The Coast Ranges

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In this cross section, the Coast Ranges occupy forty miles, the valley fifty miles, the mountains ninety. All of it added together is not a great distance. It is not as much as New York to Boston. It is Harrisburg to Pittsburgh. In breadth and in profile, a comparable country lies between Genoa and Zurich-the Apennines, the Po Plain, the Alps. An old VW bus is best off climbing the Sierra from the west. Often likened to a raised trapdoor, the Sierra has a long and planar western slope and-near the state line-a plunging escarpment facing east. The shape of the Sierra is also like an airfoil, or a woodshed, with its long sloping back and its sheer front. The nineteenth-century geologist Clarence King compared it to “a sea-wave” -a crested ocean roller about to break upon Nevada. The image of the trapdoor best serves the tectonics. Hinged somewhere beneath the Great Valley, and sharply faulted on zakelijke energie vergelijken its eastern face, the range began to rise only a very short geologic time ago-perhaps three million years, or four million years-and it is still rising, still active, continually at play with the Richter scale and occasionally driven by great earthquakes (Owens Valley, i872). In geologic ages just before the uplift, volcanic andesite flows spread themselves over the terrain like butterscotch syrup over ice cream. Successive andesite flows filled in local landscapes and hardened flat upon them. As the trapdoor rises-as this immense crustal block, the Sierra Nevada, tilts upward-the andesite flows tilt with it, and to see them now in the roadcuts of the interstate is to see the angle of the uplift. Bear in mind how young all this is. Until the latter part of the present geologic era, there was no Sierra Nevada-no mountain range, no rain shadow, no ten-thousand-foot wall. Big rivers ran west through the space now filled by the mountains. They crossed a plain to the ocean. Remember about mountains: what they are made of is not what made them. With the exception of volcanoes, when mountains rise, as a result of some tectonic force, they consist of what happened to be there. If bands of phyllites and folded metasediments happen zakelijke energie to be there, up they go as part of the mountains. If serpentinized peridotites and gold-bearing gravels happen to be there, up they go as part of the mountains.

The American Museum of Natural History

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The American Museum of Natural History has a whole Gosiute trout perch in the act of swallowing a herring, recording in its violence two or three seconds from forty-six million years ago. In the museum’s worldwide vertebrate collection, roughly one fossil in five comes from Wyoming, and a high percentage of those are from Gosiute and neighboring lakes. Around the shores were red roses and climbing ferns, hibiscus and soapberries, balloon vines, goldenrain. The trees would generally have been recognizable as well: pines, palms, redwoods, poplars, sycamores, cypresses, maples, willows, oaks. There were water striders, plant hoppers, snout beetles, crickets. The air was full of frigate birds. Dense beds of algae matted the shallows. In all phases zakelijke energie through the eight million years, quantities of organic material mixed with the accumulating sediments and are preserved with them today in the form of oil shale. On the far side of the Uinta Mountains was another great lake, reaching from western Colorado well into Utah. Lake Uinta, as it has come to be called, and Lake Gosiute and several smaller lakes left in their shales a potential oil reserve estimated at about one and a half trillion barrels. This is the world’s largest deposit of hydrocarbons. It is actually nine times the amount of crude oil under Saudi Arabia, and about ten times as much oil as has so far been pumped from American rock. Distinct in the long suite of cuts at Green River were the socalled mahogany ledges, where oil shale is particularly rich. They looked less like wood than like bluish-white slabs of thinly bedded slate. Oil shale always weathers bluish white zakelijke energie vergelijken but is dark inside, and grainy like wood. The thinner the laminae, the higher the ratio of organic material. The richest of the dark oleaginous flakes-each representing the sedimentation of one year-were fifteen-thousandths of a millimetre thick. Love dropped some hydrochloric acid on the rock, and the acid beaded up like an arching cat. “It’s actually kerogen,” he said. “It converts to high-paraffin oil. It’s not like Pennsylvania crude.”

