California's Amazing Geology: 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

California's Amazing Geology

1st Edition

By Donald R. Prothero

CRC Press

480 pages | 682 Color Illus.

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Hardback: 9781498707916
pub: 2016-12-02
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California has some of the most distinctive and unique geology in the United States. It is the only state with all three types of plate boundaries, an extraordinary history of earthquakes and volcanoes, and it has many rocks and minerals found nowhere else. The Golden State includes both the highest and lowest point in the continental US and practically every conceivable geological feature known. This book discusses not only the important geologic features of each region in California, but also the complex geologic four-dimensional puzzle of how California was assembled, beginning over 2 billion years ago. The author provides up-to-date and authoritative review of the geology and geomorphology of each geologic province, as well as recent revelations of tectonic history of California’s past. There are separate chapters on some of California’s distinctive geologic resources, including gold, oil, water, coastlines, and fossils. An introductory section describes basic rock and mineral types and fundamental aspects of plate tectonics, so that students and other readers can make sense of the bizarre, wild, and crazy jigsaw puzzle that is California's geological history.


"The amazing story of California's rich geologic diversity--from the San Andreas to Mt. Shasta from Yosemite to Death Valley, from the Gold Rush to the water wars--comes to life in Don Prothero's new book. Students will find the complexity of California's geology made clear and accessible here, in a way that makes readers hungry to visit the spectacular places described in this book."

Steven Newton

Professor of Geology

College of Marin

"There are three things you need to know about this book. First, it covers everything pretty completely … Second, it is very up to date … [and] Third, it is written by Don Prothero … [thus] complicated and nuanced scientific topics are explained in a way that a reasonably educated non-expert can understand."

Greg Laden post on

Table of Contents


The Golden State

Building Blocks: Minerals and Rocks

Dating California: Stratigraphy and Geochronology

The Big Picture: Tectonics and Structural Geology

Earthquakes and Seismology


Young Volcanoes: The Cascades and Modoc Plateau

The Broken Land: The Basin and Range Province

Gold, Glaciers, and Granitics: The Sierra Nevada Mountains

Mantle Rocks and Exotic Terranes: The Klamath Mountains

Oil and Agriculture: The Great Valley

The San Andreas Fault Zone

Melanges, Granitics, and Ophiolites: The Coast Ranges

Compression, Rotation, Uplift: The Transverse Ranges and Adjacent Basins

Granitics, Gems, and Geothermal Springs: The Peninsular Ranges and Salton Trough

Assembling California: A Four-Dimensional Jigsaw Puzzle


California Gold

California Oil

California Water

California’s Coasts

California’s Fossil Resources

Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / General
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / Evolution
SCIENCE / Earth Sciences / Geology
SCIENCE / Life Sciences / General