Some details of the origin of Devils Postpile are not completely clear. Enough is known though to reconstruct just what this amazing formation of rocks are. Up until recently it was thought to have been formed around a million years ago. More diverse and complicated studies show that it could be closer to around 100,000 years ago. The rock formation was thought to be created by cooling lava that cracked into multi-sided columnns.
For millions of years, what is now the
California coastline was a shallow sea. The Western edge of the Northern
American continent was shifted hundreds of miles east and a part of a single
super-continent known as Pangea. The super-continent is what birthed the seven
that we have today.
When the split began to happen between the
continents, sediments and minerals were slowly eroding and splashing out to sea
which covered what is now present day California.
As North America kept drifting westward the
oceanic crust was forced down and beneath the moving continent. A north-south
zone was born and for millions of years’ oceanic crust continually thrashed
into the westward moving North American Continent. Once, the portions of newly
formed rock added on to the already existing land mass it created such
formations as the Devils Postpone.
These pieces of accumulated land are called “Exotic
Terranes” and the product of each terrane to North America took countless years
of forming. As the lava flow would then slow down, the molten rock began
cooling into newly formed compacted earth. The shallow fragments would have
obviously solidified first, with the deeper characteristics of the lava lake involving
more time to cool it allowed for stress to become a factor. Once stress is
involved the rocks began to contract and those contractions can sometime form
columnns so perfectly that it would look like they are hand carved.
Devils Postpile is a small rich environment that spans
across the Sierra Nevada between 7,200 and 8,200 feet. Not only does the rock
cliff monument attract visitors but the wide array of vegetation and wildlife bring
in various types of people also.
The landscape along the mountain side is a blend of fire and
ice. The cooling areas where the lava previously flowed is now the beautiful impressive
wall of columnns. Several other volcanic activities can be seen at the monument’s
The flora and fauna at Devils Postpile are very characteristic
of the area. Some animals include black bears, eagles and well known for the
Sierra Nevada area are many pine and fir trees. The base of Devils Postpile is
home to many squirrels and chipmunks and various pine martens which are their natural