The Geographical and Geological features of Yosemite National ParkAs one of the most famous national park in the USA, The Yosemite NationalPark attracts millions of tourists every year. The reasons why Yosemite has becomethe spotlight of the world are very simple. The water, the rocks, the stunning viewand the climate of Yosemite National Valley are unique enough to attract touristsfrom all around the world. But in this paper, the main emphasis will be on the naturallandscape. Tons of tourists are visiting here just for its own unique naturallandscape. Yosemite’s natural landscape can basically be classified into twocategories and they are mountains and waters.
Below, all the descriptions of thepark will be about the above and all the special features of each tourists spots will beincluded one by one in the paper.A.The WaterfallThe Yosemite is famous for its waterfalls. At first glance, there are more than10 famous waterfalls that we can name. Most of the prestige waterfalls are located inthe Yosemite Valley. The first one which is also the most well-known waterfall is theYosemite waterfall which is located at the altitude of 2425 feet. It is made up threeparts which are Upper Yosemite Falls, the middle cascades and Lower YosemiteFalls( Ratajeski, 2001 ). For its formation, The Yosemite Fall is called the free-leapingfalls.
It is formed because the lateral tributaries could not keep the pace with thecombination of the rapid cutting of the Merced River and the grinding force of theglaciers.The other water which is unique is called the Vernal Fall. Vernal Fall is not tallwhich is only 317 ft or 96m tall.
However, it is one of the most powerful waterfallaround the area. Although it is only a 317 ft cliff, it is located at a very steep locationwhich makes it stands out from the other falls(Liang,2013). Since the Vernal Fall ison the Merced River branch and drainage system, it has huge amount of waterflowing through all year long. The season which most water flow through the isbetween mid to late Spring as a large amount of snows are melting at that timewhich provides tons of water for the Vernal Falls. From the Mist Trail, the entire viewof the waterfall can be seen from the above.B.
The Landscape (Granite, Rocks and Glaciers)The granite is formed of magma or so-called the molten rock which solidifiedunderground to form massive granite bodies. It is a very hard rock in the face ofweathering and erosion. Granite is commonly seen among the entire YosemiteNational Park and not limited to certain areas. Granite can be found on Half Domeand also Hetch Hetchy Valley etc.
Huge number of granite dominates the Yosemitearea and much of the Sierra Nevada. Mount Hoffmann and most of the terrain visiblefrom it are composed of granite, formed deep within the Earth by solidification offormerly molten rock material and subsequently exposed by erosion of the overlyingrocks.One of the most famous type of granite is called the El Capitan Granite. Thistype of granite is named El Capitan because they can be found in the El CapitanArea.
They can be found specifically from the west of Half Dome Granodiorite, bothnorth and south, to a western limit near Cookie Cliffs.The El Capitan Granite hasabundant quartz, plagioclase, crystals of orthoclase, and both feldspars ,orthoclaseand plagioclase are white( Ratajeski, 2001 ). Hornblende is rare, compared to otherYosemite granites.
Most black minerals are biotite. Due to its size and durability,granite is shaped into bold forms: the cliffs of Yosemite and Hetch Hetchy Valleys,many of the higher peaks in the park, and the striking sheeted domes that can formonly in massive, unlayered rock.For the rocks, the most part of Yosemite National Park is comprised ofplutonic igneous rocks. The Plutonic rock formed underground when molten rockcools and solidifies in a very slow pace, allowing large crystals to form. In contrast,volcanic igneous rocks form at the surface when molten rock cools and solidifiesquickly, resulting in small crystals.
Granite, granodiorite, tonalite, quartz monzonite,and quartz monzodiorite are all forms of plutonic rock that are found in Yosemite,and are loosely referred to as granitic rocks(nps.gov). For the forming of therocks,the different individual bodies of plutonic rocks in Yosemite were formed fromrepeated intrusions of magma into older host rocks beneath the surface of the Earth.These intrusions may have taken place over a time period as long as 130 millionyears. These plutonic rocks, formerly deep within the Earth, are now exposed at thesurface, owing to deep erosion and removal of the formerly overlying rocks. Becauseof the large variety of rocks, Yosemite has become one of the most popular nationalpark for geologists to visit.C.
Hetch Hetchy ValleyHetch Hetchy Valley is located at 3900 feet altitude which makes it one of themost popular site in Yosemite National Park. Its name is different from other placesin Yosemite. The name “Hetch Hetchy”is derived from the Miwok word “hetchetci”(Restore Hetch Hetchy, 2005), describing seeds from a prominent grass growing inthe valley and from which a mush was made. At the north east corner of YosemiteNational Park, the Hetch Hetchy Reservoir is hidden there.The valley is basically connected by the Tuolumne River, Falls Creek, TiltillCreek, Rancheria Creek and numerous smaller streams which collectively drain awatershed of 1,190 km squared. In its natural state, the valley floor was marshy andoften flooded in the spring when snow melt in the high Sierra cascaded down theTuolumne River and backed up behind the narrow gorge which is now spanned byO’Shaughnessy Dam.
