- A hoodoo is an erosional feature common in badland topography (deep gullies, easily eroded sediments, usually semiarid climate). A hoodoo is similar to a pinnacle - a small stone embedded in the sediments serves as a caprock, preserving the material beneath. The surrounding soft sediment is washed away, leaving a small spire. hoodoos usually occur in groups during the dissection of a plateau.
Jim Willemin, St. Lawrence University, Canton NY 13617, United States
- Hoodoos are columns, pinnacles, or pillars of rock typically produced in a region of sporadic, heavy rainfall by differentially weathering and erosion of horizontal strata (facilitated by joints and/or rock layers of varying hardness). This results in an varied and eccentric or strangely-shaped forms called hoodoos. Classic examples are in the western U.S. (for example, Zion National Park).
Andrew Gorton, Woodward-Clyde Federal Services, 500 12th Street, Suite 100, Oakland, California 94607, United States
- Hoodoos are pillars of eroded rock, typically sedimentary rocks, that are protected at the top by a more highly resistant boulder. They are especially common in Bryce National Park (very close to Zion). Bates and Jackson (AGI Glossary of Geology) is a great reference for English's tortous etymology:
... hoodoo ... fantastic column, pinnacle, or pillar of rock ... in an area of sporadic rainfall ... Etymol.: African; from its fancied resemblance to animals and embodied evil spirits.
(P.S. I found some links to African and religious WWW sites: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4 - Zb. Zwolinski after Alta Vista search engine)
Hoodoos are also common in areas of badland topography known in the western U.S.A. for the problems of early transportation ... mauvaises terres of the early French traders.
Larry N. Smith, Montana Bureau of Mines and Geology, Montana Tech of the University of Montana, 1300 West Park St., Butte, MT 59701-8997, United States
- There is an entry in the Encyclopaedia of Geomorphology (Fairbridge, 1968), published by Reinhold. This states: see under Earth Pillars and Pyramids, and they are pyramids controlled by alternating hard and soft bands in horizontal formations South Dakota badlands, Bryce Canyon. In Colorado named tepees after Indian camps.
Mike Thomas, Environmental Science, Stirling, United Kingdom
- Hoodoos are erosional towers left in place when a hard cap rock (generally a boulder or cobble) protects a column of more erodable sediment beneath. Thus, while the material surrounding the hoodoo is washed away by direct rainfall and surface erosion the hoodoo stands as a small tower. I have seen the same landforms in a variety of arid regions being eroded by direct rainfall, obviously, stream flow would undermine the features. They generally occur adjacent to steep slopes and are effectively remnants of the steep slope as it is being eroded back. The hoodoos I have seen range in size from a few inches high (capped by small pebbles) to meters high (capped by large cobbles or boulders). I have also heard the term stone baby used to describe the features in the Southwestern United States.
Lisa Wells, Department of Geology, Vanderbilt University, Post Office Box 28, Station B, Nashville, TN 37235, United States
- Hoodoos are erosional remnants that stand above the surrounding landscape. They may approximate a human form - if you let your imagination run wild. They may be 2-10 m in height, but that is just a guess. They are probably more common in Arches National Park or Canyonlands National Park or Bryce Canyon National Park than in Zion National Park.
George Malanson, University of Iowa, United States
- Hoodoos are aeolian erosional features that are common in dry interiors. Many North Americans are familiar with them because they are well represented in the "Roadrunner" cartoons! :)
Mary-Louise Byrne, Department of Geography and Environmental Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Canada
- Hoodoos are more common in Bryce Canyon National Park than they are in Zion National Park, although a few occur in Zion NP as well. Bryce Canyon is located about 135 km east of Zion and at a higher elevation. The hoodoos of Bryce Canyon formed in the Tertiary Claron formation, which consists of alternating layers of brightly-colored sandstones, limestones, and shales of marine origin. Zion is mostly formed in the Jurassic Navajo Sandstone and associated formations. The Navajo is a massive sandstone composed of sands from ancient dunes, and is several hundreds of meters thick. A hoodoo is a slender pinnacle that is capped by a resistant rock layer, either sandstone or limestone, which is underlain by softer shales. It forms as the shales are eroded away, while its vertical integrity is maintained by the caprock. Weathering and erosion is controlled vertically in the horizontal sediments by a series of vertical joints. The joints are the major controlling factor in their formation regardless of rock type. They formed as stresses were relieved as overlying sediments were removed by erosion. What you see at Bryce Canyon are large areas of these pinnacles, which is the major attraction at Bryce. The features seen at Zion are for the most part more massive. Another nearby location containing many hoodoos is Cedar Breaks National Monument, located about 60 km north of Zion and 95 km west of Bryce. Cedar Breaks is also composed of Claron formation sediments. I will send you some photographs of both areas.
