Landscape Arch, Arches National Park, Utah

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

Location: 38o 47' 01" N, 109o 35' 55" W.

The song, "Dust in the Wind" by the rock group Kansas says "nothing lasts forever but the earth and sky." Geologists know that not even the earth and sky last forever. Landscape Arch, in Arches National Park in Utah, is an example of a geologic feature that will not last much longer. The arch is 290 feet long but extremely thin. Three large rock slabs have fallen from the arch since 1991. No geologist will be surprised to see it fall. Warning signs advise people who venture close to the arch to listen for sounds of the rock creaking or cracking.

When viewed from above, the Arch is the last remnant of a very thin vertical fin of rock. The arch formed from a thin slab of rock bounded by vertical fractures called joints. In the shady base of the fin, dampness caused the rock to weaken and crumble, and weathering and erosion eventually created a hole through the rock wall. Once the hole formed, continued weathering and erosion enlarged it.

Original Scene

(author's image)

Possible Coloring

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Created 30 June 2009, Last Update 15 January 2020