New Hampshire

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Why were the granites of New Hampshire relatively young, and therefore anachronistic in the Appalachian story? What explained great crustal swells, like random blisters on the ocean floor, rising high above the abyssal plains? What could explain Bermuda-a mountain summit seventeen thousand six hundred and fifty-nine feet above the Hatteras Abyssal Plain? What created the Marshall Islands, the Gilbert Islands, the Line Islands, the Tuamotu Archipelago-where corals veneer the peaks of twentythousand-foot mountains that tend to run in chains? Like Yellowstone, like Bermuda, like Hawaii, like Mt. Cameroon, they lie great distances from the nearest intersections of plates. Yellowstone draws its name from rich golden splashes of chemically altered volcanic rock. The place smokes and spits-the effects of proximate magma. On a geologic map of North America, Yellowstone appears at the eastern end of a bright streak of volcanic debris, coming off it like a contrail, extending across Idaho. With distance from Yellowstone, rock on that track is progressively older, descending age by age to the Columbia River flood basalts, which emerged from the ground like melted iron in early Miocene time, spread out across three hundred thousand square kilometres (in some places two and three miles deep), filled the Columbia Valley, and pooled against the North Cascades. By comparing the dates of the rock, one could be led to conclude that the geologic phenomenon now called Yellowstone has somehow been moving east at a rate of two and a half zakelijke energie vergelijken centimetres a year. As it happens, that is the rate at which, according to plate-tectonic theorists, North America is moving in exactly the opposite direction. In increasing numbers, geologists have come to believe that in a deep geophysical sense Yellowstone is not what is moving. They believe that the great heat that has expressed itself in so many ways on the topographic surface of the modern park derives from a source in the mantle far below the hull of North America. They believe that as North America slides over this fixed locus of thermal energy the rising heat is so intense that it penetrates the plate. The geologic term for such a place is “hot spot.” The earth seems to have about sixty of them-most older, and many less productive, than Yellowstone. Despite its position under thick continental crust, the Yellowstone hot spot has zakelijke energie driven to the surface an amount of magma that is about equal to the over-all production of Hawaii, which has written a clear signature on the Pacific floor. Hawaii is the world’s most preserved and trackable hot spot.

Anything to be published

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Love said that a part of his job was to find anything from oil to agates, and then, in effect, say, “Fly at it, folks,” to the people of the United States. Within the law, he was always free to resign and then fly at something himself, but-whether by oil, uranium, gemstones, or gold-time after time he was not so much as tempted. Very evidently, he is not interested in money, and would not have joined the Survey in the first place if its services had been limited to commerce. The Survey evaluates the nation’s terrain for academic purposes as well, there being no good way to comprehend any one aspect of geology without studying the wider matrix in which it rests. Within the geologic profession, the zakelijke energie vergelijken Survey has particular prestigeas much as, or even more than, the geology faculties of major universities, where chair professors have been known to mutter about the U.S.G.S., “They think they are God’s helpers.” Academic geologists tend to look upon the Survey as “stuffy.” And, as Love discovered long ago, there is such an authoritarian atmosphere in the Survey-so much review of anything to be published, and so much hierarchical attention to a given piece of work-that sometimes when it is all done you cannot see the science for the initials that cover the paper. Established in i879, the Survey had become so august that McKenna referred to it as “an inertial organization, a remnant of medieval zakelijke energie scholasticism,” but went on to say, “University people have two months a year; company people are restricted. The Survey can do things no one else can do.” Many people in the profession tend to think that a geologist who has not at some point worked for the Survey has not been rigorously trained. Love also established a base in Jackson Hole-a small house, eventually a couple of cabins. This would be the point of orientation for much of his summer field work. His absorptions over the years would take him to every sector of Wyoming, to other parts of the Rockies, and elsewhere in the world. Always, though, from his earliest days in geology, he would be drawn and drawn back to the Teton landscape-to the completeness of its history, the enigmas of its valley. To come to an understanding of one such scene is to understand a great deal about the geologic province of which it is a part, and more than any other segment of the Rockies he assigned himself to investigate the story of Jackson Hole.

