Sunday, October 29, 2006

Basalt and aspen leaf

The southwestern U.S. has a very violent history. I’m going way beyond the gunslinging days to its prehistoric past. Most of the states of Arizona, Utah, New Mexico and Colorado are what remains of a vast volcanic field. Most of the present landscape in this region is the result of eruptions, explosions, lava and ash and the erosion of those features over time.

On our recent road trip, my wife and I spent a morning exploring the Sunset Volcano Crater northeast of Flagstaff, Arizona. An interpretive trail takes visitors through the basaltic rock formations of the crater.

A few hardy plants have made a go of it in the harsh rocky conditions of the crater. A nearby aspen tree was in full autumn bloom when I spotted this discarded leaf on the floor of the crater on a sheet of basaltic rock.

Click on picture to enlarge. Photograph © 2006 James Jordan.

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