The Physical Geography of Orange County
ThePhysical Geography of Orange County
Chapter 16: Stream and Stream System 4
Chapter 15: Weathering & Mass Wasting 6
Chapter 13: The Composition of Earth 8
Chapter 20: Coastal Processes and Terrain 11
Chapter 3: Weather and Climate 13
Chapter 14: The Internal Processes 16
Chapter 12: Soils 18
Chapter 11: Terrestrial Flora and Fauna 20
ThePhysical Geography of Orange County
OrangeCounty is the smallest county in Southern California State in theUnited States and borders the Pacific coast on the southwest, LosAngeles County on the north, San Bernardino and Riverside Counties onthe northeast, and San Diego County on the southeast. The countycovers a total of 948 square miles, whereby 791 square miles is land,and 157 square miles is covered with water. Orange County has anaverage temperature of 68 oF.The County lies in coastal plains of Los Angeles Basin in thenorthwest and rises into the foothills of the Santa Ana Mountainswhich lies within the eastern boundaries and Cleveland NationalForest. Santiago Peak, measuring about 5,689 feet is the highestpoint of the county. The county’s major watercourse is the SantaAna River that flows through the county’s center from northeast tosouthwestern part. The coastline is approximately 42 miles in length.This paper attempts to study some of the landforms in Orange Countyto get a better view of its geographical outlook.
Chapter16: Stream and Stream System
Topic: Streamand Stream System April 2nd,2017
Chapter16: Stream and Stream SystemLocation: Santa AnaRiver
Page: 530 Description: StreamChannels
Thestream and stream system of Orange County is majorly composed oftributaries joining the Santa Ana River, which is the main watersource of Orange County. Stream channel refers to a body of flowingwater through a watercourse. The primary source of the river is CoonCreek. In the entire southern California, the Santa Ana River is thelargest and the heart of the stream and stream system. Santa AnaRiver is approximately 96 miles in its length and drains watershedabout 2,5650 square miles with 50 tributaries. Its drainage basinextends to four counties within the United States. The river rises inthe mountains of San Bernardino and flows through the cities ofRiverside, and Bernardino then cuts through the northern tip of themountains of Santa Ana and flows past Santa Ana and finally drainsits waters into Pacific Ocean.
Topic: Streamand Stream System April 2nd,2017
Chapter16: Stream and Stream SystemLocation: New Bay
Page:550 Description: Watershed
InOrange County, there are about 11 watersheds, which are land areasbounded by the hydrologic system, within which their common watercourse inseparably connects all organisms. In most cases, watershedsare separated from each other by mountain ridges or any naturallyexisting elevator. The watershed in Orange County drains their watersinto the Upper New Bay and Bolsa Chica coastal areas. A watershed isformed by creeks connected to a river that on its later stageconnects to a river or ocean. In short, a watershed refers to ageographic region draining into a river system, sea, ocean or anyother water body via a single outlet and incorporates the receivingwaters. The waters in a watershed include the melted snow that comestogether as runoff and forms smaller streams that meet other streamsfurther down until a river is created. The above watershed shows thePeters Canyon Wash watershed that receives regional stream flows andsurface water runoff.
Chapter15: Weathering & Mass Wasting
Chapter15: Weathering & Mass Wasting Location: San Clemente
Page:452 Description: Weathering
OrangeCounty experiences a series of rock weathering. The Geo Tours inSouth Orange County show exposed metamorphic rocks that haveundergone weathering. Weathering refers to the process of gradualdestruction of rocks under surface conditions. Weathering mightinvolve the chemical activity of physical activity as in the caseshown in the photos. The weathering process produces sediments whichare solid fragments of inorganic or organic materials that areeventually deposited by the wind, water, or moving ice. Mechanicalweathering is a form of mass wasting that involves soils movingdownslope under the force of gravity, and it involves breaking downof rocks into small pieces in the process.
Topic: MassWasting April 4,2017
Chapter15: Weathering & Mass Wasting Location: SouthernCalifornia
Page:457 Description: Landslides
OrangeCounty has also experienced mass wasting in several parts. Masswasting refers to the movement of the materials of the earth due togravity that pulls downslope. Oceanside in Orange County is one ofthe areas that experience mass wasting as seen in the photo. The typeof mass wasting that occurred in this area was due to a landslide,which is a sudden downhill movement of masses of debris flow composedof a mixture of sand, mud, rock, and water. In this case, water isthe biggest factor that caused mass wasting as it affects the soil’sstability. Landslides are triggered by heavy rainfall or a lot ofrainfall over a long period. The other factors that contribute tomass wasting are wildfire and frequent earthquakes.
Chapter13: The Composition of Earth
Topic: Rocks April 4, 2017
Chapter:13 The Composition of Earth Location: Black RockForest
Page:320 Description: Gneiss Rocks
TheBlack Rock Forest in Orange County is also another geological sitewith black rock or the gray with dark streaks and layers. This blackstone is the gneiss rock that has a medium to coarse grain texture.The rock is characterized by the discontinuous and changing light anddark layers that have coarse granular texture. The gneiss is ametamorphic rock that has been subjected to high temperature andpressure than a Schist rock. The rock is formed from themetamorphosis of granite or the sedimentary rocks. The layers thatalternate are made up of various materials.
