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Assembling California

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Whether the plate bounda1y is five miles wide or fifty miles wide or extends all the way to central Utah is a matter that geologists currently debate. Nonetheless, there is granite under the sea off Mussel Rock that is evidently from the southern Sierra Nevada, has travelled three hundred miles along the San Andreas system, and continues to move northwest. As evidence of the motion of the plates, that granite will do. For an extremely large percentage of the history of the world, there was no California. That is, according to present theory. I don’t mean to suggest that California was underwater and has since come up. I mean to say that of the varied terranes and physiographic provinces that we now call California nothing whatever was there. The continent ended far to the east, the continental shelf as well. Where California has come to be, there was only blue sea reaching down some miles to ocean-crustal rock, which was moving, as it does, into subduction zones to be consumed. Ocean floors with an aggregate area many times the size of the present Pacific were zakelijke energie vergelijken made at spreading centers, moved around the curve of the earth, and melted in trenches before there ever was so much as a kilogram of California. Then, a piece at a time-according to present theory-parts began to assemble. An island arc here, a piece of a continent there-a Japan at a time, a New Zealand, a Madagascar-came crunching in upon the continent and have thus far adhered. Baja is about to detach. A great deal more may go with it. Some parts of California arrived head-on, and others came sliding in on transform faults, in the manner of that Sierra granite west of the San Andreas. In igo6, the jump of the great earthquake-the throw, the zakelijke energie offset, the maximum amount of local displacement as one plate moved with respect to the other-was something like twenty feet. The dynamics that have pieced together the whole of California have consisted of tens of thousands of earthquakes as great as that-tens of thousands of examples of what people like to singularize as “the big one” -and many millions of earthquakes of lesser magnitude.

Sadness and frustration

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Twenty-four stories high, the big building was more than twice as tall as the Federal Center in Cheyenne, which is higher than Wyoming’s capitol dome. Rising beside the generating plant were four freestanding columnar chimneys so tall that they were obscured in cumulus from the cooling towers, which swirled and billowed and from time to time parted to reveal the summits of the chimneys, five hundred feet in the air. “This place is smoking the hell out of the country,” Love said. “The wind blows a plume of corruption. In cold weather, sulphuric acid precipitates as a yellow cloud. It’s not so good for people, or for vegetation. Whenever I think of this plant, I feel sadness and frustration. We could have got baseline data on air and water quality before the plant was built, and we muffed it.” He blames himself, although at that time he had arsenic poisoning from springwater in the backcountry and was sick for many months. The idea behind Jim Bridger was to ship energy out of Wyoming in wires instead of railway gondolas. Ballerina towers, with electric drapery on their outstretched arms, ran from point to point to the end of perspective, relieving pressure on the Oregon-Idaho grid. The coal was zakelijke energie in the Fort Union formation-in a sense, the bottom layer of modem time. Locally, it was the basal rock of the Cenozoic, the first formation after the Cretaceous Extinction-when the big animals were gone, but not their woods and vegetal swamps. Wyoming had drifted a few hundred miles farther north than it is now, and around the low swamplands were rising forests of oak, elm, and pine. The terrain was near sea level. Mountains had begun to stir-Uintas, Wind Rivers, Owl Creeks, Medicine Bows-and zakelijke energie vergelijken off their young slopes they shed the Fort Union, its muds burying the compiled vegetation, cutting off oxygen, preserving the carbon. As the mountains themselves became buried, the fallen vegetation in the thickening basins was ever more covered as well, to depths and pressures that caused it to become a soft and flaky sub-bituminous low-rent grade of coal, a nonetheless combustible low-sulphur coal.

