Grand Canyon from the air over Great Thumb Mesa

The Grand Staircase

  • Grand Canyon Landsat (courtesy of USGS, Flagstaff)


    The southern portion of the Colorado Plateau is marked by a series of southward-facing escarpments (cliffs) 500-1000m high. On September 25, 1996 in a ceremony at Grand Canyon National Park, President Clinton esablished a National Monument, part of which includes major portions of the Grand Staircase.

    The escarpments are separated by by broad benches or terraces. These include, from south to north, The Mogollon Rim-Grand Wash Cliffs (south and west margins of the Plateau, respectively), the Mogollon Slope-Ward Terrace-Arizona Strip, the Chocolate-Vermilion-Echo Cliffs, the White Cliffs, the Gray Cliffs, and the Pink Cliffs. Collectively, the region from the Grand Canyon to Bryce Canyon has been termed the Grand Staircase. The Colorado River and its tributaries have incized deep, spectacular canyons into this landscape including The Grand Canyon, Glen Canyon, Marble Canyon, Zion Canyon, and hundreds of others. This incredible rock wonderland, much of it without a tree to mar the view, exposes one of the finest sedimentary rock records. The nearly flat-lying sedimentary rocks dip gently northward, usually less than 2. Successively younger strata are exposed as one proceedes northward. The graphics and photos that follow provide a general guide to these rocks.

    Geologic History
  • Panel cross sections showing stages of geologic evolution of Grand Canyon - Grand Staircase Region

    General Sections
  • Grand Staircase Rocks
  • Grand Staircase Cliffs
  • Grand Canyon General Section
  • Vermilion Cliffs East General Section
  • Vermilion Cliffs-White Cliffs General Section
  • Glen Canyon General Section
  • Gray/Pink Cliffs General Section

  • Detailed Stratigraphic Columns and Panels

  • Panel cross section, Glen Canyon Gp, S Nevada-Kanab
  • Panel cross section, Glen Canyon Gp, Kanab-Escalante
  • Panel cross section, Glen Canyon Gp, Paria-Dinnebito
  • Panel cross section, Glen Canyon Gp, Dinnebito-Lukachukai

  • Outcrop Photos

    The photos indexed on this page show the rocks from the Grand Staircase (in the broadest use of the term). The photos are listed by formation or geologic age, youngest at the top of the list.

    All photos were take by me and cannot be used for any commercial purposes withuot my permission.

  • Three Lava flows in Grand Canyon below Lava Falls
  • Cenozoic lavas, Vulcans Throne
  • Claron Fm, Bryce Canyon, Ut
  • Jurassic rocks, Face Canyon, Lake Powell
  • Navajo Ss, Page Ss, Cat Pasture, Escalante Canyons, Ut
  • Jurassic rocks, Gunsight Butte, Lake Powell
  • Middle and Upper Jurassic Rocks, Padre Bay, Lake Powell
  • Middle and Upper Jurassic Rocks, Boundary Butte, Lake Powell
  • Stratigraphic section, Lake Powell
  • Navajo Sandstone @ Rainbow Bridge
  • Glen Canyon Group, Lower San Juan River
  • Labeled Grand Canyon section @ Thumb Mesa
  • Grand Canyon section @ lower Marble Canyon
  • Paleozoic section, Western Grand Canyon
  • Paleozoic section, LCR
  • Kaibab Fm and Lower Marble Canyon from the Air
  • Kaibab Fm @ Duck on Rock
  • Coconino Ss and Toroweap Fm, Hermit Basin
  • Supai through Kaibab, South Rim
  • Hermit Fm @ Mt Sinyala
  • Supai Group @ Kaibab Trail
  • Supai Group from Toroweap Overlook
  • Tilted Supai outcrop, Iceberg Ridge, Lake Mead
  • Amphitheater in Redwall from South Rim
  • Redwall and adjacent units from South Rim
  • Redwall Cliff from South Rim
  • Muav Ls on Kaibab Trail
  • Bright Angel through Coconino
  • Bright Angel Shale, Lower Grand Canyon
  • Tidal sandstone bodies, Tapeats Ss @ LCR
  • Shinumo Qtz "islands' stick up through Tapeats Ss, the Tipoff
  • Tonto Group over Vishnu Schist, Lower Granite Gorge
  • Great unc: Tapeats over Vishnu below Separation Canyon
  • Great unc: Tapeats over Vishnu near Separation Canyon
  • Zoaraster granite dike in Vishnu, Upper Granite Gorge
  • Mineral banding, Vishnu @ Clear Creek
  • Close-up:Vishnu-Zoaraster Granite Gorge
  • Vishnu-Zoaraster Granite Gorge

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