Rock Canyon, Utah is like an open book that exposes over 500 million years of the Earth's history. Frozen within the canyon walls are evidences of a variety of environments that once existed in Utah. Among these are two distinct glacial periods that sculpted the landscape 500 million years apart. The canyon also exposes a thick succession of limestone that document warm shallow seas that migrated across Utah and remained for tens of millions of years. The seas deposited a thick sequence of sedimentary rocks that account for most of the rocks exposed in the canyon. These submarine sediments were elevated high above sea level by the collision of North America with other plates that thickened the crust by folding and fracturing the rocks. As the compressional stresses relaxed the highly fractured crust began to rift apart and collapse to the west forming the fault-bounded mountains and valleys that we see today stretching from the Wasatch Range to the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
The virtual trip will take you through several pages of the history written in the canyon, including rocks formed in three distinct depositional environments. 1) sediments deposited by Precambrian Glaciers about 800 million years ago, 2) layers of rock formed in a Cambrian ocean about 550 million years ago, and 3) deposits lain down in a warm Mississippian sea approximately 350 million years ago. These deposits were later deformed by two mountain building episodes. The first occurred about 100 million years ago and created a high mountain range called the Sevier mountain belt, which is evident in many of the crumpled layers of Rock Canyon's walls. The second mountain building episode was caused by the extension of western North America. High mountains, such as the Wasatch, develop as valleys drop though normal faulting. This process continues today as we live on the precarious Wasatch Fault zone. The last page of our book explores the influence of the last major ice age and the formation of Lake Bonneville.
In order to orient yourself in the canyon go to the geologic map and click on any of the colored formations as well as the Wasatch Fault line that runs between the water tank and heliport.
Enjoy your trip through the beauty and grandeur of Rock Canyon.