Renowned for extraordinary geologic displays, the Colorado Plateau is an uplifted region of the southwest that contains some of my favorite places in the world to explore…. including Sedona, here on the southern edge.
Looking at the towering red sandstone cliffs I can’t help but wonder how these geologic layers compare to those I am familiar with at the Grand Canyon, Zion, or Colorado National Monument.
It wasn’t as easy as I expected to find displays of the geologic column here in Sedona. The best mini-geology-lesson I found for this area was the description in this Earthcache associated with a popular sunset vantage point on airport mesa.
As it turns out, most of the red walls here are composed of a locally significant iron-rich layer of rock called Schnebly Hill Sandstone which is topped with the cream-colored Coconino Sandstone and sits above the more easily eroded, quartz embedded, Hermit Shale.
To the north, the Mogollon Rim is the edge of the erosion-resistant top of the Colorado Plateau. The upper layer here consists of the same Kaibab Limestone formation that forms the capstone of monoliths at the Colorado National Monument. So, I discovered, it is the breaking off of the Kaibab capstone that allows the softer sandstones below to be carved into the elaborate sculptured rock formations and canyons that I find so captivating both here and at home.
I really don’t know much about geology…. but I did enjoy learning about the beauty of Sedona rocks!