The Sierra Nevada Batholith

The Sierra Nevada Batholith of eastern California forms the largest mountain range in the continental U.S. Although the prospect of walking across huge areas of one type of rock--granite--might seem dull, in fact the Sierras offer spectacular scenery and lots of interesting details about what went on in the magma chambers of a suite of subduction zone volcanoes that were active from roughly 150 to 80 million years ago. Intrusive rocks offer many clues as to the inner workings of the Earth!

All of the rocks in this picture are part of the Sierra Nevada Batholith. Freeze-thaw weathering creates the jagged ridges of the snow-covered Sierra Nevada Mountains whereas desert weathering creates the rounded brown outcrops of the Alabama Hills in the foreground.
Vast areas of the High Sierras look like this: lots and lots of granite perfectly exposed due to a combination of glacial erosion and sparse vegetation.

Batholiths are big!

Photo by Kent Ratejeski.

Half Dome in Yosemite National Park. Again, everything you see in part of the Sierra Nevada Batholith. It goes on and on and on, leading to wonder at the geologic processes that could produce so much rock and then expose it so beautifully.

Photo by Kent Ratejeski

Next, interesting close-ups of the Sierra Nevada Batholith

Back to GeoImages Home Page

E-mail C.E.Jones with comments or corrections
Geology and Planetary Science HomePage