Songs of the Arches (with Helicopters)

Utah’s famous bridges and spires hum with a deep, Earthly music, below the threshold of human perception.

The wind that carved the sandstone of Arches National Park into spectacular arches and towers also plucks them, like giant guitar strings, making them ring at low frequencies. Geoscientist Riley Finnegan and her colleagues in the Geohazards research group at the University of Utah are recording these arch songs in the Park and around

Utah with seismometers, the same basic technology geologists use to listen for earthquakes, to learn their characteristic vibration frequencies—and how human noise affects them.

Passing helicopters can cause rock arches and spires to shake up to 100 times stronger than they do naturally. Why? Helicopters are loud. Below the distinctive chopper womp-womp, the blades produce sound waves at frequencies too low for humans to hear unaided. When these infrasound vibrations match pitches with the natural resonance of the rock feature, they reinforce the natural vibrations like a choir singing in unison. The extra push can amplify the hum to the level of a rock concert.

In episode 37 of Third Pod from the Sun, Finnegan explains what she’s learned and helps us hear the songs of the arches.

This episode was produced by Liza Lester and mixed by Kayla Surrey.




Shane Hanlon (00:00):

Hi Nanci.

Nanci Bompey (00:01):

Hi Shane.

Shane Hanlon (00:02):

So we’re still here in our homes.

Nanci Bompey (00:05):

Yeah. It’s summer, end of summer when we’d normally be traveling probably or a lot of people in DC get out of this swamp.

Shane Hanlon (00:12):


Nanci Bompey (00:13):

But now we’re not. Were you supposed to go anywhere fun this summer? Do anything for the summer?

Shane Hanlon (00:18):

Yeah, actually earlier this month I would have been at a conference in Salt Lake City, Utah and afterwards my partner and I were planning on going to a lot of the parks on the Southwest and one of the big ones was Arches and clearly that’s not happening.

Nanci Bompey (00:30):

I love all those parks. Arches is special. Arches is amazing. I went there a long time ago in high school, but one of my favorite writers-

Shane Hanlon (00:37):

Oh gee.

Nanci Bompey (00:39):

Edward Abbey-

Shane Hanlon (00:40):

Spoiler, Nanci likes books.

Nanci Bompey (00:41):

He spent this… He has this famous book, Desert Solitaire, where he spent like a year I think, it was either in Arches or Canyonlands but he was the caretaker there.

Shane Hanlon (00:49):

Oh wow.

Nanci Bompey (00:50):

And it’s just amazing piece of nature writing. It was I think one of the first books that I read that was ever non-fiction whatever that really touched me.

Shane Hanlon (01:00):

Which is all you like now is non-fiction.

Nanci Bompey (01:01):

Yeah. And then it’s about Arches and how the Arches, they’re just these amazing structures that have the ability to remind people that there’s this bigger world that’s existed for millions of years before we even got here and will continue to. And so that puts things in perspective which is good [crosstalk 00:01:18] I think. Exactly.

Shane Hanlon (01:20):

Bigger things than us, bigger things than our closets and our homes.

Nanci Bompey (01:24):


Shane Hanlon (01:28):

Welcome to the American Geophysical Union’s podcast about the scientists and the methods behind the science. These are the stories you won’t read in the manuscript or hear in a lecture. I’m Shane Hanlon.

Nanci Bompey (01:37):

And I’m Nanci Bompey.

Shane Hanlon (01:39):

And this is Third Pod from the Sun. Okay, Nanci. So we are not just talking about places we would like to be, but we’re talking about Arches in particular for this episode, right?

Nanci Bompey (01:56):

Correct. Arches was the subject of this episode, Arches National Park and the arches in it. So, to hear a little bit more, we bring in our producers. Hi Liza, Liza Lester.

Liza Lester (02:08):


Nanci Bompey (02:10):

Hi Katie, Katie Broendel.

Katie Broendel (02:12):

Hey guys.

Shane Hanlon (02:12):

I love this announcer version.

