Antelope Canyon Photos: Where Water Runs Through Rocks

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Antelope Canyon Photos: Where Water Runs Through Rocks

By Linda & Dr. Dick Buscher – Live Science Contributors 9 days ago

Antelope Canyon

(Image: © Shutterstock)

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area is located at the center of the Colorado Plateau and certainly ranks as one of the most beautiful and historically controversial areas under the guardianship of the National Park Service. When Glen Canyon Dam was completed in 1966, it backed up the water of the wild Colorado River to form magnificent Lake Powell, a reservoir capable of holding 24,322,000 acre feet of water. The waters of Lake Powell have created over 2,000 miles of shoreline along the Kayenta and Navajo Sandstone cliffs of Glen Canyon and resulted in the flooding of nearly 100 unique and beautiful side canyons.

Controversial dam

antelope canyon

(Image credit: NPS)

The controversy concerning Glen Canyon Dam and Lake Powell began when the dam was first proposed in the early 1950s. Conservationists and environmentalists vehemently argued against the dam’s construction and the resulting flooding of beautiful Glen Canyon. Author Edward Abby championed the opposition to such dam construction and the inevitable destruction of the natural landscapes, archaeological ruins and historic sites in his famous 1968 book, “Desert Solitaire.” The proponents of the dam and lake won the political debates, resulting in the submerging of Glen Canyon, many side canyons and the creation of Lake Powell.

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area

antelope canyon

(Image credit: NPS)

Glen Canyon National Recreation Area encompasses some 1.25 million acres (50,5857 hectares) of water and backcountry-related recreational areas. The recreational area stretches from the shores of historic Lees Ferry located below Glen Canyon Dam to the spectacular red cliffs of southern Utah — a distance of some 186 miles (299 kilometers). The land offers an endless display of dazzling vistas and endless geological phenomenon.

Horseshoe Bend

antelope canyon

(Image credit: NPS)

Horseshoe Bend is one of the unique geological phenomenon found within the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area. Located only 5 miles downstream from Glen Canyon Dam, Horseshoe Bend is, in geological terms, a horseshoe-shaped incised meander of the Colorado River. It is a classic and spectacular example of water following its natural path of least resistance.

The sheer cliff rock walls are made of dense Navajo sandstone and act as a natural barrier to the river flow, forcing the waters of the Colorado River to make a sharp turn and travel through softer rock. But Horseshoe Bend is not the only geological phenomenon in the area. Just a short 15 miles from the Lake Powell marinas is another spectacular geological treasure — a place simply known as Antelope Canyon.

Antelope Canyon

antelope canyon

(Image credit:

Antelope Canyon is a slot canyon — a geological curiosity of tiny canyons formed when water seeps its way into fissures of the bedrock. Slot canyons are most common in desert areas. They are the result of many millennia of weather extremes. Antelope Canyon was thus formed over thousands of years of flash flooding of the intermittent creek running through it, wearing away the Navajo sandstone rock-face before emptying into the Colorado River and now into Lake Powell.

During the long periods of drought, windblown sand would polish the narrow slot walls into a striated, swirling finish. Antelope Canyon is famous for its ever-changing play of light upon its walls and the flowing sandfalls that cascade into the depths of the slot canyon.

Exceptional view

antelope canyon

(Image credit: Michael Buscher)

From the surface of the Earth, the fissure that opens across the Navajo sandstone is narrow and not exceptional to view. But first views can be deceptive. In the depths of the canyon, the walls can be 15 to 20 feet (5 to 7 meters) apart like that shown above and the slot canyon itself can be a 100 feet (30 m) deep. Navajo sandstone of Antelope Canyon was formed by aeolian depositions — sediment deposited by activity of the wind. Such depositions at Antelope Canyon began around 191 million to 174 million years ago during the Jurassic period. Iron oxide deposits were mixed with the windblown sands, resulting in layer after layer of varying shades of orange and red.

