City Creek Nature Notes – Salt Lake City

July 12, 2017

July 11th

Filed under: Geology, Light — canopus56 @ 12:39 am

Glowing Red Soils

9:00 p.m. The heat wave breaks and the temperature does not break 100 degrees Fahrenheit. This evening I have driven to a spot along Warm Springs Road at the north end of the city. To the east is the west end of the Salt Lake salient, and behind me is the sun setting over Antelope Island in the middle of the Great Salt Lake. The west end of the Salt Lake salient is gone, because that is the location of the Staker Construction gravel pit. For two-hundred feet and about three-quarters of a mile, the entire mountain side has been removed. Above this wall is the Bonneville Shoreline Nature Preserve (July 9th). Over the ridgeline is City Creek Canyon. The gravel operation has cut a near vertical wall that reveals the deposition of Quaternary soils over the last million years. At its base are veins of dark coal, followed by reddish sand-soils, that alternative with grey ancient mud. Roadcuts are always instructive for learning Utah geology, but the Staker gravel operation wall looks like it is an elaborate illustration torn for a nineteenth century textbook on geology. In the light at noon, it is a drab industrial site, but in the late summer light of the setting sun, for a few moments, as it does tonight, the wall glows a luminescent red. The only other location in northern Utah and near City Creek Canyon where rock glows a brilliant red is the butte from which Red Butte Canyon takes it name. The Red Butte is made of the same Triassic sandstone as the canyonland national parks of southern Utah, and in the setting sunlight at the equinoxes, the Red Butte also glows bright red.

To add to the geologic theme of this location, in the foreground next to the road, steam rises from a spring choked with reeds, and this explains the road’s name of Warm Springs Road. This is only active visible reminder of great Wasatch Front Fault that stretches for one hundred miles north and south of this point. This still active earthquake fault is responsible for raising the canyon and the mountains that surround Salt Lake City.

* * * *

In the Blake Edition of Thoreau’s “Journal”, there are no transcribed entries for July 11th to September 21st concerning Thoreau’s Concord observations. See the University of California at Santa Barbara edition that contain images of Thoreau’s original journals including this period. Through July 19th, Thoreau is on a camping trip in New Hampshire.

* * * *

On July 11th, 2008, a young man who crashed into a maintenance vehicle while bicycle riding down City Creek Canyon filed suit against the City (Deseret News). On July 11th, 1919, Commissioner Neslen recommended extended the hours for which City Creek Canyon is open to automobiles from 9 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. (Salt Lake Telegram). On July 11th, 1912, small fires broke out in City Creek and Dry Fork Canyons (Salt Lake Telegram). On July 11th, 1908, Iowa Botany Professor L. H. Pammel toured City Creek Canyon and admired its drought resistant wheat grass (Deseret Farmer).

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