Nanci Bompey (02:14):

Yeah. I switched into that mode. Right now.

Shane Hanlon (02:18):

All right. What do we have today?

Liza Lester (02:20):

Today we talked to a scientist who has been listening to the earth in Arches National Park and other places around there. They’re listening to the sounds that these arches make when the wind blows through them. Other things cause them to vibrate. They have these natural resonances, but we can’t hear them with our ears. So they have instruments for that.

Shane Hanlon (02:40):

Well, that’s exciting.

Liza Lester (02:42):

Yeah. Should we talk to Riley Finnegan?

Nanci Bompey (02:44):

Let’s do it.

Shane Hanlon (02:45):

And we can hear more about it.

Riley Finnegan (02:54):

I am Riley Finnegan and I’m a PhD student at the University of Utah and I get paid to throw up out of helicopters.

Liza Lester (03:03):

I mean, is that fun?

Riley Finnegan (03:06):

It is.

Liza Lester (03:09):

Where are you going on these helicopters?

Riley Finnegan (03:12):

We are studying the effects that helicopter sound has on different rock arches and towers specifically around the state of Utah.

Liza Lester (03:22):

So the arch is like the arches we see in Arches National Park. Yeah.

Riley Finnegan (03:25):

Yeah. Our, one of our Utah state license plates has delicate art in the middle of it. So that might be a common, one of the maybe more famous arches around the world. And that is in Utah.

Liza Lester (03:38):

So helicopter, the sound of the blades as they are, is the helicopter is spinning past. This actually affects the rock?

Riley Finnegan (03:47):

Yeah. So helicopters produce a variety of different sounds, the lowest of which comes from the main rotor. And so that’s the blades you see at the top of the helicopter. Depending on the number of blades and the speed at which the helicopter blades rotate, determines what frequency is admitted by those blades. And so for instance, a common two blade helicopter will emit sound at 13 Hertz, which is actually infrasound, which is sound that is too low for a human to perceive. Humans can typically hear down to about 26 Hertz, but of course that number gets higher as the older we get. But, really 13 Hertz is pretty much imperceivable. Yeah.

Liza Lester (04:40):

A little bit too low for us. Maybe whales.

Riley Finnegan (04:43):


Liza Lester (04:43):


Riley Finnegan (04:44):

Elephants. Yes. Elephants can communicate and do communicate using infrasound.

Liza Lester (04:49):

Okay, so why do the sound of these helicopter blades shake the rock?

Riley Finnegan (04:55):

So different arches and different towers, actually, any arch, any tower, whether it’s man-made or made by nature, vibrate at different resonant frequencies. So you can kind of think of arches or towers as like a guitar string. And if you pluck the guitar string, it vibrates back and forth at a specific tone or a specific frequency. And you hear that those vibrations of sound waves and it’s the same idea for an arch. So if you think of it like a guitar string, it’s constantly being plucked by the energy from within the earth and from around the earth. And so as this energy is constantly plucking the art, it’s resonating, or vibrating, at different frequencies.

Riley Finnegan (05:38):

And then the other part of it is that if those natural frequencies align with the frequency of sound emitted by a helicopter, then it causes the arch to vibrate more than it naturally does in its environment being plucked by the energy of the earth. And so particularly if you align the frequencies of sound and vibration exactly, resonance is induced. And so the arch will shake far more than it typically does. And you can kind of think of it as like pushing someone on the swing. If you push the person with the right timing or at the right frequency, the person will swing higher and higher and higher. And that’s the same idea with arches resonating from exposure to helicopter sound energy.

Liza Lester (06:26):

Is this similar to that bridge in Washington State? Have you ever seen this movie of it? I guess the wind resonance causes it to start to sway and then it just shakes itself apart.

Riley Finnegan (06:38):

Yeah. And I think you can talk to a variety of mathematicians who are experts with differential equations and they, they might argue that it actually wasn’t resonance.

Liza Lester (06:49):

Oh, they’re killing the myth for me.

Riley Finnegan (06:51):

I think it might be up for debate.