For a considerable time

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He was saying some of this in the Mt. Leidy Highlands one day when we were sitting on an outcrop at ninety-two hundred feet and looking at a two-hundred-and-seventy-degree view that ran across the pinnacled Absarokas to a mountain of lava of Pleistocene age and then on up the ridgeline of the Continental Divide to the glaciers and summits of the Wind River Range, thirty-eight feet higher than the Tetons. The skyline sloped gently thereafter, flattened, and became the subsummit surface of Miocene age, the level of maximum burial. There followed, across the southern horizon, the whole breadth of the Gros Ventre Mountains, with afternoon light on bright salmon cliffs of Nugget sandstone, at least four hundred feet high. The eye moved west over other summits and ultimately came to rest on the full front of the Tetons. We looked at it all for a considerable time in silence. Love said he liked this place because he could see so much from it, and had stopped here many times across the decades, to lean against a pill.on pine and sort through the country, like an astronomer with the whole sky above him sorting through the stars. He also said, reflectively, “I guess I’ve been on every summit I can see zakelijke energie vergelijken from here.” Below us was Dry Cottonwood Creek It ran southeast several miles, and then turned through a tight bend to head west toward the Tetons. We could see other streams almost identical in configuration, like a collection of shepherd’s crooks. “The land tilted east, and then south, before it tilted west,” Love said. “This is the tilting block that stops at the foot of the Tetons. The barbed streams are evidence that the hinge is east of us here. The hinge is probably the Continental Divide. We can learn a lot from streams. They’re so sensitive. They respond to the slightest amount of tilting. I think this is underestimated.” Pointing down to some sandstone ledges along the bank of Dry Cottonwood Creek, he said that Indians had frequently camped there because long ago the stream was so full of trout you could reach in under the ledges and catch them with your hand. He asked if I knew why the water was so clear. “There’s no shale upstream,” he said. “No fines to contaminate it. If you look at a stream, you can see in the zakelijke energie sediments the whole history of a watershed. It’s as plain as the lines on the palm of your hand.”

Great anticipatory fright

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Smith said everybody was wrong. The patient had appeared in the doorway, and had stood there long and thoughtfully, searching the face of the doctor. Pleased by what he did not find, he said. “You don’t know who I am, do you?” The doctor said, “You look familiar, but I can’t quite say.” The patient remarked that his face had been altered by a surgeon in Paris. Then he lifted his shirt, exposing the deep crease of a repaired bullet wound-craftsmanship that Doc Smith recognized precisely as his own. The work that David Love was doing in Wyoming attracted the attention of the Geological Society of America. He was invited to speak at the society’s national meeting, which, in the course of its migrations, happened to be scheduled for Washington, D.C. He suffered great anticipatory fright. It was most unusual for a graduate student to be asked to speak to the G.S.A. He was intimidated-by the East in general, by the capital city, by the fact that the foremost geologists in America would be there. Bailey Willis, of Stanford, would be there; Andrew Lawson, of Berkeley; Walter Granger, of the American Museum of Natural History; Taylor Thom, of Princeton. The paper that Love presented was on folding great zakelijke energie vergelijken antici and faulting in Tertiary rocks. The Tertiary period runs from sixty-five million to something under two million years before the present. When Love went to Yale, the conventional wisdom in geology held that all folded and faulted rock was older than the Tertiary-that all Tertiary rock was undeformed. For his thesis in the Absarokas, he had mapped many areas of folded and faulted Tertiary rock. He knew the fossils, the stratigraphy. This was in no sense a horseback guess. He practiced carefully what he would say, and, when his moment came, there he was on a platform in the ballroom of the Hotel Washington struggling to control his voice, unaware that he had forgotten to button his suspenders. They were hanging down in back, exposed and flapping. His embarrassment had scarcely begun. At the climax of his presentation-as he described the deformation that had made clear zakelijke energie to him that fifteen million years into Tertiary time the Laramide Revolution had not quite ended-he heard what he describes as hoots of derision, and when he finished there was no applause. The big room was silent. A moment passed, and then the structural geologist Taylor Thom, some of whose work was challenged by Love’s paper, stood up and said, “This paper is a milestone in Rocky Mountain geology.”

