Mt Sopris: just add magma and erosion.

Photo by Scot Gerdes, graduate of the Colorado Mountain College Professional Photography Program

Photo by Scot Gerdes, graduate of the Colorado Mountain College Professional Photography Program.

Imagine the making of our Mount Sopris into the beautiful icon that it is today. It looked very different – it wasn’t a mountain at all – 66 million years ago:

Image depicting where the future mountain takes shape.

These flat sedimentary layers are where the future mountain takes shape.

Extreme geologic forces were at work here around 34 million years ago. In layman’s terms, think about how a blood blister forms and then think about it on a massive earth scale.

Magma, molten rock beneath the earth’s surface, is the blood that blisters into the “skin” of the earth. This is called an igneous intrusion.

Image depicting the igneous intrusion from 34 million years ago.

Magma from deep within the earth’s crust was injected into the sedimentary layers. The result was a giant igneous dome covered by 10,000 feet of sedimentary rock.

Many people mistakenly believe Mt. Sopris was a volcano. Instead, the magma in Mt. Sopris never erupted; it crystallized 10,000 feet beneath the surface.

image depicting present-day Mt. Sopris.

Erosion by water (rain, melting snow, glacial ice, ice wedging) over 34 million years has generated the current dome-shaped, twin-peaked icon of the Roaring Fork Valley.

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