I've written about the almost legendary Wave, a geological structure found in northern-most Arizona. It is simultaneously a beautiful and dangerous place. But it is only one of many incredible geological sites that can be found in the same area of the Coyotes Buttes in the Vermilion Cliff National Monument that straddles the Arizona/Utah border.
This week's photo is of a feature known at the Second Wave. And while it isn't as large as the original Wave, it is still well worth the short hike to find it. Flatter and much more open than the Wave, the Second Wave provides views of the surrounding buttes and mountains that have a decidedly otherworldly aspect. These structures are all composed of thin layers of sandstone that were laid down in ancient sand dunes that were eventually compressed into solid sandstone representations of the original dunes. Where erosion has stripped away upper layers, the interior layers from these ancient fossilized dunes can be seen. As can be seen in this week's photo, the layers are not only thin and numerous, but they have been tilted at angles as a result of geologic forces that build mountains.
To call such a structure a wave is quite apt in its comparison to a wave on the ocean. While parts of the both the Wave and the Second Wave look like large ocean waves about to crash, this part of the Second Wave looks like nothing so much as a series of small wavelets left over after they've expended their energy by crashing into surface. Almost like ripples on a pond after a stone is dropped into, the crashing wave pushes water forward that eventually begins to catch-up with, and override the water in front of it caused by the previous wave crash. On gently sloping beaches you can often see miniature stair steps of these remnants of the pounding surf as the waves' final energy is expended on its last push up the beach. This photograph of the Second Wave captures that look, and is frozen in time not only because of the camera, but is obviously physically frozen in space and time by the geological processes that shape and re-shape the Earth.
This photo was taken with a Canon EF17-40mm f/4.0 lens zoomed to 40 mm on a Canon EOS 5D Mk III. The exposure was set to 1/500 sec at f/16 and ISO 1600.
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