Friday, August 21, 2009

Magical Travertine

Travertine rims make for some beautiful photography while hiking downcanyon from Mooney falls towards the Colorado River. The calcium carbonate comes out of solution, coating and trapping leaves, sticks and other vegetation while forming miniature dams, rims and terraces.

Amazingly, evidence of historical watercourse changes can be found throughout the entire hike down canyon, provided you know where to look. Often I found myself climbing down (or up as I went back up towards the campground) old travertine terraces that have since been covered by canyon grape and other vegetation. In some regions of the canyon, I spotted silt and travertine-covered tree roots. Based on the relative elevation of these abandoned travertine terraces relative to the current water level in addition to the quantity of vegetation present, I imagine it's been quite some time since the watercourse has changed its preferred location - it makes me wonder how many large floods have occurred in the canyon, resulting in major changes to the watercourse.

Given how fast some of the vegetation grows, in addition to the evidence of travertine already covering the man-made dams near the falls, I suspect the canyon will recover relatively quickly from the flood of August 2008. Regardless of the changes, the area is stunning to visit.


Kirsten said...

I am really enjoying your photos from this trip...gorgeous! You must be using a tripod and a slower shutter speed...perfect. I forget what kind of camera you are using--it's a higher end point-n-shoot, right?

DH recently lost my miserable little Nikon...I hated that thing. NO manual functions. Drove me batshit insane. So I replaced it with a Canon SX110 IS -- kind a baby version of my 20D with some nice manual features. Haven't messed with it much, but I think it's going to yield some amazing results.

Anonymous said...

Thanks! It's the first time I've heard (or read) an intelligent, understandable explanation of the area. The pics are simply beautiful. Thanks again!