A geological enterprise

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“Without such people there would be no such thing as a geological enterprise,” he went on. “Every box of samples that comes into the lab should include a worn-out pair of field boots. There’s a group of senior geologists who have met on the outcrops and share a large body of knowledge. They paste together different perceptions of the world by visiting each other’s areas. When I meet them, I chat them up like the guys at the corner store, because what I do is conceptual and idealized, and I’d like to know that it relates to what they have seen. These people are generally above fifty. Their kind is being diminished, which is a major intellectual c1ime. It has to do with the nature of science and what we’re doing. Reality is not something you capture on a blackboard.” Such sentiments notwithstanding, within university geology departments black-box people tend to outvote field people on questions of curriculum and directions of research, and to outperform zakelijke energie vergelijken them in pursuit of funds. “The black-box era has been caused by the availability of money for esoteric types of work,” Love remarked one day. “The Department of Defense, the National Science Foundation, and so forth have had money to spend on-let’s say-unusual quests. The experience you get from collecting rocks in the field is lost to the lab geologist. For example, there’s a boom in remote-sensing techniques-in satellite imagery. From that, you get a megapicture without going into the field. But it’s two-dimensional. To get the third dimension-to study what’s underground-they consult another sacred cow, which is geophysics. They can make a lot of these interpretations in the office. They can go off the mark easily, because for field relationships they often rely on data collected years ago. They use samples from museums, or samples collected by somebody else-perhaps out of context. I’m afraid I’m rather harsh about it, but we see misinterpretations, because of zakelijke energie lack of knowledge of field relationships. Many of the megathinkers are doing their interpretations on the basis of second- and third-hand information. The name of the game now is ‘modelling.’ A lot of it I can’t see for sour owl shit. How can you write or talk authoritatively about something if you haven’t seen it? It isn’t adequate to trust that the other guy is correct. You should be able to evaluate things in your own right. Laboratory geology is where the money is, though. The money is in the black box. I think eventually it will get out. You can’t blame the kids for doing this kind of office research when they’re financed. I don’t want to do it myself. Putting the geologic scene into a broad perspective is for me more satisfying. I want to know what’s over the next hill.”

Wind River Basin

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When Love chose this thesis topic, he was not choosing a journey from A to B. He did not mark off a little basin somewhere and essay to describe the porridge it contained. He picked a spinning pinwheel of geology, with highlights flashing from every vane. For example, the western end of the Owl Creek Mountains is still buried-under the Absarokas in the area of Love’s thesis. Another chain of mountains is largely buried there, too. He discovered it and named it the Washakie Range. That the zakelijke energie vergelijken Absarokas were structurally separate from the Owl Creeks was obvious. It was not so readily apparent that the Owl Creeks were younger than the Washakies, or that the Washakies in their early days had been thrust southwestward over undistorted shales on the floor of the Wind River Basin. Grad
ually, he figured these things out, alone in the country, on foot. His thesis area reached a short distance into the Wind River Basin, and thus completed in its varied elements the panoply of the Rockies. It included folded mountains and dissected plateaus. It included basin sediments and alpine peaks, dry gulches and superposed master streams, desert sageland and evergreen forest rising to a timberline at ten thousand four hundred feet. It contained the story unabridged-from the preserved subsummit surface to the fossil topographies exhumed far below. At any given place in the area, temperatures could change eighty degrees in less than a day. The territory was roadless, and after a couple of years on foot he was ready to bring in a horse. Methodically cross-referencing the lithology, the paleontology, the stratigraphy, the structure, he mapped the region zakelijke energie geologically-discovering and naming seven formations. In one of those Yale summers, while taking some time away from the rock, he badly cut his foot in a lake near Lander. He made a tourniquet with his bandanna, and limped into town to see Doc Smith. This was Francis Smith, M.D., who had coaxed David’s father past the tick fever, had seen David’s mother through a strep infection that nearly killed her, and, over the years, had put enough stitches in David to complete a baseball. Now, as he worked on the foot, he told David that one of his recent office visitors had been Robert LeRoy Parker himself (Butch Cassidy). David said politely that Cassidy was dead in Bolivia, and everybody knew that.

