Relentless BeatingsThese layers of rock have been abused since they formed as ancient Pacific sea bottom over 100 million years ago. They were buried beneath deeper and deeper sediment layers, pressed until nearly cooked, then stuffed into a big trench. They were tilted, deformed and buckled as the raft of crust they rode struck North America, hoisting them above the waves into mountains. Then, several million years of earthquakes jostled, cracked and contorted them, a process of geologic assault and battery still going strong. That's just the beginning! The most powerful and constant agent in surface geology and weather, worldwide, is breaking into foam in this image; and it is not California's famed earthquakes. It is water! And that water eventually will pound these tremor-shaken rock ledges down to mud and sand, making this beach as gentle and smooth as those of the Gulf coast or Florida. That is, if a glacier -- the ultimate in tough water -- doesn't carve the shoreline into sharp crags again. After all, before this coast vanishes altogether, the piece of crust on which it rides will be docked onto southern Alaska!
Rancho Palos Verdes CA (10 Feb 3) , looking SE