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Sierra Nevada, also referred to as Sierra Nevadas, significant hill array of western The United States and Canada, running along the eastern edge of the UNITED STATE state of California. Its good mass lies between the large Central Valley depression to the west and also the Basin and also Range District to the eastern. Extfinishing more than 250 miles (400 kilometres) northward from the Mojave Desert to the Cascade Range of northern California and also Oregon, the Sierra Nevada varies from around 80 miles wide at Lake Tahoe to around 50 miles wide in the south. Its magnificent skyline and also spectacular landscapes make it one of the many beautiful physical functions of the United States. Biologically, it is home to the largest trees in the world—the large sequoias. As a recreation centre, its year-round facilities prove a magnet to the citizens of the huge city locations of The golden state, and it has actually considerable prestige as a source of power and water. It was the emphasis of the commemorated California gold rush.


The Sierra Nevada selection is a wonderful instance of exactly how the humale occupation and usage of a room have the right to modify its landscape. First mining and later logging and tourism have actually done more in 150 years to change the flavour of the hill scenery in many areas than the actions of ice and water over millennia.

Physical features


The Sierra Nevada is an asymmetrical range via its crest and also high peaks decidedly toward the east. The peaks selection from 11,000 to 14,000 feet (3,350 to 4,270 metres) above sea level, via Mount Whitney, at 14,494 feet (4,418 metres), the highest optimal in the coterminous United States. Summits in the north percent are a lot reduced, those north of Lake Tahoe reaching altitudes of just 7,000 to 9,000 feet.

Much of the rock is granite or a near loved one of granite. Tright here are dividing bands of metamorphosed (heat- and pressure-altered) sedimentary rock—all that is left of a as soon as extensive sedimentary basin—and also some large locations of extrusive rock, specifically from Lake Tahoe northward; at the northern limit of the Sierras, these rocks merge with the volcanic rocks of the Cascades.


It has lengthy been known that the Sierra Nevada is an upfaulted, tilted block of the Earth’s crust. A significant fault zone bounds the block on the eastern, and it was along this that the excellent mass that became the Sierra Nevada was uplifted and tilted westward. This describes the asymmeattempt of the variety. As the block was uplifted the abrupt, east-dealing with escarpment was reduced right into by the erosive activity of wind, rain, temperature readjust, frost, and ice, and a series of steep-gradient canyons developed. On its western flank, streams circulation more gently down the geologic dip slope, producing substantial alluvial fans that encroach into the Central Valley of The golden state. Though the massive uplift began many type of countless years ago, a lot of it arisen in the previous 2 million years. The contemporary relief of 10,000 to 11,000 feet along the eastern slopes in the southern Sierra Nevada attests to the remarkable uplift.

Drainage and also glaciation

The gentler west-encountering slope has actually been dissected by a series of streams, a lot longer than those of the eastern slope. Such rivers as the Yuba, American, Mokelumne, Stanislaus, Merced, and Kern originate in deep valleys sculpted mainly by glaciers into the predominant granite and some volcanics. All yet the Kern drain either right into the Sacramento River in the Central Valley on the north or right into the San Joaquin on the southern, their waters eventually getting to the Pacific Ocean through the combined delta of these two rivers at San Francisco Bay. Until the water was diverted for irrigation during the at an early stage 20th century, the Kern River drained right into the Buena Vista Lake basin, south of the San Joaquin River.

Throughout the Pleistocene Epoch (i.e., around 2,600,000 to 11,700 years ago), the river valleys were covered several times by excellent expanses of ice. Glacial climates occurred and also dissipated at least twice, and also each time too much snows built scurrently and also ice areas and deep glaciers. The ice sculpted U-shaped valleys dvery own to an elevation of about 5,000 feet on the western slopes. So a lot ice existed on the mountaintops that an ice cap was created as the glaciers coalesced. This cap extfinished practically 200 miles from Lake Tahoe in the north to the southern high sierra near Mount Whitney.

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Extfinishing from the cap were fingerlike valley glaciers, lengthy on the more gentle western slopes however shorter on the sharply uplifted and also steeper eastern face. The erosion caused by these glaciers is spectacular. It contains astronomical cirques (amphitheatre-shaped basins through precipitous walls), moraines (accumulations of rock debris at the previous glacier margins), and thousands of glacial lakes dotting the Alpine and also subalpine landscape. Such striking and also beautiful landforms are the focus of Yosemite National Park and also the Lake Tahoe basin. Lake Tahoe is the biggest and deepest Alpine lake in the world; it has a surchallenge location of practically 200 square miles and reaches a maximum depth of about 1,640 feet in its northwestern portion.