Castle Gardens

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Even now, so many decades later, David will pass up a cool spring, saying, “If I drink now, I’ll be thirsty all day.” To cut cedar fence posts, they went with a wagon to Green Mountain, near Crooks Gap-a round trip of two weeks. In early fall, each year, they spent ten days going back and forth to the Rattlesnake Hills for stove wood. They took two wagons-four horses pulling each wagon-and they filled them with limber pine. They used axes, a two-handled saw. Near home, they mined coal with their father-from the erosional wonderland tl1ey called Castle Gardens, where a horse-drawn scraper stripped the overburden and exposed the seams of coal. Their father was adept at corralling wild horses, a skill that called for a horse and rider who could outrun these closest rivals to the wind. He caught more than he kept, put his Flatiron brand on the best ones and sold the others. Some of them escaped. David remembers seeing one clear a sevenfoot bar in the wild-horse corral and not so much as touch it. When he and Allan were in their early teens, his father sent them repping-representing Love Ranch in the general roundup-and they zakelijke energie stayed in cow camp with other cowboys, and often enough their sougans included snow. When they were out on the range, they slept out on the range, never a night in a tent. This was not a choice. It was a family custom. In the earlier stretch of his life when John Love had slept out for seven years, he would wrap himself in his sougans and finish the package with the spring hooks and D-1ings that closed his henskin. During big gales and exceptional blizzards, he looked around for a dry wash and the crease of an overhanging cutbank. He gathered sage and built a long fire-a campfire with the dimensions of a cot. He cooked his beans and bacon, his mutton, his sourdough, his whatever. After dinner, he kicked the fire aside and spread out his bedroll. He opened his waterproof packet of books and read by kerosene lamp. Then he blew out the light and went to sleep on warm sand. His annual expenditures were seventy-five dollars. This was a man who wore a long bearskin coat fastened with bone pegs in loops of rope. This was a man who, oddly enough, carried with him on the range a huge black umbrella-his summer parasol. This was a man whose Uncle John Muir had invented a zakelijke energie vergelijken device that started a fire in the morning while the great outdoorsman stayed in bed. And now this wee bairn with the light-gold hair was, in effect, questioning Love Ranch policy by asking his father what he had against tents. “Laddie, you don’t always have one available,” his father said patiently. “You want to get used to living without it.” Tents, he made clear, were for a class of people he referred to as “pilgrims.”

Rising from the Plains

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In the middle Precambrian, not long after the end of the Archean Eon, lava ran down the sides of big volcanoes and far out onto a seafloor that is now a part of Wyoming. It is impossible to say where the volcanoes stood, but the fact that they existed is stated by the lava. Somewhat later, the lava was folded and faulted, apparently in the making of mountains. Still more Precambrian ranges, of vast dimension, came up in the region, and shed twenty-five thousand feet of sediment into seas that covered parts of Wyoming. After the sediment formed into rock, even more episodes of mountain building heated and changed the rock: the limestone to marble, the sandstone to quartzite, the zakelijke energie vergelijken shale to slate. Meanwhile, coming into the crust at depths on the order of six miles were vast bodies of fiery-hot magma, much of which happened to have the chemistry of granite. Under eastern Wyoming, where Interstate 80 now cro5ses the Laramie Range, the magma contained enough iron to tint the feldspar and make the granite pink. It is axiomatic that big crystals grow slowly. Slowly, the magma cooled, forming quartz and feldspar crystals of exceptional size. All of that occurred in Precambrian time-during the first eighty-eight per cent of the history of the world. Often, Precambrian rock is collectively mentioned as “the basement” -the basement of continents-as if that is all there is to say about it before setting up on top of it the wonders of the world. This scientific metaphor is at best ambiguous-connoting, as it does, in one sense a firm foundation, in another an obscure cellar. In either case, it dismisses four billion years. It attempts to compress the uncompressible. It foreshortens a regional history wherein numerous zakelijke energie ancestral mountain ranges developed and were annihilated-where a minor string of Pennsylvanian ridges could scarcely be said to represent the incunabular genealogy of the Rockies. In late Cretaceous and early Tertiary time, mountains began to rise beneath the wide seas and marsh flats of Wyoming. The seawater drained away to the Gulf of Mexico, to the Arctic Ocean. And, in David Love’s summary description, “all hell broke loose.” In westernmost Wyoming, detached crustal sheets came planing eastward -rode fifty, sixty, and seventy-five miles over younger rock-and piled up like shingles, one overlapping another. In the four hundred miles east of these overthrust mountains, other mountains began to appear, and in a very different way.

