The White Pocket is an isolated, hard-to-reach stretch of sandstone hidden within the Vermillion Desert National Monument near the Arizona-Utah border. The entire area is covered in a gray rocky layer, sometimes only a few centimeters thick, covering red sandstone, where the landscape is shaped in such a way that it makes the whole landscape look like it’s covered in powdered sugar. In some places, the stone layers are completely twisted, like a huge marble cake.
The extraordinary geology in the White Pocket has not yet been accurately explained. Some geologists claim that the White Pocket is the result of “soft sediment deformation,” noting that the warps in the White Pocket date back to the Jurassic when the sand was completely turned into rock.
According to retired petroleum geologist Mark Deshowitz, who has studied the White Pocket more than anyone else, the landscape was the result of a massive sinking of sand caused by an earthquake. As the mass slid and fell into the lower layers, it tore apart chunks of layered sand below and filled a large pool or oasis. This large mass of sand is the featureless, discolored white sandstone we see today.
Fine thin plates surprisingly well preserved. This may indicate that all of the sand involved was buried along with large deposits of additional sediment. In other words, sand mixed with additional rock at a depth of 30 meters below the surface. This explains the strange contours that are still in a certain order.
Until a year ago, White Pocket was relatively unknown, known only to local ranchers and a handful of enterprising photographers. Then National Geographic ran a story about the Vermillion National Monument Cliffs, which included excellent footage of these landscapes. This was a turning point, now Vermillion is on the list of every traveler and nature lover to visit.
Continue reading about the colored rocks of Zhangye, another unusual natural phenomenon.