The canyon’s heart

antelope canyon

(Image credit: Michael Buscher)

Rainwater near Antelope Canyon collects in an extensive basin above the beginning of the slot section. As gravity draws it downward toward Lake Powell, it picks up speed and sands while rushing into the narrow passageways of Antelope Canyon. Such annual and continual scouring of Antelope Canyon’s walls mean the canyon is in constant flux, slowly changing after each flush of gushing water that passes through it. Unique shapes are formed within the slot canyon like the one shown above that is known as “the heart.”

Where Water Runs Through Rocks

antelope canyon

(Image credit: Michael Buscher)

Antelope Canyon is actually divided into two sections — an Upper Antelope Canyon and a Lower Antelope Canyon. The Upper Antelope Canyon is the most famous and the easiest to access. The Navajo name for Upper Antelope Canyon is “Tsé bighánílíní,” which means “the place where water runs through rocks.”

Upper Antelope Canyon is only about 100 yards (91 m) in length. It is located at an elevation of 4,000 feet (1,219 m), and the walls of the Upper Antelope Canyon can rise some 120 feet (37 m) above the normally dry streambed. Thousands of tourists visit Upper Antelope Canyon each year, partly because it is an easy, flat walk through the slot canyon.

The Crack

antelope canyon

(Image credit: Michael Buscher)

Upper Antelope Canyon, also affectionally known as “The Crack,” is famous for the wave-like structure of the canyon’s walls. Upper Antelope Canyon is also known for the glorious light beams that penetrate into the depths of the canyon in the summer months between March 20 and Oct. 7. The summer light beams that radiate into Upper Antelope Canyon result in this slot canyon being the most photographed slot canyon in the southwestern United States.

The Corkscrew

antelope canyon

(Image credit: NPS)

Some 4.5 miles (7 km) northwest of Upper Antelope Canyon is Lower Antelope Canyon — a slot canyon 1.1 miles (2 km) in length. The biggest difference between the two slot canyons is the size of the canyon floors. The upper canyon is wider at the bottom, while Lower Antelope Canyon is much smaller at the bottom, almost V-shaped.

The Navajo name for Lower Antelope Canyon is “Hasdestwazi,” meaning “spiral rock arches” and is sometimes called “The Corkscrew.” Entering the lower canyon requires a short walk over uneven rock surfaces, before descending a series of five sets of stairs, shown above. Because of the challenging stairs, Lower Antelope Canyon usually sees fewer tourists than the upper canyon. But the fact remains that both Upper Antelope Canyon and Lower Antelope Canyon are a part of a complex, multi-faceted ecosystem with multiple drainage streams that transport local moisture runoff into what is now Lake Powell.

Origin story

antelope canyon

Image credit: Michael Buscher)

The exact story of the discovery of Antelope Canyon seems to be lost to history. One Navajo tradition holds that a group of Navajo refused to join the “Long Walk” of 1864 and took refuge in Antelope Canyon, where spiritual beings watched over them.

Another story suggests that a young Navajo girl, while herding her sheep, walked into the slot canyon and was amazed by the shafts of light she saw there. For a fact, we know the canyon was first documented by a Utah photographer who began publishing photos of Antelope Canyon in the 1930s.

Canyon tours

antelope canyon

(Image credit: Sonoma State University)

Access to the slot canyon of Antelope Canyon is today under the control of Navajo Nation. Authorized tour companies provide a variety of adventures for visitors to see and experience both the Upper and Lower Antelope Canyon. During the summer months, demand for the tours can be heavy and early morning tours are best to avoid the large crowds that at times gather.

Eighth Wonder of the World

antelope canyon

(Image credit:

Antelope Canyon is believed to have received its name from the herds of pronghorns, Antilocapra americana, that once grazed along the canyon’s rim during the winter months. The incredible slot canyons that laid below the grazing herds have been described by modern-day visitors as the Eighth Wonder of the World. “Absolutely breathtaking,” “awe-inspiring” and “words can’t describe it” are all comments from those who have seen and experienced this geological jewel and treasure of the Glen Canyon National Recreation Area.

Originally published on Live Science.

