Cover image for Exploring the highest Sierra
Exploring the highest Sierra
Moore, James Gregory, 1930-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Stanford, Calif. : Stanford University Press, [2000]

Physical Description:
xv, 427 pages : illustrations, color maps ; 29 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F868.S5 M66 2000 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area-Oversize

On Order



Written for the general reader with an interest in geology, natural history, and the early explorations of the US, this book is also a valuable guide for visitors to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks. It describes the arduous travels of the early explorers, including John C. Fremont and John Muir, and weaves the history of exploration together with modern geological information, showing the early naturalists contributions to geological thought. Over 200 illustrations include contemporary etchings and maps, modern photographs, and geological diagrams to help visitors understand the formation of the natural features, and all technical terms that may be unfamiliar to non-geologists are simply and succinctly defined. Maps showing the region's principal roads and trails define the mileage between all lookouts and points of interest, and a geological guide to the southern half of the John Muir wilderness trail is featured.

Author Notes

James G. Moore is Senior Research Geologist Emeritus with the U. S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Moore (US Geological Survey, Menlo Park, CA) offers a specialized account of the history, exploration, and the geology of one region--and much more than that. The Sierra Nevada Range in the region of Kings Canyon National Park and Sequoia National Park is the focus of this well-constructed report by a highly qualified author. The detail, though useful to any academic, is quite approachable for anyone with an interest in the region, in mountains, or in geology. Chapters deal with history, exploration, and mapping, as well as a geologist's world of time, rocks, mineral deposits, glaciation, and structures. All concepts and words are carefully explained in the text. Other features include a glossary; a road and trail guide; and many photos, maps, and drawings. The only weakness is a lack of discussion of touchy subjects, such as environmental issues with mining, or access issues with the parks. In sum, the book reads well, supported by all the precision and accuracy one would expect from a high-quality report from the US Geological Survey, but with the depth found from an earlier time. This quality production belongs in every library with an interest in geology--relevant to all readers, from specialists to nonmajors in an introductory course. Highly recommended. J. W. Green; University of South Carolina--Spartanburg

Table of Contents

Prefacep. ix
1 Introductionp. 1
2 Explorationp. 21
Probing the High Sierra: Fremont and Carsonp. 23
The Pacific Railroad Surveys: Blake and Williamsonp. 30
Breaking New Ground: Goddard and the Trail Blazersp. 34
The California Geological Survey: Whitney, Brewer, King, and Hoffmannp. 39
Exalting the Wilderness: John Muirp. 68
Creating and Enlarging the National Parksp. 88
3 Mappingp. 97
The Territorial Surveys: King and Wheelerp. 98
The Scaling of Mount Whitney: Errors Compoundedp. 118
Measuring the Ground: The General Land Officep. 122
Mapping the High Trails: LeConte, Solomons, and the Sierra Clubp. 128
Detailed Topographic Mapping: The U.S. Geological Surveyp. 142
Peaks, Valleys, and Rivers: The Basis of Place Namesp. 161
The Structures of the Land: Geologic Mappingp. 165
4 Time, Minerals, Rocks, and Platesp. 171
The Geologic Time Scalep. 171
Dating the Rocks: Radiometric Methodsp. 175
Building Blocks of Rocks: The Common Mineralsp. 176
Solidified Magma: The Igneous Rocksp. 179
The Global View: Plate Tectonics and the Rise of the Sierrap. 185
5 Metamorphic Rocksp. 189
The Four Terranes of Metamorphic Rockp. 192
Rare Fossils: Key to the Age of Metamorphic Rocksp. 199
Marble: The Birthplace of Cavesp. 202
The Origin and Assembly of the Metamorphic Terranesp. 206
6 Granitic Rocksp. 209
Plutons and the Sierra Nevada Batholithp. 209
Making Room for the Granitep. 219
Structures of Granitic Rocksp. 221
Field Criteria for the Relative Ages of Plutonsp. 232
The Age of the Sierra Nevada Batholithp. 234
The Depth and Thickness of the Batholithp. 237
Analyzing the Granitic Rocksp. 239
Changes in Composition Across the Batholithp. 249
Mafic Plutonic Rocksp. 254
The Independence Dike Swarmp. 256
Plate Tectonics and the Batholithp. 259
7 Mineral Depositsp. 263
The Kearsarge Districtp. 265
The Mineral King Bustp. 267
Copper and Molybdenum Depositsp. 269
The Tungsten Minesp. 270
8 Cenozoic Volcanic Rocksp. 273
The Initial Volcanic Phasep. 275
The Second Volcanic Phasep. 277
The Third Volcanic Phasep. 277
9 Glaciers and Glaciationp. 285
The Extent of Glaciation in the High Countryp. 289
Glacial Processes and Their Productsp. 299
The Causes and Timing of Glaciationp. 310
10 Landslidesp. 315
11 Geologic Structuresp. 319
The Crustal Structure of the Sierrap. 319
Faults in and near the Sierra Blockp. 322
The Nature of Jointsp. 334
Uplift and Erosionp. 343
12 Afterwordp. 349
Appendix Geologic Road and Trail Guidesp. 357
Kings Canyon Highway, State Route 180p. 360
State Route 198 and the Generals Highwayp. 370
The Mineral King Roadp. 377
The John Muir Trailp. 380
The High Sierra Trailp. 388
Glossaryp. 395
References Citedp. 409
Indexp. 421