The story of Point Lobos begins with its rocks. The existence of the point and its remarkable character derive largely from geologic processes.
A dramatic history is recorded here. It includes the crystallization of molten rock deep within the crust of the earth and the grinding interactions of great plates of the earth’s crust. One sees at Point Lobos the deposits produced by torrents of sand and gravel that swept through the quiet depths of an ancient submarine canyon, and the elaborate tunnels and burrows of unknown creatures that lived on and beneath the canyon’s floor.
The rocks that underlie Point Lobos originated many miles to the south, in Southern California or even northern Mexico. They are part of a slab of the North American Plate that was broken off by the grazing collision of the continental plate and the oceanic Pacific Plate. The slab adhered to the Pacific Plate and was carried north with that plate. Even today, the rocks of Point Lobos continue to creep toward the northwest with the Pacific plate.
The geologic story continues through the recent ice ages, when sea level rose and fell and the movement of the crust raised the coastal rocks and created our existing mountain ranges. It continues today as the processes of weathering and erosion sculpt the rocks along the coast.
More information on the geology at Point Lobos is available in the following links;
- For a detailed description of the rocks that underlie the Reserve, visit “The Rocks of Point Lobos”
- “Point Lobos and geologic time“ illustrates how these rocks relate to geological time and the history of the earth
- To see how Point Lobos was geologically assembled, visit “The Geologic evolution of Point Lobos”
- “Trace Fossils of the Carmelo Formation“ provides a description of the burrows and trails made by the animals that thrived beneath the floor of an ancient submarine canyon
- Learn more about the colorful and bizarre features in the sedimentary rock by following the link to “Concretions, nodules and weathering features of the Carmelo Formation”
You can find an eight-page brochure that you can print at home under Printable Resources.