The great silence

The high valley was fringed with junipers, and, from its eastern rim, presented a view that would impress an astronaut. To look from left to right was to see a hundred and fifty miles, from the Uinta Mountains to the Wind River Range, interspersed with badlands. The badlands were late-Eocene river muds and sands chaotically […]

Shooting star

Shooting star. Almost everyone who describes hot spots is tempted to reverse reality and go for illusion at the expense of fact -that is, to narrate the apparent travels of hot spots as if they were in motion leaving trails like shooting stars, instead of telling the actual story of slow crustal drift over the […]

Strikes and dips

From lookoffs in and around Jackson Hole, the view to the north concluded with a high and essentially level tree-covered terrain that seemed to be advancing from the direction of Yellowstone, as indeed it had done, spreading southward, concealing the earlier topography, filling every creek bed, pond, and gulch. When he first rode in that […]

Spanish influenza

It was into this situation that John David Love was born-a family that had lost almost everything but itself, yet was not about to lose that. Slowly, his father assembled more modest cavvies and herds, beginning with the capture of wild horses in flat-out all-day rides, maneuvering them in ever tighter circles until they were […]

Exceptional exceptions

Their crowns looked like umbrellas that had been turned inside out and were streaming off the trunks downwind. “Wind erosion has tremendous significance in this part of the Rocky Mountain region,” Love said. “Even down in Laramie, the trees are tilted. Old-timers used to say that a Wyoming wind gauge was an anvil on a […]

Ehlers’ cattle

The first summer, she had six colts! She must have had calves, too, by the way the Ehlers’ cattle increased.” These remarks were dated October 22, i905-the day after her stagecoach arrived. In months that followed, she sketched her neighbors (the word applied over many tens of miles). “By the door was Mrs. Frink, about […]

The thermal output

The thermal output of the earth melts a thin film of water on the glacier bottom, and the ice slides on that, too. Thrust sheets made of rock also slide on water. The lower part of a glacier is plastic, the upper part brittle-like the earth’s moving plates and the plastic mantle beneath them. Where […]

Oil City and Titusville

When the final great pulse of mountain building folded eastern Pennsylvania, the deep burial and tectonic crush may have done wonders for the coal seams there, but all the oil in the country rock was burned black and destroyed. Conodonts were blackened, too. As Anita’s many samplings would prove, conodonts become lighter in color and […]

Cape Hatteras to southern Florida

They had travelled, to be sure-but they had more likely come from Asbury Park than from Stockholm. In the thrusting and telescoping of the strata, the transition rocks of the American continent’s eastern slope had been deeply buried. In them, almost surely, would be a mixture of cool-water and warm-water conodont types. To the east […]

Bornean everglades

The rock was now Pennsylvanian-massive river sandstones of Pennsylvanian time. Flat, deck-like, it was comparatively undisturbed. It had been shed, to be sure, from eastern mountains, but had not been much affected by their compressive drive. Crazed streams had disassembled the plateau, leaving half-eaten wedding cakes, failed pyramids, oddly polygonal hair-covered hills. Pittsburgh was built […]