The Precambrian

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The Precambrian granite on the ridge was from the late Archean Eon and was 2.6 billion years old. It dipped below us. Close to the interstate, the Union Pacific had been blasted through some sandstone that rested on, and was derived from, the granite-littoral sands of Cambrian time, when the American west coast was at Rawlins. Between this Flathead sand and the Madison limestone above it, lying here and there in pockets in an unconformity of a hundred and seventy million years, was the rich-red soil of the Paleozoic plain. A streak of it showed in a low hillside even closer to us than the railroad cut, so we walked over to collect some and put it in a bag. As rock it was so incompetent that it could easily be crushed to powder-a beautiful rose-brick powder with the texture of cocoa. It had been known in the paint business as Rawlins Red, and in the warpaint business as effective medicine, this paleosol (fossil soil) three hundred and fifty million years old. As we returned to the road, a couple of Consolidated Freightways three-unit twenty-sixwheel tractor-trailers went by, imitating thunder. Love said, “First we had the Conestoga, then the big freight wagons with twelve to sixteen oxen. Now we kantoor per uur eindhoven have those things.” The spread of time at Rawlins, like the rock column in a great many places in Wyoming, was so impressively detailed that it seemed to suggest that Wyoming, in its one-thirty-seventh of the United States, contains a disproportionate percentage of American geology. Geologists tend to have been strongly influenced by the rocks among which they grew up. The branch of the science called structural geology, for example, has traditionally been dominated by Swiss, who spend their youth hiking and schussing in a national textbook of structure. When a multinational oil company held a conference in Houston that brought together structural geologists from posts all over the world, the coffee breaks were in Schweizerdeutsch. The wizards of kantoor per uur rotterdam sedimentology tend to be Dutch, as one would expect of a people who have figured out a way to borrow against unrecorded deposits. Cincinnati has produced an amazingly long list of American paleontologists-Cincinnati, with profuse exceptional fossils in its Ordovician hills. Houston-the capital city of the oil geologist-is a hundred and fifty miles from the first place where you can hit a hammer on a rock. Houston geologists come from somewhere else.

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