Lake Powell Slickrock

Slickrock and Tub Rings

The soft sandstone undulations around the Glen Canyon, Lake Powell and Grand Staircase have a mesmerizing quality to them. They are so unlike the rock that you may see elsewhere in the world, in fact, the slickrock is really not rock at all. It’s a sandstone. To be specific, it is layers of stratified, petrified ocean bottom! It’s ancient beach. The stripes and patterns reflect the flow and direction of different types of sediment and sand, dunes and mudflows. Some of the most famous and recognizable of these formations is in Coyote Butte in Southern Utah towards Kanab.

Lake Powell Slickrock
Lake Powell Slickrock

As a stark contrast to these soft forms is the appearance of the “tub ring”, a salty, alkaline mineral deposit left behind from Lake Powell as its Colorado river water leaches these minerals out of the surrounding land on its way to the reservoir. When the lake level was rising from the day the Glen Canyon dam was completed this ring was not an issue.

Once Lake Powell filled Glen Canyon the fluctuations of water level (drought, flood, water release from the dam) started to reveal this white deposit on the porous shore surfaces.

Lake Powell Slickrock
Lake Powell Slickrock

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *