Little Red Canyon Hoodoo

December 02, 2008


Photographer: David Lynch
Summary Author: David Lynch

Hoodoos are elevated, isolated rock formations that are common in arid regions of sedimentary rock. They form when a hard rock overlays softer, more easily eroded material. As such, hoodoos are erosional landforms. Some are many meters high, the most famous of which can be found in Bryce Canyon National Park, Utah. When it rains, the cap rock protects the sediments immediately underlying it. Nearby sediments aren’t afforded this protection and get washed away more quickly, leaving the column-and-cap hoodoo standing above the surrounding terrain.

Small hoodoos can form almost anywhere. This one, along with countless others, is found in Red Canyon of the Mecca Hills, Riverside County, California. It is about 1.5 inches (about 4 cm) high and is topped by a quartzite pebble. The entire sandy formation is composed of sediments washed down from the Little San Bernardino Mountains. After repeated tumbling in ephemeral streams, most of the particles are rounded. Eventually, they become loosely cemented by calcite (the most common form of natural calcium carbonate, CaCO3) and gypsum (the dihydrate form of calcium sulfate, CaSO4). When the next rains come, hoodoos start to form under the larger, harder surface pebbles. So enjoy those tall majestic hoodoos, but keep an eye on your backyard after the next heavy rain. Photo taken on September 12, 2008.

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