In Photos: Mysterious Stone Structures in Saudi Arabia

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In Photos: Mysterious Stone Structures in Saudi Arabia

By Owen Jarus October 17, 2017

Strange structures


(Image credit: Google Earth)

About 400 mysterious stone structures which archaeologists call “gates,” based off of their loose resemblance to “old fashioned field gates,” have been discovered in Saudi Arabia. Made of low stone walls that are sometimes built in a rectangular shape the purpose and exact date of the gates are unknown although researchers believe that they date back thousands of years. This picture shows several gates found clustered together. The “gate” at bottom right is about 1200 feet long. To put this in comparison an NFL football field is 360 feet long.



(Image credit: Google Earth)

The gates come in a number of different shapes and sizes. Some of the gates, which archaeologists call “I-type” gates, contain one wall with heaps of rock at the ends of the wall. Two I-type gates, built side by side, can be seen in this picture along with other gates.



(Image credit: Google Earth)

Another cluster of gates. The longest gate in this picture is about 950 feet. Why the gates cluster together is unknown. The gates tend to be located in lavafields that are inhospitable for human life. However thousands of years ago these areas would have been wetter and contained more life.



(Image credit: Google Earth)

Other types of stone structures have also been found in Saudi Arabia. Often these stone structures are built on top of or even inside gates. This suggests that the gates are older than the other stone structures. This picture shows a gate that has a triangle stone structure with heaps of stone that lead to a bullseye shaped stone structure (possibly a tomb).



(Image credit: Vic Camp)

This picture of the lava dome that has gates on it was taken in the 1980s by Vic Camp. The taller lava dome behind it is called “Jabal Abyad” a name which means “white mountain” in Arabic. The lava domes are no longer active although in the past basalt lava poured from them.

In lava


(Image credit: Google Earth)

A few gates were found on the slopes of a lava dome. This lava dome, and others in the region, were mapped by volcanologists Vic Camp and John Roobol in the 1980s. The volcanologists were mapping the “Harret Khaybar” region of Saudi Arabia where many gates are located.

Older than dirt


(Image credit: Vic Camp)

Picture of two more gates taken by Vic Camp in the “Harret Khaybar” region in the 1980s. The remains of a lava flow can be seen very close to them. The lava flow may be partially covering a third gate. Camp notes that the lava flows tend to cover the gates and other stone structures something which suggests that the gates are older than the lava flows.

More stones


(Image credit: Vic Camp)

More stone structures, including gates, can be seen beside a lava flow in this photo. The date of these stone structures is unknown. Camp suggested that they could date back around 7,000 years.



(Image credit: NASA)

The “Harret Khaybar” region where many of the gates are located contains many volcanic vents.



(Image credit: Google Earth)

The study of gates has taken on some urgency as modern day development is threatening or has already destroyed some of them. This gate still existed in February, 2012, but was destroyed by the end of 2015. In addition to the satellite survey archaeological fieldwork needs to be done to determine exactly how old the gates are and what purpose they may have had.

Ancient 70-Mile-Long Wall Found in Western Iran. But Who Built It?

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Ancient 70-Mile-Long Wall Found in Western Iran. But Who Built It?

By Owen Jarus – Live Science Contributor November 05, 2019

This satellite image was taken on July 31, 2019 by the WorldView-2 satellite. The red arrows show a surviving section of the Gawri Wall.

This satellite image was taken on July 31, 2019 by the WorldView-2 satellite. The red arrows show a surviving section of the Gawri Wall.
(Image: © 2019 Maxar Technologies)

Archaeologists have identified the remains of a stone wall in Iran about the length of the famous Hadrian’s Wall that was built across England by the Romans.
The wall, which extends about 71 miles (115 kilometers), was found in Sar Pol-e Zahab County in western Iran.

“With an estimated volume of approximately one million cubic meters [35,314,667 cubic feet] of stone, it would have required significant resources in terms of workforce, materials and time,” wrote Sajjad Alibaigi, an assistant professor of Iranian Archaeology at Razi University in Kermanshah, Iran, in an article published online in the journal Antiquity. The structure runs north-south from the Bamu Mountains in the north to an area near Zhaw Marg village in the south, Alibaigi wrote.
Pottery found along the wall suggests that it was built sometime between the fourth century B.C. and sixth century A.D., Alibaigi wrote. “Remnants of structures, now destroyed, are visible in places along the wall. These may have been associated turrets [small towers] or buildings,” wrote Alibaigi, noting that the wall itself is made from “natural local materials, such as cobbles and boulders, with gypsum mortar surviving in places.”

