The early Appalachian geologists

The early Appalachian geologists, in their horse-drawn buggies, their suits and ties, developed a sense of physiography that tuned them to the land, and when they saw long sugarloaf hills they had learned to suspect that there was dolomite within, and when they looked up at coxcomb ridges they felt the presence of Cambrian sandstones, […]

Distant transport

But such distant transport, while it characterizes continental ice sheets wherever they have moved, accounts for a low percentage of the rock in glacial drift. The glacier cuts and fills. Continuously, it plucks up material and sets it down, plucks it up, sets it down. It taketh away, and then it giveth. A diamond may […]

How science works

That is how science works. Ideas range from the solidly accepted to the literally half-baked-those in the process of forming, the sorts of things about which people call each other up in the middle of the night. All science involves speculation, and few sciences include as much speculation as geology. Is the Delaware Water Gap […]

Five-pound ingot

For a short while, he would have a five-pound ingot of raw silver on the floor, propping open the door. When he was finished with his pond, he would withdraw the cyanide and turn it into a marketable compound known as Prussian blue. He would cover his pond with dirt and sow it with crested […]

Eighteenth-century geology

At the other end of the scale is the Holocene, the past ten thousand years, also called the Recent-Cro-Magnon brooding beside the melting ice. (The Primitive and Secondary eras of eighteenth-century geology are long since gone from the vocabulary, but oddly enough the Tertiary remains. The term, which is in general use, embraces nearly all […]

A hundred per cent

I once dreamed about a great fire that broke out at night at Nasser Aftab’s House of Carpets. In Aftab’s showroom under the queen-post trusses were layer upon layer and pile after pile of shags and broadlooms, hooks and throws, para-Persians and polyesters. The intense and shrivelling heat consumed or melted most of what was […]

Hook Mountain

There were oaks and maples on top of Hook Mountain, and, in the wall of the roadcut, basal rosettes of woolly mullein, growing in the rock. The Romans drenched stalks of mullein with suet and used them for funeral torches. American Indians taught the early pioneers to use the long flannel leaves of this plant […]

Ocean-crustal rock

Moores is an ophiolitologist, an expert on ocean-crustal rock, which asks or answers large questions when it is found detached and lying on continents. An introduction to the nature and complexity of ophiolites (476-5u) is followed by subflashbacks to Cyprus (5ll19) and Greece (519-26), where Moores has done research for decades and where transported rock […]

One sweeping glance

In the unspectacular setting of Rawlins, Wyoming, a person can see in one sweeping glance a spread of time far greater than the time represented in the walls of the Grand Canyon. On pages 29497, a verbal rock column reaches down at Rawlins through those 2.6 billion years. The final sixth of Rising from the […]