Welcome to Geology of United States Highpoints
Charles Mound, Illinois Dolostone
Over the years I have been visiting the highest point in each state. Because I am a geologist, it occurred to me that other Highpointers (www.highpointers.org) might appreciate learning about the geology of these places. So, I have put together a description of the major geological features at each highpoint, including bedrock, surficial geology, soils, and unique features.
In the process of this project I have discovered that the Highpoints serve as an excellent introduction to the geology of our nation, since almost all of the major rock types, time periods, and physiographic provinces are represented! One key geologic concept is illustrated repeatedly, that of differential weathering. Many Highpoints are composed of materials that are more resistant to weathering than the materials around them, so that they have become prominent features of the landscape. Others, like Mt. Whitney in California and Mt. Sunflower in Kansas, have nearby neighbors of nearly the same height and geology. But the same principle still applies - - they and their neighbors are more resistant than their surroundings.
Some familiarity with the language of geology is assumed. The reader may wish to refer to a glossary of geological terms such as:
and to a geological time scale such as:
A good source for geologic maps of specific places can be found at the national geologic map database: http://ngmdb.usgs.gov/
I have also prepared a spreadsheet for the highpoints. The following links will lead you to various versions of the spreadsheet:
- Alphabetical by state.
- Ranked by elevation above sea level.
- Ranked by age. (age of material, not necessarily when the highpoint became elevated).
- Ranked by type of material at the summit. (intrusive, metamorphic, sedimentary, volcanic, unconsolidated)
Links to Each State
© 2005 Peter J. Thompson
Please send comments to Peter J. Thompson at firstname.lastname@example.org
Department of Earth Sciences, University of New Hampshire
I would appreciate receiving photos of geological features at the high points; please indicate if you are granting me permission to post photos to this site. Thanks!