Delicate Arch, Utah

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay

Location: 38o 44' 37" N, 109o 29' 58" W.

This celebrated arch is one of the most famous sights in Arches National Park in Utah. The location seems puzzling because the arch is high atop an isolated hilltop and completely isolated. Arches like this form when weathering eats a hole through a thin wall of rock. In this area, fractures called joints split the rocks into innumerable narrow strips. As some strips are eroded away, the remaining strips stand up as thin vertical walls. Moisture in shady spots along the wall helps disintegrate the rock, and eventually a hole may be eaten through the rock wall. Delicate Arch probably began that way and erosion has worn away all but a thin ring of rock. Delicate Arch may last for centuries yet, but that's only an instant in geologic time.

Original Scene

Possible Coloring

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Created 25 November 2005, Last Update 15 January 2020