Cutting through the Paleozoic in northern Utah

LOGAN, UTAH–Logan Canyon cuts perpendicularly through the Bear River Range in Cache County, northern Utah. It neatly dissects a complex section of Paleozoic sedimentary rocks in the Logan-Huntsville Allochthon noted in my last post. Conveniently, US Highway 89 runs through the length of the canyon providing spectacular views of the quartzites, dolomites and limestones.

The mouth of Logan Canyon as viewed from Logan, Utah.

After exiting the canyon in the east, Highway 89 meets a most unusual body of water with a prosaic name: Bear Lake. Running north-south across the Utah-Idaho border, Bear Lake is one of the oldest existing lakes in North America. Studies of its sediments show the lake has existed for at least 220,000 years, and maybe more. Its water is strangely blue because it contains lots of dissolved calcium carbonate from the surrounding limestone mountains in its watershed. The lake was formed by tectonic processes, sitting now in a half-graben which is still active. Its human history is interesting too — in the early 19th Century it was a gathering point for mountain men, including Jim Bridger and my hero Jedediah Smith.

Bear Lake viewed from the west in the Bear River Range.

About Mark Wilson

Mark Wilson is a Professor of Geology at The College of Wooster. He specializes in invertebrate paleontology, carbonate sedimentology, and stratigraphy. He also is an expert on pseudoscience, especially creationism.
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2 Responses to Cutting through the Paleozoic in northern Utah

  1. sclayton says:

    Ok, why in particular is Jedediah your hero?

  2. Mark Wilson says:

    He was the first American to explore the Mojave Desert — and many other places in the West. Gentle in manner and clearly very, very tough. He appeared to understand the complexities of relationships with the Indians. Died young and heroically. Ranks right up there with Teddy Roosevelt and Winston Churchill for me!

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