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California’s Mineral, Energy, and Soil Resources
California’s Water Resources
California’s Natural Hazards
Some of the features of the California
landscaped formed as a result of tectonic
process that took place deep beneath the
surface. Wind, water, ice and other agents of
erosion at the surface carved other features
of the landscape.
Subduction of an oceanic plate beneath
the North American plate, and it’s
eventual uplift and erosion created the
Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Subduction of the Juan de Fuca plate
beneath the North American plate
produced the Coastal and Cascade
Ranges, including Mount Shasta and
Lassen Peak.
San Andreas Fault, transform boundary,
causes changes.
Faulting causes portions of the crust to
drop down, forming the Central Valley and
Basin and Range Region.
Water erosion has formed V-shaped valleys in
various mountain ranges. Also, rivers flow
slowly on valley floors, leaving thick soil
Glacial ice movement has carved U-shaped
valleys in many mountainous regions.
Soil deposits have produced the Mojave
Desert and the Central Valley.
Wind has eroded soil in the Mojave to create
large sand dunes and mineral salt deposits
left by evaporation.
The Central Valley began as an inland sea.
Uplifting of the mountains on both sides
produced a basin that was later filled with soil
washed down from the nearby mountains.
California’s major mineral resources include
sand, gravel, crushed stone, building stone,
gold, silver, iron, evaporate minerals, and
These minerals are categorized as industrial,
metallic, and nonmetallic minerals.
Sand and gravel
most valuable
industrial resourceused in road
building and
Crushed stonelimestone that
makes cement.
Limestone-used to
construct buildings.
Granite-used for
making building
stone, counter tops,
and cemetery
Gold and silver occur
in quartz veins in
igneous and
metamorphic rock.
Placer deposits-form
when dense minerals
settle out of moving
Mining areas located
in Sierra Nevada,
Klamath, and Mojave
Iron deposits found
mostly in the Mojave
Iron forms when
magma heats rock
and water beneath
the surface. Iron
forms when the rocks
cool and deposited in
the fractures of rock.
Borates form when
boron evaporates
from water.
detergents, glass,
ceramics, and
insulation contain
sulfur, and oxygen
compound forms
from sulfur-rich
waters around hot
springs. Used in
wallboard, plaster,
and cement.
Clay-silicates that
contain water. Used
in ceramics and
California’s major energy resources-oil,
natural gas, and geothermal energy-are the
result of geologic processes that occur deep
beneath the surface.
Oil – about 15% of the oil produced in the US
comes from California.
As tiny marine organisms die and are buried
by sediment, physical and chemical changes
convert it to oil.
Source rocks – rocks, such as shale, in which
oil forms
Reservoir rocks – nearby porous rocks in
which oil becomes trapped.
Natural gas – California produces nearly 350
billion cubic feet of natural gas.
Gas, composed mainly of methane, often
forms along with oil, rising to the top of a
reservoir, since it is less dense.
People use natural gas for heating, cooking,
and generating electricity.
Geothermal energy-leader in the nation in
Geothermal field – an area where magma that
is close to the surface heats ground water.
Engineers drill wells that tap into the steam,
with powers turbines to generate electricity.
Soil classification based on the area where it
The soils of California include the soils of the
Sierras, soils of the Coast Ranges and
Cascades, valley soils, and desert soils.
Sierra Nevada – tend
to be thin and low in
Coast Ranges –
reddish, acidic lowfertility soil to very
fertile, thick dark
soils. Amount of
rainfall determines
that amount of
nutrients contained
within soil
Valley soils – contain
many nutrients, since
they are left from
river deposits
Desert soils – light
sandy soil low in
Conservation is important because of soil
erosion. Soil forms very slowly, taking up to
500 years to build up 2.5 cm of soil.
Salinization – build up of salt in the soil from
irrigated areas. Evaporation pulls up salty
water to the surface. Salt is left as more
water evaporates.
