Michael Ellis

In Yosemite is a fantastic geologic feature called Lambert’s Dome. It is made up of an ancient ocean seafloor that was subducted under the leading edge of the North American plate, plunging down miles into the earth where the entire mass was melted. It then floated up a bit and slowly cooled over creating a gigantic block of solid rock we call granite. Ten million years ago this megalith was lifted up by tectonic forces, creating the Sierra Nevada and exposing the rock to the erosional forces. Due to freezing and thawing many granitic exposures become weathered into smooth domes hence this one in the High Sierra country.

OK, I just gave you the facts. Last month I hiked to this dome, stretching my body onto the rock in the heat of the midday – blue, blue sky above me. I could feel the energy of the suns nuclear furnace and I imagined this rock 50 miles below me as a molten mass. Suddenly I realized that the interior of the earth is still hot because of the left over energy from the formation of the solar system. The sun, which is cooking me from above, also cooked this rock. With my hand I felt the hardness and graininess of the granite and then there was something smoother – a large vein of quartz. Aha, this white streak in the rock came up through the granite from below as a hot molten liquid, filling in the cracks and then cooling. It felt like glass. Like glass made of silica.

With my eyes still closed I picture this rock lifting up, up, up, rising more than 3 miles above sea level and then the ice ages begin. For the last million years huge masses of ice have crushed and then released this rock, over and over again. Water filled the cracks, freezing, expanding, splitting the rock asunder. Pieces wash off, drifting ever downward, flowing toward the Pacific.

The point is that my intellect took backseat to my gut. I have FELT Lambert’s Dome and just maybe gained a bit of knowledge in that wildflower meadow.

This is Michael Ellis with a Perspective.



Posted on

November 8, 2010