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Inspiration Point – How the mountains formed!

A cache by SAMO-NPS Send Message to Owner Message this owner
Hidden : 3/17/2008
1.5 out of 5
3.5 out of 5

Size: Size: not chosen (not chosen)

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Geocache Description:

Welcome to the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area EarthCaching Program. This earthcache site is available year round. This cache is on trail. Please do not travel off trail for your safety and preservation of resources.

Located at Circle X Ranch in the Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area. Access to this cache is by way of trail from either National Park Service land or State Park Land. Mountain bikes are not permitted for travel to this cache.

Information regarding Circle X Ranch and Inspiration Point.

The two main trails to access this cache are the Mishe Mokwa Trail and the Sandstone Peak Trail. There is free parking at either trail head. Pets are permitted on a leash no longer than 6 feet (2 meters). Bicycles are not recommended on the trails at Circle X Ranch. Horses are not permitted to this cache. Camping is restricted to the Group Campground only. Permits are required for camping.

• Circle X Ranch is open from sunrise to sunset daily.

• All plant material, rocks, animals, and historical features are protected by law and may not be collected or disturbed.

Safety information:
- Poison Oak can be found in this area. It is identified by three leaves ranging in color from green to crimson. The plant is deciduous, so it does lose its leaves in the winter.
- Watch out for mountains lions, rattlesnakes and ticks.

Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area Visitor Center Information:
Open daily from 9 AM – 5PM.
Address: 401 West Hillcrest Drive, Thousand Oaks, CA, 91360
Phone number: 805-370-2301
In emergency: dial 911

Geological information

A monument in memory of a young scout, William R. Plants was installed by a group of young men at this site to give other individuals the same courage to be inspired to reach their goals; hence the name, Inspiration Point. This same monument, made of the surrounding rock, has a compass on the top that points you in the direction of many different places. From here, a view of Los Angeles, Oxnard Plain, and the Valleys of Southern California can be seen. The Channel Islands, which were created at the same time and by the same process that created the Santa Monica Mountains, can be seen from here too.

Oligocene Epoch: 33- 23.8 million years ago.
Farallon Plate: An oceanic plate beneath the Pacific Ocean, about the size of Oregon.
North American Plate: The continental plate of North America.
Pacific Plate: Oceanic plate north of the Farallon Plate under the Pacific Ocean.
Subduct: the process of one tectonic plate descending and sliding beneath another plate.
Transverse Range: Mountains that run in an East-West direction instead of a North-South direction.
Transferred Lithosphere: The remnants of the plate that is left behind as the ridge travels northeastward.

(Image A) Traveling back in time, during the Oligocene epoch the Farallon Plate began to subduct beneath the North American Plate. Before this time, most of the rocks were sedimentary and marine in origin. That is to say they came from the ocean and not from a volcano.

Plate Movement This image shows from west to east the plates of the California coastal region. These are the Pacific Plate, Farallon Plate (which split into the Guadalupe Plate and Magdalena Plate), and the North American Plate. Arrows indicate plate movement direction. The green region is the area that contains the Santa Monica Mountains and Channel Islands. (from Hey, 1998)

(Image B) As the Farallon Plate subducted and collided with the Pacific Plate, the Farallon Plate rotated, bucked, and twisted. This was the first indication of the Santa Monica Mountains, about 20 million years ago. This process was not a smooth one.

(Image C) As the Pacific Plate pushed the Farallon Plate under the North American Plate volcanoes started to form much like the ones in the Cascades: such as Mount St. Helen, Mount Rainer and Mount Hood in the Northwest. The Farallon Plate spit into two “new” plates called the Guadalupe Plate and Magdalena Plate about 16 million years ago. These plates were being subducted were dragged like ragged ball bearings along this new boundary. This explains why the mountains are a transverse range.

During the highest activity, between 16 and 13 million years ago, one would have observed explosive eruptions, earthquakes, and the relatively quick rise of land that gave the Santa Monica Mountains their shape today. These mountains would have been over 10,000 feet high!

The evolution of the Farallon Plate subduction zone is a key component in the diversity of tectonics and fault structures in Southern California. These mountains are no longer the massive giants they once were. The eruptive volcanoes that produced the Santa Monica Mountains and Channel Islands are no longer active, but the modest structures they left behind, such as the rock you’re standing on, still remain.

If you want to know more about the geology of the mountains you’re standing on, head down the trail to Sandstone Peak. You might be surprised to what it’s made out of!

To complete this EarthCache and get your certificate, click the link below to take the quiz:

Inspiration Point Quiz

The questions for this cache are as follows:

1. What is the nearest location the monument points to?

2. Who put up the monument at the top of Inspiration Point?

Sources for this cache are:

Dibblee Jr., Thomas W., Ehrenspeck, Helmut E., 1990, Geologic Map of the Point Mugu and Triunfo Pass Quadrangles, Ventura and Los Angeles Counties, California, Dibblee Geological Foundation, Map #DF-29.

Hey, Richard N., 1998, Speculative propagating rift-subduction zone interactions with possible consequences for continental margin evolution, Geology, v. 26, no. 3, p, 247-250.

National Park Service, Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area, Thousand Oaks, CA, 91360.

Nicholson, Craig, Sorlien, Christopher C., Atwater, Tanya, Crowell, John C., Luyendyk, Bruce P., 1994, Microplate capture, rotation of the western Transverse Ranges, and initiation of the San Andreas transform as a low-angle fault system, Journal of Geology, v. 22, p. 491-495.

Additional Hints (Decrypt)

Gurer vf n fvta yrnqvat gb gur pnpur. Gurer vf n zbahzrag ng gur gbc.

Decryption Key


(letter above equals below, and vice versa)



126 Logged Visits

Found it 120     Write note 4     Publish Listing 1     Update Coordinates 1     

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Current Time:
Last Updated: on 11/15/2017 3:33:58 PM (UTC-08:00) Pacific Time (US & Canada) (11:33 PM GMT)
Rendered From:Unknown
Coordinates are in the WGS84 datum

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