Stebbins Gulch Towering Icicles


Photo by Denny Reiser

This is a spectacular view of the same cliff on a winter day. The signature feature is the huge icicles that drape from the edge of the cliff.  But note also the many smaller icicles hanging under the recess.  This is a great example of ground water seeping down through a permeable bed (the massive, cross-bedded layer behind the big icicles) and then encountering an impermeable bed (probably a thin shale layer) that does not allow further downward movement through the rock. A layer of water gradually accumulates above the shale and soon takes the path of least resistance out the side of the cliff face. The result is a line of icicles (or a horizontal line of wet seeps in summer) on the side of the cliff. At least three or four horizontal lines of icicles can be traced on the recessed cliff above the creek, each marking an impermeable bed of shale.

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