Topic: RocksApril 3rd,2017
Chapter13: The Composition of Earth Location: Whiting RanchWilderness Park
Page:329 Description: Sandstone
The"Red Rock Canyon at Whiting Ranch Wilderness Park," inOrange County are some of the amazing and beautiful geologicalformations in the United States. The red rock stands at thousands offeet high and is composed of Aztec Sandstone. The red rock was formedabout 180 to 190 million years ago. The sandstone is made up oflithified sand dunes which formed in the vast desert which covered alarger area of the southwestern United States. The sandstone wasformed from the lithification process. The process of lithificationinvolves changing the unconsolidated sediments into sedimentaryrocks. The red coloration of the Aztec sandstone is as a result ofthe existence of the iron oxides. The iron was exposed to air andvapor causing it to oxidize or rust, thus, forming the red, brown,and yellow-colored rocks. From the photo, it is noticeable that someparts of the rock are buff. These are the places where iron neveroxidized or was leached out by the subsurface waters.
Chapter20: Coastal Processes and Terrain
Topic: Coastalprocesses April 3rd,2017
Chapter20: Coastal Processes and Terrain Location:Moro Beach
Page:603 Description: Bays
Thecoastlines of Orange County are littered with the evidence oferosions and the powers of the ocean waters. The Bay in south OrangeCounty was formed due to an erosion of the coastline by the seawater. A good view of a typical Bay in Orange County is at the MoroBeach as seen in the photos above. The process of weathering is alsoa primary cause of the formation of bays in Orange County. The wavesfrom the sea attack the bands of soft rocks running at right angle tothe sea. The sea waves erode these bands of soft rocks at differentrates. Other processes like hydraulic actions and abrasion also makethe process of erosion more effective (Hess & McKnight, 2017). Attimes of calmer weather, the hard rocks will absorb the most of thewave energy and refract them into regions with the soft rocks,enabling the sediments to deposit and form beaches. The longer impactof the process of erosion leads to softer rocks being eroded intocurved sand filled bay.
Topic: CoastalprocessesApril 3rd,2017
Chapter20: Coastal Processes and Terrain Location: Crescent Bay -Laguna Beach
OrangeCounty has several headlands that are formed when the sea watersattack a section of the coast with alternating bands of hard and softrocks. The soft rock bands like and clay erode faster than the moreresistant chalk. The erosion process leaves a section of land juttingout into the sea which is the headland. In this area, wave erosion isthe stronger where large waves break against the cliff’s base. Asseen from the photo of the North Laguna Beach in southern OrangeCounty, the harder section of the rocks protrudes from the sea wateralong the coastal line. The process of erosion of soft rocks alongthe coastal line also leads to the creation of bays as seen in thephoto.
Chapter3: Weather and Climate
Topic: WeatherApril 4, 2017
Chapter3: Weather and Climate Location:Westcliff Drive
Page:159 Description: Cold and Foggy weather
Theweather in the Southern part of Orange County in the morning of 1stApril 2017 was cold and foggy. Sometimes the fog is considered as acloud at ground level, even though the process leading to itsformation is different from that of clouds. Fog is a collection ofdroplets of water that are suspended in the atmosphere in the earth’ssurface vicinity and has the effect of affecting the visibility. Theimplication is that fog is made up of condensed water droplets thatresult from the air that has cooled to a point where it cannot holdall the water vapor it comprises. In most cases, fog reducesvisibility below 1 kilometer (Hess & McKnight, 2017). The type offog witnessed in the photo above is known as evaporation or advectionfog that is caused by cold air that passes over warm water. The fogwas caused by cold air passing over warm water from the New PortBeach.
Topic: Weather April 4, 2017
Chapter3: Weather and Climate Location:Serrano Drive
Page:67 Description: Warm and Sunny Wether
Inthe past two days, the weather in the northern part of Orange Countyhas been fairly gorgeous. On the 4th,the Anaheim Hills were visible from the Serrano Drive. During theday, there were high pressures that built across the northern part ofOrange County which brought a warm and beautiful weather. Warmweather gives out moderate heat to a satisfactory degree. The warmweather was preceded a foggy morning which then cleared to sunnyskies when the temperatures reached about 75 oF.The northern Orange County region experienced sunny skies throughoutthe day. The mountains also experienced sunny and mild day.
Chapter14: The Internal Processes
Topic: Earthquake April 4, 2017
Chapter14: The Internal ProcessesLocation: San Jose
Page:370 Description: Fault lines
Theorange county has also experienced a series of earthquakes with thelast one occurring in 2014, and the remains are still visible as seenfrom the photo above taken from the western part of the County.Earthquakes occur when a rock underground abruptly breaks along afault line. In simple terms, earthquakes only occur on faults. Afault line is a fracture that occurs as a result of the movement ofthe crust (Hess & McKnight, 2017). The plates will continue tomove until they get stuck, and the earthquake stops. The seismicwaves are generated when two sides of the fault slide past eachother. The rapid release of energy results into seismic waves whichtriggers the ground to shake. The faults can be located anywhere fromfew meters ton thousands of kilometers on the ground. The photo aboveshows where the fault line occurred during the 2014 earthquake thathit San Jos.