Enclosed please find some photographs of Bryce Canyon National Park and Zion National Park, showing the general character of both locations. The hoodoos are illustrated very well in the photographs of Bryce Canyon. The horizontal strata are readily apparent, as well as the vertical structure of the pinnacles, or hoodoos. The photographs of Zion National Park show the massive sandstones. The massive nature of the rocks show why slender pinnacles are not as common in Zion. Although vertical joints are important in the development of both landscapes, they are more closely spaced in Bryce Canyon.
Paul R. Larson, Physical Science Department, Southern Utah University, Cedar City, Utah 84720, United States
- Hoodoo is a form of rock or sediment pillar created by erosion. One of the best sites is in Bryce Canyon National Park in the USA, although other sites also have hoodoo formations. There's a good photograph in the Physical Geography dictionary edited by Andrew Goudie (Blackwell, Oxford 1988). I've seen many forms of hoodoo in many countries, and they are all pinnacles of rock - I have photos myself if you want one.
Stephen E.J.Swabey, United Kingdom
P.S. I will add these photos to this page when I receive them - Zb. Zwolinski
- You will probably get many replies as to what a hoodoo is: a highly eroded rock pinnacle, from severe gully erosion or badlands, usually in soft rock capped by a more resistant hard rock remnant. They occur as you mention in the soft shales of Zion National Park in Utah, and also (more notably) nearby in Bryce Canyon National Park, and in other areas of the Colorado Plateau. I have also noted hoodoos in soft tuff or other volcanoclastic rock, such as in the San Juan Mountains of Colorado, and the Superstitian Mountains of Arizona.
Therein lies a story (greatly paraphrased, so you would probably get a more detailed or authentic version from a true Apache Indian, historian or folklorist) that I don't think you might get from other GEOMORPHLIST members, and my reason for writing. In the Superstitians, rows of pinnacle ridges are lined with rhyolite tuff hoodoos. Apache Indians (Native Americans) likened the hoodoos to human figures. Their legend states that their Creator let loose a great Deluge when He was upset with the earth and decided to start over (amazingly parallel to the Noan legend of Christian beleif). He favored the Apache, and was willing to give them shelter. However, a group of greedy and evil men took advantage, and rushed up to the hills without helping the young, the elders, and the women from the approaching flood. The Creator was so angered with them, that He punished them by turning them into stone as they stood on the ridges. Thus, the hoodoos are the petrified men who abandoned their tribe.
Nice story. I use it when I teach geomorphology. Students love the human connection.
Gregory Pope, Department of Geography, University of Southern California, United States
- I have not see them but Adrian Scheidegger has referred to them in his Theoertical Geomorphology. I have not got Edition 2 but Edition 1 has a brief discussion on p. 306. He refers to the teapot effect. I think he means what is correctly the Coanga effect ...oops, I think it is Coanda effect. However, I am not really sure if this is the correct explanation.
I shall be interested to hear what other have to say.
Brian Whalley, The Queen's University of Belfast, United Kingdom
- The hoodoo is a common feature in Zion National Park, Bryce Canyon National Park, and Cedar Breaks National Monument. These features are tall columns of sedimentary rock (sandstones of the Colorado Plateau) that stand apart from the larger rock forms. They are likely the combined product of fluvial and eolian erosion.
The geologic descriptions of the National Parks or National Monuments often include well-written descriptions of these features. You probably can obtain a copy directly from the Park Service if you prefer a written description. I have several AMATUER photographs of these features and would be willing to duplicate one or two for you if you like.
Mike O'Neill, Department of Geography & Earth Resources, Utah State University, Logan, UT 84322-5240, United States
P.S. I will add these photos to this page when I receive them - Zb. Zwolinski
- Hoodoos are erosional remnants of mainly sedimentary rocks, usually plateau sedimentaries, that have eroded into weird shapes. They are merely erosional remnants, nothing more exotic than that.
