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Geology of California Essay

California’s Fossil, Rock, And Mineral Composition

California is known to have a rich history of fossils, rocks and minerals. However, the state is known to mainly posses oceanic fossils such as the rich accumulation early mammal fossil such as the turtle fossils which are found in many of the state’s national parks.

Most of the fossils are oceanic because a large part of California was covered by oceanic water, one time in the State’s history. This is the reason advanced to explain why there are very few dinosaur fossils found in California.

The type of rocks found in California are diverse because it is said that, the state experiences some of the most diverse geological forces; which have in turn created some of the most diverse mineral and rock components in the state (Demand Media, 2011, p. 1).

California is also known to have some of the rarest rocks and minerals in America. However, the rocks and minerals found in California can easily be assumed to be one thing; though they are completely different. Some of the common types of rocks found in California are sandstones and carbornatite.

Also, the most common types of minerals found in California are aquamarine, and tourmaline (Demand Media, 2011, p. 4).

The sandstones are normally formed from geological activities involving the deposit of sand and mud in California’s water bodies. The rocks are formed from increased pressure coming from the running waters in the rivers and streams.

The carbonatite rock is however formed from a mixture of carbonate and small amounts of suplhate and quartz; both of which are normally found in the mountain passines of California (Demand Media, 2011, p. 4). The aquamarine mineral is formed from the vast mineral mines found in California.

Mostly, gem mining has exposed the aquamarine mineral in California. The tourmalines mineral on the other hand, is formed “in crystalline shchists, in granites, granite pegmatites, marbles and other metamorphic rocks” found in California (Demand Media, 2011, p. 4).

California’s Industrial Energy Sources

California’s energy sources are diverse; ranging from natural energy sources to fossil fuel. Though California is increasingly being dependent on green energy sources; its primary energy source is fossil fuel. In fact, fossil fuel uses in industrial activities are estimated to be 51% (Thorngren, 2011, p. 1).

Closely following fossil fuel is natural gas which is estimated to power about a third of California’s industrial activities. The state also uses other alternative energy sources in different proportions, but the most common alternative energy sources are “nuclear, hydroelectricity, geothermal and coal at 6%, 5%, 3% and 1% respectively” (Thorngren, 2011, p. 1).

Most of the energy used in California is produced locally (in California) because collectively, California produces about 45% of its total energy, and a half of the total fossil fuel energy used for industrial activities.

The rest of the energy is obtained from other states in America, but a paltry 10% is obtained from other regions of the world (Thorngren, 2011, p. 1).

A great portion of the energy consumption in California is directed at transportation activities; followed by manufacturing, mining and agriculture. Transportation accounts for about half of California’s total energy consumption.

California’s oil producing points are located in regions around Los Angeles but more specifically, the Kern County has been known to be the largest producer of oil in the state.

The Hansford site is also known as the most common nuclear energy production site in California while hydroelectricity generation occurs in more than 400 hydropower stations across the state (located majorly on the eastern mountain ranges) (Thorngren, 2011).

There are inadequate coal deposits in California and therefore most of the coal used in the state is imported from other states. However, geothermal is in abundant supply and the biggest geothermal plants are located north of San Francisco because the area is located in the “pacific’s ring of fire” (California Energy Commission, 2011, p. 1).

Fresh Water in California

California’s supply of fresh water comes from underneath the ground. This fresh water supply is estimated to be between 25% and 40% of California’s total water supply (Garone, 2011).

These percentages are estimated to increase significantly in the coming years. California is deemed to be the only state in the US with the highest consumption of fresh water supply from underneath the ground.

This is because a large part of the state is normally dry. The second-ranked state with a high volume extraction of underground water is Texas, but California’s total underground water extraction is estimated to be twice that of Texas.

The major non-domestic use of freshwater supply in California is agriculture, industrial use and commercial business water use. Agriculture is majorly practiced in the central valley of California which stretches from the Northwest to the Southeast inland part of the state (which also lies parallel to the Pacific Ocean) (Garone, 2011).

