Geologic Feature


A continuous elevation of land that extends in a line between higher mountain peaks. Sometimes ridges descend from a higher peak toward lower elevations, giving a mountain a vertically-grooved appearance. Occasionally, ridges occur as singular components of the landscapes.


The sheer face of a cliff or mountain.


An elevated, fairly level expanse of land raised sharply above adjacent land.


A type of igneous rock that can form intrusively, under the earth’s crust, or as part of an extrusive flow of lava. Once perlite cools it breaks into concentric pieces that look like rough, light-colored pearls, hence the name. Perlite can be used instead of sand in plaster and concrete. There are large deposits of perlite in the western United States.


In architecture, a low, protective wall that encircles a roof, tower, or that runs along an entrenchment to offer concealment. Parapets are also found in natural environments, where erosion patterns contribute to the emergence of wall-like structures along ridgelines and at the edges of cliffs.

Palo Duro Canyon, Texas

Meaning "hard stick" in Spanish and also known as the Grand Canyon of Texas, this 120-mile-long, 20-mile-wide canyon is located in the Texas Panhandle near Amarillo. European contact with the canyon's indigenous inhabitants began with the Coronado expedition in 1541. In 1874, the Kiowa and Comanche were forcibly removed from the canyon to reservation lands in Oklahoma.


An exposed upthrust of rock that appears to break through the earth's surface. These rocky protrusions are produced in areas with extreme or persistent erosion, where soil and vegetation are removed, or never even get the chance to accumulate due to wind, water, waves, fire events, volcanic eruptions, mechanical disturbance, and even shifting tectonic plates. Rock outcrops are often found in mountainous areas or near canyons or ravines and can emerge as the result of the removal of large amounts of earth associated with mining or large scale construction activities.


A shiny, variously colored, often transparent mineral commonly found as flakes or even sheets in granite and other sedimentary and metamorphic rocks.

Manki Cayon, New Mexico

A fictional canyon mentioned in Listening Woman, published in 1978, the third novel in Tony Hillerman's Navajo detective series. In this novel, Joe Leaphorn drives through Manki Canyon in order to reach the also fictional Short Mountain Trading Post, a major setting of the novel. According to Hillerman, this canyon is close to the real Cow Springs Ranch, a former watering hole on an old wagon route in Luna County, in the southwestern corner of New Mexico.


A flat-topped hill or plateau of rock with one or more steep sides, usually rising abruptly from a surrounding plain. Commonly found in arid environments, mesas are formed by the erosion of horizontally layered rocks that have been pushed above the surface of the earth by tectonic activity.


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