Liza Lester (06:55):


Riley Finnegan (06:55):

I’m not an expert in that particular instance, but I know there are some people that are saying, no, it really wasn’t. But the idea, I think like soldiers break cadence when they’re walking across a bridge so that they don’t accidentally walk at the same frequency of the bridge and cause it to shake naturally, that is a urban legend. That might be true.

Liza Lester (07:19):

So part of it is like the shape itself, like the arch, not if you had a Spire that was thin, it might not have this same kind of resonant property?

Riley Finnegan (07:29):

So different things determine what frequency an object will resonate at. So some of the determining features are of course the size, the shape, the slenderness, how stiff the material is that composes the actual structure, the density and mass by proxy. So, you can think of like a building. There are many structural engineers that study, maybe civil engineers as well, that study the resonant frequencies of buildings. And that’s really important for earthquake hazard and making sure that our buildings don’t fall down and collapse when there’s an earthquake. Because if the resonant frequencies of the building align with the shaking of the earth, then it can cause damage to the buildings and bridges.

Liza Lester (08:24):

And that would be bad. Yeah.

Riley Finnegan (08:25):

So same idea.

Liza Lester (08:26):

You had this video where one of the arches is kind of twisting and it’s doing this back and forth. I was wondering if you could just describe what’s happening in that video in words.

Riley Finnegan (08:44):

So, that video is an over-exaggerated animation of the mode shape of that particular frequency of the arch. That is the 26 Hertz mode of arsenic arch. So arsenic arch, like I had explained with the guitar string, vibrating, arsenic arch vibrates at different frequencies or different tones. Depending on the time of year, it can vary by a few percent, the arch vibrates at six Hertz, at 16 Hertz, at 26 Hertz, and at 36 Hertz. So, that animation is of the 26 Hertz mode. So it’s extremely, over-exaggerated. The arch does not actually shake with that amount of displacement, but it gives you the idea of the way that the art vibrates back and forth. So, sometimes the shaking will be really straight forward and it’s just up and down. Sometimes it’s back and forth. Sometimes it’s really twisty. This is a little bit of a combination of some of those.

Shane Hanlon (10:04):

I can’t imagine if the vibrations were actually as much as kind of these animations show, it’d be like earthquakes, right? It wouldn’t even be just minor vibrations.

Nanci Bompey (10:14):

Like an actual guitar string, visibly vibrating for your eyes. That would be crazy.

Shane Hanlon (10:19):

But I want to, so I’m really interested though. She started off with helicopters. I want to hear more about the helicopters. Why are there so many helicopters there? What’s the issue?

Nanci Bompey (10:28):

Yeah, that’s a good question. I was kind of surprised there were so many helicopters in the national park, but I guess this is a way that people get to see the arches that you can’t walk on.

Riley Finnegan (10:37):

We have a variety of helicopter tour companies around Utah and each of the national parks have thousands of helicopter flights over the parks, each park every year, and the Grand Canyon has hundreds per day. There are really helicopters flying everywhere all the time, and the reach of their energy is pretty much unlimited because of that; and initially the Native American Consultation Committee reached out to our group with this question. The Native American Consultation Committee works with the National Park Service with the management of Rainbow Bridge National Monument. It’s a bridge that is considered sacred to various Native American groups in the Southwest desert region.

Riley Finnegan (11:29):

And they were concerned with the amount of helicopter tours happening by Rainbow Bridge, and so, they approached our research group asking if helicopters could cause damage to this art because it’s a very, very precious resource to them. And in general, it’s a wonderful feature that I think everyone should be really just concerned about the wellbeing of it. So, we were approached with this question, and were beginning to address it, and it looked like the bridge, I guess, itself was likely unaffected structurally by the helicopter tours, because the natural frequency didn’t align with the frequency of sound admitted by the helicopter. However, it opened the question to all of these other arches. We have 6,000, over 6,000 documented in the state of Utah.

Liza Lester (12:24):

What is it about the rock in Utah that forms these arches?

