Photograph of a landscape at Yosemite National Park in eastern California. The famous peak of Half Dome can be seen to the left of the image, with additional peaks in the distance.

Additional Resources for the Earth Science of the Western United States

Page snapshot: Lists of supplemental and teaching resources for the geology of the western U.S., sorted by topic.

Topics covered on this page: General resources; Geologic history; Rocks; Fossils; Topography; Mineral resources; Energy; Climate; Earth hazards.

Credits: Most of the resources from this page come from the The Teacher-Friendly Guide to the Geology of the Western US, edited by Mark D. Lucas, Robert M. Ross, and Andrielle N. Swaby (published in 2014 by the Paleontological Research Institution; currently out of print). The book was adapted for the web by Elizabeth J. Hermsen and Jonathan R. Hendricks in 2022.

Updates: Page last updated July 29, 2022.

Image above: View of well known rock formations at Yosemite National Park, California, most famously Half Dome (at left). Photo by Adavyd (Wikimedia Commons, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported license, image cropped and resized).

Disclaimer: Links to commercial websites (internet retailers, rock and mineral shops, informational websites that include a shop, etc.) do not constitute endorsement of their products.

General resources


State of Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries:

Geologic history

Books, articles, and reports

The Alaska Range and Denali: Geology and Orogeny (Denali National Park & Preserve):

Convergent plate boundaries—subduction zones (National Park Service):

Transform plate boundaries (National Park Service):

Yellowstone Volcano Observatory. 2019. The Yellowstone hotspot and Columbia River Basalts. Yellowstone Caldera Chronicles, USGS, December 9, 2019.


AAPG. 1968. Pacific Southwest Region Geological Highway Map (California, Nevada). AAPG, Tulsa, Oklahoma.

AAPG. 1995. Pacific Northwest Geological Highway Map (Washington, Oregon, Idaho in part). AAPG, Tulsa, Oklahoma.



Brown, V., D. Allan, and J. Stark. 1987. Rocks and minerals of California, 3rd revised edition. Nautregraph Publishers, Happy Camp, California, 200 pp.

Stoffer, P. W., and L. C. Gordon, eds. 2001. Geology and natural history of the San Francisco Bay Area: A field-trip guidebook. U.S. Geological Survey Bulletin 2188.


General/multiple states

Blodgett, R. B., and G. D. Stanley, eds. 2008. The terrane puzzle: new perspectives on paleontology and stratigraphy from the North American Cordillera. Geological Society of America Special Paper 442: 326 pp. [Technical]

Johnson, K., and R. Troll. 2018. Cruisin’ the fossil coastline: The travels of an artist and a scientist along the shores of the prehistoric Pacific. Chicago Review Press - Fulcrum, 290 pp.

Mikanowski, J. 2017. The giant sea mammal that went extinct in less than three decades. The Atlantic, April 19, 2017. 

Tidwell, W. D. 1998. Common fossil plants of western North America, second edition. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, DC. [Covers western states of contiguous U.S. and southern Alberta, British Columbia, and Saskatchewan in Canada.]


Books, articles, and reports

Allison, R. C. 1978. Late Oligocene through Pleistocene molluscan faunas in the Gulf of Alaska region. The Veliger 21: 171–188. [Technical] Read online at the Internet Archive:

Denning, A. 2020. A new southeast Alaska dinosaur species has been given a Tlingit name. Alaska Public Media, February 6, 2020.

Gangloff, R. A.. 2012. Dinosaurs under the Aurora. Indiana University Press, Bloomington, Indiana, 176 pp.

Hart, J. 2020. Reading the bones: A 43,000-year-old mystery is answering some question and prompting researchers to ask others. Our Stories Blog, U.S. Bureau of Land Management, July 10, 2020.


Alaska Paleontological Database:

Blue Babe: Bon anniversaire, Blue Babe (University of Alaska Museum of the North):

Denali National Park and Preserve fossils (3D models of fossils by Denali National Park and Preserve on Sketchfab):

Discovery of dinosaur tracks in Denali (National Park Service):


Books, articles, and reports

Hilton, R. P. 2003. Dinosaurs and other Mesozoic reptiles of California. University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 356 pp.


La Brea Tarpits (Las Angeles, California):

Pygmy mammoths: Life and times (Channel Islands National Park): (Videos about the pygmy mammoth.)

The pygmy mammoth (Channel Islands National Park):


Books, articles, and reports

Black, R. 2021. Shonisaurus gets a makeover. Hakai Magazine, 17 February 2021.

English, A. M., and L. E. Babcock. 2010. Census of the Indian Springs Lagerstätte, Poleta Formation (Cambrian), western Nevada, USA. Palaeogeography, Palaeoclimatology, Palaeoecology 295: 236–244. [Technical]

Springer, K. B., and J. S. Pigati. 2019. Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument - a Pleistocene treasure trove. Park Paleontology News 11(1).

