This is my fourth entry into my new series, Ancient America which features a minimalistic, raw and unpolished look at black and white landscape photography from around North America from the viewpoint of what it would have looked like before people arrived. 

El Capitan, West Texas

El Capitan, West Texas

El Capitan in West Texas’ Guadalupe Mountains (100 miles east of El Paso) is the world’s premier example of an exposed fossil reef from the Permian Era, dated at about 260 million years old – much older than the golden age of dinosaurs. This whole part of Texas back in this time was once covered in a shallow sea that geologists call the Delaware Sea, in a time when all of Earth’s continents were still joined into one supercontinent that we call Pangaea. The entire top of El Capitan is made of limestone formed from the fossilized remains of aquatic plant and animal remains such as corals, algae, shellfish and plankton, and now stands at just above 8000 feet above sea level. The base is formed by layer upon layer of sand laid down over millions of years, in the manner you would expect from the ocean floor resulting in a very typical sedimentary rock formation, further eroded by millions of years of desert heat, rain, abrasion and wind.

“Grateful for our departure? One more expression of human vanity. The finest quality of this stone, these plants and animals, this desert landscape is the indifference manifest to our presence, our absence, our coming, our staying or our going. Whether we live or die is a matter of absolutely no concern whatsoever to the desert.” – Edward Abbey (1968)

 

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Rich Leighton
October 21, 2015
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