Riley Finnegan (12:37):

So, most of the arches in Utah are made out of sandstone. A lot of it out of Navajo Sandstone, some Entrada Sandstone. So, these are just different names for different layers of sand that has been compressed together over time, and represents a entire formation of rock. And this is abundant all throughout Utah. And essentially what can happen is if there’s a fracture in the rock, like a large crack or something, erosion causes this crack to grow and grow. And over time, this crack can essentially separate the sandstone vertically and you get a fin.

Riley Finnegan (13:23):

So you can kind of think of the features in Bryce Canyon, where you kind of go in and out and there’s these cool fins made. And then somehow whether it be water comes through or more wind comes through, there’s another crack. And that crack is eroded and weathered. The material is weathered away and you end up with a arch, and the definition of an arch might not be exactly what you think of it. Typically, the arch enthusiasts of the world consider an arch to be an opening of three feet. And that opening can sometimes be separated from a cliff. That is, the opening is an inch. And you cannot tell that it’s actually an arch.

Riley Finnegan (14:10):

So, we have arches of various ages and stages of maturity. So there are young arches where it really doesn’t look like an arch and it might just look like an alcove. And then there’s arches like Delicate Arch and Rainbow Bridge.

Liza Lester (14:25):

Have you found any arches that you’re seeing really these detrimental impacts from the helicopters to the point where maybe they’re cracking or they’re in danger of collapsing or some other devastating impact? Are you looking for possibly this science in these scientific findings to inform policy around the helicopter tours?

Riley Finnegan (15:06):

I guess I can answer that in a few different ways. There are arches, dozens of which, have collapsed over the last few decades. And some of them are higher profile cases, like Wall Arch collapsed in 2008, and that was in Arches National Park. There was an arch in Malta that was the national tourist activity. Maybe it’s not. Sorry people of Malta if it isn’t, but that was a really spectacular sea arch that collapsed. And so arches do have a finite lifetime, and it’s part of the natural erosion of the landscape around us. Nothing is permanent. And so this question that we’re trying to get is, yeah, are helicopters damaging arches? Are they affecting the structural integrity of these features? Can they cause them to fall down? Past studies have shown that helicopters are able to induce vibrations in towers that are considered potentially damaging.

Riley Finnegan (16:10):

In our studies, we have not seen vibration levels reach something that we would consider instantaneously damaging. So, it’s not going to bring the feature down immediately, or it’s not going to cause a crack to grow right then and there. However, our question, since we haven’t seen these instantaneously damaging levels of vibration is what is the long-term impact? What happens when you have a dozen helicopter flights every single week or hundreds every single day over these really precious features and if we’re able to answer this question with numbers that we can provide to agencies that can make decisions, we would love for that to happen.

Riley Finnegan (16:59):

It’s a little bit tricky with the National Park Service. They do not manage the airspace above their parks. The Federal Aviation Authority, I think that… The FAA, they manage the airspace over national parks. And so it’s really up to them to create the policies. We have good relationships with various regional National Park managers. So, the Rainbow Bridge, National Monument, National Park Service land managers, they are invested in our work.

Liza Lester (17:34):

So, these vibrations that are induced arches, as helicopters are passing or hovering, this is outside of human hearing, as you mentioned, but if you were to speed it up to where we can hear it, what does it sound like?

Riley Finnegan (17:49):

I think it sounds kind of spooky. Some elementary school students, middle school students, I guess, older people too, have said it can sound like a whale or a ghost talking. Yeah.

Riley Finnegan (18:09):

So, we use seismometers to record the vibrations of arches, and seismometers are tools that seismologists use to understand how the ground moves during an earthquake. They’re used in many other ways as well, but that’s a very simple explanation of what it is and we place it on the arch or the tower or whatever we’re measuring and it records the vibrations. And so we can speed these vibrations up and it becomes something that a human can hear.

Riley Finnegan (18:48):

Essentially what you’re listening to is how it would feel to be an arch or a bridge while a helicopter is flying by you. The shaky vibrations get stronger, and so that corresponds to an increase in volume in what you’re hearing.