Springer, K. B., J. S. Pigati, and E. Scott. 2018. The geology and paleontology of Tule Springs Fossil Beds National Monument, Nevada. USGS Fact Sheet 2018-3038.

Tanner, F. 2020. Fossil fishing for clues about a prehistoric invasion. University of California Museum of Paleontology News & Updates (blog post, May 22, 2020).

Tarte, N. H. 2019–2020. Digging into Nevada's prehistoric past. Tahoe Quarterly.


Books, articles, and reports

Bishop, E. M. 2003. In search of ancient Oregon: A geological and natural history. Timber Press, Portland, Oregon, 288 pp. [Reprinted 2006.]

Manchester, S. R. 1987. Oligocene fossil plants of the John Day Formation, Fossil, Oregon. Oregon Geology 49: 115–127. [Somewhat technical.] PDF:

Manchester, S. R. 1994, Fruits and seeds of the Middle Eocene Nut Beds flora, Clarno Formation, Oregon. Palaeontographica Americana 58: 205 pp. [Technical.] PDF:

Orr, E. L., and W. N. Orr. 1999. Oregon fossils. Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company, Dubuque, Iowa, 381 pp.

Retallack, G. J., E. A. Bestland, and T. J. Fremd. 1996. Reconstructions of Eocene and Oligocene plants and animals of central Oregon. [Somewhat technical.] Oregon Geology 58: 51–69. PDF:


Fossils, Minerals & Gems (State of Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries):

John Day Fossil Beds National Monument (National Park Service):

Oregon Paleo Lands Center:


Books, articles, and reports

Chappell, W. M., J. W. Durham, and D. E. Savage. 1951. Mold of a rhinoceros in basalt, Lower Grand Coulee, Washington. Geological Society of America Bulletin 62: 907–918. [Technical.][907:MOARIB]2.0.CO;2

Mustoe, G. E., and W. L. Gannaway. 1997. Paleogeography and paleontology of the early Tertiary Chuckanut Formation, northwest Washington. Washington Geology 25(3): 3–18. PDF:

Wehr, W. C., and D. Q. Hopkins. 1994. The Eocene orchards and gardens of Republic, Washington. Washington Geology 22(3): 27–34. PDF:


Evolving Earth Foundation Fossil Plant Image Collection (Fossils from the Eocene sites at Republic, Washington, and McAbee, British Columbia):

Stonerose Interpretive Center & Eocene Fossil Site (Republic, Washington):


Books, articles, and reports

Sawyer, J. O. 2006. Northwest California: A natural history. University of California, Berkeley, California, 247 pp.


Northwest origins: An introduction to the geologic history of Washington state (Burke Museum):

Mineral resources

Books, articles, and reports

Frank, D. G., A. R. Wallace, and J. L. Schneider. 2010. Western Mineral and Environmental Resources Science Center—providing comprehensive earth science for complex societal issues. US Geological Survey Circular 1363, 32 pp. PDF:

Hill, M. 1999. Gold: the California story. University of California Press, Berkeley, California, 306 pp.

Mendahl, K. H. 2008. Hard road West: History and geology along the Gold Rush Trail. University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, 329 pp.


California's minerals (California Department of Conservation):

Fossils, Minerals & Gems (State of Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries):

Gold in Alaska (blog by The Gem Hunter):

Gold in California (blog by The Gem Hunter):


Books, articles, and reports

Books, articles, and reports from the Paleontological Research Institution:

Fountain, A. G., and E. Safran. 2010. Imperiled glaciers of the American West. American Paleontologist, 18(4): 10–14.

Other books, articles, and reports:

Guyton, B. 2001. Glaciers of California: Modern glaciers, Ice Age glaciers, origin of Yosemite Valley, and a glacier tour in the Sierra Nevada. University of California Press, Berkeley, 223 pp.

Rennick, P. (ed.). 1993. Alaska’s Glaciers, revised edition. Alaska Geographic Society, Anchorage, 144 pp.


Eureka Flat: How glacial outburst foods started the dust engine of the Pacific Northwest (M. Sweeney, University of South Dakota, Vignettes: Key Concepts in Geomorphology):

Glacier change in the upper Skagit River Basin (F. D. Granshaw and A. G. Fountain, Department of Geology, Portland State University):

Glaciers of Mount Rainier (F. D. Granshaw and A. G. Fountain, Portland State University):

Glaciers of the America West (Departments of Geology and Geography, Portland State University):



Books, articles, and reports

EIA. 2021. Oil production in Alaska reaches lowest level in more than 40 years. Today in Energy, April 26, 2021.

Hasemeyer, 2021. Trans-Alaska pipeline under threat from thawing permafrost. High Country News, July 14, 2021.

