Rocks in Kern County consist of all three basic types. Igneous, Metamorphic, and Sedimentary. Each rock type can be interlaced with the other types.

Granite - an igneous rockMetamorphic rockSedimentary rock - limestone is a form of sedimentary rock

Igneous rocks in Kern County are of both deep and surface volcanic material. In the El Paso Mountains and throughout the Mojave Desert and Great Basin Desert many of the mountains are comprised of basalt which exploded out of the earth by volcanic action.

There are few remnants of surface volcanic activity in Kern County's portion of the Sierra. North, in Tulare County, rests the inactive Golden Trout Creek Volcanic area. Along the north fork of the Kern River there is a small section of basalt that can be seen from Lloyd Meadows Road along the Rattlesnake drainage east of the Needles lookout.

The Sierra Nevada also has significant chucks of metasedimentary material that is from the ancient Sierra that rose and then eroded over the past 90-200 million years. This is frequently referred to as roof pendants. As the young Sierra rose, it pushed up the ancient remnants of the eroded Sierra. The older Sierra was mostly sedimentary rock that metamorphosed under the extreme heat and pressure of the rising chambers of granite that were extruding through the original rocks.

Most of the rock in today's Sierra Nevada is granite, which is an igneous rock that forms from magma that cools extremely slowly deep within the protective chamber of earth. The longer the cooling the larger the crystals in the granite.

Physical Features of Kern County
Mean Latitude is 35 15' 00" North Mean Longitude is 119 00'00" West

The lowest Point is 206 feet at the North quarter corner of Section 3, Township 25 South, Range 23 East, MDM, on the North line of the County, approximately 12 miles West of Delano (Supervisorial District 4).

The highest Point is 8755 feet at the summit of Sawmill Mountain in Section 31, Township 9 North, Range 21 West, SBM, on the south line of the the County, approximately 12 miles West of Frazier Park (Supervisorial District 4).

The center of population for the state of California is, currently, within Section 26, Township 28 South, Range 24 East, MDM. That's about 7 miles Northeast of Buttonwillow. (Supervisorial District 4)

Bakersfield Mean Elevation is 400 feet above Sea Level.

Kern County encompasses 8,171 square miles (5,229,440 acres) This is broken down into the following:

San Joaquin Valley 2374 square miles Supervisorial District 1 2547 square miles
Indian Wells Valley 259 square miles Supervisorial District 2 2843 square miles
Mojave Desert 1032 square miles Supervisorial District 3 55 square miles
San Joaquin Foothills 822 square miles Supervisorial District 4 2586 square miles
Mountains 3683 square miles Supervisorial District 5 140 square miles
Area West of Hwy 99 2754 square miles Area East of Hwy 99 5417 square miles


San Joaquin Valley 2,374 square miles

Recent sedimentary deposits of alluvial soil that has eroded off of the Sierra and other mountain ranges

Indian Wells Valley 259 square miles

Basalt flows from millions of years to as recent as 40,000 years ago. Top layer is sedimentary deposits from mountain ranges

Mojave Desert 1,032 square miles

The oldest rock in the southwest region of North America is found in the Mojave Desert at 1.7 billion years old. Kern County's oldest rock is 1.6 billion years old. Both are metavolcanic rocks.

San Joaquin Foothills 822 square miles


Mountains 3,683 square miles

Area West of Hwy 99 2,754 square miles

Area East of Hwy 99 5,417 square miles

Kern County Geology        Kern County Biogeography       Indigenous Peoples of Kern County

Interior chaparral and woodlands     Great Valley Grassland     Great Basin Desert     Mojave Desert     Sierran Forest

Nature Alley is dedicated to protecting natural communities wherever they exist. She is involved in many scientific and educational programs, promoting environmental appreciation and ethics.

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