Liza Lester (19:15):

Is the vibrations they’re experiencing… Is there a way we could describe how much energy that is? Or, what is the amplitude, I guess, we’re trying to say of these vibrations that we don’t hear, but the arch feels?

Riley Finnegan (19:31):

Yeah, humans will not be able to detect these vibrations. There are some instances for climbers. There’s a Spire near Castleton Tower, which we recently put a paper out on its resonant frequencies. Some climbers volunteered to bring a seismometer to the top of this hundred meter tall, maybe 80 meter, I don’t know, 120 meter tall tower. And so they climbed up with a seismometer, place it on the top and measured its vibrations. And some other climbers reached out to us after this paper was published and said that there’s a Spire across the ridge where at one point you need to kind of reach out and cross over this massive gap to this other side of, or a different tower or something.

Riley Finnegan (20:19):

I have never been there, but they said that you can feel it swaying and you can see the gap kind of opening and closing. So, in some instances-

Liza Lester (20:30):

That’s terrifying.

Riley Finnegan (20:31):

You can feel…

Katie Broendel (20:32):

Oh my gosh.

Liza Lester (20:34):

I have known many climbers, but none of them have convinced me to become a rock climber.

Katie Broendel (20:38):

No, no, nope.

Riley Finnegan (20:39):

However, in this instance, the displacements of the arch itself, are very small. So, for instance, the vibration and velocity for one of our flights of the bridge reached 0.1 millimeters per second. So that is not something a human can perceive. And you can also convert that to a power. So how strong, the arch shaking is, negative 80 decibels is the power that the arch is vibrating with. Infrasound power levels can reach up to, at least our recordings have had it reach up to a hundred decibels, which would be like being at a live concert, but it’s really kind of weird because you cannot hear 13 Hertz energy, and yet it’s the same loudness as being at a live concert.

Liza Lester (21:38):

Maybe a live concert for elephants.

Riley Finnegan (21:40):

Oh yes.

Katie Broendel (21:41):


Liza Lester (21:42):

They’re rocking out. Are there things that helicopter pilots can do that would reduce their impact or change the way that the arches are? I guess they can’t really slow down their rotors. The rotor speed is what the rotor speed is, but is it the way, the direction they approach or anything like that, something that would reduce this resonance for the arches that are affected?

Riley Finnegan (22:01):

Yeah, I would say the basic answer would be to not fly near, and it gets a little bit more complicated because what is near? And for example, we flew just a standard tourist helicopter flight over Bryce Canyon National Park, and this is something that happens many times a day, and we measured the resonance of a bridge that vibrates naturally at 13.5 Hertz. So, that resonant frequency coincides with the energy emitted by that two blade helicopter. And the closest the helicopter got was 600 meters from the art. I was down in the Canyon and I could kind of see the helicopter flying by. It seemed quite far away, yet the vibrations of the bridge increased a hundred times. So, that’s the basic answer is don’t fly close to the arch.

Riley Finnegan (22:58):

However, I think there’s lots of different stakeholders at play. Helicopter tourism is a industry in Utah that supports people’s livelihoods. And then, I guess the other thing for what can helicopter pilots do to not affect these features as much, and it’s really hard to answer that because certain features will respond to helicopter energy in different ways. So, if you have a feature that is like a beam on its end, and it pretty much vibrates horizontally. So just back and forth.

Riley Finnegan (23:36):

I’m trying to think of a good example. My advisor says like when you smack a stop sign, when you’re waiting and it, yeah, it just vibrates it back and forth. And then he was wondering, do people smack stop signs? Or is it just me? Sorry Jeff.

Riley Finnegan (23:54):

So, you can think that that’s a way that a feature of like a tower might vibrate. And then if you think of something like an arch, it will vibrate likely up and down, predominantly. Of course, depending on the geometry, if it’s more like a flat arch, like a bridge that will definitely vibrate more up and down and like a guitar string. I guess, guitar strings vibrate in two different directions. So that might not be a good example. Same with a stop sign. Man.

