Inside Upheaval Dome

For amateur geologists – or even just fanciers of odd landscapes – closeup views of Upheaval Dome are quite tantalizing. (Speaking for both sorts of people.)

Upheaval Dome – interior

For many years, the accepted explanation has been that this tumultuous topographical feature results from a geosyncline – basically, a dome caused by forces beneath, bulging up from the Earth’s interior, impacting the crustal surface rock in the observed torturous and crenulated fashion.

Into the crater

Lately, however, scientific speculation has centered on the possibility that the vast bowl and its peculiar central towers are the result of a meteor impact – that it is, in fact, an impact crater. Opinions now waver in the 50/50 neighborhood as to which explanation is the correct one.

Detail of the weird tower-like structure at the center of Upheaval Dome

Regardless of which origin story one adheres to, it’s an amazing place to visit and wonder. A short hiking trail starts from a parking lot atop Island in the Sky Mesa (in Canyonlands National Park) and takes one to a rim overlooking the dome’s interior;  a longer (8+ miles) trail winds all the way around the rim of the dome, for those up to the challenge.

Green on red: trail to Upheaval Dome

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