History Of Mesa Verde National Park

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The land and rock-based history of Mesa Verde National Park represents diversity as much as the cultural history. Mesa Verde is located in Southwestern Colorado which is one of the four states that is included in the Colorado Plateau. It became a national park in 1906 in order to preserve and protect the famous cliff dwellings and artifacts. Beginning back in 550 A.D to 1300 A.D, Ancestral Puebloans came to realize the diversity of Mesa Verde National Park and used its landscape to create and maintain life. It was the Spanish explores who created the name Mesa Verde for this area, translating to “green table”. According to the National Park Service, the correct geological term for this park is Cuesta Verde. This is mainly because the cuesta …show more content…
Landslides are landforms that are produced by a variety of gravity-driven mass movements (Carrara, 2012, p.11). These landslides are one of the dominant features within the Mesa Verde area because it encompasses about nine percent of the map area. There are over 150 landslides that have currently been identified. Many of these landslides occur within the Menefee Formation and the Mancos Shale which are two of the four sedimentary rock levels. Loess is wind-blown silt and fine sand and clay. Loess forms a “blanket” that covers millions of miles of underlying bedrock. Just within Mesa Verde National Park, there is a covered area of seven percent of the map area (Carrara, 2012, p.15). Colluvium is the third major surficial geological unit within the Mesa Verde area. Colluvium is considered to be “any loose, heterogeneous, and incoherent mass of soil material or rock fragments that were transported and deposited by gravity by slow mass-movement processes, chiefly creep” (Carrara, 2012, p.15). This Colluvium is derived from the Menefee Formation and since this formation weathers so quickly, there is only a small area that one can see this formation. This weathered material falls downslope, creating the colluvial cover. This covers around 18.5 percent of the map …show more content…
The alcoves are gigantic, arched recessions that have formed in a cliff wall. The best way to describe an alcove is a rock that overhands the canyon walls. The alcove formation is caused from water seeping into cracks, freezing, thawing, and eventually expanding the rock apart. Going into more detail, the water is absorbed into the pores within the sandstone. Once the water reaches the layer of shale, which does not absorb water that well, the water is pushed back to the cliff face (Geology of Mesa Verde, p. 2). According to the National Park Service, seep springs are then found where the water emerges from the cliff face. The Ancestral Puebloans would use these alcoves as part of their homes. The Balcony House is one of the medium sized cliff dwellings containing 40 rooms. The Cliff Palace is one of the largest cliff dwellings containing 150 rooms, providing room for approximately 100 people. Sandstone, mortar, and wooden beams were the three main materials used for these cliff dwellings. The Ancestral Pueblo people would shape the sandstone block using hard stones from the river and would use soil, water, and ash to create mortar. Chinking stones were used as wooden beams to complete the cliff dwelling (National Park Service, Cliff Palace,

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