The harvest

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The milieu of Love Ranch was not all wind, snow, freezing cattle, and killer dogs. There were quiet, lyrical days on end under blue, unthreatening skies. There were the redwing blackbirds on the corral fence, and the scent of moss flowers in spring. In a light breeze, the windmill turned slowly beside the wide log house, which was edged with flowers in bloom. Sometimes there were teal on the creek-and goldeneyes, pintails, mallards. When the wild hay was ready for cutting, the harvest lasted a week.
John liked to have me ride with them for the last load. Sometimes I held the reins and called “Whoa, Dan!” while the men pitched up the hay. Then while the wagon swayed slowly back zakelijke energie over the uneven road, I lay nestled deeply beside Allan and David in the fragrant hay. The billowy white clouds moving across the wide blue sky were close, so close, it seemed there was nothing else in the universe but clouds and hay.
When the hay house was not absolutely full, the boys cleared off the dance floor of Joe Lacey’s Muskrat Saloon and strapped on their roller skates. Improbable as it may seem, there was also a Love Ranch croquet ground. And in winter the boys clamped ice skates to their shoes and flew with the wind up the creek. Alternatively, they lay down on their sleds and propelled themselves swiftly over wind-cleared, wind-polished black ice, with an anchor pin from a coyote trap in each hand. Almost every evening, with their parents, they played mah-jongg. One fall, their mother went to Riverton, sixty-five miles away, to await the birth of Phoebe. For her sons, eleven and twelve, she left behind a carefully prepared program of study. In the weeks that followed, they were in effect enrolled in a correspondence school run by their motlrnr. They zakelijke energie vergelijken did their French, their spelling, their arithmetic lessons, put them in envelopes, rode fifteen miles to the post office and mailed them to her. She graded the lessons and sent them back-before and after the birth of the baby.

Descriptions of Jackson Hole

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It was he whose descriptions of Jackson Hole, Yellowstone Lake, Yellowstone Falls, the Fire Hole geysers, and the Madison River had once been known as “Jim Bridger’s lies.” His father-in-law was Chief Washakie. And now this bluecoat general wanted to know where to put a railroad. The Oregon Trail went around the north end of the Laramie Range and up the Sweetwater to South Pass-to say the least, an easy grade. But for a competitive transcontinental railroad the Sweetwater was a route of wide digression and no coal. Bridger zakelijke energie vergelijken mentioned Lodgepole Creek and said the high ground above it was the low point on the crest of the Laramie Range (a fact that theodolites would in time confirm). The route could go there. So Dodge, in i865, coming south from the Powder River, left his pack trains and cavalry on the St. Vrain Trail and led a small patrol up Lodgepole Creek. At the top, he turned south and did reconnaissance of the summit terrain. In the small valley of a high tributary of Crow Creek-five or ten miles south of Bridger’s recommendation-he surprised a band of Indians. His report does not say of what tribe. They were hostiles-or at least became so after Dodge started firing at them. At the moment of mutual surprise, they were between him and his main column, and that made him tactically nervous. The patrol dismounted and walked due east -“holding the Indians at bay, when they came too near, with our Winchesters.” In this manner, the gangplank was discovered. As Dodge kept going east, expecting to reach zakelijke energie the escarpment from which he would signal with smoke, he reached no escarpment. Instead, he reached the remnant of the high ancient surface-this interfluvial isthmus between Crow Creek and Lone Tree Creektouching the mountain summit. It led down to the plains without a break. I then said to my guide that if we saved our scalps I believed we had found the crossing.

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.

The invertebrates

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All these species have a fixed time for coming and going; their existence is even limited to a determined period. And still they present, as a whole, numerous, and more or less close affinities, a determined coordination in a system of organization which has an intimate relation with the mode of existence of each type, and even of each species. More still: there is an invisible thread which is unwinding itself, through all the ages, in this immense diversity, and offers as a final result a continuous progress in this development of which man is the termination, of which the four classes of vertebrates are the intermediate steps, and the invertebrates the constant accessory. Are not these facts manifestations of a thought as rich as it is powerful, acts of an intelligence as sublime as provident? …T his is, at least, what my feeble intellect reads in the works of creation ….S uch facts loudly proclaim principles which science has not yet discussed, but which paleontological researches place before the eyes of the observer with increasing persistency; I mean the relation of the Creation to the Creator.
Nothing that occurred dming the rest of Agassiz’s life caused him to revise what he had said. He died in i873. Harvard appointed three professors to replace him. Nine years later, in co-working space eindhoven a scientific journal Agassiz had founded, his successor in the chair of geology published a paper describing the Ice Age as a myth. “The so-called glacial epoch . . . so popular a few years ago among glacial geologists may now be rejected without hesitation,” the article concluded. “The glacial epoch was a local phenomenon.”
West of Cleveland, the terrain became increasingly flat. High outcrops disappeared, but now and again a blocky strip of rock would run along the road like a retaining wall-a glimpse of what underlay the surrounding fields. Berea sandstone. Bedford shale. Columbus limestone. “You could map this state at sixty miles an hour,” Anita said. For some distance, the soil over the rock was fine glacial  co-working space rotterdam tillground rock flour and sand-and then among white farms we moved out upon a black-earth plain where drainage ditches did the work of streams: a world of absolute level, until recently the bottom of a great lake.

