Granite, glaciers, and rockfall in Yosemite Valley, California
Granite, glaciers, and rockfall in Yosemite Valley, California (in Geologic excursions from Fresno, California, and the Central Valley; a tour of California's iconic geology, Keith Putirka (editor))
Field Guide (Geological Society of America) (May 2013) 32: 13-35
Since the days of John Muir, the striking granitic topography of Yosemite Valley, California, has been understood to have been sculpted by glaciers and presently modified by rockfall. Glacial erosion has provided remarkably clean and extensive exposures of granitic rocks on the vertical walls that provide insights into intrusive relations and rockfall susceptibility. However, it is only with recent remote sensing methods that these exposures have been studied in detail. El Capitan presents an unparalleled exposure of the interior of a granitic plutonic system at the point of interaction between multiple intrusive suites and two sets of mafic dike swarms. The distribution and orientation of these units affected El Capitan's extensive rockfall history, including a huge postglacial rock avalanche at 3.6 ka. This two-day field trip will explore these ideas and apply them to some of the other classic cliffs of Yosemite Valley such as Glacier Point and Half Dome. We will present a new map of El Capitan and discuss the intrusive relationships exposed on the face while visiting several rockfall deposits and some of the classic vistas of Yosemite Valley, including El Capitan Meadow, Glacier Point, Taft Point, and Mirror Lake.