Digital-Desert : Mojave Desert
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Introduction to Desert Geology

Whittling The Earth


In this arid region of little precipitation and sparse vegetation, erosion is a major process shaping the desert. Water can seep into the smallest crack and percolate between grains of stone. Acids, minerals, and gases are carried in solution to react with the rock, causing chemical alterations such as oxidation of iron and manganese which produces many hues of red and purple. The rain that does come is often in torrential thunderstorms that carry large amounts of debris through washes, forming alluvial fans below the mountains and filling in the desert basins. Wind also distributes material, molding sand dunes, such as those found at the Kelso Dunes in the Mojave NP, and abrading landforms into sculptural shapes, like the arches at Valley of Fire. Gravity continually draws material downward, forming aprons of talus debris along the skirts of the mountains. Erosion is not always a natural process. Human activities, such as overgrazing, deforestation, construction, and water diversion, are recorded on the land. Bicycles, off-road vehicles, and indiscriminate blazing of new trails destroy the protective layer of desert pavement and promote erosion of fragile desert soils. Removal of even seemingly unimportant rocks spoils the experience for others and is illegal in National Park Service areas.

The fascinating rock formations of the Mojave Desert are inviting, but be careful when climbing. Many people are injured or killed in climbing accidents every year. Explore and enjoy the desert safely and sanely.

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source - Mojave Desert Discovery, National Park Service

ecology: wildlife - plants - geography: places - MAPS - map/sat - roads & trails: route 66 - old west - communities - weather - book store
ghost towns - gold mines - parks & public lands: wilderness - native culture - history - geology: natural features - glossary - comments
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