Colorado’s young mountains are growing up |

Colorado’s young mountains are growing up

Kelli R. Dick

SUMMIT COUNTY – Colorado’s youngest mountains are growing up.

Due to geologic uplifting, some of the state’s most beloved peaks are staring down at everyone from new heights.

An imaginary surface that represents sea level – called the “geoid” – was recently recalculated. The number nerds at the National Geodetic Survey thought, after 150 years, this was a necessary thing.

They hammered out discrepancies not only with Western mountain peaks, but also indicated the Pacific Ocean is now higher than the Atlantic Ocean.

Carl Kellogg, a geologist with Colorado’s Earth Surface Process Team, said measuring mountain peaks is tricky at best.

“Part of the difficulty in measuring Colorado mountains has been that mountains, with all of their mass, have a certain amount of gravity that pulls ever so slightly and throws off surveyors’ levels, warping the results,” Kellogg said.

But in all, the latest revisions reflect relatively minor changes, even from the calculations of the original surveyors who had to rely on now-archaic processes.

Colorado’s highest point, Mount Elbert near Leadville, gained 7 feet to a lofty 14,440 feet above sea level. And Pikes Peak, an internationally renowned landmark long considered to be 14,110 feet, now is listed at 14,115.

Scott Minor, another geologist with CESPT, promises someday, through global-positioning satellite technology, the measurement differences will get less and less. Colorado peaks “are not really going up,” Minor said. “We’re just getting better at measuring them.”

If you’re wondering, the new elevations don’t change the rankings of any of the state’s 54 fourteeners , nor are there any additions to the list.

Elevation details for specific locations are available by going to the National Geodetic Survey Web site, You must supply approximate longitude and latitude and a radius to get a list of benchmarks in the specified area.

Clicking on those will provide details of location and elevation.

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