Brooklyn Bridge

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The remark about the white hairs-like the description of Bill Collins and the estimated radius of Mrs. Welty’s gossip-is from a journal that Ethel Waxham had begun writing the day before. The stage moved through town past houses built of railroad ties, past sheepfolds, past the cemetery and the state penitentiary, and was soon in the dust of open country, rounding a couple of hills before assuming a northwesterly course. There were limestone outcrops in the sides of the hills, and small kantoor per uur amsterdam ancient quarries at the base of the limestone. Indians had begun the quarries, removing an iron oxide-three hundred and fifty million years old-that made fierce and lasting warpaint. More recently, it had been used on Union Pacific railroad cars and, around i88o, on the Brooklyn Bridge. The hills above were the modest high points in a landscape that lacked exceptional relief. Here in the middle of the Rocky Mountains were no mountains worthy of the name.
Mountains were far away ahead of us, a range rising from the plains and sinking down again into them. Almost  kantoor per uur amsterdam zuidas all the first day they were in sight.
As Wyoming ranges go, these distant summits were unprepossessing ridges, with altitudes of nine and ten thousand feet. In one sentence, though, Miss Waxham had intuitively written their geologic history, for they had indeed come out of the plains, and into the plains had in various ways returned.
Among rolling sweeps of prairie . . . we met two sheep herders with thousands of sheep each. “See them talking to their dogs,” said the driver. They raised their arms and made strange gestures, while the dogs, at the opposite sides of the flock, stood on their hind legs to watch for orders.
In :Wyoming in i905, three million sheep competed for range grass with eight hundred thousand cattle. Big winter winds, squeezed and therefore racing fast between the high ground and the stratosphere, blew the snow off the grass and favored the sheep. They were hardier, and their wool contended with the temperature and the velocity of the wind. Winter wind. There was a saying among homesteaders in Wyoming: “If summer falls on a weekend, let’s have ·a picnic.”

The scientific dons of Cambridge

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Von Humboldt wrote to say that he had now “read and compared all that has been w1itten for and against the ice-period” and that he was no closer to accepting the theory. He quoted Mme de Sevigne’s saying that “grace from on high comes slowly.” And added, “I especially desire it for the glacial period.” The turnabout was at hand, however. Charles Lyell, the most outstanding British geologist of the nineteenth century, closely read the Etudes sur les Glaciers and found himself enlightened. “Lyell has adopted your theory in toto!!!” a friend wrote to Agassiz. “On my showing him a beautiful cluster of moraines, within two miles of his father’s house, he instantly accepted it, as solving a host of difficulties that have all his life embarrassed him.” Charles Darwin hurried out into the countryside to see for himself if there were “marks left by extinct glaciers.” He wrote to a friend, “I assure you, an extinct volcano could hardly leave more evident co-working space amsterdam traces of its activity and vast powers ….T he valley about here and the site of the inn at which I am now writing must once have been covered by at least eight hundred or a thousand feet in thickness of solid ice! Eleven years ago I spent a whole day in tl1e valley where yesterday everything but the ice of the glaciers was palpably clear to me, and I then saw nothing but plain water and bare rock.” The scientific dons of Cambridge continued stubborn, but-as would happen witl1 the theory of plate tectonics in the years following the revelations of the nineteen-sixties-geologists in expanding numbers accepted the glacial picture, and before long tlrnre was a low percentage that did not entlmsiastically subscribe. Delivering an address in i862 to the Geological Society of London, Sir co-working space amsterdam zuidas Roderick Murchison declared without shame that he, too, now saw the picture. He sent a copy of his address to Agassiz witl1 a note that said, “I have had the sincerest pleasure in avowing that I was wrong in opposing as I did your grand and original idea of my native mountains. Yes! I am now convinced that glaciers did descend from the mountains to the plains as they do now in Greenland.”

