The rocks talk to us

An overview of the geology of Glenwood Springs

Panoramic photo of Glenwood Springs by Jeremy Joseph, graduate of the Colorado Mountain College Professional Photography Program

Photo by Jeremy Joseph, graduate of the Colorado Mountain College Professional Photography Program.

The incredible geologic panorama in front of you is a 1,700-million-year-long story, told by the rocks.

Glenwood Springs lies in the valleys of the Roaring Fork and Colorado Rivers. The force of water, mostly in the last three million years, has eroded a cradle for the city.

Geologists from around the world venture to these canyons to study the stories of the rocks.

diagram of the geology of Glenwood Springs from the perspective of Iron Mountain
Glenwood Springs sits on a 100-foot-thick layer of floodplain deposits, settled here after the wash from melting glaciers upvalley.

Inside the caves at Glenwood Caverns Adventure Park, you will see the 340-million-year-old Leadville Limestone. It's also the surface visitors stand on at the park.

Leadville Limestone was metamorphosed into the pure white marble found in Marble, Colorado, approximately 40 miles to the south.

510 million years ago, the Sawatch Sandstone and Dotsero Formation was the edge of the North American continent where the seas submerged much of the western U.S.

The Eagle Valley Evaporite is mainly composed of precipitated gypsum formed from the evaporation of a shallow sea. This porous formation is responsible for making this area of the state the most susceptible to sinkholes.

The red caps on the volcanic ridges in the diagram above represent the faulted and tilted 100-million-year-old basalt flows.

Why is Red Mountain red? The Maroon Formation, visible throughout central Colorado, is named for iron oxide cemented red rocks.

The Mesaverde Group forms the razor-like edge marking the boundary of the Colorado Plateau.

The Morrison Formation is a famous rive and stream deposit containing dinosaur bones.

The Green River Formation contains oil shale.

In the Mancos Shale, tightly trapped shale gas is being produced by hydraulic fracturing.

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