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What Is The Kamiak Butte? Essay

1058 words - 5 pages

Kamiak Butte is one of the few areas near Pullman that reflect the many geologic terms learned in class. This area is an example of an area that is extinct to the surrounding landforms. This butte is located in Whitman County, in between the cities of Colfax and Pullman, Washington. With an elevation of 3, 641 feet above sea level, Kamiak Butte has one of the highest elevations in all of Whitman County (1). The county park covers about 298 acres, and consists mainly of woodlands. Once one has climbed to the top of the butte, the sights become endless and breathe taking. To the north is Steptoe Butte, and southeast is Paradise Ridge and Moscow Mountain. Surrounding the top is endless views of loess dunes, and Blue Mountains that can be seen far into, to the southeast. The breath taking views, and short ten-minute drive from the Washington State University campus, make for Kamiak Butte being one of the most visited hikes in Whitman county (3). The hike offers the option for both those wanting to take a leisurely walk through nature, or a more rigorous adventure. The first hiking trail, that only consists of one mile, opens into a 3.5-mile trail that leads to the ridge of Kamiak Butte.

Rocks Present:
When standing on top of the butte, the rock that makes up a majority of the area is quartzite. Quartzite is a metamorphic rock that forms when existing rock is exposed to extreme amounts of heat and pressure (4). The quartzite that is found on Kamiak Butte was formed sometime around 1.47 to 1.4 billion years ago during the Paleozoic period of the Precambrian era. Many of the metamorphic rocks have been fractured and decayed due to physical and chemical weathering, but because quartzite consists of one of the strongest minerals quartz, or silica dioxide, many of the rocks are still in some type of their original formation. Rocks are measured on a scale of 1 to 10 called Moh’s hardness scale, and quartz has been found to measure at about 7 on that scale (4). Due to the hardness and resistance of erosion of quartzite, Kamiak Butte has been able to sustain tough conditions and stay dominant among the surrounding flat lands. This rock is seen everywhere within Kamiak Butte and can be distinguished by its orange or tan hue. Although the butte is primarily made up of quartzite, there is a surrounding thick layer of basalt that also can found. These rocks can be found at an outcropping, or in other terms the area where the rock is exposed, about 2.6 miles away from the main entrance of the park. Basalt is an igneous rock that is dark in color, typically gray or black, which can sometimes be identified with holes in it, called vesicles (1). This rock is very dense, and is sometimes seen with small crystals or oxidation. While hiking the butte, oxidation is commonly noticed, normally by the rust that is visible on the rock. The basalt at Kamiak Butte was formed through the process of a rift zone. This occurs when tectonic plates spread apart and cracks and...

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