Geologic Trip, Lone Pine Area

Mt. Whitney


The photograph, taken from Lone Pine, shows Mt. Whitney (center), the highest point along the steep eastern escarpment of the Sierra Nevada. The escarpment is formed from a deeply eroded fault. Over the last five million years there has been over 10,000 feet of displacement along this fault.


The east face of Mt. Whitney has a large number of vertical indentations, giving this side of the mountain a fluted appearance. The indentations are formed by intersecting vertical joints in the granodiorite that forms the mountain. The granodiorite breaks into blocks along these joints, aided by the freeze and thaw action of water. This type of erosion is common in the High Sierra where rocks are jointed, and where there is water and freezing temperatures.


The Alabama Hills, in the foreground, are formed from the same types of rocks as Mt. Whitney, and are geologically part of the Sierra Nevada.

Related Links

Geologic background: Lone Pine Area (pdf)

Geologic trips: Alabama Hills Mt. Whitney


Exterior Websites

BLM: Alabama Hills

USGS: Geologic Map of the Lone Pine Quadrangle