The main sources of California’s freshwater
supply are precipitation, surface water, and
More than half the precipitation is lost
through evaporation or transpiration. Only
35% stays at the surface or seeps into the
Precipitation –
California averages
about 58 cm of
However, the
northern part of the
state receives a
great deal more
rain than the
southern part of the
Surface water –
precipitation flows
back into lakes,
rivers, and streams
that make up
drainage basins.
Northern part of the
state provides more
than half the state’s
water. The Colorado
River also provides
water for the state.
Groundwater –
about 30% of the
fresh water used in
Aquifers – rocks or
soils containing
Desalination of Sea
Water – desalination
is the removal of
salt from ocean
water to obtain
fresh water.
Very expensive
Forced salt water
through filters
using high pressure
To meet freshwater needs throughout the
state, California has an intricate network of
water storage and distribution systems, or
water projects.
Because the population is unevenly
distributed, local, state, and federal water
projects work together to provide for the
state’s water needs.
Local Water Projects – aqueduct, a pipe or
channel through which water flows from a
higher elevation to a lower elevation.
Los Angeles Aqueduct carries water from the
Owens River to the Los Angeles area.
Colorado River Aqueduct carries water from
the Colorado River to the Los Angeles and
San Diego area, but must share water with
the fast growing cities in Nevada and Arizona.
State Water Projects – transports rain and
melted snow from the Feather River drainage
basin to points farther south.
Provides water for people in the Bay area, the
Central Coast, and southern California.
Supplies water for the crops in the San
Joaquin Valley.
Includes numerous pumps, reservoirs,
pipelines, canals, pumping plants, and the
California Aqueduct.
Federal Water Projects – moves water from
Colorado River and Central Valley to irrigate
crops. Some water is used in the houses of
the Bay area and into wildlife refuges.
Includes the All-American Canal system, the
Coachella Canal, and the Central Valley
Agriculture – 80% of
fresh water used in
California goes to
irrigating crops.
Houses and
businesses –
approximately 380
liters per day per
person is used in the
Industry – water is
used to produce
paper and beverages.
Also used as a
Recreation and
Wildlife – areas set
aside for recreational
activities, such as
kayaking, rafting,
and fishing, and
preserves for fishing
and wetland habitats.
Natural hazard – an event that results from
Earth processes and that can cause damage
and endanger human life
Earthquake hazards – natural hazards that
result from California’s earthquakes include
tsunamis, seismic shaking, liquefaction, and
Hundreds of earthquakes occur each day, but
most are so weak that they cannot be felt,
usually a magnitude less than 5.
Tsunamis – a wave formed when the ocean
floor shifts during suddenly during an
Tsunamis can form when huge undersea
landslides of ocean sediment produce large
Even earthquakes far across the Pacific can
produce tsunamis in California
Seismic shaking – measure of how much
ground movement occurs during a quake
Seismic shaking reflects the behavior of
earthquakes waves. The waves get smaller
further away from the focus.
Seismic shaking also depends on rock and
soil conditions of the surrounding area.
Modified Mercalli scale – describes the
effects of seismic shaking; how strong an
earthquake is felt and how much damage at
a particular location
Liquefaction – occurs when water-soaked soil
turns to a thick, soupy liquid during an
Landslides – earthquakes often cause loose
rock and soil on slopes to move. Usually
become more likely after forest fires or
periods of droughts.
Natural hazards from volcanic eruptions
in California include volcanic ash, lava
flows, and volcanic gases.
The Cascade Range contains many
volcanoes that have erupted over periods
of time. Volcanic ash and lava flows are
hazards for the surrounding areas.
Volcanic field is an area covered by
volcanic rocks.
High concentrations of carbon dioxide
gas can escape from beneath a volcano,
potentially killing plants, animals and
Two main storm-related hazards in California
are mudflows and flooding.
Mudflows start in a depression on a steep
hillside. The mudflow starts slowly, but picks
up speed as it engulfs more loose debris.
Flooding occurs when too much rain or
melted snow fill river channels in a short
period of time. Flooding also occurs when
excessive rainfall causes dams or levees to