Desert: The L.A. Mag Guide to Geology

The lay of the desert land
303

butteButte 

An isolated hill, with steep sides and a flat top, it may be the remnants of a mesa, which has a flat top and at least one clifflike side but is broader.

 

 

cinder-coneCinder Cone 
The cone-shaped hill forms downwind of a volcanic vent. Lava flying out of the vent solidifies as it hits the air and accumulates in a neat pile.

 

 

desert-pavementDesert Pavement 
It’s a surface layer of pebbles packed closely into the hard soil. One theory holds that it develops as wind and rain remove the finer-grained topsoil.

 

 

Illustrations by Roger Hall