Geological changes are typically very slow processes. They take place over hundreds, if not thousands of years or longer. This isn’t a bad thing for geologists, though. Instead of being in a field with rapidly changing subjects and crazy events, geologists are in a field that is all about history. Most geologic processes leave behind visual clues as to what happened in the past.
Life, wind, and water on the Earth often leave sediment behind when they move on. This process of deposition is additive and can create beautiful patterns.
White Sands, New Mexico.
Deposition creates layers that then can either be exposed by erosion, or uplifted through plate tectonics. This makes all of these layers visible to us, and we can see a timeline of the history of the region.
Lincoln National Forest, New Mexico.
Erosion exposes the layers in a different way from plate tectonics. Erosion removes the softer material first, leaving behind the more durable rock. This can create amazing formations, sculpted by wind or by water.
City of Rocks State Park, New Mexico.
Perhaps the most beautiful formations created by water happen in caves. Here, water deposits the minerals it carries, creating gorgeous visualizations of centuries or even millennia of water flow.
Luray Caverns in Virginia.
Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.