Sierra Nevada Geomorphic Province
The Sierra is a tilted
fault block nearly 400 miles long. Its east
face is a high, rugged multiple scarp,
contrasting with the gentle western slope
(about 2 ) that disappears under
sediments of the Great Valley. Deep river
canyons are cut into the western slope.
Their upper courses, especially in
massive granites of the higher Sierra, are
modified by glacial sculpturing, forming
such scenic features as Yosemite Valley.
The high crest culminates in Mt. Whitney
with an elevation of 14,495 feet above
sea level near the eastern scarp. The
metamorphic bedrock contains goldbearing
veins in the northwest trending
Mother Lode. The northern Sierra
boundary is marked where bedrock
disappears under the Cenozoic volcanic
cover of the Cascade Range.
This section is the temperate to very cold parts of the Sierra Nevada, which is a north-northwest aligned mountain range that is much steeper on the east than on the west side.
Sierra Nevada Foothills
This section comprises the hot foothills of the Sierra Nevada, and the southwestern end of the Cascade Ranges, adjacent to the Great Valley.