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La Ventana Natural Arch
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© CT-Graphics - Christine Till
La Ventana Natural Arch, a spectacular wonder of eroded sandstone, is located inside the Cebolla Wilderness in the El Malpais (Spanish for "bad lands") area in central NM. The rock arch is the second largest of New Mexico's natural arches and has been considered "the window" to this enchanting desert scenery for 150 million years.
Over 150 million years ago, during the Jurassic period, portions of this area resembled the Sahara Desert of today. The sand dunes were formed from wind blown, rounded grains of sand. Try to visualize dinosaurs coming to take advantage of the deep pools of clear water that were probably scattered throughout the area.
The sand dunes were eventually buried by sediment. The weight turned the dunes to stone (Zuni sandstone). As time passed the earth experienced some growing pains, causing the massive Zuni sandstone to crack. As water passed along, seeping into the the cracks, the cementing material holding the grains of sand together dissolved. As the water froze, the cracks widened, eventually causing the sandstone to break away, forming the arch you see.
May 14th, 2010
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