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Devils Postpile National Park
Geologic Story

Columns of the Devils Postpile
Columns of the Devils Postpile. Photo by Wymond W. Eckhardt, NPS.

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spacer image The Devils Postpile is a fine example of columnar basalt. Until recently, it was thought to have been formed about one million years ago. Current studies suggest that the Devils Postpile was formed less than 100,000 years ago when a cooling lava flow cracked into multisided columns. Other well-known examples of columnar-jointed lava are the Giant’s Causeway in Ireland and Fingal’s Cave in Scotland. The Palisades of New Jersey along the Hudson River and the columns at San Miguel Regla, Mexico, are noteworthy, but are less well known. Other occurrences are found throughout the world, but well-developed columns are not abundant.
spacer image Some details of the geologic origin of the Devils Postpile are not completely clear, but enough is known to reconstruct much of the story. To understand the geologic setting of the Postpile, we must go back hundreds of millions of years; to a time when sands and muds were being deposited in a vast sea that covered southeastern California and parts of adjoining states.

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This site is a cooperative endeavor of the
US Geological Survey Western Region Geologic Mapping Team
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This page was last updated on 9/7/00
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Material in this site is adapted from a pamphlet, Devils Postpile Story, by N. King Huber, USGS, and Wymond W. Eckhardt, NPS. It is published by Sequoia Natural History Association, Sequoia Natural History Association, HCR-89, PO Box 10, Three Rivers, CA 93271-9792, Telephone (559) 565-3759