Large flat rock on mountain summit - natural or human made?

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Large flat rock on mountain summit - natural or human made?

Postby jbetaweb on August 12th, 2018, 12:44 am 

Hi everyone,

I was hiking up a mountain, and, near the summit, noticed an area of rock that is surprising flat.

In the 1st picture, it's a little bit below in the centre of the photo. The 2nd picture shows it much closer. In the 3rd picture, I am standing on the flat area.

At first, I though that people had gone and cut off a section of the mountain to create a flat area. But when I stood on the flat area, I could not see any signs of human cutting - but if humans had cut the rock, maybe the signs have eroded away.

On the mountain, this is the only place where I saw this distinctive feature, and I want to know if this flatness was somehow made by human cutting, or by some natural process? If this was caused by some natural process, what kind of process would create such a flat area, in a place where everything else is irregularly shaped?

The elevation of the summit in the pictures is 1,449 m = 4,754 ft. The mountain is in the North American Pacific Northwest.

There are a few stacks of rock that are definitely made by people; but how did the large flat area come into being?

Thank you for your answers.

Jason

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Re: Large flat rock on mountain summit - natural or human ma

Postby zetreque on August 12th, 2018, 1:12 am 

Nice observation and welcome to the forum. My bet is on a natural process. One guess is that there was a vein in that particular area of the mountain and something caused the layers above to erode away or be pushed (perhaps by previous glacial movement). You could look for Glacial striations. The picture where you are standing on it looks typical of the Sierra Nevada's and glaciated landscapes.

You have my permission to knock down those rocks balanced on one another. People do that and it detracts from the nature experience. Forestry people take them down for that reason. Leave no trace practices.
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Re: Large flat rock on mountain summit - natural or human ma

Postby Forest_Dump on August 12th, 2018, 9:06 am 

Yes flat areas on large rock faces can have been made a number of ways. Some rock was laid flat on the bottom of oceans and thus have fossil sea life within it. Other rock was metamorphozed and have large cracks or faces made by pressure, etc. Or as mentioned,rock can have been scraped flat by glacial ice. Mountains are made when two continental plates mash into each other so that one rides up on top of the other and then gets lifted. Typically the higher the mountains the younger they are so the Rockies are fairly young. So too are the Himalayas made from former ocean bottom rock that was and is still being lifted because the Indian continental plate is crashing north into Asia and still being lifted up. You can also find large flat areas high up in the highest mountains there too.
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Re: Large flat rock on mountain summit - natural or human ma

Postby jbetaweb on August 15th, 2018, 2:08 am 

Thank you both for your thoughts on this. I was able to do a more specific internet search based on your reply and found the following opinion from an article by a member of the local natural history society:

"On the approach to the peak of Mt. Seymour (sometimes referred to as Third Peak) at 1413 m elevation is a glacial pavement of granitic rocks which have been intruded by at least two approximately 3 metre thick dykes of fine-grained dark volcanic rock probably of basaltic composition." ( David Cook, 2017, Self-guiding geology tour in Seymour Provincial Park, p. 11 )
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