1. Education

A Tour of Joshua Tree National Park


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Pinto Basin
High desert margin
(c) 2000 Andrew Alden, licensed to About.com (fair use policy)

This part of the park is the Pinto Basin, a large flat-floored valley with large mountain ranges around it. It's a very different sort of country than the western part of the park, reflecting different geology. This is the edge of the Basin and Range province, where the Earth's crust is stretched apart by the interactions of the crustal plates. The brittle rocks of the upper crust break into blocks, which sink and tilt in the hotter, softer material beneath. The parts that tilt up are the ranges, while the parts that tilt down quickly fill with sediment and become the basins. The land looks like this from here across all of Nevada and into Oregon, Idaho and Utah.

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