Many of you may have visited this spectacular location on university or industry field trips, or for your own research purposes. The location of the exposure is on a splay off the main Moab Fault, and it illustrates many aspects of brittle deformation and fluid flow, as well as some un-paralled exposures of aeolian dune sets in the Slickrock member of the Entrada Formation. It's a truly world-class field location and has been used in a number of publications and texts, including the following figure in Haakon Fossen's structural geology textbook.
One of the key aspects of this location is the 100% exposure of deformation bands in the footwall of the fault and their relationship to fluid flow. Students can measure and plot deformation band density in the footwall of the fault and it's a great location to discuss their influence of fluid migration. Anyway, this (formally) pristine outcrop is now missing a few of the deformation bands in Haakon's photo due to some mindless geo-vandalism (see below)
Why people do that? Reasons (excuses?) are not short. Some people do it for an economic interest: Nice primary or secondary structures, fossils, minerals, etc, are aesthetically attractive, and they can be sold for good money. Researchers need to take samples. But things can be done right, or wrong. Cutting off a cube of rock with an electric saw in an outstanding outcrop, in such a visible place, is plainly wrong.
If the responsible guys of this act of vandalism are researchers, sooner or later others will know. They will be the ones who spoilt Bartlett Wash. For future researchers, think twice what you do on the field, and think how would you like to find an outcrop if you would be the next person to arrive. You are scientist, full stop. Preservation of nature has to be your main objective, always.
Thanks Bruce for raising the voice about this sad issue. Many of us have never been there, or even near, but that doesn't mean we don't feel something has to be done. Thanks also for the pictures and the permission for the quotations!