Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park

Kings Canyon National Park is a significant national park in California, mainly in the southern Sierra Nevada, east of Fresno. The aforementioned park was established in 1940. The park encompasses 461,901 acres of land. The park is recognized for including a sizable portion of America's largest mountain range, including the magnificent Sierra Nevada range. Mt. Whitney, at 14,491 feet above sea level, is likewise located in this area of long mountain ranges. Aside from Mt. Whitney, the region is known to be home to eleven more summits that climb above 14000 feet above sea level (Benedict, 2013). The high mountain ranges stretch over a long distance in the region creating a beautiful environment for people to see.

The King's Canyon

The many ranges have been covered by glacier over the years to make icy toppings which are quite visible to everyone who visits the region. Additionally, the long ranges of mountains have created deep canyons most notably the king's canyon. For a notable few miles outside the parks, the Kings Canyon continues to deepen and steepen making it arguably one of the deepest canyon known in North America for short distance. The mountain ranges stay frozen all year round due to the high altitudes that they cover. Deep in the canyons runs some of the coldest rivers with temperatures just above freezing point. During the cold of winter, the rivers are normally frozen and may appear like there was no running river before winter. It is such scenic features that have continued to attract visitors to these ranges since its inception as a national park in North America.

The Formation of the Sierra Nevada Mountain Range

The Sierra Nevada mountain range was formed as a result of volcanic eruptions as well as tectonic movements. In the early days of formation of the earth, hot gasses and other materials including dust came together, cooled and solidified to form the solid earth that we exist on. At the same time, the hottest material still in a molten state was covered by other cooler material at the center of the earth. The hot molten substance remained at the center of the earth to form the core of the earth (Wahrhaftig, 2015). The hot molten core is divided into two layers; the inner core which is the totally hot fluid which is in constant movement at the center of the earth. The outer core contains the less molten substance of the earth since it had some time to cool as compared to the inner core.

The Role of Volcanic Activities

On the outside, there is solid state hot part of the earth which is the mantle. It solidified due to the amount of time it had to cool down. Mostly this region is made up of rocks. The outer layer is the crust which is composed of soil, rocks, and water. Some of the notable features of the crust include the mountain ranges and the canyons like the great king's canyon. When it rained, water would infiltrate the ground using the small crevices found in between rocks and the water would form streams as it continued to infiltrate the earth as a result of gravity (Wernicke et al., 2016). The infiltrated water would then get to the hot sections of the earth such as the outer core where it was exposed to super-normal amounts of heat. Such heating changed the water into super-heated steam which was bound to escape to the surface. The region in question is predominantly formed of granitic rocks. These rocks, when exposed to the super-heated steam, would immediately melt into a state of molten lava (Wernicke et al., 2016).

Molten Lava and Mountain Formation

The molten lava would be in a continuous state of movement which continuously created a lot of pressure beneath the surface. The continuous melting of the granitic rocks into molten lava would leave behind huge spaces under the ground. The overlying weight of the ground would crush over the molten lava where on the surface large depressions were eventually created. Many of the depressions are what formed the likes of the King's Canyon (Vankat & Major, 2014). Additionally, the molten lava in continuous movement would create huge amounts of pressure underground. The pressure in conjunction with the molten lava would search for escape ways to ease the pressure from down below. The molten lava would follow crevices created between rocks and force its way up.

Volcanic Eruptions and Mountain Range Formation

Once it got to the ground level, it would erupt into some of the world's greatest volcanic eruption releasing a lot of material into the air. The materials would later cool down to solid lava on the ground. The huge heaps stretched over long distances which created what we now know as the mountain ranges of the Sierra Nevada among many others. A single volcanic eruption was not simply enough to create the majestic landscape at the Sierra Nevada range (Wahrhaftig, 2015). Therefore, the process would repeat with water infiltrating the ground to be super-heated to create the pressure for potential eruptions since the volcanic activity in the region was still very active at the time. Continuous eruption and deposition of volcanic material eventually formed the mountain ranges while the continuous crumbling of rocks due to volcanic activity beneath the surface of the earth formed the deep canyons like the King's Canyon.

Formation of Mountain Ranges through Tectonic Movements

The ranges and the canyons were not primarily subjects of volcanic eruptions alone. Another perspective of looking and explaining this situation is by tectonic movements below the surface of the earth. The earth is formed of tectonic plates which are continuously moving although at a snail's pace (Vankat & Major, 2014). During the formation of the earth, these tectonic plates would move to respond to a nature call like magnetism or even to maintain the balance after an eruption had occurred.

Tectonic Movement and Mountain Formation

The tectonic moves of the ancient times that resulted in the formation of continents was as a result of magnetic alignment that forced like poles to repel while the unlike ones attracted. These movements also gave birth to the extensive mountain ranges in the ocean bed. The mechanism of mountain range formation through tectonic movement w due to magnetism is essentially based on the density of the tectonic rocks that come into contact with one another. If a southern tectonic plate is attracted to another tectonic plate in the north, it will shift and move to the side of attraction.

The Formation of Sierra Nevada through Tectonic Movement

After the two plates come together, the denser one will sink under the light plate which resulted in the formation of a raised ground such as the mountain ranges. In our case, the Sierra Nevada ranges were formed under similar principles where tectonic plates attracted and came together. The denser plate sunk under the light plate to form a raised mountain range of Sierra Nevada. If the two tectonic plates are of the same density meaning that no one plate would sink under the other, then the two attracting plates would collide head on leading to the formation of new features such as a range of mountains which could be the same situation leading the formation of the Sierra Nevada ranges (FREI, 2016). The same principles of tectonic movement and shifting whereby plates of the same magnetic field repel and hence move away from each other resulting in the formation of a hole in the process. The king's canyon was formed under the same rules whereby plates of similar magnetic field repelled and ended up moving away from each other. The movement led to the formation of a great depression which was later filled with water to form the great King's Canyon.

Glaciers and the Formation of Canyon Lakes

After the formation of the ranges, glazier formed on the caps of the ranges due to the high altitudes that the ranges rose above the sea level. Continuous deposition of the glacier on the mountain tops led to the solidification of the ice into a compact ice mass that would withstand the high temperatures of the summer. During the summers the ice normally melts, and the water would trickle down to the lower parts of the region where the water filled the canyon to form the scenic lake that attracts tourists from every corner of America. The freezing temperatures of the water in the canyon is due to the ice at the top of the ranges that melts into the canyon. The water at the canyon, however, cannot totally freeze even during winter due to the continuous hot volcanic activity below the surface of the earth.


Benedict, N. B. (2013). Plant associations of subalpine meadows, Sequoia National Park, California. Arctic and Alpine Research, 383-396.

FREI, L. S. (2016). Additional paleomagnetic results from the Sierra Nevada: Further constraints on Basin and Range extension and northward displacement in the western United States. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 97(7), 840-849.

Vankat, J. L., & Major, J. (2014). Vegetation changes in sequoia national park, California. Journal of Biogeography, 377-402.

Wahrhaftig, C. (2015). Stepped topography of the southern Sierra Nevada, California. Geological Society of America Bulletin, 76(10), 1165-1190.

Wernicke, B., Clayton, R., Ducea, M., & Jones, C. H. (2016). Origin of high mountains in the continents: The southern Sierra Nevada. Science, 271(5246), 190.

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