Looking for a creative distraction? Utah Geological Survey launches ‘Arch Madness’ tournament

Kolob Arch, Kolob Canyons, Zion National Park, Utah, June 6, 2010 | Photo courtesy of the National Park Service, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — The Utah Geological Survey launched Wednesday an online tournament called “Arch Madness” to pit some of Utah’s well-known and lesser-known natural arches and bridges against each other for statewide geologic superiority.

Delicate Arch is unique because it stands completely separate from the formations around it, Arches National Park, Utah, March 31, 2018 | Photo by Reuben Wadsworth, St. George News

Arch Madness will consist of six single-elimination rounds, similar to the NCAA basketball tournament. Voting for the first round, the Round of 64, is currently underway and will be open through Saturday. Interested participants can vote online, according to a press release issued by the Utah Geological Survey.

“We’re still facing some unprecedented and difficult circumstances in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Given our current and unique circumstances, we figured we could all use a creative distraction,” Bill Keach, Utah Geological Survey director, said in the release. “Arch Madness provides an opportunity for families to learn more about the state’s amazing geology, and participate in some light-hearted fun.”

Arch Madness includes 64 Utah arches or natural bridges that have been randomly placed on the tournament bracket. Participants are encouraged to vote each round for their favorite arch or bridge as the field is trimmed from 64 geologic hopefuls to the “Faunal Four” contenders, and ultimately Utah’s sole Arch Madness champion.

Some of the Southern Utah arches included in the tournament are Washington County’s Johnson Arch, Babylon Arch and Kolob Arch, as well as Kane County’s Bryce Natural Bridge, Coyote Natural Bridge and Cobra Arch. See the full gallery online.

The outcome of the single elimination tournament is determined solely by head-to-head voting, broken into the six rounds outlined below:

  • Round of 64: Thursday – Saturday
  • Round of 32: Monday – Tuesday
  • Seismic 16: March 26 – March 28
  • Eroded 8: March 29 – March 30
  • Faunal 4: April 2 – April 3
  • Arch Championship:  April 5

Why Arches?

Arches are unique to Utah, and the geologic beauty found throughout the state is unlike any other area in the world. Almost half of the world’s 15 largest known natural arches are found in Utah, the press release states.

It’s estimated that Utah’s Colorado Plateau is home to thousands of natural arches and bridges. Arches National Park alone is home to over 2,000 documented natural sandstone arches with a diameter of at least three feet. Additionally, at least 800 significant arches have been identified and photographed elsewhere in Utah; and according to the statement, some geologists say they believe thousands of others exist.

Read more about why there are so many natural arches and bridges in Utah.

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2021, all rights reserved.

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