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Introduction to the Geology of Southern California and Its Native Plants

Introduction to the Geology of Southern California and Its Native Plants

Photography by Lauri L. Holbrook
Copyright Date: 2007
Edition: 1
Pages: 512
  • Book Info
    Introduction to the Geology of Southern California and Its Native Plants
    Book Description:

    With its active fault systems, complex landforms, and myriad natural habitats, southern California boasts a rich and dynamic geologic environment. This abundantly illustrated volume at last provides an up-to-date, authoritative, and accessible resource for students and general readers interested in southern California's geology and native plants. Covering an extensive area, north from San Diego to Yosemite in the Sierra Nevada and east to the Mojave and Colorado deserts, its unique, comprehensive approach brings together for the first time the basic principles of geology, the story of plate tectonics, in-depth discussion of the geology of many specific locales within the region, and information on identifying southern California's native plants.

    eISBN: 978-0-520-93326-2
    Subjects: Geology

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-viii)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. ix-xii)
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. PART ONE Introduction

    • ONE This Book
      (pp. 3-4)

      The purpose ofIntroduction to the Geology of Southern California and Its Native Plantsis to make the reader more aware of her or his natural environment or world and to provide information that will help with the recognition of rockforming minerals, common rocks and distinctive landforms in southern California, common plant families, and other native plant taxa. The book is intended for undergraduate, college age students who do not have a background in geology or botany.

      For the purposes of this book “southern California” includes regions of California from San Diego in the south to Yosemite and the Sierra...

    • TWO Prologue to Geology of Southern California
      (pp. 5-8)

      Geology in general is the science that treats the history of the Earth and its prehistoric life, especially as recorded in rocks. However the earliest students of geology, or its derivative sciences, were not geologists or Earth scientists. The early group of investigators included such notables as Leonardo da Vinci (christened Lionardo), also known as Leonardo Buonarroti (1452–1519), who studied the nature of fossils and described sedimentary and erosional processes near Florence, but of course he was foremost an artist an engineer; Agricola (a. k. a.Georg Bauer) (1495–1555), a Saxon physician and professor of chemistry, who in...

  5. PART TWO The Earth and Geologic Time

    • THREE Earth Materials
      (pp. 11-37)

      The Big Bang occurred at the moment of the theoretical birth of the universe, according to many astronomers and physicists, although some cosmologists have proposed that the universe existed prior to the Big Bang (i.e., the prebang theory of the Universe). It has been generally agreed the Universe formed about 13.7 billion years ago. Perhaps 100 million years later, atoms of hydrogen began to or condense or coalesce and heat up to create bright stars, one of which was eventually the Earth’s Sun. The Universe is expanding at an accelerating rate, and it is now about 75 billion light-years in...

    • FOUR Geologic Time
      (pp. 38-63)

      In the previous chapter it was noted that a geologic formation (i.e., one dominant rock type or a repeated interlamination of two or more rock types) is independent of time (i.e., formations can cross time boundaries or lines). Such an example is the Temblor Formation that crops out in the San Joaquin Valley, or the southern Great Valley. The formation is early Miocene in age in one part of the valley, whereas at another locality the formation is medial Miocene in age. Another example of a time-transgressive formation is the Monterey Formation that can be medial Miocene at one location...

    • FIVE Plate Tectonics
      (pp. 64-76)

      Plate tectonics is a relatively new paradigm, or scientific worldview, that has profoundly changed ideas about dynamics of the Earth. Tectonics is the study of the forces within the Earth that give rise to continents, ocean basins, mountain ranges, earthquake belts, and ocean trenches. Plate tectonics and two closely related ideas, sea-floor spreading and the use of geomagnetic reversals to unravel geologic history brought about a revolution in tectonic thinking. Geomagnetic reversals are also useful for timing plate tectonic processes and rates of plate motions.

      It was known that the Earth was layered long before the theory of plate tectonics...

  6. PART THREE Southern California through Geologic Time

    • SIX Overview of the Geologic History of Southern California
      (pp. 79-80)

      Much of what is now California, except for southeastern California, did not exist as continental crust or craton during Proterozoic and Paleozoic times. The sediments, if deposited on the craton, continental shelf, or platform during these times have been weathered and tectonically stripped or eroded away, underthrust, orobductedduring Precambrian time, specifically from Early (ca. 2.5–1.7 Ga), Medial (ca. 1.4 Ga), and Late (800 Ma) Neoproterozoic time, until the end of the Paleozoic or early Mesozoic eras. In addition, the Precambrian through Paleozoic present in southeastern California were originally much farther to the southeast when they were emplaced or...

