Photograph of Mendenhall Glacier, Alaska.

Alaska Earth Science Quick Facts

Page snapshot: Alaska State Geologic MapFossil; Rock; Mineral; GemHighest and Lowest Elevations; Places to Visit; and Additional Resources.

Image above: Mendenhall Glacier, flowing from the Juneau Ice Field. Photograph by Jonathan R. Hendricks.

Geologic Map of Alaska


Geologic map of Alaska.

Geologic map of Alaska showing maximum ages of mappable units. Image by Jonathan R. Hendricks for the [email protected] project developed using QGIS and USGS data (public domain) from Fenneman and Johnson (1946) and Horton et al. (2017).

Alaska State Fossil: Mammuthus primigenius

The state fossil of Alaska is Mammuthus primigenius, the woolly mammoth.


Black and white photo of five men posting with a mammoth tusk. Two of the men are holding up the tusk, which has its base and tip resting on the ground. The man in the center holds a little girl who is standing on the apex of the arch formed by the tusk. 

The Biederman family and their friends with a mammoth tusk, Yukon River, Alaska, 1930. Photo source: National Park Service/NPS (public domain).


Photograph of a model of a woolly mammoth on display in a museum. The mammoth looks like an elephant with long, shaggy brown hair. It has long tusks that curve upward.

Model of a woolly mammoth on display at the Royal Victoria Museum, British Columbia, Canada. Photo by Thomas Quine (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license, image resized).


Learn more about Alaska's fossil record

Alaska State Rock: None

Alaska does not have an official state rock. What do you think it should be? Answer in the comments.


Learn more about Alaska's rocks

Alaska State Mineral: Gold

Gold can be found and mined throughout Alaska, and has always been a major state industry and force for exploration.


Image

Derelict gold mining barge near Fairbanks, Alaska. Photograph by Steve Jurvetson (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).


Learn more about Alaska's mineral resources

Alaska State Gem: Nephrite Jade

Large deposits of this green metamorphic stone are found throughout the Seward Peninsula. It formed during accretion of the area’s terranes.


Photograph of a sample of nephrite jade from Alaska.

River-worn sample of nephrite jade from near Talkeetna, Alaska. Photograph by James St. John (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

Alaska's Highest and Lowest Elevations


Topographic map of Alaska.

Topographic map of Alaska. Image by "Aconcagua" (Wikimedia Commons; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license; image resized).


Highest Elevation: Denali

Denali (formerly Mt. McKinley), with an elevation of 6168 meters (20,237 feet), is the highest mountain in North America as well as Alaska. The mountain is located in Denali National Park, in the south-central part of the state, and it is considered the third most prominent peak in the world after Mt. Everest in the Himalayas and Aconcagua in the Andes.


Photograph of Denali in Alaska.

Denali, with Wonder Lake in the foreground, Alaska. Photograph by Denali National Park and Preserve (Wikimedia Commons; public domain; image cropped and resized).


Lowest Elevation: Coastline

Alaska’s lowest points are along its coastlines, where the shore is at sea level.


Photograph of a bay with mountains in the distance at Hoonah-Angoon, Alaska.

Port Frederick near Hoonah-Angoon, Alaska. Photograph by Jonathan R. Hendricks.


Learn more about the topography of Alaska

Places to Visit


Alaska State Museum

Juneau, Alaska.


Visit website
Photograph showing specimens of different types of minerals found in Alaska.

Mineral specimens on display at the Alaska State Museum in Juneau.


SoHo CoHo: Ray Troll's Art Gallery

Ketchikan, Alaska. Ray Troll has provided art work for several popular books about ancient life.


Visit website
Image

Artwork by Ray Troll displayed as part of a temporary exhibit at the Alaska State Museum. Photograph by Jonathan R. Hendricks.


Mendenhall Glacier

Juneau, Alaska.


Visit website
Photograph of Mendenhall Glacier, southeastern Alaska. The photo shows a glacier flowing down a rocky slope and into a lake. Vegetation grows on the shore opposite the glacier.

Mendenhall Glacier in Juneau, Alaska.

Additional resources


Learn more about the Earth science of Alaska and the surrounding region on [email protected]


Explore
Simple map showing the physiographic regions of the western United States.

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