Spanish Peaks in Colorado

November 02, 2010

Spanish peaks
Photographer: Tommy Hornbeck
Summary Author: Tommy Hornbeck

This bucolic scene featuring the rugged Spanish Peaks of the central Rockies was captured near La Veta, Colorado on May 23, 2008. East Spanish Peak at 12,661 feet (3,859 m) on the left, and West Spanish Peak at 13,583 feet (4,140 m) of the Culebra Range are located on the far western edge of what was once the North American inland sea. Over millions of years, sand and silt built up on the bottom of this sea, and later, as the land was tectonically forced upward, it emerged as layers of sedimentary rock, miles thick. About 35 million years ago, this rock was subjected to the stresses of continental drift. Cracks and seams formed and molten rock from below filled these voids. The melting sediments were thus assimilated into the hot magma. This molten or igneous rock solidified below the surface as intrusive plutons and created large horizontal batholiths of granite. Upward bulges in these batholiths, called stocks, are common throughout the world and are what form the Spanish Peaks. Over the eons, the sedimentary rock has eroded away and left the harder granite of the stocks standing. While the surrounding area is marked by many lava flows and volcanic mounts, the peaks themselves are not extinct volcanoes, but rather igneous rock that cooled and solidified deep within the Earth's crust. 

Photo details: Camera Maker: NIKON CORPORATION; Camera Model: NIKON D80; Focal Length: 32.0mm (35mm equivalent: 48mm); Aperture: f/8.0; Exposure Time: 0.0040 s (1/250); ISO equiv: 200; Exposure Bias: none; Metering Mode: Matrix; Exposure: program (Auto); White Balance: Auto; Flash Fired: No; Color Space: sRGB.