    • SEVEN Proterozoic Era
      (pp. 81-84)

      Some of the oldest known Precambrian (largely Proterozoic Erathem) rocks in California crop out in the San Gabriel–San Bernardino Mountains of southern California, in the Death Valley–Great Basin region, and in the eastern Mojave Desert region (e.g., Marble Mountains). The Precambrian rocks the San Gabriel Mountains (between the San Gabriel San Andreas faults, within the Western Transverse Ranges) include (1) the Mendenhall Gneiss (1.186 Ga minimum of partial melting); (2) augen and felsic gneisses; (3) anorthosite (minimal age of intrusion, 1.19 Ga); and (4) pegmatite dikes (1.186 Ga age of crystallization). The protolith (the rock prior to metamorphism)...

    • EIGHT Paleozoic Era
      (pp. 85-94)

      During the Paleozoic Era there were six large continental landmasses and they consisted of different parts of the present-day continents. Their configurations, latitudinal, and longitudinal distributions were far different from those of today. At the beginning of the era, the western coast of North America was oriented in an east-west direction near the equator. Africa was at the South Pole. During the Ordovician the equator ran through what is now northern California.

      The Paleozoic Era was marked by two dramatic biologic events: (1) the evolution of almost all living animal phyla during the Cambrian Period, and (2) the extinction approximately...

    • NINE Mesozoic Era
      (pp. 95-123)

      The Mesozoic Era is made up of the Triassic, Jurassic, Cretaceous periods. During the era a plethora of ammonite (phylum Mollusca, class Cephalopoda, related to squid), reptilian taxa and flowering plants evolved. California marked by oceanic environments and deep, marine basins or trenches during the era. Terrestrial animals, marine reptiles, and plant fossils are absent or rare in the Mesozoic rock record of California. Elsewhere, the first birds are known from Jurassic rocks (ca. 151 Ma) in Germany (e.g.,Archaeopteryxsp., with reversed first toe and fewer than 26 vertebrae in the tail). Four-winged, feathered, flying reptiles are known from...

    • TEN Cenozoic Era
      (pp. 124-140)

      During the Late Cretaceous Epoch, and continuing into the Holocene Epoch of the Cenozoic Era, rift zones/rises/ridges separated and moved Africa away from South America. North America continued to drift away from Europe during this time, and the North American continent continued to move northwestward. Africa, India and Australia moved northward and closed most of the Tethys Sea or Ocean during the Cenozoic Era. During the Cenozoic Era California was very active tectonically, as was much of the rest of Earth; California should not be viewed in isolation. For example, India collided with Tibet, south of Himalayas (Tibet) at 55...

  7. PART FOUR Geology and Botany of Southern California’s Geomorphic Provinces

    • ELEVEN Geomorphic and Floristic Provinces
      (pp. 143-144)

      One system of geographic units is four-tiered: geomorphic provinces, regions, subregions, and districts. Geomorphic provinces in southern California consist of the Coast Ranges (locally with elevations above 1,500 m or 5,000 ft), Transverse Ranges (locally with elevations above 3,500 m or more than 11,400 ft), Peninsular Ranges (elevations above 3,000 m or 10,000 ft), Great Valley, Sierra Nevada (locally with elevations above 4,260 or 14,000 ft), Basin and Range (locally with elevations above 4,260 m or 14,000 ft), Mojave Desert, and Colorado or Sonoran Desert. There are 11 geomorphic provinces for all of California (fig. 35, in color section). Each...

    • TWELVE Peninsular Ranges and Colorado Desert
      (pp. 145-178)

      The Peninsular Ranges are so named because they form the northern end of the long peninsula known as Baja California, Mexico. The area lies west of the Colorado Desert, Mojave Desert, Eastern Transverse Ranges and right-slip San Andreas fault, and south of the Western Transverse Ranges and left-slip Santa Cruz Island–Malibu coastal–Santa Monica–Hollywood–Raymond fault.

      Between 29 or 26 Ma and 5 Ma, the Peninsular Ranges were part of what is now mainland Mexico, and there wasn’t a Gulf of California during this time (fig. 32, in color section); the marine embayment in the Salton trough into...

    • Plates and color figures
      (pp. None)
    • THIRTEEN Mojave Desert
      (pp. 179-206)

      The floristic Desert Province, and the Mojave and Sonoran desert regions in southern California are not coincident with the borders of the Mojave Desert physiographic, or geologic province (unlike most of the floristic geographic units and corresponding geomorphic units in California, which have coincident boundaries). The Mojave Desert geomorphic and geologic province is commonly referred to as the Mojave block or Mojave structural block.

      The Western Transverse Ranges, the San Gabriel Mountains, and the San Andreas fault border the Mojave Desert geomorphic province on the west. On the northwest the province is bounded by the Tehachapi Mountains, a southern part...