One hell of a series

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Under the carbonate valleys and quilted farms, the rock was buried from view. The beauty of the fields against steep-rising forests, the shimmer of April green, was not doing much for Anita. She was in need of a lithic fix. Her fingers tapped the wheel. She reminded me of a white-water fanatic on a meandering stretch of flat river. “No wonder I never did geology in this part of Pennsylvania,” she said again. It had been a long time between rocks. “I’d really like to go to Iran someday,” she went on, desperately. “The Zagros Mountains are another classic fold-and-thrust belt. The thing about the Zagros is that there’s no vegetation. You can see everything. They’re a hundred per cent co-working space utrecht outcrop.” She had scarce uttered the words when the road jumped to the right and through a nameless gap and past a roadcut twenty metres high-Bald Eagle quartzite-and then more and higher roadcuts of Juniata sandstone in red laminations dipping steeply to the west. “I take it back. This is one hell of a series, let me tell you,” Anita mid. More rock followed, rock in the median, rock right and left, and we ran on to scout it, to take it in whole. The road was descending now through gorges of red rock-the results of precision blasting, of instant geomorphology. Their depth increased. They shadowed the road. And in their final bend was the revealed interior of a mountain, geographically known as Big Mountain. There had been a natural gap, but it had not been large enough, and dynamite had co-working space amsterdam contributed three hundred thousand years of erosion. The entire mountain had been cut through-not just a toe or a spur. “Holy Toledo! Look at that son of a bitch!” Anita cried out. “It’s a hell of an exposure, a hell of a cut.” More than two hundred and fifty feet high and as red as wine, it proved to be the largest man-made exposure of hard rock on Interstate So between New York and San Francisco. It was an accomplishment that might impress the Chinese Geological Survey. “When you’re doing geology, look for the unexpected,” Anita instructed me, forgetting the Zagros Mountains.

The unoxidized remains

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The rock contains the unoxidized remains of so many living things that it is by volume as much as twenty per cent organic. In thin laminations, it grew layer upon layerpaper shale. “The water was so quiet you can trace the same little lens forever,” Anita said. “The formation produces gas like crazy. The gas migrates up into the sandstone above, which holds it. Berea sandstone. People drill their own wells to the Berea and heat their homes.” Much of Cleveland’s metropolitan-park system is in the deep Yosemite of the Cuyahoga River, under paper-flake carbon cliffs-a natural world of natural gas. Like the Cuyahoga co-working space eindhoven today, most rivers in Ohio before the recent ice sheets looked for outlets to the north and northwest. Nearly all were wiped away by the planing drive of ice. Water pooled against the glacial front and spilled away to the south and west. It skirted the ice, roughly tracing its southernmost outline, forming a new river system and a “periglacial valley”-the Ohio River, the Ohio Valley.
When Darwin published The Origin of Species, its affront to organized religion did not altogether exceed the dismay that was felt in science. Even Sir Charles Lyell said, “Darwin goes too far.” Thomas Henry Huxley and a few others were supportive, but almost every paleontologist in the British Isles was flat negative, and the co-working space rotterdam geologist Adam Sedgwick, of Cambridge University, who, with Murchison, had discerned and established the Devonian system, described himself reading Darwin “with more pain than pleasure.” He said, “Parts of it I admired greatly, parts I laughed at till my sides were almost sore; other parts I read with absolute sorrow, because I think them utterly false and grievously mischievous. Many …w ide conclusions are based upon assumptions which can neither be proved nor disproved ….D arwin has deserted utterly the inductive track and taken the broadway of hypothesis.”