Rising from the Plains

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When David was nine, he set up a trap line between the Hay Meadow and the Pinnacles (small sandstone buttes in Castle Gardens). He trapped coyotes, bobcats, badgers. He shot rabbits. He ran the line on foot, through late-autumn and early-winter snow. His father was with him one cold and blizzarding Januaiy day when David’s rifle and the rabbits he was carrying slipped from his hands and fell to the snow. David picked up the gun and soon dropped it again. “It was a cardinal sin to drop a rifle,” he says. “Snow and ice in the gun barrel could cause the gun to blow up when it was fired.” Like holding on to a saddle horn, it was something you just did not do. It would not have crossed his father’s mind that David was being careless. In sharp tones, his zakelijke energie father said, “Laddie, leave the rabbits and rifle and run for home. Run!” He knew hypothermia when he saw it, no matter that it lacked a name.
Even in October, a blizzard could cover the house and make a tunnel of the front veranda. As winter progressed, rime grew on the nailheads of interior walls until white spikes projected some inches into the rooms. There were eleven rooms. His mother could tell the outside temperature by the movement of the frost. It climbed the nails about an inch for each degree below zero. Sometimes there was frost on nailheads fifty-five inches up the walls. The house was chinked with slaked lime, wood shavings, and cow manure. In the wild wind, snow came through the slightest crack, and the nickel disks on the dampers of the heat stove were constantly jingling. There came a sound of hooves in cold dry snow, of heavy bodies slamming against the walls, seeking heat. John Love insulated his boots with newspapers-as like as not the New York Times. To warm the boys in their beds on cold zakelijke energie vergelijken nights, their mother wrapped heated flatirons in copies of the New York Times. The family were subscribers. Sundays only. The Times, David Love recalls, was “precious.” They used it to insulate the house: pasted it against the walls beside the Des Moines Register, the Tacoma News Tribune-any paper from anywhere, without fine distinction. With the same indiscriminate voracity, any paper from anywhere was first read and reread by every literate eye in every cow camp and sheep camp witl1in tens of miles, read to shreds and passed along, in tattered circulation on the range. There was, as Love expresses it, “a starvation of print.” Almost anybody’s first question on encountering a neighbor was “Have you got any newspapers?”

The Sierra Madre

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They came right up out of the earth. In Love’s phrase, they simply “poached out.” Basins flexed between them, filling as they downwarped-folding, too, especially at their edges. These mountains moved, but not much-five miles here, eight miles there. They moved in highly miscellaneous and ultimately perplexing directions. The Wind River Range crept southwest, about five inches every ten years for a million years. The Bighorns split. One part went south, the other east. Similarly, the Beartooths went east and southwest. The Medicine Bows moved east. The Washakies west. The Uintas north. All distances were sh01t, because the mountains were essentially rooted. The Sierra Madre did not move at all. The spines of the ranges trended in as many directions as a weathervane. The Laramie Range trended north-south. The Wind Rivers and Bighorns northwest-southeast. The spectacularly anomalous Uintas, lining themselves up at right angles to the axis of the Western cordillera, ran east-west, and so did the Owl Creeks. All these mountain ranges zakelijke energie vergelijken were coming up out of the craton-heartland of the continent, the Stable Interior Craton. It was as if mountains had appeared in Ohio, inboard of the Appalachian thrust sheets, like a family of hogs waking up beneath a large blanket. An authentic enigma on a grand scale, this was one of the oddest occurrences in the tectonic history of the world. It would probe anybody’s theories. It happened rapidly. As David Love at one point remarked about the Medicine Bow Mountains, “It didn’t take very long for those mountains to come up, to be deroofed, and to be thrust eastward. Then the motion stopped. That happened in maybe ten million years, and to a geologist that’s really fast.” Twenty thousand feet of rock was deroofed from the rising mountains. The entire stratigraphy from the zakelijke energie Cretaceous down to the Precambrian was broken to bits and sent off to Natchez, as the mountains were denuded to their crystalline and metamorphic cores. In half a billion years of history, this was the great event. In the words of the Geologic Atlas of the Rocky Mountain Region, it was “tectonically unique in the Western Hemisphere and, therefore, it seems to require a somewhat unusual if not unique tectonic interpretation.” The foreland ranges, as the mountains east of the overthrust are called (the Wind Rivers, Uintas, Bighorns, Medicine Bows, Laramie Range, and so forth), came into the world with their own odd syncopation, albeit the general chronology went from west to east and the Laramie Range was among the last to rise. “The mountains were restless,” Love was saying now.

