Chimney Rock in Kodachrome Basin, Utah

November 07, 2012

Chimney-rock

Photographer: Stu Witmer
Summary Author: Stu Witmer

Above is Chimney Rock, tallest of the approximately 67 pipes of sedimentary rock in Kodachrome Basin State Park, Utah. These beguiling pipes range in size from 6 to 170 ft  (2 to 52 m) with most being 30 to 50 ft tall (9 to 15 m). There are more of these rock spires in this basin than there are anywhere else in the world. So far, geologists are unsure about how these chimneys were formed.

The pipes may be the remnants of ancient springs or perhaps pathways created by earthquakes in this seismically active basin. In either case, the cracks or springs could have filled with sediments, which ultimately cemented together and became harder and more resistant to erosion than the surrounding rock. Over time, the softer rock layers may have been worn away, exposing the sedimentary pipes.

A recent theory proposes that, over millions of years, water-saturated pockets may have been buried under many sedimentary layers. Finally, the pressure from these layers could have forced the mixture upwards creating pathways through the rock above and finally compressing it into hard rock. Erosion then did its work. No matter how they were formed, being alone in a valley of these things is an impressive experience.

The name Kodachrome Basin was first put forth by visitors from the National Geographic Society in 1948 who were inspired by the colors of the geology to suggest naming the basin for the familiar color film. Noting that Kodachrome was a registered trademark, the park was named Chimney Rock State Park when it was created in 1962. A few years later Kodak gave permission to use the name. Image taken October 10, 2012.

Photo details: Camera Maker: Canon; Camera Model: Canon PowerShot SD1300 IS; Focal Length: 5mm; Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.0050 s (1/200); ISO equiv: 80; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; White Balance: Manual; Flash Fired: No (enforced); Orientation: Normal; Color Space: sRGB; Software: GIMP 2.