Donald Lee Johnson, United States
- I live within 150 mile of Zion, have been there many times, and as far as I know, hoodoos are not a prominent feature there.
A hoodoo is usually defined as: a mass of softer material capped by a more erosion resistant rock or sediment which shield the underlying portions from the effects of denudation.
These are very prominent features in Bryce Canyon National Park (Utah), Cedar Breaks National Monument (Utah), and Hobgoblin Valley State Park (Utah). Both Bryce and Cedar Breaks are within 50 miles of Zion.
A more detailed discussion of hoodoos can be found in the Encyclopedia of Geomorphology, where the definition of Hoodoo can be found under Earth Pillars or Pyramids.
August Matthusen, United States
- Saw your question and I have an answer for you. This is from The Encyclopedia of Geomorphology, R. W. Fairbridge, ed.; New York, Reinhold Book Corp., pp. 1295, 1968. I have included a short caption that defines earth pillars and hoodoos.
On page 302:
Earth Pillars or Pyramids - These are geomorphic weathering phenomena, characteristic of erosion of poorly cemented, unsorted sediments or alternating layers of very contrasting resistance.
In the Badlands of South Dakota, and in Bryce Canyon (Utah), the pyramids are controled by alternating hard and soft bands in horizontal formations; they are sometimes called hoodoos in the West.
I would also add that I know of hoodoos because my 3 year old enjoys a series of dubious quality video tapes on dinosaurs. Since he has watched them several hundred times (or so it seems), I have had the opportunity to memorize them. In one, Son of Dinosaur, they observe hoodoos in Alberta, Canada.
Jeff Knott, Department of Earth Sciences, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, United States
- A hoodoo is a column or pinnacle or rock that has been differentially eroded along bedding planes or joints. They are ususally found in arid regions with sporadic, but at times intense rainfall. The ones I've seen in Utah are usually odd shaped concretions of sandstone, I think the Entrada Sandstone, of Cretaceous age. The location in Utah is actually called Goblin Valley State Park. I suppose the hoodoos look like ghost figures and I think the term originates from a word for African spirits or ghosts.
Lynne Beatty, University of Kansas, United States
P.S. I found some links to African and religious WWW sites: Link 1, Link 2, Link 3, Link 4 - Zb. Zwolinski after Alta Vista search engine
- Hoodoo is a geomorphological term used very often in Western United States and Western Canada. It is a pillar composed of fine-grained deposit, with a boulder, a stone or a cobble on the top. The formation of hoodoo is related to the fragment of rock on the top who has protected the material behind from the erosion. The synonym of hoodoo is earth pillar (bolded by Zb. Zwolinski). In french, the name hoodoo is designated by cheminee de fee or demoiselle. The hoodoos are abondant in the badland (translation of mausaises terres given by french-canadian explorers who have visited this part of the North-American continent).
Armand LaRocque, Faculty of Forestry and Environmental Management, University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, N.B., E3B 6C2 Canada
- Hoodoo is the common North American term for large erosional pedestals and towers. This is particularly appropriate where the protective capping rock has a shape like a human head and the softer rocks below have the appearance of a human body clothed in robes. In this guise the more imaginative members of our community see a spirit, a ghost or a hoodoo. In Australian English a hoodoo is the spell or the curse a ghost or spirit may cast and not the creature itself.
The shape is much more common in Bryce National Park than in Zion. The interpretation displays and publications associated with many of the badlands areas in the USA and Canada use the term. Hoodoo is not a popular geomorphological term in Australia (bolded by Zb. Zwolinski).
Errol Stock, Faculty of Environmental Sciences, Griffith University, Brisbane, Queensland, Australia
- Hoodoos of course are columnar rocks that have been carved into shapes by differential erosion. Some beautiful hoodoos are in seen in the Absaroka (Tertiary volcanics) Formation along the Shoshone River between the east entrance of Yellowstone and Cody Wyoming. Then there is the Donald Duck episode..."hoodoo voodoo"...