Bell Spring

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Twelve miles from Rawlins, the horses were changed at Bell Spring, where, in a kind of topographical staircase-consisting of the protruding edges of sediments that dipped away to the eastthe Mesozoic era rose to view: the top step Cretaceous, the next Jurassic, at the bottom a low red Triassic bluff, against which was clustered a compound of buildings roofed with cool red mud. Miss Wa xham had no idea then that she was looking at a hundred and seventy-five million years, let alone which hundred and seventy-five million years. She had no idea that those sediments had broken off just here, and that the other side of the break, two and three thousand feet below, contained prolific traps of gas and oil. Actually, no one knew that. Discovery was twenty years away. The stage rolled onto Separation Flats-altitude seven thousand feet-still pursuing the chimeric kantoor per uur amsterdam zuidas mountains. One of them, she learned, was called Whiskey Peak. Collins looked around from the driver’s seat and said a passenger had once asked him the name of the mountain, “and I told him that it was in this coach where I could put my hand on it-but he could not guess.” In the far distance also appeared a “white speck” -a roadhouse-which they watched impatiently for hours.
It did not look larger when we reached it ….M rs. Welty and I hurried in to get warm, for we were chilled through. Outside, hung from the roof, was half a carcass of a steer. …I n a cluttered kitchen, a fat forlorn silent woman served us wearily with a plentiful but plain meal, and sat with her arms folded watching us eat ….W e ate our baked potatoes and giant kantoor per uur hilversum biscuits, onions and carrots and canned-apple pie in half silence, glad to be through. The stage horses were changed and we started on toward Lost Soldier.
Lost Soldier was another sixteen miles and thus would take three hours. Already, Mrs. Welty was talking about the Hog Back, more than twenty hours up the road-a steep descent from a high divide, where Wyoming’s storied winds had helped many a stagecoach get to the bottom in seconds. Wreckage was strewn all over the ground there, among the bones of horses. A driver had been known to chain a coach to a tree to keep the coach from blowing away. Like the sails of boats and ships, the canvas sides of stagecoaches were often furled as they approached the Hog Back, to let the wind blow through. No one relied on brakes.

Greenland

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Greenland is eighty-five per cent capped with ice. Anyone who doubts that we live in a glacial epoch need only note the great whiteness that Greenland contributes to a map. “The ice melted here eighteen thousand years ago,” Anita said, with a nod toward the roadside in Ohio. “It melted twelve thousand years ago in Wisconsin and Maine. If you ask a penguin in the Antarctic, the Ice Age hasn’t stopped yet.” The ice on Antarctica, six million square miles, is also (generally) two miles thick. “You get ice caps when you have landmasses in the polar positions,” Anita went on. “The only thing worse would be if the Siberian landmass were sitting over the North Pole. Then, God help us, things would be really bad. As it is, the sea ice at the North Pole is only six feet thick. It takes a continent to support a really heavy sheet of ice. If the ice of Greenland and Antarctica were to melt now, sea level would go up at least a hundred feet. Think what the water would cover. Half the cities in the world. In the South, you can be three hundred miles from the coast and only Bfty feet above sea level. Through most of time, the earth has been without ice caps. Twenty thousand years ago, when there was much more ice than there is now, the sea was three hundred feet lower. The co-working space amsterdam zuidas coast was more than a hundred miles east of New York. You could have walked to the edge of the continental shelf. Baltimore Canyon, Hudson Canyon were exposed in the open air.” Outside the automobile window were three landscapes, trifocal, occupying separate levels in time and mind. Latently pictured in the rock beside the road was the epicratonic sea of three hundred and twenty million years ago, with the Cincinnatia Islands off to the west somewhere, in what is known to geologists as Ohio Ba). There was also evidence of tl1e deep ice of twenty thousand years ago, with its lobate front some distance to the south, near Canton, Massillon, and Wooster. And there was, of course, the slightly rumpled surface of
the modern state of Ohio, looking like a bedspread on which some, one had taken a nap, Not nearly as flat as the rock below was the undulating interstate, where co-working space hilversum diesel exhausts were pluming and Winnebagos were yawing in the wind. “The goal of many geologists is to make time-lapse maps of earth history,” Anita remarked. “Look at topographic maps from just a hundred years ago for coastal areas of low relief, and the changes are tremendous.”

