SEAL ROCK's geology has a long and interesting history.
This natural area was formed when the uppermost part of the mantle partially melted and magmas rose through the crust to the surface about 14 million years ago. (1) At that time, the coastline was about 100 miles inland when a fissure erupted causing the Earth's crust to break apart, sending fountains of lava hundreds of feet high. It then crept slowly across the landscape making its way to the sea. (2) The resulting geologic fault lines are still visible at Seal Rock State Park.
North View of Seal Rock's "Giant's Causeway" (c. 1950) courtesy Oregon State Archives
More recent geological studies found that profound seismic activity occurred on 26 January 1700, when an estimated 9.0 earthquake rocked the Pacific west coast sending a tsunami from the Washington-Oregon coast to the coast of Japan. This was confirmed by Japanese writings that recorded the time, date, location and effects of that catastrophic event.
At the SEAL ROCK viewpoint, the largest formation resulting from this landscape transformation is a sea stack supported by sandstone, which rises boldly above the horizon and is known locally as "Elephant Rock".
This giant sentinel acts as a habitat and nesting ground for several sea bird species including brown pelicans, gannets, gulls and cormorants .
Elephant Rock also serves as a kind of
way point or resting area for weary
birds migrating along the coast. Resident Bald Eagles have also been
seen enjoying a view from atop this massive bird refuge.
"Elephant Rock" at Seal Rock by B. Goody
Along either side of this mammoth formation, you will find a series of dark colored igneous rocks that rise to about 20 feet from the sea surface. Waves crashing against them create a spectacular symphony for the senses any time of the year, but especially during the Pacific winter storms! Almost daily you will find storm watchers lined along the roadside with binoculars fixed upon the explosive scenes that can only be experienced to be truly appreciated.
Seal Rock Goliaths by B. Goody
Although Seal Rock
viewpoint is a palpable gem, there also
exists a hidden
natural treasure trove where visitors may, during a low tide, find a ledge of rocks covered in a thick coat of bright green seaweed. These rocks are usually submerged in the Pacific Ocean along the tidal surf line and extend parallel to the coast for about two and a half miles and are found a distance of a half mile from the shoreline. (3) Sheltered within this protected cove is one of the largest collections of coastal tide pools teeming with a colorful variety of marine animals.
Seal Rock Tide Pools by B. Goody
Primary access to these natural wonders is through the Seal Rock State Park recreation site with some access from the south across from the Seal Rocks RV Park. Access to offshore rocks is prohibited as they are part of the Oregon Islands National Wildlife Refuge. Even rocks that are accessible at extreme low tides may be included in this designation. If the rocks are not connected to the land at high tide, they are considered to be a part of the refuge.
SEAL ROCK is also the home of an access-restricted archeological site located in the vicinity that is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. (4) To protect its artifacts and ensure historical preservation, the exact location is not disclosed to the public.
Other artifacts and fossils have been discovered just to the north of the entrance to Seal Rock State Park across from Grebe Street, which conceals a small path leading down to the beach. Fossils are said to be found when a low tide exposes Nye Mudstone and Astoria Formation Sandstone which appears below bluffs found north of the Seal Rock village. You'll find this location near a small parking lot with a rocky path taking you to the beach. Treasure hunters say to head north during a low tide.
The tide pools and shorelines of SEAL ROCK may also reveal agates that are tossed up onto the beach during heavy surf. Agates can be many colors, but SEAL ROCK's agates look almost transparent when lying in a tide pool and have an opulent blue tone when dry.
Remnants of long ago Indian tribes were still evident,
even after the U.S. government began to open up
settlement of their lands to white landowners in
the 1800's. SEAL ROCK land owners of the day may have found shell beds that would range in
depth from one to six feet indicating several generations of tribal settlements existed at SEAL ROCK during ancient times.
Some evidence of Indian shell middens (mounds) still remain along the roadsides as the SEAL Rock viewpoint. The ancient mounds are believed to be between 300-1800 years old - the oldest being at the bottom of the mound.
Ancient Middens by B. Goody
Continue your history lesson with Seal Rock's Early History
Credits and Contributions:
1) http://dusk.geo.orst.edu/oceans/OC103FieldTrip.pdf Retrieved on 02.02.08
2) http://www.beachconnection.net/news/geo14046_2233.htm (By Andre' Hagestedt) Retrieved 02.08.08
3) http://www.oregoncoast.history.museum/Communities.htm - Retrieved on 02.08.08
4) National Register of Historic Places
Remainder of content (c) B. Goody 2007-2009 - All Rights Reserved
________________________________________________________________________________________ Our special thanks to the Lincoln County and Waldport Historical Societies
for their contributions of photographs and information.
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