Houseknecht, D. W., and K. J. Bird. 2005. Oil and gas resources of the Arctic Alaska Petroleum Province. US Geological Survey Professional Paper 1732–A.

Nielsen, L. 2014. Geothermal energy in remote Alaska. Frontier Scientists, June 10, 2014.

Smith, T. 2013. Alaska north slope: source rocks hold promise. GEoExPro 10(3).

Wight, P. 2017. How the Alaska pipeline is fueling the push to drill in the Arctic Refuge. Yale Environment 360, November 16, 2017.


Alaska Hydropower Project Review (NOAA Fisheries):

Exxon Valdez Oil Spill Trustee Council:

Lessons learned from the Exxon Valdez spill (NOAA Office of Response and Restoration):


The Exxon Valdez, 25 years later, Making Waves episode 122 (NOAA, includes graphic and transcript):


Books, articles, and reports

Oaster, B. 2021. Will Klamath salmon outlast the dam removal process? High Country News, August 17, 2021.

Phelan, S. 2013. How the Monterey Shale came to be. Bay Nature, September 2, 2013.

Rintoul, W. 1990. Drilling through time: 75 years with California's Division of Oil and Gas. California Department of Conservation, Division of Oil and Gas, Sacramento, 178 pp.

Thompson, B. 2021. The familial bond between the Klamath River and the Yurok people. High Country News, August 24, 2021.

Thulin, L. 2019. How an oil spill inspired the first Earth Day. Smithsonian Magazine, April 22, 2019.


Oil & gas (California State Lands Commision, State of California):

Renewable Energy (California Energy Commission):


Books, articles, and reports

Kutz, J. 2021. The fight for an equitable energy economy for the Navajo Nation. High Country News, February 1, 2021.

Payne, B. 2020. Windy, but no windfall: Why Nevada lags behind in commercial wind power. KUNR Public Radio, May 20, 2020.


Geothermal (State of Nevada Commission of Mineral Resources, Division of Minerals):

Nevada Geothermal Energy (Bureau of Land Management):

Oregon & Washington

Books, articles, and reports

EIA. 2014. The Columbia River Basin provides more than 40% of total U.S. hydroelectric generation. Today in Energy, June 27, 2014.

McDonnell, T. 2013. Washington Is outdoing California and Texas in renewable energy. Slate, May 17, 2013.


Energy in Oregon (Oregon Department of Energy):


General/multiple states

Books, articles, and reports

2012. The Age of Western Wildfires. Climate Central, Princeton, New Jersey, and Palo Alto, California. PDF:

Zhong, R. 2022. Climate scientists warm of a 'Global Wildfire Crisis.' New York Times, February 23, 2022.


Western Regional Climate Center:

The Climate Explorer:

4th National Climate Assessment (2018):


Books, articles, and reports

2019. Unprecedented 2018 Bering Sea ice loss repeated in 2019. NOAA, August 14, 2019.


Alaska PaleoGlacier Atlas: Pleistocene glacier extents in Alaska (D.S. Kaufman, N. E. Young, J. P. Briner, and W. F. Manley):

Climate change in Alaska (Division of Community and Regional Affairs, State of Alaska):

Climate impacts in Alaska (United States Environmental Protection Agency):

California & Nevada

Books, articles, and reports

Kauffman, E. Climate and Topography. Atlas of the Biodiversity of California. PDF:


Climate impacts in the Southwest [includes California and Nevada] (United States Environmental Protection Agency):

Oregon & Washington

Climate impacts in the Northwest [includes Oregon and Washington] (United States Environmental Protection Agency):

National Climate Assessment 2014: Northwest.

Earth hazards


Books, articles, and reports

Jones, L. M., and M. Benthien. 2007. Putting down roots in earthquake country: your handbook for the San Francisco Bay Region. USGS General Information Product 15. PDF:

Oregon State University News and Communication Services. 2010. Odds are 1-in-3 that a huge quake will hit Northwest In Next 50 Years.

Thorsen, G. W. 1994. Earthquake preparedness—when you're not home. Washington Geology 22(3): 35–38. PDF:


Alaska Earthquake Center (University of Alaska, Fairbanks):

Earthquakes in Oregon (State of Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries):

Southern California Earthquake Center (SCEC):


Oregon Geology Factsheet: Landslide hazards in Oregon (Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries):


Oregon Tsunami Clearinghouse (State of Oregon Depart of Geology and Mineral Industries):

Recent and Historical Tsunami Events and Relevant Data (Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration):

Tsunamis!: Tsunamis past and present (University of Washington):


Books, articles, and reports

Brantley, S., and B. Myers. 2000. Mount St. Helens—from the 1980 eruption to 2000. US Geological Survey Fact Sheet 036-00. PDF:


Volcanoes in Oregon (State of Oregon Department of Geology and Mineral Industries):