The allochthon

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“You can perhaps picture for yourself that the allochthon was at one time more extensive. It was coming this way through a sea of black mud, and here is the record of it. This is where it touches North America-at least that’s a possibility.” “But there are no remnants of the western side of the ocean.” “Evidence would be in the rest of the conglomerate, little bits of limestone debris. Evidence would be in the seismic line.” “But that evidence could be …Y ou could imbricate the stuff that’s coming off North America.” “Yes. Yes, you can.” “So I don’t think that’s definitive.” ‘Tm not saying it is. I’m just saying here’s another possibility.
And I’m going to stick to that for the time being, as well as the Chain Lakes ophiolite.” It doesn’t matter co-working space haarlem that you don’t understand them. Even they are not sure if they are making sense. Their purpose is trying to. Everyone has crowded in. The science selects these people-with their jeans and boots and scuffed leather field cases and hats of railroad engineers. To them, just being out here is in no small measure what it’s all about. “The three key things in this science are travel, travel, and travel,” one says. “Geology is legitimized tourism.” When geologists convene at an outcrop, they see their own specialties first, and sometimes last, in the rock. People listen closely for techniques applicable to areas they work in elsewhere. If someone is a specialist in little bubbles that affect cleavage planes, others will tum to the specialist for comment when cleavage is of interest in the rock. The conversation runs in links from specialty to specialty, from minutia to minutia-attempting to establish new agreement, to identify problems not under current research. From time to time, details compose. The picture vastly widens. “Aren’t we in North America?” “You are in North America. Yes.” “And you co-working space amsterdam zuidas are in Europe.” ”That’s one possibility. Yes.” “You are standing across the ocean.” “No. I’m not standing across the ocean. I’m transplanted here. Is the Atlantic between me and you? No.” “You are allochthonous.” “You’re damned right I am.” “You are rootless.” “Not to mention recumbent.” “Only after hours.” “There may be another suture.”

The Swiss Val de Bagne

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In i815, in the Swiss Val de Bagnes, below the Pennine Alps, a mountaineer remarked to a geologist that all those big boulders standing around in odd places had been carried there by a glacier long since gone. The mountaineer’s name was Perraudin. He was a
hunter of chamois. The geologist was Jean de Charpentier. He did not believe the hunter and ignored the information. In Europe, Noah’s Flood had for so long been regarded as the principal sculptor of the earth that almost no one was inclined to hazard an alternative interpretation. If boulders co-working space amsterdam were out of touch with bedrock of their type, diluvian torrents had moved them, or flows of diluvian mud. In 1821, a Swiss bridge-and-highway engineer named Ignace Venetz told the Helvetic Society of Natural Sciences that he believed what the mountaineer had told Charpentier. He believed, in addition, that boulders had been scattered all over Switzerland by glaciers of “hauteur gigantesque” from “une epoque qui se perd dans les nuits des temps.” Venetz was ignored, too-until Charpentier decided, twelve years later, that his suppositions were probably correct. Charpentier caused Venetz’ s paper to be published and co-working space amsterdam zuidas meanwhile went out to gather, name, and classify evidence of moving ice: erratic boulders, striations and polish on bedrock, lateral and terminal moraines. In 1834, he submitted to the Helvetic Society his “Notice sur la Cause Probable du Transport des Blocs Erratiques de la Suisse,” which was also ignored, not to say ridiculed. Charpentier was political in the scientific world. Great “savants” like Leopold von Buch and Alexander von Humboldt had been classmates of his at the Freiberg Mining Academy. He lived above Lake Geneva in the alpine valley of the Rhone. Savants collected in numbers at his table. In the summer of 1836, Jean Louis Rodolphe Agassiz, a professor of natural history at the College of N euchatel, took a house up the road. Agassiz was only twenty-nine years old, but he had done work in paleontology for which he had earned a considerable reputation. He had travelled, too.

