James G. Moore

U.S. Geological Survey

Exploring the Highest Sierra

This will be the 328th meeting since 1954.

Jacket photograph: In an eastward view to the Sierra Crest above Dusy Basin, alpenglow colors the ragged mass of Mount Agassiz (13,891 feet, left) and the ridge of Mount Winchell (13,768 feet, right). Photograph courtesy of Jim Stroup. Jacket design by Janet Wood.

In this presentation, Jim Moore will lecture on the topic of his new book, Exploring the Highest Sierra (Stanford University Press, 2000, 448 p.). We hope that the press production will have been enough by then that Jim will have copies for sale (and for book signing) at the meeting.

Exploring the Highest Sierra is a popular introduction to one of the most magnificent regions of the American West, detailing the geology and early exploration of the highest part of California's Sierra Nevada. It is also a guide for visitors to Sequoia and Kings Canyon National Parks, with abundant maps, photographs, and geologic road and trail guides that clearly explain the formation of the awesome natural features before them.

During the Civil War the first scientific party that attempted a reconnaissance map of the region discovered, in the process, that it included the highest mountain then in the United States, Mount Whitney. The book describes the arduous travels of the early explorers, including John C. Fremont and John Muir, and weaves the history of exploration together with modern geologic concepts to show the early naturalists' contributions to geologic thought. Throughout, all terms that may be unfamiliar to nonspecialists are simply defined, and the book is richly punctuated with anecdotes, tales, and biographical sketches of colorful characters associated with the region.

The book is illustrated with 224 early etchings and maps, modern photographs and diagrams, including 44 maps that incorporate 12 historical charts dating back to the earliest explorations. A series of 15 color maps of the region encompassing the parks, all at the same scale, feature such diverse aspects as the trails pioneered by John Muir, the extent of glacial ice during the Ice Age, and the location of geologic faults and earthquake epicenters. Geologic guides for the regions principal roads and trails (including the southern half of the John Muir Trail) define the mileage of all lookouts and points of interest so that the visitor can examine the described features at first hand.

About the Speaker

Jim Moore (right) and Warren Hamilton (left) in the southern Sierra Nevada, 1986. Photograph by Mike Diggles

James G. Moore is a Senior Research Geologist Emeritus with the U.S. Geological Survey in Menlo Park, California. He is the coauthor (with Robert D. Ballard) of Photographic Atlas of the Mid-Atlantic Ridge Rift Valley.

Jim's book and other Sierra-related resources are listed on Gordie's Ramblings in the High Sierra.

  • DINNER MEETING - Tuesday, April 18, 2000
  • Location: Stanford University

  • 5:30 PM-Wine Tasting: Mitchell Bldg., first floor
  • 6:15 PM-Dinner: . . . Mitchell Bldg., first floor
  • 7:30 PM-Meeting: . . . Moved back to Skilling again (not Geology Corner)
    see map

    Anyone wishing to attend the lecture only is welcome at no cost.

    Reservations: The preferred way to make reservations is simply to email Willie Lee at, tell him you will attend, commit to pay, and bring your payment to the meeting. A check made to "PGS" is preferred.

    If you want to pay in advance:

    Stanford faculty and students: Please make dinner reservations by Friday, April 14. Contact Dr. Gary Ernst (Louie is on sabbatical in Tokyo for six months) via his mailbox (and leave check), Geology Corner, Room 118. Make checks out to "PGS."

    All others, including faculty and students from other Bay Area universities and colleges and USGS: Please make dinner reservations by Friday, April 14. Contact Willie Lee, at USGS, MS-977, 345 Middlefield Rd., Menlo Park, CA 94025, phone 650-329-4781. Send check made out to "PGS" to Willie.

    Dinner is $25.00. Includes wine (5:30 to 6:15 PM.), dinner (6:15-7:30 PM.), tax, and tip. Note: PGS does not make revenue on this price.

  • Please note: Because dinners are contracted with our caterer, no-shows will be billed.

    For students from all universities and colleges, the dinner, including the social half-hour, is $5.00 and is partially subsidized thanks to the Associates of School of Earth Sciences, Stanford University (Note, no-show reservations owe the full price).

    Dues for Academic Year 1999-2000 ($10.00) should be sent to Willie Lee, USGS, MS-977, 345 Middlefield Rd., Menlo Park, CA 94025. Willie's phone: 650-329-4781.

    Officers: Gary Ernst, President; Mike Diggles, Vice President; Vicki Langenheim, Secretary; Willie Lee, Treasurer

    Date created: 03/27/2000
    Last modified: 06/25/2003
    Created by: Mike Diggles, Vice President, PGS.

    c/o U.S. Geological Survey, MS-951, 345 Middlefield Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025. (650) 329-5404 email to

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