Can a tree cut a rock?

Ron Niebrugge Las Vegas, Nevada, Photos, Travel 6 Comments

Dead tree branch cutting through a rock, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

Dead tree branch cutting through a rock, Valley of Fire State Park, Nevada.

I know this photo will never win me any awards or make any money, but it was such an interesting sight, I just had to share.  This was from our recent winter / spring travels.

This dead branch was still connected to the tree it grew from, but part of it came to rest on this rock.  As the tree swayed back and forth in the wind, this branch would rub against the sandstone boulder.  Over what probably took many, many years the branch has slowing cut it’s way through the stone.  Now granted, on the scale of hardness, sandstone is much softer then most – but it is still hard enough that trying to cut it by hand with tools would have taken a lot of effort.  Pretty interesting.

At the time I found this, I was exploring a somewhat remote canyon hoping to find an interesting slot canyon.  Judging by the difficult access to this canyon, I think it is safe to say very few people ever visit this area – just as well, one misplaced step and this branch would be broken.  I may have to go back in a few years to see how much more has been cut.

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