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Hot Springs of Glenwood Coloradotheir geological origin - Essay Example

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The formation of the Hot Springs of Glenwood carries much geographical history. Hot springs are springs that discharge water heated by natural processes within the earth. (World Book p375) Most of these springs are steadily flowing streams or calm pools of water…
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Hot Springs of Glenwood Coloradotheir geological origin
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Download file to see previous pages The water then rises to the top of the surface through the rocks. Hot springs can also occur when there are faults in the region. Faults are layers (cracks) in the Earth's crust that are the result of differential motion within the crust. The faults enable surface water to penetrate to depths where it is heated.
When we talk about hot or thermal springs, these are defined as springs where the temperature of water lies significantly above the mean annual air temperature of the region. A mineral spring is defined as one that contains a reading of 400 parts/million of total dissolved solids. (Tarbuck p274) Both types of spring are found from Mexico to Alaska. In the case of the thermal springs in the mountainous regions, their formation tends to be quite consistent. As rain falls on the surrounding peaks, it percolated into the rather porous sedimentary rocks. Sedimentary rocks are formed from the accumulation of sediment- mineral crystals, particles of minerals and rocks, masses of organic matter, or chemical precipitate, which solidifies into layered rock. As the water continues to descend through the rock, it picks up a variety of materials, everything from radium to sulphur. Also, as it moves further beneath the surface, it heats up from the primal heat of the Earth. Eventually, it encounters the large thrust fault and now as water descends behind it, these faults forces the now heated water to ascend along the fault-line to surface as a hot or warm spring. Also critical in the creation of a hot spring, is an express route to the surface. If the water moves slowly from depth to the surface, it will cool back down before it bubbles out as a spring. Luckily, since many of these springs occur in limestone formations, the openings allowing the water to the surface may be enlarged by dissolving of the limestone to create a virtual pipeline to the surface. This assures a quick trip and warm waters.
Tertiary volcanism and mineralized hot springs have produced the existing geologic environment in the Glenwood Springs area. These volcanic activities led to the present day Rock Mountain regions in which the Colorado River carved its mark. Glenwood Canyon was formed by the Colorado River as it eroded into the southern flank of the White River Uplift. During the Pleistocen Ice Ages, rates of down cutting were accelerated due to glacial melting that caused heavily, over-loaded streams. This erosion allowed for the seeping of water into the deep crevices of the earth, which somewhere met with the heated rocks and returned filling the many springs of Glenwood.
Most of W Colorado is occupied by the Colorado Plateau, where deep canyons have been formed by the action of the Colorado, Gunnison, and other rivers. Colorado has a mean elevation of c.6,800 ft (2,070 m) and has 51 of the 80 peaks in North America over 14,000 ft (4,267 m) high, thus laying claim to the name "top of the world." (McTiighe p237) Colorado's eastern expanses are part of the High Plains section of the Great Plains. On their western edge the plains give way to the Rocky Mountains, which run north-south through central Colorado. The mountains are divided into several ranges that make up two generally parallel belts, with the Front Range and a portion of the Sangre de Cristo Mts. on the east and the Park Range, Sawatch Mts., and San Juan Mts. on the west. Mt. Elbert (14,433 ft/4,399 m) is the highest peak in the U.S. Rocky Mts. (McTighe, 1984, p111) The ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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