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Denali (Mount McKinley)

July 3, 2012 by staff 

Denali (Mount McKinley), Mount McKinley, or Denali (Koyukon Athabaskan for “The High One”, Dghelaayce’e in Ahtna), in Alaska, is the highest mountain peak in the United States and in North America, with a summit elevation of 20,320 feet (6,194 m) above sea level. Measured base-to-peak, it is the tallest mountain on land. Measured by topographic prominence, it is the third most prominent peak in the world after Mount Everest and Aconcagua. It is the centerpiece of Denali National Park and Preserve.

Mount McKinley is a granitic pluton. It has been uplifted by tectonic pressure while at the same time, erosion has stripped away the (somewhat softer) sedimentary rock above and around the mountain.

The forces that lifted Mount McKinley-the subduction of the Pacific plate beneath the North American plate-also raised great ranges across southern Alaska. As that huge sheet of ocean-floor rock plunges downward into the mantle, it shoves and crumples the continent into soaring mountains which include some of the most active volcanoes on the continent.

┬áMount McKinley in particular is uplifted relative to the rocks around it because it is at the intersection of major active strike-slip faults (faults that move rocks laterally across the Earth’s surface) which allow the deep buried rocks to be unroofed more rapidly compared to those around them.

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