Photograph of the Painted Hills at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon.

Oregon Earth Science Quick Facts

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

Image above: The Painted Hills at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon. Photograph by Bruce Fingerhood (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license; image cropped).

Geologic Map of Oregon


Geologic map of Oregon.

Geologic map of Oregon 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).

Oregon State Fossil: Metasequoia

The state fossil of Oregon is Metasequoia, the dawn redwood.


Image

Samples of Metasequoia sp. from the Middle Eocene of Oregon; collections of the California Academy of Sciences (CASG 68224). Image by California Academy of Sciences (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic license).

Oregon State Rock: Thunder Egg (Geode)

These geodes, locally called “thunder-eggs,” are found in Eocene-age rhyolite lava flows, having formed within gas pockets that served as molds.


Image

Thunderegg specimen from Oregon. Photograph by "Cacophony" (Wikimedia Commons; Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license).

Oregon State Minerals: Oregonite and Josephinite

Oregon has two official state minerals: the sulfide oregonite (Ni2FeAs2) and the iron-nickel alloy josephinite (Ni2Fe to Ni3Fe), which is also known as awaruite..


Photograph of a piece of oregonite from Oregon.

Sample of oregonite from Oregon. Photograph by Erik Vercammen (Wikimedia Commons; Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license).

Photograph of a sample of josephinite from Oregon.

Sample of josephinite from Jackson County, Oregon. Photograph by James St. John (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

Oregon State Gem: Oregon sunstone

"Oregon sunstone" is a type of translucent feldspar formed as large crystals in basaltic lava flows.


Photograph of a sample of sunstone from Oregon.

Sunstone (faceted) from Oregon. Photograph by James St. John (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license).

Oregon's Highest and Lowest Elevations


Topographic map of Oregon.

Topographic map of Oregon with physiographic regions and point of highest elevation identified. Topographic data are derived from the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM GL3) Global 90m (SRTM_GL3) (Farr, T. G., and M. Kobrick, 2000, Shuttle Radar Topography Mission produces a wealth of data. Eos Trans. AGU, 81:583-583).


Highest Elevation: Mt. Hood

Mt. Hood, about 80 kilometers (50 miles) east of Portland, is Oregon’s highest point at 3429 meters (11,249 feet). A dormant volcano, Mt. Hood is the fourth highest peak in the Cascade Range.


Photograph of Mt. Hood in Oregon. The mountain has the classic conical shape of a stratovolcano.

Mount Hood in Oregon is a stratovolcano in the Cascades. Source: U.S. Forest Service-Pacific Region (flickr, public domain).


Lowest Elevation: Pacific Coast

Oregon’s lowest points are found at sea level along the coast, where the shoreline meets the Pacific Ocean.


Photograph of Cannon Beach on the Pacific Coast of Oregon.

Cannon Beach on the Pacific coast of Oregon. Photograph by Mark Smith (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution-NoDervis 2.0 Generic license).

Places to Visit


Rice Museum of Rocks & Minerals

Hillsboro, Oregon.


Visit website
Image

The Rice Museum of Rocks & Minerals. Photograph by Wm Gary Warren (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license).


John Day Fossil Beds National Monument

Kimberly, Oregon.


Visit website
Photograph of the Painted Hills at John Day Fossil Beds in Oregon.

The Painted Hills at John Day Fossil Beds National Monument in Oregon. Photograph by "Dru!" (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license).


Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum

The Dalles, Oregon.


Visit website
Photograph of the exterior of the Columbia Gorge Discovery Center in Oregon.

The Columbia Gorge Discovery Center & Museum in Oregon. Photograph by A. F. Litt (Flickr; Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 2.0 Generic license).

Additional resources


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


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

Virtual Fieldwork Experience: Why does the Oregon Coast Look the Way it Does? (Prezi presentation).


Explore
Screenshot of a virtual fieldwork experience home screen that is based on the Oregon coast.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.