1911 Encyclopædia Britannica/Earth Pillar

From Wikisource
Jump to: navigation, search

EARTH PILLAR, a pillar of soft rock, or earth, capped by some harder material that has protected it from denudation. The “bad lands” of western North America furnish numerous examples. Here “the formations are often beds of sandstone or shale alternating with unindurated beds of clay. A semi-arid climate where the precipitation is much concentrated seems to be most favourable to the development of this type of formation.” The country round the Dead Sea, where loose friable sandy clay is capped by harder rock, produces “bad-land” topography. The cap of hard rock gives way at the joints, and the water making its way downwards washes away the softer material directly under the cracks, which become wider, leaving isolated columns of clay capped with hard sandstone or limestone. These become smaller and fewer as denudation proceeds, the pillars standing a great height at times, until finally they all disappear.