Field Trip to the White-Inyo Range, Eastern California

Leaders: Gary Ernst, Stanford University, and Mike Diggles, U.S. Geological Survey

Dates: June 1, 2, and 3, 2002

picture twenty people on an outcrop

Click here for a photo essay of the field trip (about 5 MB, 103 images)

picture of the front cover of the guidebook with a photo of the Owens Valley coast on it

Click here for the White-Inyo field-trip guidebook (3 MB, 14 pages, PDF file)

photo of canyon with mountains beyond
Cottonwood Creek (Diggles photos)

The Spring field trip for the Peninsula Geological Society will be three days in the White-Inyo Range in Mono and Inyo counties on the eastern edge of the Owens Valley in eastern California.

The deadline for room-and-board reservations at the White Mountain Research Station was mid April 15, 2002 You may also camp and cook nearby for free or stay and eat in Bishop and sign up for the field trip anytime before May 31. We do not anticipate a limit on the number of people who can go on this trip which is nice.

photo looking down canyon, Sierra beyond
Silver Canyon, Mt. Tom in the background

We will leave Stanford and USGS-Menlo Park early in the morning of Saturday, June 1. We will car- and van-pool over Sonora Pass north of Yosemite if the snow will permit, and have a brief lecture by Gary at the summit. From there, we drive down to Highway 395 and head south over Conway Summit to Mono Lake, over Deadman Summit to Long Valley near Mammoth, down the Sherwin Grade (Bishop Tuff and Sherwin Till) to Bishop, and east to University of California's White Mountain Research Station.

Rocks in the White-Inyo Range span the time from the late Precambrian to the Holocene. This place has it all: Precambrian rocks, seven kilometers of sedimentary rocks (some fossil-bearing), sillimanite-bearing metamorphic rocks, Mesozoic plutons, Cenozoic volcanic rocks, Quaternary glacial deposits, and extensive Holocene aprons and alluvial deposits. Pick your favorite mountain-building event, we have the Antler, Sonoma, and Nevadan orogenies. In fact, the highest point in the range is White Mountain Peak at 14,246'. The range also hosts alpine tundra and the oldest living species on Earth - the 4,000-year-old Bristlecone Pines.

photo of ancient tree
Bristlecone pine

photo of granite outcrops, Sierra in background
Papoose Flat


Ernst, W.G., and Hall, C.A., Jr., 1987, Geology of the Mount Barcroft-Blanco Mountain area, eastern California: Geological Society of America Map and Chart Series. Map MCH066, scale 1:62,500.

Diggles, M.F., Blakely, R.J., Schmauch, S.W., Rains, R.L., Lipton, D.A., Winters, R.A., and Iverson, R.L., 1983, Mineral resources of the White Mountains and Birch Creek Roadless Areas, White Mountains, California and Nevada: U.S. Geological Survey Miscellaneous Field Studies Map MF-1361-D, scale 1:62,500.

Krauskoph, K.B., 1968, A tale of ten plutons: Geological Society of America Bulletin, v. 79, p. 1-18 (Konnie's Presidential Address).

Nelson, C.A., Hall, C.A., Jr., and Ernst, W.G., 1991, Geologic history of the White-Inyo Range in Hall, C.A., Jr., ed., Natural history of the White-Inyo Range, eastern California: Berkeley, University of California Press, California Natural History Guide 55, p. 42-74

Hall, C.A., Jr., ed., 1991, Natural history of the White-Inyo Range, eastern California: Berkeley, University of California Press, California Natural History Guide 55, 536 p.

photo of dry lake
Deep Springs Lake from Westgard Pass

joke photo of Mike in the dust with empty canteen
PGS Vice President and co-trip-leader in Wyman Canyon

Date created: 04/10/2001
Last modified: 05/19/2002
Created by: Mike Diggles, Vice President, PGS.
c/o U.S. Geological Survey, MS-951, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025. (650) 329-5404. email Mike Diggles at
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