Pat Pringle, WA DNR, Olympia 98504-7007, United States
- A hoodoo is an erosional feature common in the canyon country of the southwestern United States. I don't know the details of the ones at Zion National Park (and I'm embarrassed to admit that, as I was at Zion NP just a couple of weeks ago), but the ones near my home in New Mexico are more commonly called tent rocks. Here they're composed of a soft welded tuff that has a layer of something harder (typically basalt) on top of it. The hoodoo forms when erosion along a canyon wall or other surface leaves a pillar, usually cone shaped, of the softer rock that is detached from the canyon wall with a cap stone of the harder rock a top it. A crude ASCII drawing is
|_____| <-- cap stone
/ \ <-- soft lower layer
- accompanied by a nearby canyon wall. This isn't to scale; the cap stone is usually much smaller than the supporting cone.
I think the rocks involved in the Zion NP hoodoos are sedimentary rather than the volcanic ones we have, but I'm not sure about that.
Bill Johnson, Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico USA
- A hoodoo is a pillar of rock or sediment carved mainly by rain which owes its origin to a resistant caprock or, in the case of till, to a boulder. Indeed the best are made of till. Many good ones occur where thick alpine moraine (as in Switzerland, Norway) is eroded. Other good ones occur in flatlying soft rocks with some hard layers, as in Dinosaur National Park, Canada. A few are in Zion NP, but not as good as elsewhere.
Douglas Grant, Terrain Sciences Division, Geological Survey of Canada
- A hoodoo, I believe, is an erosional feature that can occur in the western U.S. It's a cylindrical (sort of) shaped feature formed by a caprock, usually of hard sandstone, overlying soft sediments like shale.
James C. Adamski, United States Geological Survey, United States, (Newsgroups: sci.geo.geology)
- They exist in southwestern U.S.A. for sure. I saw them in Hoodoo state park near Hanksville Utah. Looks sort of like an elongated mushroom, soft sediments as the stem, hard sandstone as the cap.
Brian Kleinhaus, University of Colorado at Boulder, United States, (Newsgroups: sci.geo.geology)
- I read with interest the comments on hoodoos. I was suprised that no one mentioned what may be (to my way of thinking) one of the most interesting localities: Petrified Forest/Painted Desert National Park. There the cap rock on the hoodoos is petrified wood. These are entombed in the soft, easily eroded Chinle Formation (Triassic). The petrified logs, stumps, etc. protect the underlying rock, producing some very elongated (if somewhat squat) hoodoos.
I've also seen them in miniature here in our glacial deposits. Frequently we have outwash or glaciofluvial sediments which contain alternating pebbly layers and silty layers. When these are exposed on a slope, heavy rains wash out the silts surrounding the pebbles, leaving each pebble standing high (~1-3 cm) on its own hoodoo. These features last only a day or two.
R. Laurence Davis, Department of Biology and Environmental Sciences, University of New Haven, 300 Orange Avenue, West Haven, Connecticut 06516, United States
- I saw the hoodoo feature, and was very impressed. What a great way to boil down the definitions! We should do the same with other curious geomorphic forms (bolded by Zb. Zwolinski). (Like, what is a mima mound?) Nice work.
I think one would deduce by the preponderance of definitions that a hoodoo (or badlands, or for that matter, arches, mitten rocks, and mushroom rocks) are probably NOT aeolian features - as one contribution suggests. They are erosional features, strongly controlled by pre-weathering. Just a pet peeve, one of the Quixotic quests I've attached to as a geomorphologist.
Gregory Pope, Department of Geography, University of Southern California, United States
- I enjoyed seeing hoodoo WWW pages. For additional information, let me introduce a new paper about hoodoos in Canada, written by my Japanese colleagues:
You may ask a reprint to below:
Prof. Yukiya Tanaka
Department of Geography
Faculty of Education
Takashi Oguchi, Geography Department, University of Tokyo, Japan
- This is just a bit of trivia. When I was involved in exploring caves in Fillmore County, Minnesota in 1979-1980, other cavers had a variety of terms, one of them hoodoo, for an underground imp/gremlin/etc. who caused a cave-in in the spot where it was standing. Consequently, seeing a hoodoo was the last thing you ever saw before you died in a cave-in. Although I never heard nor knew of anyone who died exploring the caves, the dangers of caving, and particularly death, were described in terms of seeing a hoodoo. (Other terms were used as well, but this one I remember well.)
David Dathe, Alverno College, Milwaukee, Wisconsin, United States, (Newsgroups: sci.geo.geology)
- At Bryce Canyon National Park (not far from Zion) is a canyon filled with these things. Hundreds and hundreds. I hiked around down there about 15 years ago, but cannot think of the name. Medicine Hat Canyon? Not sure .... I have never seen hoodoos in Zion however .... just Bryce.