    • FOURTEEN Eastern Transverse Ranges and the San Bernardino Mountains
      (pp. 207-208)

      The San Bernardino Mountains are within the Eastern Transverse Ranges; they are bounded on the west by the San Gabriel Mountains, and the San Jacinto and San Andreas faults; on the north by the Apple, Lucerne, and Johnson valleys; on the east by yucca and Morongo valleys and the Little San Bernardino Mountains, and on the south by Timoteo Canyon (south of Redlands), Timoteo Badlands (including the Mount Eden fossil flora and vertebrate fauna), and the San Jacinto Mountains. The San Bernardino Mountains include the resort areas of Lake Arrowhead Big Bear as well as Mount San Gorgonio (3,505 m...

    • FIFTEEN Basin and Range Province: Death and Owens Valleys
      (pp. 209-232)

      Death Valley is located east of the Sierra Nevada, California. It is part of the Basin and Range physiographic province, western united States. The Basin and Range Province also includes much of Nevada, western Utah, southern Arizona, southwestern New Mexico, and southeastern California. For a more detailed discussion of Death Valley see Sharp and Glazner (1997), Wright and Troxel (1999), and Miller and Wright (2001), and for information on the flora of Death Valley, see Ferris (1974) and the references in chapter 13 on the Mojave Desert, Providence Mountains.

      Death Valley is the lowest land elevation in the Northern Hemisphere:...

    • SIXTEEN Western Transverse Ranges
      (pp. 233-279)

      In sharp contrast to the northwesterly trends of strata, folds, and faults in the Peninsular Ranges and southern Coast Ranges, the strata and folds in the Western Transverse Ranges have east-west trends, and the faults have east-west or northeast trends (fig. 53). The east-west orientation of mountains of the Western Transverse Ranges is an anomalous geologic and geographic feature in comparison with the rest of California. Prior to late Oligocene and early Miocene time, the Western Transverse Ranges were oriented more nearly north-south and they rotated clockwise 90° to 130° to their present position during medial to late Miocene time...

    • SEVENTEEN Southern Coast Ranges
      (pp. 280-312)

      The more or less continuous mountain ranges of the entire Coast Ranges extend from the older rocks of the Klamath Mountains near the Oregon border, south to the Western Transverse Ranges. The Southern Coast Ranges form a physiographic region approximately 600 km (400 mi) long 80 km (50 mi) wide (the southern part is shown in figs. 53 and 54). The term Southern Coast Ranges of California as used here, refers to the mountains and valleys lying in the coastal region of California, between San Francisco on the north, and the Santa Ynez River, the Lompoc–Solvang or Santa Ynez...

    • EIGHTEEN San Joaquin Valley
      (pp. 313-316)

      Between the Sierra Nevada and the Coast Ranges is the elongate lowland known as the Great Valley or Central Valley of California. The Valley is about 640 km (400 mi) long and 80 km (50 mi) wide. It ranges in elevation from slightly below sea level to about 120 m (400 ft) at its north and south ends. The Sacramento River drains the northern half the San Joaquin River drains the southern part of the Great Valley. The lowland is commonly referred to as the Central Valley, its northern segment is the Sacramento Valley, and its southern part is the...

    • NINETEEN Sierra Nevada, Sierra Nevada Province
      (pp. 317-348)

      The Sierra Nevada extends 640 km (400 mi) in a northwestward direction along much of eastern California. (The name means saw blade in Spanish, or snowy mountain range mountains. “Sierra Nevada Mountains” or “Sierra Nevada mountain range” are redundant, and Sierra is already plural as a range of mountains.) The range is 80–129 km (50–80 wide. It terminates in the north at Lassen Peak, and against the Cascade Range geomorphic province. The Mojave Desert is on the south and the Basin and Range Province is on the east. The Tehachapi Mountains at the south end of the range...

  8. PART FIVE Botany and Plant Families

    • TWENTY Botanical Overview
      (pp. 351-373)

      The preceding chapters provided an overview of the tectonic, geologic, and paleobiologic history of southern California, and placed the geology of local and regional areas and field trips in their larger physical and biologic context. One sees many more flowers, plants, shrubs, and trees than minerals, rocks, and geologic structures during a field trip within southern California, or elsewhere for that matter, so chapter 20 is intended to help the reader become a better observer of some of the higher plants—those plants with avascular system(i.e., with veins ofxylemandphloem). Non-vascular plants include algae (kingdom Protoctista)...

    • TWENTY-ONE Plant Families of Southern California
      (pp. 374-394)

      There are over 170 families, 1,200 genera, 5,800 species, and ca. 1,170 subspecies or varieties of plants living in California, including both those that were living in California before and those alien species brought by Europeans. The largest number of species of plants living in California is the family Asteraceae, ca. 750 species and 180 genera. The second largest plant family in terms of number of genera in California is Poaceae (Gramineae of authors) with ca. 95 genera. This family is not treated in detail in this book owing to the need for special morphologic studies and binocular microscope. The...

    (pp. 395-400)
    (pp. 401-414)
    (pp. 415-418)
    (pp. 419-432)
    (pp. 433-472)
    (pp. 473-493)
  15. Back Matter
    (pp. 494-494)