Deepest Mine in the world seen from outer space: Sparkle Kitten

The Bingham Canyon Copper Mine is the largest and deepest open pit mine in the world.  It’s one of only two man made things that can be seen by astronauts from outer space (the other is the Great Wall of China).  The visitor center here is closed because they had a rock slide!  We found a back, secret way into what was supposed to be an overlook.  You had to go around a mountain, through a canyon.  We got about 2 miles from where the actual lookout was supposed to be.  It was so scary to drive it, that we abandoned the trip until Dad could drive us!  The pictures of the trees are what I took of the long way down from our road!  We were on a narrow, mountain road winding around the mountain with no railing.  Only one car at a time could fit, and mom didn’t want to have to back down the mountain if someone came!  We found a picture of what it looks like INSIDE the mine.  Since this is just a little bit south of Salt Lake City we hope we will come back and see it next time we visit.  For now, we are going to post someone a photo someone took of the inside.  You can see the huge trucks coming around the outside of the mine carrying ore.  Image result for bingham canyon mine

Grand Canyon National Park, Arizona: Sparkle Kitten

The Grand Canyon is in Northern Arizona.  It is a deep canyon that has been carved over about 6 million years by the Colorado River.  The rocks at the bottom of the canyon date back to 2 billion years ago.  The rocks at the top of the canyon date back 250 million years.  Native people have lived here for many years, and their pueblos and artifacts in caves are evidence of that.  Europeans first saw the Grand Canyon in 1540 while the Spanish were looking for the 7 Cities of Gold.  They had been told they were along the Colorado River.  The Grand Canyon is considered one of the 7 “Natural Wonders” of the world, but it is not the deepest canyon in the world.  It can be a dangerous place.  Many people die here each year from hiking, or other injuries.  Many people go out onto the cliffs and take photographs and fall to their death.  Two weeks ago someone was taking a selfie and walked backward off a cliff on the rim.  There are some guard rails but many places are open so you have to be really careful.  It’s very beautiful here.  There are many different layers of rock.  We will be returning when we can hike to the bottom and go river rafting and ride a mule! It’s a good place to relax and read a book with a great view and a cool breeze.

Petrified Forest National Park, Arizona: Sparkle Kitten

The Petrified Forest National Park contains part of America’s historic Route 66.  The petrified wood found here dates back 225 Million Years to the late Triasic period.  Arizona used to be covered in a marshy forest at that time, much like Louisiana is today.  There were many large animals including the “alligator like” animal that was the main predator called the “macaeroprosopus”

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The water receded into rivers.  Huge conifer trees 180 feet tall fell into the river and were carried down with a huge force.  Later the trees became waterlogged and sank to the bottom.  They were then covered with layers of volcanic ash and sediment that protected them from rotting.  They then soaked in silica from the volcanic ash which preserved them and then absorbed different minerals from the water over time, making them rocks.  The different colors in the petrified trees are from the different minerals they absorbed.  Petrified wood is found everywhere, but this is the largest collection.  It is also in an area known as the painted dessert where lots of different layers of earth show different colors.  Ravens live here (shown above).  They are black and aren’t well suited to the heat, so they pant to keep cool.  There are also pueblo ruins here, with structures that had over 100 rooms.  In addition, there are petroglyphs like the ones we saw in Albuquerque, NM.  One interesting thing about the petroglyphs is that they resemble each other even though these locations are over 200 miles apart.  The soil is very cracked here because of the arid climate.  It feels like clay if you wet it.  There are also little plants that come up through the cracks.  Petrified comes from the Latin word “petra” for stone or rock and -ficare, from facere “to make, do” or the more recent French word “petrafier”.  Image result for colorful petrified wood