by The American Geosciences Institute Wednesday, November 1, 2017
This small canyon — only about 10 meters wide at the bottom and less than a kilometer long — was carved by a river that easily cut down through Tertiary sediments but then encountered the more resistant Precambrian granite of this ridge in the Granite Mountains. Trapped in its channel, the river incised the granite, forming a textbook example of superimposed drainage.
Travelers along one of early America’s westward trails, which passed to the south of the ridge, often camped near this landmark and enjoyed potable water from the river that carved it. The gorge lies about 10 kilometers southwest of another granite pioneer landmark: a large, rounded outcrop formed by exfoliation and spalling, which was aptly named on July 4, 1824.
The name of the gorge comes from a Native American legend that says the opening was carved by an evil prairie beast that was killed by warriors and, in its death throes, gouged out the rock with its mammoth tusks.
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Answer: Devil’s Gate, incised by the Sweetwater River into Wyoming’s Granite Mountains, is a textbook example of superimposed drainage. It lies near another granite feature, Independence Rock, named on July 4, 1824; both were landmarks for travelers on the Oregon Trail. The gap was named for a Native American legend about an evil prairie beast killed by warriors that, in its death throes, gouged out the rock with its mammoth tusks. Photo by Jim Sukup.
November 2017 Winners: Anne Duffield (Greenbank, Wash.) Lawrence A. Gilbert (Dayton, Ohio) Jose Ramirez (Tucson, Ariz.) Jack Ratay (Abingdon, Md.) Lesley Urasky (Sinclair, Wyo.)
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