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Keystone Thrust at Red Rock Canyon

As Anne and I traveled around Red Rock Canyon in Nevada, we saw immense gray carbonate mountains next to with the red sandstone hills.

At about the same time as the dinosaurs became extinct, 65 million years ago, there was a shoving match between two tectonic plates. The Pacific plate pushed under the North America plate along a fault line called the Keystone Thrust. This forced the older gray limestone carbonate layers up over the younger sandstone layers giving the area a profound contrast between the gray carbonate and the red and tan colors of the sandstone.

The Keystone Thrust is part of a series of fault lines that extend into Canada. These faults are areas where mountain ranges are born, earthquakes occur and volcanoes erupt. Geologic forces have shaped and continue to shape this area.

Millions of years of erosion have sculpted the mountains and canyon here at Red Rock. I feel miniscule compared to the eons of time that the landscape in front of me has been transformed. Will humans still be here millions of years from now? Or will we have the same fate as the trilobites and the dinosaurs?

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