Topic: EarthquakeApril 4, 2017
Chapter14: The Internal Processes Location: San Andreas
Page:404 Description: Liquefaction
SanAndreas area was once hit by a higher magnitude of the earthquakeback in 1933, leaving several people dead. The evidence of theearthquake is still visible as the area sunk to the ground. Theprocess which caused the earth to sink into the ground is theliquefaction which occurs when the earthquake shakes up waters thatsit loosely packed in sediments approximately 10 to 20 meters belowthe ground surface, and turn the normal solid soil into liquid (Hess& McKnight, 2017). However, for liquefaction to happen, the areaaffected must be composed of loosely packed sediments. It impliesthat in places where there are solid rocks such as granite,liquefaction can never occur since there is no liquid in the pores tocause the ground to sink.
Topic: SoilClassification April 4, 2017
Chapter12: Soils Location: Coorg
Page:310 Description: Loam Soil
Soilis the collection of naturally occurring bodies on the surface of theearth. Orange County bears a right amount of loam soil in areas likethe flood planes of the Santa Ana River. These planes include Brea,Westminster, Santa Ana, Fullerton, and Tustin. The photo above wastaken from Coorg area. Loam soil is the ideal type of soil foragriculture because of its capabilities to hold water and nutrientsfor longer periods. It is a combination of clay, silt, and sand.Different proportions of clay, silt, and sand give the loam soilvarious sub-loam soil such as sandy loam, silt loam, clay loam, sandyclay loam, and silt clay loam. The clay portion enables the loam soilto hold water and nutrients whereas the sand portion encouragesdrainage. The silt provides the loam soil with important organicmatter that makes the soil fertile and supports life.
Topic: SoilClassification April 4, 2017
Chapter12: SoilsLocation: Pleasants Peak,Cleveland National Forest
Page:315 Description: Serpentine soil
Someparts of Orange County are also covered with soils not suitable foragricultural production such as the Pleasants Peak in ClevelandNational Forest. The soil in Pleasants Peak region is the Serpentinesoil derived from the ultramafic rocks, particularly serpentinite,which is a rock created by the hydration and metamorphictransformation of ultramafic rock from the mantle of the earth. Theultramafic rocks can find their way on the surface of the eartheither by erosion of the material on top of ophiolite or throughuplifting during tectonic activities. Serpentine if formed by theintense deformation that is caused by the force of the movement ofthe crust. The rock then develops a fracture into which water canflow, which then changes the mineral content of the rock, therebycreating a serpentine, which is a polished gray-green-black rock.Once the rock has been exposed to elements like water, serpentineweathers to form soil.
Chapter11: Terrestrial Flora and Fauna
Topic: TheMajor Biomes April 4, 2017
Chapter11: Terrestrial Flora and Fauna Location: Western Ghats
Page:283 Description: Tropical Rainforest
OrangeCounty has some of the major biomes that include the terrestrialtropical rain forest that provides scenic beauty and acts as ahabitat for several other organisms. Particular ranges oftemperatures and the amount of rainfall determine the places whererain forests exist. The tropical rain forests tend to occur inregions of tropical rainforest climate where there are no dryseasons, that is, all months possess an average rainfall of about 60mm. The forest in the Western Ghats provides a perfect example of atropical rain forest in Orange County. This part of the county doesnot have any dry season as it is always wet and rains are frequent.Tropical rain forest is very diverse and has the greatest diversityof tree and animal species in Orange County.
Topic: TheMajor Biomes April 4,2017
Chapter11: Terrestrial Flora and FaunaLocation: DeathValley National park
Page:290 Description: Desert Sand Dunes
Despitehaving great environments like the tropical rainforest in the WesternGhats, Orange County also has some dry areas that turned into desertssuch as the Death Valley National Park. Deserts usually form due to ashortage of rain after a long duration. The presence of mountainridges in the Death Valley acted as barriers and blocked the wetcurrents emanating from the oceans, which determined the conditionsthat favored the creation of the desert. Different deserts havedifferent geological conformations because of the effect of the windcausing wind erosion. The typical desert in Death Valley is made ofsand dunes, mountain rocks, and shrubs. A dune refers to a mound ofsand created by the wind, normally along a beach or in a desert. Sanddunes form when the wind blow sand into a sheltered region behind anobstacle. Dunes have a windward side and a slipface. The windwardside refers to where the wind is blowing and pushing the sand upwhile the slipface is the side of the dune without wind and is inmost cases smoother than the windward side.
Hess,D., & McKnight, T. L. (2017). McKnight`sphysical geography: A landscape appreciation.Place of publication not identified: Pearson.
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