No City Breaks Off So Naturally

August 09, 2015


Photographer: Kurt A. Fisher
Summary AuthorKurt A. Fisher
“Knowing Salt Lake City means knowing its canyons, too, for no city of my acquaintance . . . breaks off so naturally and easily into fine free country. ... Up in the Wasatch is another world, ...”*  City Creek Canyon, shown above in the upper and lower center panels, illustrates relationships between plate tectonics, local geology, natural resources, urbanization, wildlife, and recreation. Crustal spreading beginning at the Pacific Plate in California created the Great Basin, a series of grabens and horsts bounded by parallel normal faults. These faults raise north-south mountain ranges that begin in Nevada and end at Utah’s Wasatch Mountains and Salt Lake’s City Creek Canyon. The mountains capture rainfall from Pacific storms allowing large cities like Salt Lake to exist (lower left panel) in this otherwise arid state. Eight mile long, City Creek Canyon begins at high-rise office towers of downtown Salt Lake City, but the canyon abruptly transitions into a natural area that provides water, recreation, and a refuge for native species. Between New Years Eve and the first week of May 2015, this author logged 700 encounters with 29 native species of birds and mammals. The lower-right hand panel is a word cloud that shows the relative number sightings of each species  - all within a few minutes driving time of major city’s core. Photo taken on March 28, 2015.
*Wallace Stegner. "At Home in the Fields of the Lord" in ‘The Sound of Mountain Water’. Univ. of Neb. Press (1980), p. 165.

Photo Details: Polaroid iF045 camera; f/2.8; ISO 200; 1/250 sec. exposure.