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January 27, 2015

Macs, Rocks and Maps

by Herb Saperstone

Half Dome, YNP (image courtesy of Apple Inc)

Geologic map of southeast face of El Capitan. Recently published by the Geological Society of America

Its hard not to think about geologic processes when staring at my mac desktop. Apple’s current OS X operating system, Yosemite, sports a beautiful sunlit photo of Half Dome- an icon of geologic wonder in California’s Yosemite National Park. The Park’s magnificent scenery owes its good looks to the unroofing of a pluton (igneous rock that forms below the earth’s surface) by ancient uplift and more recently by glacial sculpting during the Ice Ages. Nearby, the formidable sheer cliff of granite, called El Capitan made recent headline news when American climbers Tommy Caldwell and Kevin Jorgeson scaled the 3,000-foot “Dawn Wall”. Check out the megapixel image featured here. Their feat was unique as they relied solely on their body strength, hands and feet during their 19 day ascent. Safety ropes were used only to break their occasional falls. There is a wonderful map of El Capitan’s south east face, showing prolific detail of the wall’s geologic features. The map features the “Nose Route” (among others) and the fine-scale mapping of various dikes and cross-cutting intrusions that make up this massive granitic structure. Thanks Apple for honoring the rock formations of Yosemite and those who challenge their breathtaking verticality.

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