• Michael Remke

The Land Here is Swept Away


From the rise of the Kaibab Plateau, the scale of the House Rock Valley, or the platform, expands to the horizon.

The land here is swept away. Erosion has been a constant force. At first glance, cliffs tower above the flat expanse to create the margins of a valley. Their sheer size is dwarfed by the expansiveness of the landscape. Upon closer examination a small cliff band, suggestive of a canyon, forms a seem through the center of the valley.

Lines mislead and contradict. Lines mask the geologic history of this place.

As you wonder across the platform, the distant cliffs rise to dwarf the expansive flatness. As the canyon comes closer, the small cliffs begin to elude to something of tremendous size. Approaching the edge, a myriad of lines pulls you into a geologic story. Each line begins to fill in the blanks of a confusing history of the land here. The lines juxtapose one another. The direction of the tributary below meets the Colorado River in the opposite direction of the river’s flow. The voluminous river seems to move against the grain, flowing as if up into the mountain, known as the Kaibab Plateau, rather than with the path of the slope. One can’t help but wonder at how this place came to be the way it is.

Lines mislead and contradict. Lines contain and confuse the story of geologic history.

A few reasonable hypotheses exist to help explain how the river could flow against the slope of such dramatic topography. For one, the river could have been diverted by the uplift of the Kaibab Plateau, causing the river to flow in a different direction and fill a basin, Lake Bidochi. Eventually, on the other side of the Kaibab Plateau, what geologist call the Hualpai Drainage likely eroded upstream through the Kaibab Plateau and captured the diverted Colorado river, as well as the large lake resulting in a significant subsequent erosion and flooding.

For more information on this theory please see:

Primary Literature

Each river bend adds a new neck of evidence to how the river came to be.

Alternatively, the combined uplift of the Rocky Mountains, and the Colorado Plateau could have caused the river to cut downward. Another river following the weak spots in the Southwest, the San Andreas Fault and the margin of the Colorado Plateau, could have then captured the Colorado River creating its current path. The two theories differ in magnitude in terms of how long it took to form the chasm of the canyon and whether the chasm was primarily formed prior to or following the capture of the Colorado River, both have support and Geologists consistently get lost in the lines of the canyon trying to piece together the mystery.

For more information on this theory please see:

Primary Literature

From inside the canyon, the distant rim shrinks to gives rise to the scale of the canyon.

The depth of the canyon seems warped by its width from the perspective gained on the platform. If one journeys into the canyon from the platform, both depth and width shrink in comparison to the other. The whole place seems tiny relative to the story of lift and capture that swept the land away. The stories share a lot with the physical presence of the canyon, they are layered, complex, and unsolved mysteries. The story of the canyon itself contains vast complexity, once humans settled here, new mysterious arise, their details swept away.

To be continued.....

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The complexity of the canyon is imaculate. The stories here are vast.


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