August 9, 2008

Wall Arch Collapses!

One of the most photographed arches in southern Utah collapsed earlier this week.  I remember standing under Wall Arch in Devil's Garden area of Arches National Park and getting my photo snapped by my mother.  Now the photograph opportunity is gone and most likely the area will be closed to the public as the structure continues to collapse as it's weight is shifted.
Gravity and erosion are the culprits for the arch's collapse.  Over time the slow march of natural forces took its toll on the arch, which joins the 1991 collapse of Landscape arch is merely a memory.  All other arches in the park will meet this same fate over time.  Something like this should remind us all of the incredible power of time.
The arch was once just a solid rock whose center was eaten away to reveal a beautiful formation.  This arch stood for hundreds of thousands of years until eventually the same forces which shaped its pleasing aesthetic caused it to collapse under the delicate frame that time had left it with.  This is one of those punctuating events of geology and the evolution of earth's mass, similar to an earthquake that builds tension for hundreds, if not thousands, if not millions of years.  Every point in time in which the earthquake doesn't begin but builds the potential for action is just as important as the event itself.  Over time this slow build up, like drops in a bucket, wields heavy penetrating power which is released in the geologic equivalent of blink.  A geological bomb, assembling to reach critical mass, punctuates these events.

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