Mines Road, California

Steven Dutch, Professor Emeritus, Natural and Applied Sciences, Universityof Wisconsin - Green Bay


Despite the encroachment of urban sprawl, the picturesque town of Livermore has managed to keep its appeal.  
A long time landmark was the flagpole in a traffic circle downtown. With traffic circles enjoying a comeback, it looks like it will be there for a while.

The Mines Road

The road clings to the side of a scenic deep valley.
Left and below: Blueschist outcrops. This road displays pretty much all the classic subduction zone rock types.
Bedded chert.
Serpentine is nutrient poor and weathers to sparsely vegetated landscapes like this, reminiscent of the hills in "Snuffy Smith."
Where the road climbs out of the valley, the adjacent stream has this interesting carbonate-cemented bed.
The road finally comes out into a broad valley. The white patches on the mountain below are magnesite mines, formed by the alteration of serpentine.

Mount Hamilton and Lick Observatory

At the south end, the Mines Road has two branches. One turns west to Mount Hamilton, site of Lick observatory.
The Sierra Nevada are visible through the gap at left center.
Lick Observatory.
Above: the 36-inch refracting telescope, second largest in the world.

Left, the 120-inch reflector, by today's standards, medium-sized.
Sunset on the observatory domes.
The road up the east side is scenic. The road down the west side may be the most barf-inducing road on the planet. Reputedly with 365 bends to allow a shallow enough grade to haul equipment up.

Del Puerto Canyon

The road east from the Mines Road, the Del Puerto Canyon Road, looks interesting on a map, like it might offer views of the Central Vally and Sierra. It's actually pretty dull.
Serpentine altering to magnesite.

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Created 04 November 2018, Last Update 06 June 2020