This is an anticline exposed on Mc Leod Street, southwest of Hot Springs, Garland County, Arkansas. It’s not unique as, anticlines are common in the Ouachita’s and other mountain ranges throughout the world. Most often though, these structures are large scale and cover expanses of land that can’t be viewed from a human vantage point. When they do form on a scale that’s small enough for human observation, we typically don’t have the benefit of a freshly blasted exposure like this one.
In fact, many times geologists must infer that folds like this exist in places deep underground that no one has or will ever see. That’s why, if you see a geologist on the side of the road, taking something like this in, as in the picture above, just let him have his little moment. The exposure is of deep marine sedimentary deposits of the Stanley Formation.
This photo is of an asymmetrical anticline in the Stanley Formation. It’s asymmetrical because the right limb of the fold is dipping at a steeper angle than the left limb. This type of fold is common in the Ouachita Mountains, however, this one has a small igneous intrusion on the left limb (lower left, dark gray). The intrusion consists of a dike, which split several of the lower beds at nearly a right angle, and a sill emplaced parallel to the bedding.
From this picture, and basic geologic principals, we can tell the history of these rocks. Sediment was first deposited in horizontal layers (principal of horizontality). Later, the layers cemented to form solid rock – the layers must have been firm before they were deformed because they maintained their shape. Next, tectonic forces in the earth bent the rock into an anticline and, after it was folded, the igneous intrusion was forced into the rock. We know the intrusion was last because it cut across the rock layers and the fold (principal of cross-cutting relationships).
One of the most challenging aspects of geology is interpreting a lot from a little information. It’s also part of what makes it so interesting!