Yes, Mountains Do Move


Old jokes about Muhammad and the mountain aside, mountains do move. WC was quite recently a visitor to a mountain that has moved some 190 miles. True, the mountain has taken some 22-23 million years to move that far. It’s also true that only about two-thirds of the mountain made the trip; the other third, as it were, stayed home. You can’t make this stuff up.

The Neenach Volcano erupted some 23 million years ago near present-day Lancaster, California. The movement of the Pacific Plate along the San Andreas fault split about two-thirds of the volcano off from the main body of the volcano and moved it about 195 miles to the northwest. When the volcano split, the part headed north also sank a few thousand feet, and was buried under other rock. It’s only been re-exposed in the last few million years, and since being exposed the volcanic rock has eroded to form dramatic pinnacles, and where parts of the pinnacles have collapsed there are impressive caves.

Machete Ridge, one of the Pinnacles in Pinnacles National Park, California

Machete Ridge, one of the Pinnacles in Pinnacles National Park, California

It’s all part of Pinnacles National Park (b. 2012), nee Pinnacles National Monument (b. 1908). The national park is not widely known, but the breccia cliffs are a rock climber’s paradise, and also provide excellent nesting platforms for Golden Eagles and California Condors. The surrounding hills support ample prey.

Golden Eagle, Pinnacles National Park, California

Golden Eagle, Pinnacles National Park, California (heavy crop)

The Pinnacles are still moving, too. About an inch a year, more or less. In just 5 million years or so, the Pinnacles will be opposite Oakland, California. Of course, by then they may be eroded to nubbins, but mountains do move, whatever old proverbs may say.

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