Paradox Formation

Grabens caused by movement in the Paradox Formation
Movements in the Paradox Formation cause dramatic changes on the surface, such as the creation of grabens.

NPS Photo by Neal Herbert


Pennsylvanian Period (286 to 320 million years ago)

Depositional Environment:
Evaporites (salts) from landlocked seas

Salt and Gypsum with black shales

Pockets are exposed along the Colorado River in Cataract Canyon

The Paradox Formation has played a large role in shaping the landscape of southeast Utah, especially around Arches and Canyonlands. When conditions are right, the weight of overlying rock causes the deposits in the Paradox Formation to liquefy and flow through whatever channels offer the least resistance. This subsurface movement can have drastic effects on the surface, causing rock layers to uplift or sink and fracture under the stress. This sets the stage for the creation of arches, grabens, and needles.


Rock Strata

Last updated: January 8, 2018

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