impressive landscape. Small parts taken form a ridge or on the bottom are nice, but this blows away the compition. Its great to start somewhere and try to follow a single line. After a while you get confused.

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