Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Wave

The Wave, Arizona

This incredible formation of Navajo Sandstone is stunning in its beauty. Formed during the Jurassic period about 190 million years ago, sand dunes compacted and hardened, with erosion forming the wavelike shapes in the structure over time. Everywhere you look, there are stunningly beautiful formations for hikers and photographer to enjoy. These famous undulating forms can only be reached by a rugged, pathless hike.
Characteristics of treads and risers cut 
into Navajo Sandstone at The Wave.
   The Wave is located near the Arizona/Utah border on the slopes of the Coyote Buttes. It consists of two intersecting troughs that have eroded into the sandstone. The troughs that make this formation have dimensions of about 19 x 36 meters and 2 x 16 meters. At first, infrequent runoff eroded these troughs along joints within the sandstone. After their formation, the drainage basin which fed water to these troughs shrank to the point where it no longer contributes to the erosion. Now the troughs are mostly eroded by wind which cuts characteristic erosional treads and risers into the sandstone along their steep walls. These treads and risers are oriented relative to the prevailing wind direction as it funnels through the troughs.
Cross-bedded Navajo Sandstone at The Wave.
   The Wave exposes large sets of cross-bedded sandstone which represent periodic changes in the prevailing winds during the Jurassic as huge sand dunes migrated across the desert. The thin ridges and ribs seen in The Wave are the result of the different erosion rates within the Navajo Sandstone. The sandstone is soft and fragile, so hikers needs to walk carefully to avoid damaging the small ridges.
   In places, The Wave exposes deformed layers within the Navajo Sandstone, created before the sand was turned to stone. This deformation likely represents dinosaur tracks and the fossil burrows of desert-dwelling insects.
The Wave is located near the Utah/Arizona border
between Kanab and Lake Powell.
   The Wave is located within the Paria Canyon-Vermilion Cliffs Wilderness and is administered by the Bureau of Land Management (BLM), part of the U.S. Department of the Interior. From Interstate I-15, it's about a 2-1/2 hour drive, passing through Kanab, Utah towards Lake Powell. If you want to visit The Wave, you will need to get a day-use permit. The BLM limits access to the North Coyote Buttes Wilderness to just twenty permits per day—ten in advance through an on-line lottery and ten by walk-in lottery at 9:00 am the day before one's intended hike, held at the visitor center in Kanab.

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