Science & Nature


Offshore and beneath Prairie Creek’s forest lies a mixture of twisted rocks. Over 20 million years, more than 8 miles of sandstone, shale, serpentine, chert, and greenstone (a blend called Franciscan Complex) have built up in layers from the original ocean floor. These sediment layers resulted from repeated tectonic plate collisions. Three tectonic plates—North American, Pacific, and Gorda—all meet offshore at the Mendocino Triple Junction south of Eureka. Particles from each plate collision float along the ocean floor until they are deposited. Sea stacks—rock towers that have broken off from the main land mass—protrude from offshore waters.

For more information about geology in Redwood National and State Parks, go to the National Park Service website.

Climate Change

Scientists studying the effects of rising global temperatures have found that the size and longevity of redwoods helps them store more climate-altering carbon dioxide than other plants. Even old redwoods continue to grow, each year adding more carbon-filled wood than smaller, younger trees. After redwoods die, their rot-resistant wood holds onto that carbon for a long time. See Save the Redwoods League's Understanding Climate Change.

More Information

For more information about nature and science in Redwood National and State Parks, go to the National Park Service website.

Research in the Park

With the help of Save the Redwoods League  and other funding partners, Prairie Creek and other redwood state parks have become living laboratories for scientists. Some recent findings from Prairie Creek include:

To find out more about research in California's redwood parks, go to Redwood Research.