Warriors frozen in time is how Navajo legends are said to describe the eerie, red rock spires in Valley of the Gods in Utah. In fact, the rocks forming this stark landscape are much older than the Navajo. This rocky valley lies at the base of Cedar Mesa, and the rocks were deposited by the invasion of a shallow sea about 250 million years ago. Over time, the water retreated, and the ancient sandstones and shales gradually turned red or purple as the iron in the rocks mixed with oxygen to form rust.
Space Imaging’s IKONOS satellite acquired this image of Valley of the Gods on May 9, 2004. In this image, the desert landscape appears in varying shades of cream, beige, rust, brown, and gray. Stair-stepped rock formations and towering pinnacles characterize this valley. Valley of the Gods is a “pint-sized” version of its larger and better-known cousin, Monument Valley, which is about 65 kilometers (40 miles) away.
Geysers are a rare natural phenomena found only in a few places, such as New Zealand, Iceland, the United States (Yellowstone National Park), and on Russia’s far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula. On June 3, 2007, one of these rare geyser fields was severely damaged when a landslide rolled through Russia’s Valley of the Geysers. The landslide—a mix of mud, melting snow, trees, and boulders—tore a scar on the land and buried a number of geysers, thermal pools, and waterfalls in the valley. It also blocked the Geyser River, causing a new thermal lake to pool upstream.