Glacially carved granite in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado
This landscape is so smooth and rounded that you can easily imagine the ice that must have covered it some 20,000 years ago. And the ice must have been deep! Look halfway up the mountain in the foreground on the left; it shows a distinct change of rock weathering akin to a bathtub ring–and the ring persists around much of the photo. It likely marks the upper surface of the ice at maximum glaciation.
Upper Glacier Gorge, a glacial cirque in Rocky Mountain National Park, Colorado. View of the Spearhead (left) and McHenry’s Peak (just behind)
Like most landscapes, this one’s pretty young–and those glacial effects are even younger. When compared to the age of the rock, it seems almost insignificant. The granite bedrock, which is granite, is 1.4 billion years old! Elsewhere in Rocky Mountain National Park, the granite intrudes even older metamorphic rock –1.7 billion years old. Just .3 billion years older. I think we forget that “just .3 billion years” is 300 million years –about the same length of time as the entire Paleozoic! And the Pleistocene Epoch, during which the glaciers grew? It started some 2 million and ended about 10,000 years ago
1.4 billion year old granite intruding 1.7 billion year old gneiss in Rocky Mtn National Park.
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