Exfoliation of Half Dome

June 03, 2005

Exfoliation_3 copy

Provided and copyright by: Errol Van Stralen, Sequoia Middle School
Summary authors & editors: Errol Van Stralen; Jim Foster

Half Dome, shown above on June 10, 2004, is located in Yosemite National Park, California. This huge granitic rock illustrates the process of exfoliation, where concentric scales, plates or flakes of rock material are successively stripped from the surface of a rock mass. In this case, the process results from the release of pressure of a large block of granite that was previously buried. In essence, when Half Dome was forced to the surface, pressure was released and it slowly expanded -- the interior rock pushing outward.

This photo shows the east side of Half Dome. Note the trees on the top of the ridge, indicating the massive size of the scales.

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