Devils Postpile, California

Steven Dutch, Natural and Applied Sciences, University of Wisconsin - Green Bay
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This very small national monument contains some very regular basalt columns truncated by beautiful glacial polish. I find it still something of a mystery why this site is a national monument, since there are far larger tracts of columns in the Columbia Plateau that are not protected at all.

Devils Postpile, CaliforniaThe road to Devils Postpile is narrow and winding and parking is very limited, so shuttle buses run from Mammoth ski resort.
Devils Postpile, CaliforniaLeft and below: views from the overlook at the ridge crest at Minaret Summit. This is the farthest you can get by car.
This is actually the southernmost road that crosses the Sierra drainage divide, if only by a few miles. At one time there were mining and logging roads that connected to the Central Valley, making this the southernmost crossing of the Sierra Nevada.Devils Postpile, California
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Devils Postpile, CaliforniaView of the Minarets
Devils Postpile, CaliforniaLeft: the Ranger Station.

Below: these are the views of Devils Postpile you see in all the textbooks.

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Devils Postpile, CaliforniaLeft and below: these are the views you don't see in the textbooks, but they are actually very typical of columnar jointing. One hypothesis is that fanning or flaring joints are initiated when water suddenly cools the lava or creates a steam explosion.
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Devils Postpile, CaliforniaThis view shows how the flaring joints pass smoothly into perfectly regular columns.
Devils Postpile, CaliforniaSmall outcrop at the base of the columns showing columnar jointing.
Devils Postpile, CaliforniaThe trail to the top of the columns stats at the south end of the palisade 
Devils Postpile, CaliforniaLeft and below: Devils Postpile is famous for its glacially polished and striated pavement that dramatically accents the polygonal columns.
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Devils Postpile, CaliforniaLeft and below: pumice lapilli blanket the area near the Ranger Station as well as slopes leading to Mammoth. This pumice was erupted by the Mono Craters only a few hundred years ago.
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Below: panorama of Devil's Postpile showing flaring and vertical columns.

Devils Postpile, California


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Created 14 July 2003, Last Update 01 July 2012

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