Cathedral Rock

December 05, 2009

John Day - Cathedral Rock

Photographer: Stu Witmer
Summary Author: Stu Witmer

December 2009 Earth Science Picture of the Day Viewer's Choice

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument was, rather unfortunately, named after an allegedly ne'er-do-well and mountain man who happened to be attacked by Indians and left naked in Oregon Territory in 1811 near what is now called the John Day River. Too bad he never visited Oregon long enough to notice the spectacular fossils and geological formations that grace the landscape. It was Thomas Condon who, in 1865, actually first recognized the importance of the area. Name aside, it remains one of the lesser known National Monuments. The photo above is just one small hill among the vast array of colorful and stunning geological formations covering some 22 square miles (57 km2), to say nothing of the abundance of fossils from the Cenozoic Era. Pictured is Cathedral Rock which stands 2,133 feet (650 m) above sea level. The rock consists of ancient pyroclastic flows and ash layers and is a result of a landslide from a nearby bluff. The blue and yellow colors are of the softer rock is due to celadonite and clinoptilolite. The rock is topped with harder, more erosion resistant, red Picture Gorge ignimbrite dated 28.7 million years ago.

Photo details: Nikon E5700, exposure time 1/496 sec, f/6.6, ISO 100, focal length 27.3 mm, September 12, 2007, 9:52 a.m.

Cathedral Rock coordinates: N44.630976, W119.645545.