BERNHARD EDMAIER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY BERNHARD EDMAIER / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Aerial photograph of badlands in the John Day Fossil Beds National Monument, Oregon, USA. This area has been covered in layers of ash and dust from successive volcanic eruptions spanning 44 to 7 million years ago. The rapid deposition of the ash killed and preserved the animals and plants, forming layers of fossil beds. Erosion carved gullies into the soft layers of ash and, over time, created the striped landscape of the Painted Hills. The yellow and red layers owe their colour to iron minerals in the volcanic ash, while the dark blurry flecks are the remains of dead vegetation.
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