A tiny geological treasure can be found in the San Bernadino Mountains of southern California: the “Pebble Plains.” Located near the famous ski town of Big Bear Lake, this 92 square-mile area exhibits a soil type found nowhere else in the world, a combination of clay and quartz fragments left behind by a glacier lake that existed during the Pleistocene Era. Over the last 10,000 years, these ingredients have been subject to repeated swelling and shrinking from the freezes at that altitude (6000-7500 feet) and the sun’s heat at that latitude (34° North), resulting in a unique composition.
Tiny botanical treasures are also found there, collectively called, “Belly Plants” because they are so small you have to get down on your belly to see them. About a dozen of these plant species are found nowhere else in the world, having evolved there in isolation, adapting to the unique soil.
Like many other ecosystems worldwide, this one is at risk from the effects of Climate Change.