Oxford University Press's
Academic Insights for the Thinking World

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:

Southern rim of the Grand Canyon

Image 4 of 11

Up to 18 miles (29 km) wide in parts, the Grand Canyon has an average depth of one mile (1.6 km). The northern rim is 1,000 feet (300 m) higher than the southern rim and has greater average rainfall with a cooler climate. Meanwhile, the interior of the canyon is desert-like, with summer temperatures often exceeding 100°F (38°C). Because of its broad expanse, the Grand Canyon supports six of the seven climatic belts found around the globe, from desert to arctic-alpine.

Elizabethcortez123 CC BY-SA 4.0

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

Comments are closed.