Patterned Ground in Colorado

March 17, 2009

031709_Patterned_Ground    

Photographer: Thomas McGuire
Summary Author: Thomas McGuire

The photo above showing peculiar rock groupings was taken on an early summer’s day in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. Freeze-thaw cycles result in the migration of surface rocks into patterned ground. In this case polygons similar to the geometry of columnar basalt surfaces or the hexagonal structure we see in honeycombs. Patterned ground is often found in places where glaciers have withdrawn. While this terrain is more commonly seen in alpine areas or in high latitude locations, I’ve observed it in the Catskill Mountains of New York, as well as other areas in New York and the northeast, which haven’t yet been disturbed by farming or construction.