South Dakota’s Tallest Peak Is Shorter Than Originally Estimated

Posted: Dec 28 2016, 11:31am CST | by , Updated: Dec 28 2016, 9:49pm CST, in News | Latest Science News

 
South Dakota’s Tallest Peak is Shorter than Originally Estimated
Black Elk Peak (formally known as Harney Peak)
 

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New survey shows that South Dakota's Black Elk Peak is 11 feet shorter than previously thought.

South Dakota’s tallest moutain, Black Elk Peak, may have been taken down a notch.

The peak is officially listed as 7,242 feet tall but it turns out to be 7,231 feet high after the latest efforts from private surveyors. That’s 11 feet lower than previous estimates, but still high enough to be the tallest mountain in the state.

Jerry Penry, a professional surveyor from Nebraska, decided to take new measurements of Black Elk Peak, formally known as Harney Peak after learning that the peak's current estimations are based on late 1890's survey.

“We’re living in an era of precise measurements and to have something out there that still relies upon something of an imprecise nature, it’s almost a disservice to the way we say that we can measure things.” Penry told the Rapid City Journal.

Penry alongside six team members set out to measure the peak in September and found a big surprise.

New survey showed that the highest point on the peak is 7,231 feet above sea level, which contradicts the previous estimates mentioned on the bronze plague at the summit.

Currently, the publications and websites of government agencies are also providing conflicting information. The datasheets of the National Geodetic Survey, which seem to be the most reliable official source, say Black Elk Peak stands at 7,244 feet. U.S. Geological Survey’s National Map says that the peak’s elevation is 7,191 feet while another source Geographic Names Information System says that the peak is 7, 211 feet tall.

New effort involves a trove of modern technology like tripods and GPS instruments as well as analysis by computers at National Geodetic Survey and Penry believes that this is the best-ever measurements of the elevation of Black Elk Peak to date but he has not put forward a formal request for changes in publications and official websites. Penry says he had undertaken the project only to satisfy his curiosity.

“It’s chasing the truth, if you will and you may never actually get there,” said David Doyle, former chief geodetic surveyor of National Geodetic Survey who endorses the work of Penry and his colleagues.

“But you are always in a quest to make it the best it can possibly be.”

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