Riley Finnegan (24:24):

So if you have a helicopter flying flat, the energy is coming horizontally out in the plane of the main rotor. And so you have horizontal energy. And if you send that at something that moves predominantly horizontally, that will vibrate more. However, if you send that horizontally incoming energy at something that wants to vibrate up and down, we’ve seen that feature will not respond as strongly as a feature that wants to vibrate horizontally.

Liza Lester (24:56):

There’s no perfect answer that worked for every formation out there. They have each their own peculiarities.

Riley Finnegan (25:02):

Yeah, and we actually were really confused during one of our flights because we had a helicopter that was flying directly over an arch, and then like a mile away or half a mile away, would turn around and come back. And so it was banking ,and we would see spikes in the power during these banks. And we were really confused because the arch was vibrating as strongly when it was 2000 feet away as it would when it was 200 feet over the arch. And we were like, why on earth is this happening? And then we realized that the directionality of the helicopter infrasound actually mattered for how the arch would shake. So, it’s not a direct answer, unfortunately.

Nanci Bompey (25:51):

All right, this is great. And all, but I was promised a throwing up out of the helicopter story.

Liza Lester (25:58):

Yeah, she definitely included one of those stories and it doesn’t make me want to fly around in a helicopter.

Riley Finnegan (26:03):

In June, we did one of the most ambitious fieldwork trips that we have done. And maybe they’re real geologists that go out in the field for six months in the middle of nowhere. And they almost get attacked by snakes or whatever, but this was pretty ambitious for us. So, we took nearly all the equipment that we own and placed it at three different sites and measured the vibrations of six different towers and three different arches and had a helicopter come fly at each of those three sites.

Riley Finnegan (26:44):

I got in the helicopter and it was nice outside. It was a little windy, but once I got in the helicopter, I realized that it was like 90 degrees. And again, not that bad, but we’re flying around and there’s no open windows or anything, and I was starting to feel a little woozy, and we’re having him perform different maneuvers, so we can get these banks that we had learned about in our past flights. So different angles. We’re flying in straight lines. We were flying in circles-

Katie Broendel (27:18):

I could see how this [inaudible 00:27:21]. I am not surprised.

Riley Finnegan (27:25):

It was fine at the first site. And then we flew a few miles to the second site and it was okay there. And then we flew, I don’t know, maybe like 20 miles to the other flight or other site and arrive there. And at that point I was like, Oh my gosh, I’m going to throw up. And so he lands and I open the window and I burp and I was like, Oh, okay, that’s all that needed to happen. And so he opened his window. And so there’s this cross breeze. I was like, okay, this is not bad.

Riley Finnegan (28:04):

So he got back in the air, finished the maneuvers, and then we flew back to the first site. I said, how about you do a few more circles because one of our instruments wasn’t fully set up when he started going. And so he did three more circles. And at that point I was like, Oh no. And so he touched the ground, and exactly as he touched the ground, I opened the door and I just threw up all the food I had eaten.

Katie Broendel (28:36):

Oh my god. Oh.

Liza Lester (28:37):

That sounds like success to me, because you made it to the ground. [crosstalk 00:28:41].

Riley Finnegan (28:41):


Liza Lester (28:41):

And opened the door. It wasn’t all over your shoes or the inside of the helicopter, the pilot.

Riley Finnegan (28:47):

Yeah, and the pilot actually turned to me and he just said, he nodded and looked very just knowingly at me. He said it happens to the best of us. Thanks.

Katie Broendel (28:58):

So you were not the first.

Riley Finnegan (29:00):

Yeah. He did tell me a story after that burp about some producer for, I don’t know, one of the local news stations or something like that who was flying and just threw up all over the helicopter. So, at least it was on the ground.

Shane Hanlon (29:15):

So Nanci, I know that you said you get motion sickness. Would you be the person that vomited all over the helicopter or you’d be able to make it out of the helicopter?

Nanci Bompey (29:24):

Oh, that is a good question. Or vomit in your bag or something?

