The Three Gossips and Sheep Rock, Arches National Park

Monumental rock formations in Arches National Park

The Three Gossips is one of the named landmarks in Arches National Park, Utah. Sheep Rock is the large formation on the right. At one time Sheep Rock was likely an arch, that has since fallen. The area of the park is located on top of an underground salt bed, deposited about 300 million years ago when a sea flowed into the region and eventually evaporated. Over time the salt bed was covered with succeeding layers that eventually compressed into rock. The weight of the rock made the underlying salt bed unstable. Under pressure it shifted, buckled, liquefied, and repositioned itself, thrusting the rock layers upward into domes. Whole sections fell into cavities. In places they turned almost on edge. Faults occurred. Surface erosion stripped away younger rock layers, leaving harder layers behind. Differential erosion created free standing fins, which were subsequently attacked by wind and water. The Three Gossips is an example of one of these huge fins, that is gradually being reshaped by further cracking and surface erosion.