The Grand Canyon from Bernhard Edmaier's EarthArt

The science and beauty of Edmaier's Grand Canyon

EarthArt offers both a fine collection of aerial views and a wealth of geological insight into our planet's beauty

It is debatable as to whether there exists a more beautiful and astounding collection of images in one book than those contained in Bernard Edmaier's EarthArt. Poring these pages, you could imagine that our planet had been hand-painted by a divine genius. Of course, as the text explains, earth's colouring is the result of natural processes and chemical reactions, all of which incidentally serve to enrich the way we experience the world.

Although all colours of the spectrum are represented in the book, when it comes to rock, among the rarest is violet. This is because it requires the presence of several elements simultaneously to manifest itself – the mineral haematite, the red iron oxide, black magnesium oxide and magnesium hydroxide, as well as sunlight, which is needed to reveal its wonderfully iridescent effects.


Edmaier's Grand Canyon as it appears in EarthArt
Edmaier's Grand Canyon as it appears in EarthArt

However, violet can be found in perhaps the world's most famous and best loved natural site, the Grand Canyon. Here, at certain times, dependent on the position of the sun, its layers of stone cut through by a system of gorges which took two million years to form, the rock can be seen to glow violet, as it does in Edmaier's overhead photograph. This is a result of the light reacting with the iron oxide compounds thinly dispersed in the rock – when this phenomenon occurs, the juxtaposition of the violet with the natural greens of both the Colorado river and the landscape is quite wonderful to behold.

If you're intrigued by this colourful explanation, you can find many more in EarthArt. You can learn more about the book by reading an interview with its editor Alex Stetter here. You can see some more pictures from it here and when you've done that why not buy it from the people who made it here.