That little bump ahead, just beyond the fork in the road, is the world’s smallest registered mountain. Located in Australia’s low-lying Terrick Terrick Range, Mount Wycheproof stands 148 meters above sea level, which is pretty decent for a small mountain. However, it rises only 43 meters above the surrounding plain, and because the ground rises gradually to the summit, it’s hard to say where the mountain begins.
The mountain is located on the town of Wycheproof, which in turn is located on the hill’s south western slopes. The town was officially established in 1875, although the settlement dates back to 1846. The town’s name is derived from the Aboriginal language, ‘witchi-poorp’, which means ‘grass on a hill’, a reference to Mountt Wycheproof just east of the highway.
Mount Wycheproofite, the world’s smallest mountain. Photo credit: Whroo70/Panoramio
Perhaps a better candidate for the title of the world’s smallest mountain are the eroded remains of a volcanic cone in the flat plains of the Sacramento Valley in Sutter County, northern California. But because of its multiple peaks, the Sutter Buttes are referred to as the world’s smallest mountain range instead.
Rising 610 meters above the surrounding agricultural plains, the Sutter Buttes were once an active volcano formed 1.6 million to 1.4 million years ago during the Pleistocene Epoch. The central core of the Buttes is characterized by lava domes that forms when piles of viscous lava erupts onto the surface that gets higher and higher with each successive layer.
Surrounding the cone is an apron of fragmented material created by occasional eruptions of the lava domes. This ‘debris apron’ extends roughly 16 to 18 kilometers in a circle from the center. Between the core and the debris apron, lies a “moat” that was formed by erosion of older, exposed sedimentary rocks that underlie the volcanic rocks.
A satellite image of Sutter Buttes.