Dean M. Chriss
Fallen Roof Ruin, Southern Utah

Fallen Roof, Southern Utah

(Click image to enlarge)

Large and heavy slabs of sandstone lay in front of this ruin. They have fallen from the overhanging ledge that forms the roof of the ancient dwelling during the 700 to 900 years since it was abandoned. Fortunately the falling slabs of rock have not yet damaged the structure. In fact it seems as though the ruin walls are helping to support the separating rock layer above them. The white deposits appear to be crystallized mineral salts that have formed between the layers of rock, forcing them apart. Perhaps this separation is due to water carrying dissolved minerals permeating the sandstone from above in wet years.

On the "ceiling", above and slightly to the left of the leftmost window in the black area and just below the area from which the rocks have fallen, are several handprints. These are outlined in a spray of ocher-tinted paint, and are plainly visible in high resolution prints of this image. Unfortunately they are nearly impossible to see in any Internet-sized view of the image.

The ancient ruins and rock art present here and in other areas is irreplaceable, priceless, and fragile. The act of entering a ruin can deteriorate it more than would a hundred of years of sitting undisturbed. Touching rock art, even lightly and only once, causes eventual staining from oils that are present in human skin. It can also cause flaking of the ancient paint. Small things have huge impacts over time that spans thousands of years. If you are fortunate enough to visit one of these places, please be extremely careful to leave it exactly as you found it.