Shane Hanlon (29:29):

Oh god.

Nanci Bompey (29:29):

You know, just thinking about this, makes me want to vomit to be honest.

Shane Hanlon (29:36):

So great this is audio and people can’t see the faces that we’re making.

Nanci Bompey (29:44):

It’s still pretty cool what they’re doing. I wonder though, I know the helicopters do it, but I know that make it vibrate, but I know that they looked at other, I think, because we’ve talked to these guys before they looked at other things these arches vibrate, all these different things make them vibrate that you wouldn’t even think about.

Riley Finnegan (30:01):

The prominent example is there is a train, a Potash train that goes right by Corona Arch. If you’ve been there on Sunday, you might have seen the train going back and forth to get loads of potash. And then also looking at vehicle traffic. So two winters ago, Rainbow Arch and not Rainbow Bridge, but Rainbow Arch, is about five meters long. So don’t worry everyone. It collapsed. And it was in Arches National Park, in the visitor center area. And it’s situated right by the highway. And there was a crack that was in there, but we at least in terms of our measurements of it, didn’t see it as in imminent danger of falling down, but it collapsed. And so one of the questions I’ve been trying to address is would this arch have collapsed as soon as it did, or when it did, had it been in a quieter environment, something that would be more natural than being right next to a highway?

Riley Finnegan (31:16):

We don’t live in a world that is still, and that even features like rocks and like arches and mountains, they are moving as well. And really the world that we live in is dynamic and what we do impacts how everything I guess is in our world. And I guess bringing just another perspective of what we might inadvertently be doing.

Liza Lester (31:57):

What is your favorite arch?

Riley Finnegan (31:59):

Squint. Squint Arch.

Katie Broendel (32:01):

There’s an arch called Squint?

Riley Finnegan (32:03):

Yes. Seriously, the arch enthusiasts are creative namers. They’re really helpful. They’ve helped us identify different arches of different… We emailed a few of them to say, hey, we’re looking for an arch that is on public land around nine to 13 meters, any ideas? And then they just emailed back a list. So, ,they’re great people, adventures and are really creative with the naming. And really Squint Arch, the name speaks for it. It’s hard to see. I was providing a description for my advisor when he went to go find it, I said, if you can’t find it at this point, turn around, because you probably missed it, and sure enough, that’s exactly what happened. So kind of had to squint to see it.

Katie Broendel (32:51):


Liza Lester (32:53):

Of course there are arch enthusiasts. There’s a fandom for everyone. I love it.

Shane Hanlon (32:57):

I think that just speaks for itself. I think that’s a really great way to end it.

Nanci Bompey (33:03):

Yeah, I agree.

Shane Hanlon (33:05):

All right.

Nanci Bompey (33:06):

Very Edward Abbey.

Shane Hanlon (33:07):

Yes. Yes. All right, y’all well that’s all from Third Pod from the Sun.

Nanci Bompey (33:13):

Thanks so much to Liza and Katie for bringing us this story. And of course, to Riley for sharing her work with us.

Shane Hanlon (33:20):

This episode was produced by Liza and mixed by Kayla Surrie.

Nanci Bompey (33:24):

And please rate and review us wherever you get your podcasts or especially on Apple podcasts. You can always find us at

Shane Hanlon (33:34):

Thanks all, and we’ll see you next time.

Nanci Bompey (33:44):

And now a reading of Edward Abbey by Nanci Bompey. A weird, lovely, fantastic object out of nature like Delicate Arch has the curious ability to remind us – like rock and sunlight and wind and wilderness – that out there is a different world, older and greater and deeper by far than ours, a world which surrounds and sustains the little world of men as sea and sky surround and sustain a ship. The shock of the real. For a little while we are again able to see, as the child sees, a world of marvels. For a few moments we discover that nothing can be taken for granted, for if this ring of stone is marvelous, then all which shaped it is marvelous, and our journey here on Earth, able to see and touch and hear in the midst of tangible and mysterious things-in-themselves, is the most strange and daring of all adventures.


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