geomorphology, Southwest

An aerial perspective

Whenever I have the opportunity, I always try and grab a window seat on airplanes. Because I live in Arizona, I’m lucky enough to regularly fly over the American Southwest, which features some of the most stunning and dramatic landscapes from the air.

In the image above—flying near the Chaco Canyon area in New Mexico—you can see the steep cliff faces that create a “stair-step” in the landscape and the talus piles at their base. As well, you can see the fluvial carvings on the upper terrace also working to erode the landscape. These features are quite common along the Colorado Plateau, which covers portions of Arizona, New Mexico, Colorado and Utah. From above, you can truly get a sense of scale for the awesome powers at work that shape these landscapes.

While Google Earth can certainly provide some great tours, it’s hard to beat a direct view  from the window seat of a plane.

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