Though the wall’s existence was unknown to archaeologists, those living near it have long known about the wall, calling it the “Gawri Wall,” Alibaigi wrote.
A spokesperson for Antiquity said that since Alibaigi’s paper was published, the journal has learned that another group of archaeologists carried out earlier research on the wall; that research was never published in a journal.
Mysterious wall
Archaeologists are not certain who built the structure, and for what purpose. Because of the poor preservation of the barrier, the scientists aren’t even sure of its exact width and height. Their best estimates put it at 13 feet (4 meters) wide and about 10 feet (3 m) high, he said.
“It is unclear whether it was defensive or symbolic,” wrote Alibaigi, noting that it might mark the border for an ancient empire, perhaps the Parthians (who flourished between 247 B.C. and A.D. 224) or the Sassanians (A.D. 224-651). Both empires in western Iran built large castles, cities and irrigation systems, so it’s likely that both had the resources to build the Gawri Wall, wrote Alibaigi.
The newly discovered Gawri Wall is not the only ancient long wall in Iran. Archaeologists have previously found similar structures in the north and northeastern parts of Iran. Those may have had a defensive purpose.
Alibaigi hopes to carry out more research on the Gawri Wall in the future, he wrote. He did not respond to requests for comment.

15 Unforgettable Images of Stars

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15 Unforgettable Images of Stars

By Adam Mann March 08, 2019


alma observatory

(Image credit: C. Padilla – ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO))

Since the dawn of humanity, people have looked to the sky and marveled at the glittering lights above. With the advent of modern telescopes, scientists came to understand the intricacies of stellar evolution and how these great balls of fire live, grow and die. More often than not, their research produces spectacular images of stars and their related phenomena that invoke awe and wonder. In this gallery, we take a look at some of the best examples from recent years.

River of stars

In this stereographic projection, the Milky Way curves around the entire image in an arc, with the newly discovered river of stars displayed in red and covering almost the entire southern Galactic hemisphere.

(Image credit: Astronomy & Astrophysics)

A river of stars 1,300 light-years long and 160 light-years wide winds through the Milky Way in this incredible photo. Made using the European Space Agency’s (ESA) 3D-mapping Gaia satellite, the image shows a stellar stream (in red) that was hidden to astronomers before the mission’s launch.

Hidden beauty

The sun is a ball of invisible, electromagnetic explosions. This stunning ultraviolet image taken by NASA's Solar Dynamics Observatory models what those swirling electric field lines actually look like.

(Image credit: Solar Dynamics Observatory, NASA)

This beautiful image reveals something about our friendly neighborhood star that is otherwise invisible to human eyes — magnetic field lines emerging from our sun. Created by NASA’s Solar Dynamics Observatory, the snapshot is made using computer models that capture the unseen solar energy responsible for flares and other space weather events.

Hypervelocity stars

hyperfast alien stars

(Image credit: ESA/Marchetti et al 2018/NASA/ESA/Hubble, CC BY-SA 3.0 IGO)

A schematic shows 20 hypervelocity stars racing toward our galaxy at millions of miles per hour. Even crazier? These stars appear to be foreign renegades flung toward the Milky Way from a distant galaxy by an unknown process.

Jiggling space bubbles

ngc 3079 galaxy space bubbles

(Image credit: X-ray: NASA/CXC/University of Michigan/J-T Li et al.; Optical: NASA/STScI)

The galaxy NGC 3079, located 67 million light-years from Earth, is blowing bubbles. Seen here in X-rays and optical light, the spherical structures are formed when powerful shock waves shove gases released by stars far into space. It’s possible that these bubbles are sending highly energetic cosmic rays in the direction of Earth.

