What’s a batholith?

Reading time: Less than 1 minute

Increase your vocabulary and you’ll make your writing much more precise. That’s why I provide a word of the week. Today’s word: batholith

I read the book The Mountain Story by Canadian novelist Lori Lansens for one reason: Another novel of hers, The Girls, sits near the top of my lifetime top 100 list. I keep hoping she’ll be able to write another book that’s just as good. Sadly, The Mountain Story isn’t it.

I think this tale of four troubled people who end up lost, on top of a mountain, together, is meant to show how they must come to depend on one another. I didn’t care enough about any of the characters to find the book deeply moving but at least it gave me my word of the week: batholith.

Here is how Lansens used it:

Nola always turned to look at the magnificent batholith.

A batholith is a large body of igneous rock formed beneath the Earth’s surface by the cooling and crystallization of magma (hot fluid below or within the earth’s crust.) The Sierra Nevada Mountains, for example, are made up of a granitic batholith, thrust into its position over several million years. This range not only forms a major mountain chain, but also was responsible for driving the California gold rush. This is because precious minerals including gold are commonly associated with granitic batholiths.

The word is a relative newcomer, dating back to only 1903 when it was coined by German geologist Eduard Suess (1831-1914) from the Greek bathos, meaning “depth” and  -lith, meaning “stone.”