For its shape, the Hetch Hetchy Valley began as a V-shaped river canyon cutout by the ancestral Tuolumne River. At about one million years ago ,the Sherwinglaciation widened, deepened and straightened river valleys along the western sideof the Sierra Nevada, including Hetch Hetchy and Yosemite Valley farther to thesouth. During the most recent glacial period, the Tioga Glacier formed fromextensive icefields in the upper Tuolumne River watershed.
Around that time, HetchHetchy Valley was shaped into its present shape by repeated advance and retreat ofthe ice, which also removed extensive talus deposits that may have accumulated inthe valley since the Sherwin period.D. Half DomeFor Half Dome, it attracts millions of tourists visiting there. During 19thcentury, Half Dome was described as “perfectly inaccessible” because of itsgeographical location. It is located at the altitude of 8844 feet which makes it difficultto be conquered.There are actually three factors of how half dome is formed. The first one is itsgranite source. These are mostly formed during the Cretaceous period.
The Pacifictectonic plate provides magma which helps create this large amount of granite(Liang,2013). Later on, when the overlying rocks are eroded away, the intrusive granite wasrevealed at the surface and eventually uplifted in the mountain-building episode thatformed the modern Sierra Nevada. Weathering is one of the main criteria for causingthe shape of the Half Dome today(Liang, 2013). The rounded crown shape of HalfDome probably stems from the whole sheets of rock peeling off, which is aweathering process called exfoliation that may stem from the release of pressure onthe granite after the overlying rock layers had been removed by erosion.Apart from weathering and erosions, the glacier also helps forming HalfDome’s shape.
Basically, the water from the Pleistocene glaciers spilled down thewest-side Sierra river drainages from the range’s crest, with their critical scrapingturning sharp, stream-cut canyons into broad, U-shaped valleys. A lot of the work isdone by the huge Sherwin glacier, which nearly filled Yosemite Valley—but HalfDome’s crest, along with the other highest points, remained above the ice. For itslower formation,such as the Liberty Cap dome were smothered at one point oranother.E. El CapitanEl Capitan is also one of the unique landscape which geologists and touristswill never miss it.
As a sheer rock granite located 3000 feet above the sea level, ElCapitan acts as a beacon for tourists and also allows tourists to take a picture of theentire Yosemite National Park. During late February, theThe El Capitan is basically all composed of different types of granite andthese granites have more than 100 million years of history. Plus, this granite formsmost of the rock features of the west side of Yosemite Valley. A separate intrusion ofigneous rock, the Taft Granite, forms the uppermost portions of the cliff face. Thereis another type of rock which can be found in the El Capitan area is called diorite,athird igneous rock. It is present as dark-veined intrusions through both kinds ofgranite, especially prominent in the area known as the North America Wall.Apart from rocks and granite, the El Capitan area was carved by the gracialactions as well. Several periods of glaciation have occurred in the Sierra Nevada, butthe Sherwin Glaciation, which lasted from approximately 1.
3 million years ago toabout 1 million years ago is considered to be responsible for the majority of thesculpting( Wieczorek,1999 ). The El Capitan Granite is relatively free of joints, and asa result the glacial ice did not erode the rock shape as much as other, more jointed,rocks nearby. Also, as with most of the rock forming Yosemite’s features, ElCapitan’s granite is under enormous internal tension brought on by the compressionexperienced prior to the erosion that brought it to the surface. These forcescontribute to the creation of features such as the Texas Flake, a large block ofgranite slowly detaching from the main rock face about halfway up the side of thecliff.F.
Glacier PointGlacier Point is located at an altitude of 7,214 feet or 2199 meter which isabout 3200 feet above the Half Dome Village. Since the Glacier Point is located onthe south side of the Yosemite Valley, it provides a spectacular viewpoint ofYosemite Valley, Yosemite Falls, Half Dome, Vernal Fall, Nevada Fall, and CloudsRest.For its geology, the glacier point’s extreme point is wholly bare. The origin orglacier is based on the presence in it of rocks derived from Little Yosemite Valleyand the High Sierra. Next, there are basically three types of glacially-deposited rockat Glacier Point( Wieczorek,1999 ). One of them are fragments of yellowish quartziteand gray schist which have been located along the long northern spur of MountClark. The other type of glacially deposited rock is rounded boulders and cobblesand angular fragments. They are all deeply weathered and basically all of the LittleYosemite and its surrounding heights are composed by the glaciers.
G. Mariposa Grove of Giant SequoiasIn the park, we are not only seeing rocks and water. The tree is also one ofthe things which attract millions of visitors each year to the park. Among YosemiteNational Park, there is a large number of sequoias around the park. However, themost famous group of trees is the Mariposa Grove of Giant Sequoias. It is locatednear Yosemite’s south entrance, which includes about 500 mature giant sequoiatrees, very likely to be the largest living things on Earth, and the oldest Yosemitegiant sequoia may exceed 3,000 years in age according to estimation.Reference ListLiang, Christina.
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