The Sierras: A lot younger than they look

The Sierra Nevada mountains are nowhere near as old as they look; geologically, they're shockingly young. That's the news from David Perlman, a science writer for the San Francisco Chronicle

The mountains of the Sierra Nevada are still rising, and they're a lot younger than most scientists previously thought.

That's the conclusion of Earth scientists in Nevada who have used space-based radar and the most advanced GPS measurements to conclude that the entire range is now rising at a rate of one to two millimeters a year – less than an inch a decade – and in its modern form could be less than 3 million years old.

Perlman writes this story so well you can forget it's geological in nature. His lede touches on an underlying reality, as psychological as it is scientific: When you're in the mountains they can seem impossibly ancient.

Interestingly, their most famous fan, despite living in the 19th century with zero access to this sort of data, was forever insisting on their youth and creativity.

Whether or not we humans can see it:  

"Nature is ever at work building and pulling down, creating and destroying, keeping everything whirling and flowing, allowing no rest but in rhythmical motion, chasing everyting in endless song out of one beautiful form into another." 

[So wrote John Muir, in "Yosemite National Park"] 

And this gives me a chance to put up the latest of Tom Killion's work from the High Sierra. His colors are characteristically wild, even as he perfectly frames a classic Sierra scene, from the deservedly popular Rae Lakes area near Kearsarge Pass; and well, I just have to post it. 


2 thoughts on “The Sierras: A lot younger than they look

  1. Naturen er altid på arbejde opbygge og trække ned, skabe og ødelægge, holde alt hvirvler og flyder, så ingen hvile, men i rytmisk bevægelse, jagter everyting i endeløse sang ud af en smuk form til en anden.


  2. Thank you for the comment, most sincerely. I wish I could understand what you said. I don’t even know what language you’re writing in! But I hope to some day.


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