Our journey continued on through the rugged terrain of Kings Canyon. So far, we’ve gained quite a handful of valuable insights through our hike. Informative signs were strategically placed in designated areas of the canyon for visitors to take a breather and deepen their knowledge.
A Cross Section Through Time & A Glimpse At The Lost City
By now, we have climbed over 100 metres and we were standing on rocks dating back to a time when the Earth was bare, with hardly a patch of green to be seen. Like postcards from the past, these rocks provided important information about the canyon’s history.
For your info, Kings Canyon is made up of two layers of sandstones – the Mereenie and Carmichael Sandstones. The cliff tops consist of Mereenie Sandstone. It’s hard and brittle because it’s made entirely of tough quartz grains, cemented with silica. The Mereenie Sandstone is about 400 million years old.
The Carmichael Sandstone of the canyon slopes is about 440 million years old. It’s more crumbly because it contains softer minerals mixed with quartz. We can clearly see these two layers of sandstones on the canyon walls. Across the canyon, we caught a glimpse of a natural beehive-like weathered rock formation that resembles the remains of an Aztec city, thus earning it the name ‘The Lost City’.
From A Crack To A Canyon
Kings Canyon was formed through a crack in the Mereenie Sandstone layer of the south wall. Through time, wind and water erosion widened and deepened the crack. The crack eventually reached down to the softer Carmichael Sandstone layer, which now forms the lower slopes of the canyon.
As the Carmichael Sandstone eroded, it undercut the upper sandstone leaving a huge gap below. Without support, the affected blocks of sandstone, some larger than a house, sheared away and tumbled down. And over millions of years, Kings Canyon was formed.
The circular markings we now see on the south wall were probably formed by the release of stress when the Mereenie Sandstone cracked. The white stains on the cliff face are the droppings of the Peregrine Falcon. These beautiful birds of prey are usually seen cruising over the cliff tops. It dives like a bullet to knock unsuspecting birds out of the air.
A Dead Sea’s Ripples
One of the interesting sights I encountered in Kings Canyon apart from the breathtaking canyon view was the intriguing ripple marks on the ground. Yes, you read that right – ripple marks on the ground! Ripple marks which were formed by the existence of bodies of water on the landscape.
These prominent ripple marks are evidence that there were once shallow lakes at Watarrka, millions of years ago. It seems that Central Australia was a windswept plain, covered with sand dunes over 400 million years ago. The climate was dry, but rivers still flowed and vast lakes dotted the landscape.
Up next: Exploring The Garden of Eden at Kings Canyon