Thrust-faulted areas

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If all the ocean crust is Jurassic, or younger, there’s a lot happening here onshore that is never preserved out there. It’s difficult to compare the two.” Anita said, “I believe in plate tectonics-just not in the way they’re perpetrating it for places like the East Coast. It shouldn’t be used as the immediate answer to every problem. That’s what I object to. Now that their suture zones have disappeared, people are going to microplates.” “They seem to be saying that you don’t have to see any order,” Leonard said. “Because it’s all chaos, and if it’s chaos why worry about it?” ‘What we try to do is pull the thrust plates apart and make them into some sort of recognizable geologic model,” Anita said. Leonard said, “You pull something apart to see what it might have been, not what you think it was in advance. It might have been a shelf, a basin. You work at it, and see what it was.” “The plate-tectonics boys conference room amsterdam make no attempt to do this, because they see no reason to,” Anita said. “There are too many pieces missing. Each existing piece is an entity unto itself. Everything is random pieces.” “Most people have never had an opportunity to work with thrust-faulted areas. We’ve lived with them all our lives. If we go along a fault system far enough, we can actually see the next thrust plate. Maybe I’ll have to go a hundred miles until I find out what it really looked like. You do that by making a model. You pull the thrusts apart and see what the country originally looked like. But until you’ve done that, and been faced with that problem, it’s natural to say, ‘God, these are so different. They could be conference room amsterdam zuidas microcontinents.’ You can reconstruct a large Rat piece out to the east as an original depositional basin. You can see volcanic terrane that was partly onshore, partly offshore. You can look at that as a basin, too, just sitting there, a continuous thing. You see the same thing from Georgia north. The Appalachian belts are almost continuous basins, showing different kinds of depositional patterns. They’re not exotic pieces.” “Not at all.” “Science is not a detached, impersonal thing. People will be influenced as much by someone who is a spellbinder as by someone with a good, logical story. It is spellbinding to say that these belts are exotic and were built through time by micro or macro pieces aggregated to the continent. But the fact that you’ve got seismic lines without any apparent suture lines makes you wonder what really happened. Where are those Devonian and Taconic sutures? Are they just not being recognized? Or are they in fact thrust plates?”

The fifteenhundred-foot thickness

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To put it another way, in the fifteenhundred-foot thickness of the Bloomsburg formation, there were five millimetres for each hundred and sixty years. The interstate, with its keloid configuration, was blasted into the Shawangunk quartzites, blasted into the redbeds of the Bloomsburg, along the New Jersey side. As if that was not enough for one water gap, it turned and crossed the river. In all the rock we had walked by, the rivers and streams that carried the material had been flowing west co-working space amsterdam and northwest. I looked over the bank at the inventive Delaware, going the other way. ”When did the Delaware River come into existence?” I asked Anita. She shrugged, and said, “Long ago.” I said, “Really.” She turned and looked back toward the great slot in the mountain, and said, “In the late Jurassic, maybe. Possibly the early Cretaceous. I can look it up. I didn’t pay much attention to that part of geology.” In round numbers, then, the age of the river was a hundred and fifty million years. The age of the Water Gap rock was four hundred million years. Another fifty million years before that, the Taconic mountains appeared. The river i50, the rock 400, the first ancestral mountains 450 million years before the present-these dates are so unwieldy that they might as well be off a Manchu calendar unless you sense the pace of co-working space amsterdam zuidas geologic change and draw an analogy between, say, a hundred million years of geology and one human century, with its upward-fining sequences, its laminations of events, its slow deteriorations and instant catastrophes. You see the rivers running east. Then you see mountains rise. Rivers run off them to the west. Mountains come up like waves. They crest, break, and spread themselves westward. When they are spent, there is an interval of time, and then again you see the rivers running eastward. You look over the shoulder of the painter and you see all that in the landscape. You see it if first you have seen it in the rock. The composition is almost infinitely less than the sum of its parts, the flickers and glimpses of a thousand million years.