California’s prosperity is due, in part, to the wealth of geological resources available. This includes the availability of water supplies, mineral deposits, petroleum, metal, and even tourism revenue generated by the state’s geological features.
We all know California is a large state. It’s 163,707 square miles, making it the third-largest state behind Alaska and Texas. We also know it has a lot of people. In fact, with a population of more than 37 million, it is the most populous state in the country.What you might not know is that California’s economy is so diverse and successful that it counts as the eighth-largest economy in the world! Yes, that’s comparing just California to every other state and all the other countries in the world.
So, what makes California such a wealthy state besides having so much land and so many people?California’s land is more than just space; the state is rich with mineral wealth, petroleum, and other geological resources. You’ve heard about the Gold Rush that helped bring so many people out west, but gold is just one resource.
While we normally think of just rocks when we hear about geology, water must also be included. Not only does flowing water help shape rock formations, but water fills spaces under the ground, flowing along beneath our feet in aquifers. For California, water plays a major part in the economy.
With mountains throughout the state and cold enough weather in Northern California to support ski resorts, the industry brings in hundreds of millions of dollars every year. A recent study on just the resorts located in the Lake Tahoe area revealed that those nine facilities added $564 million to the local economy during the 2013-14 ski season.
Parks: State and National
The diverse ecosystems found in California also generate billions of dollars in tourist revenue. A recent study found that state parks alone produce over $4 billion of annual revenue through the money tourists spend to visit the park and in the local communities.
Both national and state parks are a huge attraction for people wanting to observe stunning geological formations and activities. There are beautiful deserts, and some are fascinating for the stark barrenness.
There are many mountains. There are even volcanic features where active magma just below the surface heats water to make hot springs and geysers, or water heated to extreme temperatures bursting up through the surface of the Earth.
California is gifted with a wealth of geological resources, but the state also knows how to tap into those resources for its benefit. One of the leading agricultural states in the country, California heavily relies on drilling into aquifers and harvesting groundwater to fulfill 40 percent of its needs. Other sources of water are rivers, lakes, and reservoirs.As for earth and rock, industrial mineral products yield much more income than mining for metallic wealth.
Industrial products like gravel, sand, boron, and crushed stone bring over $2 billion to the state’s economy. The only geological product more profitable is petroleum. California was once the nation’s largest source of petroleum products, but now ranks third for crude extraction. Gold is still the major source for metal wealth, making up 99 percent of all the metal extracted in the state.
Finally, the draw of California’s geological features and landscape are vital to recreational and tourism revenue. Just the ski lifts around Lake Tahoe introduce over $500 million into the local economy annually. State and national parks also draw tourists interested in seeing unusual rock formations, mountains, and volcanic attractions like geysers, or heated water shooting up from the surface of the Earth.