Friday, September 15, 2023

A California Love Letter: It's the Best Geology to be Found Anywhere!

This is the second of some resource materials I have on our college website that are being removed, so I wanted to preserve them. The following is some info I give to my students of my "Geology of California" course. For the majority of these students, it is their first introduction to geology, and their first introduction to the extraordinary state that is their home. For a more complete explanation of each superlative, click on the orange links (down the rabbit hole!). Enjoy!

Highest point in the lower 48 states: Mt. Whitney, 14,505 feet 

Lowest point in the western hemisphere: near Badwater, Death Valley, -282 feet

The deepest canyon in North America (maybe): Kings Canyon, Giant Sequoia National Monument. Hells Canyon on the Oregon/Idaho border may be 19 feet deeper. Maybe...

Largest living things in the world: Sequoia Trees

Tallest living things in the world: Coast Redwoods

Oldest living things in the world: Bristlecone Pines (5,000 years), White Mtns, or Creosote Bushes in Colorado Desert (11,000 years)

My Scottish BBC Interview at a relatively balmy 110 degrees

Hottest Place on the Planet and Driest Place in North America: Death Valley: 134 degrees, precipitation 1.4"/year

One of the Snowiest Places in the U.S.: Tamarack, Sierra Nevada, 76 feet in one year, 32 feet in one month, 37 feet on ground at one time

Highest Waterfall in the North America (no. 7 in world): Yosemite Falls, 2,425 feet

Second tallest active volcano in the U.S.: Mt. Shasta, 14,162 feet

Second most recently active volcano in lower 48 states: Mt. Lassen (1914-21)

Most voluminous volcano in the lower 48 states: Medicine Lake Highland (around 130 cubic miles) in northeastern California

Scarp from the 1872 Lone Pine earthquake

Some of the largest earthquakes in the lower 48 states: 1906 (San Francisco 7.8), 1872 Lone Pine (7.8), 1857 (Ft. Tejon 7.8)

Old oil derrick near the Santa Clarita Valley

One of the more prolific oil and natural gas producing regions in the world: Los Angeles Basin, Bakersfield, and Santa Barbara-Ventura Channel

One of the biggest explosions ever: Long Valley Caldera, 750,000 years ago, 125 cubic miles of ash spread all over the western states as far east as Nebraska and Kansas

McWay Falls at Julia Pfeiffer-Burns State Park on the Big Sur Coast

No other state has the combination of landscapes: Coastlines, deserts, mountains, river valleys and plateaus, due in no small part to the fact that California is influenced by all three different kinds of plate margins: Divergent, convergent and transform. Few places in the world have this kind of diversity.

The San Andreas fault on the San Francisco Peninsula. San Andreas reservoir, from which the fault took its name, is in the foreground.

What would you add to this list???


Anonymous said...

I’d add at least two ophiolites! Gotta love those subduction zones. 😊

jewato said...

Maybe Stanislaus/Tuolumne Table Mountain(?) since it's one of the longest (non-flood basalt) lava flows on earth at ~ 80 miles, or so...

Garry Hayes said...

Table Mountain is probably the next article in the series.