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.
Rocks and Fossils
A useful brochure is available to help you spot interesting rocks when you visit the Reserve.