USGS Logo Geological Survey Professional Paper 504—A
Glacial Reconnaissance of Sequoia National Park California






Geographic sketch

Kaweah Basin
Upper Kern Basin
Kern Canyon


Basis for differentiation of the glacial stages
     Wisconsin Stage
     El Portal Stage
     Glacier Point Stage

Glaciation of the Kaweah Basin: Kaweah glacier system

Marble Fork
     Wisconsin Stage
     El Portal Stage
     Glacier Point Stage
Middle Fork
East Fork
South Fork

Glaciation of the upper Kern Basin: Kern glacier system

Kern Canyon and tributary valleys
     Wisconsin Stage
          Kern Canyon
          Tributary valleys
     El Portal Stage
     Glacier Point Stage
     Summary statement
Local glaciation south of Sequoia National Park (west of main Sierra crest)
     Sources of the Little Kern River
     Sources of the Tule River
     Sources of Golden Trout Creek and South Fork of the Kern River

Selected references

Index (omitted from the online edition)


FRONTISPIECE. Photograph of the largest and most perfectly formed avalanche chute in Sequoia National Park, viewed from the High Sierra Trail east of camp in Bearpaw Meadow.


1. Map of ancient glaciers of Sequoia National Park (omitted from the online edition)

2. Profiles through Sequoia National Park (omitted from the online edition)


1. Index map

2—3. Idealized section across the Sierra Nevada—

2. Representing the simple "textbook conception" of its tilted-block structure

3. In the latitude of Sequoia National Park

4—7. Photographs:

4. View eastward toward headwaters of Middle Fork, Kaweah River

5. Panoramic view from Alta Peak of the broad western slope of the Sierra Nevada

6. View up unglaciated lower part of Kaweah River canyon, toward the platform on which the Giant Forest stands and, at the right, Moro Rock

7. View westward from Moro Rock, along the cliffs bordering the platform on which the Giant Forest stands

8. Simplified profile across the upper Kern Basin, showing remnants of four ancient landscapes (erosion surfaces) at different levels above the Kern Canyon

9—51. Photographs:

9. Westward across the Kern Canyon to the Chagoopa Plateau; Kaweah Peaks Ridge in the back ground

10. Northwestward from the main Sierra crest across the upper Kern Basin to the Great Western Divide

11. Southeastward toward cirques on the Great Western Divide, which forms part of the boundary between Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks

12. Northward from Mount Whitney toward Mount Russell (center)

13. One of the many lakelets occupying glacially quarried rock basins in the upper Kern basin, above the junction of Milestone Creek

14. Northwestward from Mount Guyot

15. Southward down the Kern Canyon, from a point on the west rim near mouth of Rattlesnake Creek

16. Southward down the Kern Canyon, from a point below the rim, north of Wallace Creek

17. Chagoopa Falls, which descends the steep west wall of the Kern Canyon from a small hanging valley on the Chagoopa Plateau

18. Slotlike gulch incised in the east wall of Kern Canyon by a streamlet descending from the mouth of a hanging valley below Kern Lake

19. Kern Canyon from a point about 2 miles south of the park boundary

20. One of the timbered moraines of the Wisconsin Stage that surround Moraine Lake

21. A frost-split block of granite on one of the Wisconsin moraines that encircle Moraine Lake

22. Disrupted glacial boulder in Wallace Canyon

23. Glacier polish, striae, and grooves, above the head of Kern Canyon

24. Fantastic rock forms in the upper Kern Basin, near Lake South America

25. Across the glaciated floor of Whitney Canyon, showing combined effects of quarrying and grinding

26. A 16-foot erratic left on Bighorn Plateau by the ice of El Portal Stage

27. Glacial boulder of El Portal Stage, resting on a platform overlooking the Big Arroyo

28. Glaciated knob at the head of South Fork, Kaweah River

29. Saddle east of Tower Rock, on the east rim of Kern Canyon

30. Alta Peak (11,211 feet)

31. Outwash of El Portal Stage, revealed in a roadcut on the Generals Highway, about half a mile above Ash Mountain Park Headquarters

32. Glacial outwash, dating perhaps from the Glacier Point Stage, exposed in a roadcut on the Generals Highway above Camp Potwisha

33. "River Valley," the glaciated upper canyon of Middle Fork, Kaweah River

34. Spectacular summits south of Hamilton Lakes

35. Near the source of Hamilton Creek, looking down the canyon across one of the Hamilton Lakes

36. Sand Meadows

37. Kern River, cutting in bedrock, near Kern Canyon Ranger Station at south border of Sequoia National Park

38. Vicinity of the Nine Lake Basin southward down Big Arroyo, which, in the distance (left), becomes a deep, U-shaped canyon flanked by forested plateaus

39. Across Big Arroyo from an unnamed mountain east of Little Clair Lake

40. Chagoopa Plateau and Moraine Lake, viewed from the edge of Big Arroyo

41. Moraine Lake, on the Chagoopa Plateau

42. Up the valley of Tyndall Creek, from the Bighorn Plateau that appears in the lower right foreground

43. Northeastward up the valley of Wright Creek toward Mount Tyndall (central peak with gullied slopes)

44. Tulainyo Lake, high on the main crest of the Sierra Nevada; viewed from the west

45. Gorge 50 feet deep, cut by Wallace Creek, for the most part in postglacial time

46. Mount Whitney, viewed from the west

47. Junction of Crabtree Canyon (foreground) and Whitney Canyon (background)

48. Whitney Trail across upper Whitney Canyon and Hitchcock Lake (foreground) at Mount Hitchcock (center)

49. North side of Mount Hitchcock, viewed across Whitney Canyon

50. East face of Mount Hitchcock

51. Eastward across the Kern Canyon in the vicinity of Kern Canyon Ranger Station

Characteristics and distribution of the ancient glaciers in the most southerly national park of the Sierra Nevada


Thomas B. Nolan, Director

<<< Previous <<< Contents >>> Next >>>

Last Updated: 03-Aug-2009