The Sherbrooke thing

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“There may be another suture, but this is the only one we’ve got.” “No, no, you’ve got another one, which goes up through Quebec.” “No, that’s not in place. The Canadian seismic line proves it. You will remember also that Laval-way back, i965-came out with late Ordovician fossils in the Sherbrooke anomalies. Where else do you find a continuous sedimentation from the middle Ordovician up
to the Silurian-from Rangeley Lake up to New Brunswick in one belt? The Sherbrooke thing, restored, would come from where it ought to come from. So I’m suggesting either that two continents collided, and you have one basin there, receiving continuous sedimentation, or …” “You may have a co-working space amsterdam wtc double arc.” “You might have a double arc.” “There’s another solution.” “Sure, but I’m saying let’s take the simplest configuration.” “Why not just have one arc with basins on both sides of it?” “No. No. You have the Bronson Hill anticlinorium, and then you have the Ascot-Weedon.” “You have a volcanic arc on the stable side of the subduction zone, an expected arc above the downgoing slab.” “You have a short-lived slab going down below the AscotWeedon and the one of longer duration that’s on the other side. I would somehow think that there has to be something in these rocks, in the limestones, that you’d be able to hopefully connect to co-working space dordrecht that platform.” “The only thing I can say is . . . ” “What about the blue quartz?” ‘What about the blue quartz? The stratigraphy of the Taconic rock matches unit for unit with Cambrian rocks of Avalon, and the fossils look alike. That’s all I can tell you. Nowhere else do we find this sort of thing except Wales.” A structural geologist with a foot on each continent looks up and aside from this contentious scene. “While geologists argue, the rocks just sit there,” he remarks. “And sometimes they seem to smile.”

Swiss countryside

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He had become a protege of von Humboldt. He had worked in Paris for Georges Cuvier. And like von Humboldt, von Buch-like everybody else who had heard about the theory of the ice-he thought it absurd. When von Humboldt went on field trips to look at rocks, he wore a top hat, a white cravat, and a black double-breasted frock coat that reached to his knees. He was imitated by, among others, Cuvier and von Buch. Agassiz was less formal, but in no particular did he resemble a co-working space amsterdam zuidas scuffed-booted, blue-jeaned, twentieth-century field geologist when he set out with Charpentier to stroll through the valley of the upper Rhone. What Agassiz saw forever altered his life, as ice had altered the valley. When he left, he had no remaining doubt of the truth of what Perraudin, Venetz, and Charpentier believed. Wandering the Swiss countryside low and high, he found further evidence everywhere he went-grooved rock, polished rock, moraines where ice had long been gone, boulders rounded off and set where water never could have shoved them. He visited similar landscapes in enough places to spread far in his imagination the contiguity they implied, and in one spark of intuition he saw the ice covering more than the valley, the canton, the nation. The idea of continental glaciation fell into place-a stunning moment of realization that ice many thousands of feet thick had been contiguous from Ireland to Russia. When the Helvetic Society co-working space hilversum met in Neuchatel in the summer of i837, Louis Agassiz-as its president-elect-addressed the savants. Instead of reading an expected discourse in paleontology, he outlined at great length the evidence and chronology of glacial history as he had come to see it, announcing to the Society and to the world at large what would before long be known as the Ice Age.