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Coast Ranges Geology > The Pinnacles, Central California Coast Ranges by ahochstaedter

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About This Gigapan

Taken by
ahochstaedter ahochstaedter
Explore score
0.89 Gigapixels
Date added
Jan 29, 2012
Date taken
Jan 28, 2012

The Pinnacles National Monument is located in the Gabilan Range between the Salinas and San Benito Valleys in central California. The rock visible here is volcanic breccia that was eroded from siliceous volcanoes that erupted about 22-23 million years ago. Similar siliceous volcanic rocks occur at Neenach California, about 315 km to the south but on the other (eastern) side of the San Andreas Fault. Together, these volcanic rocks, which crop out about 315 km apart, provided one of the earliest estimates of long-term slip rates for the San Andreas Fault, about 14 km/my, or 14 mm/y.

The rocks that form the iconic pinnacles of the park are volcanic breccias that represent material that has shed off of a large siliceous volcano. These breccias were strongly cemented to create resistant, cliff-forming rock unit. Joints formed in these breccias which helped formed the iconic pinnacles that give the park its name. Most of the joints are oriented vertically, but a few can be seen dipping at lower angles.

The sedimentary nature of these rocks can be seen in the foreground and in the middle-ground cliff on the right. The pinnacles of the high peaks are visible along the horizon ridge near the center of the image.

The park is known for caves that house Townsends’ Big-eared Bats. The caves are talus caves, not karst caves formed by the dissolution of carbonate rocks. Over many thousands of years, large blocks of resistant volcanic breccia have fallen into the steep gullies that run through this area. Moving water has carried away smaller blocks of detritus leaving the larger, car- and house-sized blocks behind. The caves are the empty spaces beneath and between these large blocks of resistant rock. The tops of the large blocks are visible in the gully that forms the foreground of the image. Climbers are standing on one of these blocks in the lower right portion of the image.

The Pinnacles is part of the California Condor Recovery Program. Thirty four free-flying condors are tracked by park personnel. This population of condors was re-introduced into this area in the early 2000’s. More information: www.nps.gov/pinn/naturescience/condors.htm Will open in a new tab or window
The strong resistant rocks of The Pinnacles have long been favorites of rock climbers. Rock climbing bolts and slings are a permanent part of many of the cliffs within the park. The rock wall in right center of the image is one such climbing area called The Monument.

Another Pinnacles Panorama taken at the reservoir is here:
Close-ups of the volcanic breccia are here:
zoom.it/wmFj Will open in a new tab or window
zoom.it/WpbI Will open in a new tab or window
zoom.it/LBjJ Will open in a new tab or window
zoom.it/GqIv Will open in a new tab or window
zoom.it/NO3W Will open in a new tab or window
Climbers and ropes provide scale. Information about climbing routes is here:
www.rockclimbing.com/routes/North_America/United_States/California/Central_California_Coast/Pinnacles_National_Monument/Monolith__The Will open in a new tab or window/
A good 2008 summary of the geology of the park is here
sfnps.org/download_product/1381/0 Will open in a new tab or window
The classic 1936Phillip Andrews treatise on the geology of the Pinnacles is here
www.cr.nps.gov/history/online_books/geology/publications/state/ca/uc-24-1 Will open in a new tab or window/

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Stitcher Notes


GigaPan Stitch version 1.0.0805 (Windows)
Panorama size: 885 megapixels (38776 x 22840 pixels)
Input images: 154 (14 columns by 11 rows)
Field of view: 121.0 degrees wide by 71.3 degrees high (top=25.4, bottom=-45.9)
All default settings
Original image properties:
Camera make: PENTAX
Camera model: PENTAX K-r
Image size: 4288x2848 (12.2 megapixels)
Capture time: 2012-01-28 12:58:23 - 2012-01-28 13:10:00
Aperture: f/8
Exposure time: 0.00125
ISO: 200
Focal length (35mm equiv.): 147.0 mm
White balance: Fixed
Exposure mode: Manual
Horizontal overlap: 40.4 to 56.7 percent
Vertical overlap: 21.7 to 37.8 percent
Computer stats: 8098.69 MB RAM, 8 CPUs
Total time 22:21 (8.7 seconds per picture)
Alignment: 6:03, Projection: 2:35, Blending: 13:43
(Preview finished in 12:26)

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