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Take a virtual tour of America’s national parks: the Grand Staircase

Visitors to “scientific treasures” (sites with significant science content) often treat each site on its own. While this may be fine in many cases, in others it leaves the visitor without a complete picture of a certain aspect of science. Sometimes scientific treasures ought to be visited together with other, similar sites.

One example of a synergistic relationship between scientific treasures in the United States is the trio of National Parks: Grand Canyon, Zion Canyon, and Bryce Canyon. Here a visitor to all three is treated to a more complete picture of the West’s geology than from each park on its own. This triad of National Parks makes up the Grand Staircase, a formation of multiple cliffs retreating to the north.

Explore the images for the complete picture of the Grand Staircase formation:

The Grand Staircase

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The cliffs of the Grand Staircase expose sedimentary strata of rock composed of silt, mud, lava, and sand. The region was lifted up by over a mile (1.6 km) above sea level, then tilted, and finally eroded by water and wind. The parks reveal various layers with their own distinct characteristics and beauty. A century and a half ago, geologist Clarence Dutton first invented this view of a staircase with steps, starting from the lowest level in the south and rising up toward the north.

The Greater Southwestern Exploration Company CC BY 2.0

We hope that you have a chance to gain a fuller picture of the geology of the southwestern United States by visiting all three scientific treasures. Which other sites would you recommend viewing as a group to give visitors a more complete idea of their scientific significance?

Recent Comments

  1. Minerva

    Wonderful images….post more images. THANKS

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