California’s coastal geology began in the ocean. Our state is a compilation of Pacific Plate island arcs; like the Hawaiian Island chain, that converged and were forced by subduction under the North American Plate, until the appearance of the San Andrea Fault. The Central Coast exhibits visible evidence of our geological history from Guadalupe to Big Sur. Here on the coast, we sit on a constantly shifting piece of the Earth’s crust and we’re also on the western rim of “The Ring of Fire” where the majority of the earthquakes, volcanic eruptions and plate shifting occurs. For millions of years, the topography of California has been shaped and reshaped by glaciers, plate tectonics, volcanic activity, and earthquakes.
In Montana de Oro State Park, we’ll explore marine terraces, shale coves, and sand dunes. We’ll climb Valencia Peak and Bishop’s Peak and examine the pillow lava formations near Port San Luis. We’ll explore Oso Flaco Lake Dunes and the Pismo Dunes Reserve. We will also have a couple of field trips to Pinnacles National Monument to explore the Talus caves. We’ll also visit the “Earthquake Capital of the World” Parkfield, Calif. On the way there we’ll see the San Andreas Fault up close and see the visible effects of fault activity.