Field of Science

Alternative Model For Formation Of Devils Tower Explains Its Geological Oddities

Devils Tower in Wyoming is surrounded by myths and mysteries. To the Sioux people, this site was sacred and some of their stories tell how this mountain formed: A long time ago a giant bear chased a group of children onto the flat top of the mountain. Out of reach of the animal, the bear started to scratch the rocks with its claws, forming the characteristic joints in the rock. Reportedly, Devils Tower got its name from this legend, as "bear" was erroneously translated as "bad god" - later becoming the "devil".

Today, this 1,267-foot-high pinnacle of phonolite (a silica-poor fine-grained igneous rock) is described in many textbooks as an intrusion of igneous rock that never reached the surface to form a volcano. However, there are a number of issues with this idea.

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