Jim Metcalf, United States, (Newsgroups: sci.geo.geology)
- Also, hoodoos can occur in unconsolidated material. In this instance, larger resistant rock fragments protect the underlying matrix of soft, dry clay or silt powder from rainfall and subsequent erosion. The result is field of stacks with a small pebble of some other rock, acting as a shield and caprock, sitting on the very top of the conic tower. These can be tens of feet high, but I've seen some in a quarry in the Adirondack Mountains that were only a half of an inch tall.
Jason Sents, United States, (Newsgroups: sci.geo.geology)
- James C. Adamski wrote:
A hoodoo, I believe, is an erosional feature that can occur in the western U.S. It's a cylindrical (sort of) shaped feature formed by a caprock, usually of hard sandstone, overlying soft sediments like shale.
Just a note to bring to mind the difference between a chimney rock and a hoodoo: One sense of the chimney rock is that it is a remnant or outlier of the complete geologic section, including softer sedimentary layers that are protected by a stronger (or more resistant) caprock (so you COULD think of a chimney rock as a REALLY TINY butte). A hoodoo is usually the remains of a debris flow, formed as Jim mentioned with a cap rock on top protecting the less resistant material underneath. The difference lies in the fact that the layers beneath the cap rock of the hoodoo are not continuous with the surrounding section, as they are in the chimney rock. Both of these are common in the southwest US.
Mark Boryta, California State University, Sacramento, United States, (Newsgroups: sci.geo.geology)
I recently returned from a trip to Pond Inlet at the northern tip of Baffin Island in Canada's Arctic about 400 miles north of the Arctic Circle. Although everything fascinated me, I was particularly intrigued to discover hoodoos in the area. The first hoodoos I encountered on the trip were about 20 to 25 feet high. When I saw the honey-coloured stone contrasted against a cobalt blue sky, I grabbed my camera and shot about 100 photos.
Once my photo frenzy slowed down, the Inuit guide who was accompanying me indicated that these were the little ones. We walked over a mountain and down into a valley where the other hoodoos towered over us, at heights of anywhere from 80 to 120 feet high. We camped by the hoodoos overnight, but I could have hung around for days on end each stone deserved a couple of hours of exploration.
When I show these photos to my friends, I ask them where they think they might have been taken. Most people guess New Mexico, Arizona, Utah and even Egypt. It really doesn't look like the Arctic. I've read that the Arctic is actually a polar desert, perhaps that explains the presence of them (but I'll leave that speculation to the many experts who have responded to your site).
- My compliments on your page concerning Hoodoos. As a native of Utah and South Western Advocate, I found the exchange to be very informative. My initial impression of a Hoodoo is more of that which you will find at Goblin Valley, Utah, than of that which you will find at Bryce Canyon, Utah. However, as I have learned, these formations are more common and perhaps more varied than one might imagine.
In my brief explorations of southwestern Utah, I have nearly always discovered another variation of such a formation. To note, much of the response gave credit to rain or water erosion. Have you considered the contributions of wind erosion, similar in nature like Delicate Arch, Arches, Utah?
Please find attached a photo of my own; although I am not a scientist within you specialization, I am certain that this formation would qualify itself as a Hoodoo, given the definitions you published. If you would like to learn the location of more of these formations, please reply.
The location of the Hoodoos I photographed is identified by a series of two maps.
So, when you come, visit and study these and other nearby formations, you will also discover that the area is
riddled with other fascinating and curious features, such as moqui marbles
and toadstools. For a short sample of other
possible subjects to study, visit this site http://www.blm.gov/nhp/.
Lance Fairbanks, University of Utah, Salt Lake City, Utah, United States
- Here is a image from my collection of fine art black and white photos of some hoodoos we have in Wyoming. (I am a photographer). They can be found all over the west in hidden little places and the name, at least out here in the west, is common in that most people know what you are talking about when you say the word. The etymology isn't commonly known though, and your web page was a welcome source for that. Thanks, Juan
Juan Laden, 375 Market Street, Lander, Wyoming 82520, United States
- A hoodoo is a formation of rock with a iron cap (or roof) that portects the rock from sources of erosion.
Doug Owens, Jackson
- After 12 years Adam sent me following link: Astronomy Picture of the Day.
Adam Dobrzycki, Munchen