There are few places on the planet that are true paradise – that not only provide stunning scenery but incredible diversity of life, microclimates and geology. Baja California Sur – the state in the southern part of the larger Baja California Peninsula – is one of these places. The Peninsula separates the Pacific Ocean to the west and Gulf of California to the east, leading to a relatively safe “harbor” for thousands of species from fish to birds to whales and seals. The entire Peninsula from north to south and west to east covers an area roughly the same as the country of Nepal.
The mountains making up the “spine” of the peninsula date back to the Jurassic and Cretaceous (the time of the dinosaurs) and are part of the same original chain that formed most of the Sierra Nevada mountains of California. This chain was formed primarily as a result of the subduction of the Farallon – an ancient oceanic tectonic plate – millions of years ago along the margin of North America.
The Baja California Peninsula was once a part of the North American tectonic plate (of which mainland Mexico still remains a part) until 12 – 15 million years ago, when formation of a new oceanic rift – the East Pacific Rise – cut into the North American plate, separated the Peninsula from it and led to extensive volcanic activity. Through some complex tectonic activity over time, the Peninsula is now part of the Pacific tectonic plate and moving with it, towards the north/northwest, growing the Gulf of California at a rate of about 2.5 inches per year (about how much average fingernails grow per year).
Photo: Taken last week at Isla San José, where sky, sand and the sea meet!