The entire sky

milky way map

(Image credit: R. White (STScI) and the PS1 Science Consortium)

Four years of observations went into making this amazing all-sky map, which features the disk of the Milky Way slashing through its center and more than 800 million stars in total. Made using data from the Pan-STARRS observatory in Maui, Hawaii, the map represents one of the biggest astronomical data releases of all time—1.6 petabytes of data (1.6 million gigabytes), or the equivalent of about 2 billion selfies.Editor’s Note: This article was corrected to note that 1.6 million gigabytes is equal to 1.6 petabytes, not 1.6 billion petabytes.

Eta Carinae

Eta Carinae

(Image credit: ESO)

One of the most bizarre beasts in the night sky is Eta Carinae, a star so massive and bright that its own photons are puffing up its outer layers into an odd, hourglass shape. This image, taken with the European Southern Observatory’s Very Large Telescope, shows the bipolar structure as well as jets coming out from the central star

Orion’s belt

orion solar flare

(Image credit: JCMT Transient Survey Team)

In the sword of the constellation Orion, some 1,500 light-years away from Earth, a star blasted out a flare of plasma and radiation 10 billion times more powerful than any ever seen coming from our sun. The explosion was captured by the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope on Mauna Kea in Hawaii, and can be seen in the area inside the white circle on the right, when the star briefly became brighter than almost anything around it.

Massive star and tiny twin

Artist’s impression of the disc of dust and gas surrounding the massive protostar MM 1a, with its companion MM 1b forming in the outer regions.

(Image credit: J. D. Ilee, University of Leeds)

This artist’s impression features a young star named MM 1a in a star-forming region of the galaxy more than 10,000 light-years away. When astronomers zoomed in closer to the object, they found a surprise: a smaller stellar sibling, formed from the spray of dust and gases surrounding MM 1a.

Solar north pole

sun's north pole composite image

Image credit: ESA/Royal Observatory of Belgium)

This composite image of the sun’s north pole was taken over several days using ESA’s Proba-2 satellite, which monitors space weather. At the top you can see a dark vortex bubbling around the pole’s center. This is a coronal hole — a thin, colder region on the sun’s surface that is more likely to eject blisteringly fast high-energy particles into space.

Call me STEVE

skyglow steve

(Image credit: Ryan Sault / Alberta Aurora Chasers)

In July of 2016, skywatchers were treated to a strange phenomenon named STEVE. Most people originally thought it was a rare manifestation of ordinary auroras, in which the charged particles flung by the sun toward Earth interact with our planet’s magnetic field in a glorious riot of color. But a study later found that STEVE does not contain the telltale traces of charged particles blasting through Earth’s atmosphere that auroras do. The enigmatic STEVE — which stands for Strong Thermal Emission Velocity Enhancement — is still largely unexplained.

A star’s crown

solar eclipse

(Image credit: Predictive Science, Inc.)

Prior to the famous total solar eclipse on Aug. 21, 2017, researchers produced this stunning schematic of what the sun’s corona would look like, showing magnetic field lines emanating from its surface.

Total eclipse

As the moon covers all but the slightest sliver of the sun from a vantage point in Wyoming on Aug. 21, 2017, a solar flare is visible on the upper right quadrant of the sun's surface.

(Image credit: John Mitchell)

During that same solar eclipse, observers weren’t just treated to the rare sight of the moon’s disk entirely enveloping the sun. Amateur photographers, such as John Mitchell, were also able to capture an array of activity, ranging from sunspots to solar flares, on Earth’s closest star in the stages leading up to the eclipse.

Spiral star farts

red giant spiral stellar wind

(Image credit: ALMA (ESO/NAOJ/NRAO)/L. Decin et al.)

A telltale spiral pattern of gas and dust can be seen emanating from a dying star in this image, made using the Atacama Large Millimeter/submillimeter Array telescope in Chile. Normally, stars in this state produce shell-shaped emissions, suggesting that this oddball has a companion circling around and altering its stellar wind.


AIrglow Earth

(Image credit: NASA)

An astronaut aboard the International Space Station snapped this gorgeous photo of an orange glow above our planet, with a beautiful background of stars. Known as airglow, the striking phenomenon is created by chemical reactions high in Earth’s atmosphere, though it is not always quite so pumpkin-colored.