California’s industries and commercial activities are also majorly located in regions around California and San Francisco. So far, the Colorado River has been affirmed to be a reliable source of fresh water in California since it is estimated that, it produces about 14% of California’s freshwater supply (Garone, 2011).

From this analysis we see that, California also relies on surface water to supplement its freshwater supply but most of the water comes from underground water supply.

California’s Volcanoes

California has had a long history of geological forces which include earthquakes, volcanoes, glaciers and the likes. These forces make California the home to some of the most active volcanoes in America, but in the same regard, the state is also home to some dormant volcanoes.

It is estimated that California is home to three active volcanoes (Baker, 2011, p. 1). Most of these active volcanoes are located in Northern California.

The Northern part of California is said to have the most active volcanoes because the region is located in the western part of America which is characterized by a destructive tectonic plate boundary which in turn causes the volcanoes found in the region to be active.

This is in sharp contrast to volcanic mountains found in the southern part of the state, which are dormant because the southern part of the state is characterized by a transpressive plate boundary – which is the reason for the dormancy of the volcanic mountains found in the region.

The most active volcanoes in California are Lassen Peak, Mount Shasta and Long Valley Caldera (Baker, 2011, p. 3). Lassen Peak is said to be the most dominant active mountain in California and it is located in Lassen national park. Mount Shasta is located in the cascade range of California (in California’s natural forestland).

Long Valley Caldera is located in the Eastern edge of Sierra Nevada which has led many geologists to the conclusion that, natural landscapes evidenced in California formed as a result of explosive volcanic activities which occurred in the region, hundreds of years ago (Baker, 2011, p. 3).

Medicine lake volcano is known to be the biggest dormant volcanic mountain in California, hence its infamous attribute as ‘California’s sleeping giant’ (Baker, 2011, p. 1).

With regards to California’s intrusion of seawater, the last intrusion of seawater occurred in 1907 when the Colorado River burst its banks (Salton Sea State, 2011). This seawater intrusion led to the creation of the Salton Sea.

California’s Energy Potential

California’s energy production is expected to increase in the coming years because of the optimism held by several geologists on the state’s energy potential.

Much focus has been directed to geothermal power which is estimated to increase by several megawatts in the coming years, if certain fault lines existing in California’s central valley, are fully exploited. It is further estimated that, California is bound to increase its energy production by 2,300 megawatts if an energy production plant is set up in the central valley (Hoffman, 2010, p. 5).

California’s central valley is advanced to be the most feasible locality for geothermal energy production because it is estimated that, the region lies on a fault line which has trapped a lot of heat energy underneath the earth’s surface.

This is the major source of energy for the geothermal production (Hoffman, 2010, p. 5). Wind energy has also been voiced as a possible alternative source of energy which has not been fully exploited yet.

A lot of potential exists in offshore wind harvesting on the shores of San Francisco, but it is estimated that, installing wind turbines in the area may be expensive because it would require more materials to set up the turbines at the water table (Cannon, 2008, p. 12).

The same wind energy potential is also said to exist in Northern California, off Cape Mendocino, where it is estimated that, if a wind energy plant is set up, the total output may possibly supplement 5% of California’s total energy production in the coming years (Cannon, 2008, p. 12). Collectively, it is correct to note that, California does not completely utilize its wind energy potential.


Baker, A. (2011). Information on Volcanoes in California. Web.

Cannon, J. (2008). California Wind Energy Potential Presented. Web.

California Energy Commission. (2011). Geothermal Energy in California. Web.

Demand Media. (2011). . Web.

Garone, P. (2011). The Fall and Rise of the Wetlands of California’s Great Central Valley. Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Hoffman, D. (2010). California Geothermal Comes Up Dry. Web.

Salton Sea State. (2011). . Web.

Thorngren, J. (2011). Energy Resources in California. Web.

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"Geology of California." IvyPanda, 4 Dec. 2019, ivypanda.com/essays/geology-of-california/.

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