Maandelijks archief: februari 2018

The Appalachian

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Bermuda came through there like a train coming out of a tunnel. Or so it would appear. In the Campanian age of late Cretaceous time, when Great Meteor was in mid-Atlantic, Bermuda was under the Great Smoky Mountains. The Appalachian system consists of parallel bands of kindred geology sinuously winding from Newfoundland to Alabama, where they disappear under the sediments of the Gulf Coastal Plain. Why this long ropy package would stand high in two places and sink low in others is not explained by plate tectonics. It can be explained by hot spots. Great Meteor and Cape Verde seem to have lifted New England’s high zakelijke energie mountains, Bermuda the Smokies. Uplift accelerates erosion. The rock of the Permian period-the last chapter in the Appalachian mountain-building story-has been removed everywhere in eastern America except in West Virginia and nearby parts of Ohio and Pennsylvania, halfWay between the hot-spot tracks, halfWay between New Hampshire and North Carolina. Because plate motions have shifted over time, the tracks of all hot spots, ancient and modern, form a plexus on the face of the earth. Untouched areas between lines often prove to be continental basins-the Michigan Basin, the Illinois Basin, the Mississippi Embayment, the Williston Basin-while the rims of the basins are structural arches lined up on the tracks of the hot spots. Morgan thinks the large continental basins may have been cre8.ted when hot spots elevated the edges. The Great Meteor track runs between the Hudson Bay Basin and the Michigan Basin. A Paleozoic hot spot seems to have made the Kankakee Arch, which separates the Michigan and Illinois basins. The Bermuda track zakelijke energie vergelijken runs between the Illinois Basin and the Mississippi Embayment. “Every basin gets missed,” comments Morgan, with his hand on a map. “I don’t think that’s a coincidence.” Bermuda made the Nashville Dome. It lifted the Ozark Plateau, in middle Cretaceous time. “How much erodes off the top when a hot spot lifts something up depends on the durability of what’s there,” Morgan goes on. “If it’s coastal mush, or Mississippi River mush, it goes quickly and in great volume. If it’s quartzite, it resists. The resistant stuff stands up higher.”

The north and east

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New volcanoes rise to the north and east. Fissures spread open. Materials ranging from viscous lavas to flying ash obliterate tl1e existing topography. Streams disintegrate these materials and rearrange them in layers a few miles away. So far, these scenes-each one of which is preserved in the rock of Jackson Hole-have advanced to a point that is 99.8 per cent of the way through the history of the earth, yet nothing is in sight that even vaguely resembles the Tetons. The Precambrian rock remains buried under younger sediments. At the surface is a country of undramatic hills. The movements that brought the Overthrust Belt to western Wyoming-and caused the more easterly ranges to leap up out of the ground-have all been compressional: crust driven against crust, folded, faulted, and otherwise deformed. Now the crust extends, the earth stretches, the land pulls apart-and one result is a north-south-trending normal fault, fifty miles long. On the two sides of this fault, blocks of country swing on zakelijke energie vergelijken distant hinges like a facing pair of trapdoors-one rising, one sagging. The rising side is the rock of the nascent Tetons, carrying upward on its back the stratified deposits of half a billion years. One after another, erosion shucks them off Even more rapidly, the east side falls-into a growing void. Magma, in motion below, is continually being drawn toward volcanoes, vents, and fissures to the north. Just as magma moving under Idaho is causing land to collapse and form the Snake River Plain, magma drawn north from this place is increasing the vacuity of Jackson Hole. As the magma reaches Yellowstone, it rises to the surface, spreads out in all directions, and in a fiery cloud rolls down from Yellowstone to bury the north end of the Tetons, where it splits and flows along both sides. The descending zakelijke energie valley floor breaks into blocks, like ice cubes in a bucket of water. Some of them stick up as buttes. A lake now fills the valley-shallow, forty miles long-and in it forms a limestone so white it looks like snow.

The visiting geologists

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And now she told the visiting geologists that if oil was what they were looking for they would surely find it under the ranch, because her younger son’s initials were J.D.
Such excitement was contagious. Into our repetitive talk of sheep, cattle, horses, weather, and markets, new words appeared: anticline, syncline, red
beds, sump, casing, drill stem, bits, crow’s nest, cat walk, headache beam. Almost every herder had his own oil dome. We took up oil claims.
A range ne’er-do-well, grizzled and tattered, caught a ride to our house. He inquired importantly whether he might stay with us a few days while he did some validating work on his oil claims. Then he zakelijke energie vergelijken asked John if he might borrow a shovel. But to get to his claims, he said, he needed a team and a wagon. Having succeeded so far, he demanded, “Now, where’s your il?”
The boys might be far from sidewalks, but they would not grow up naive. A man named Jim Roush had a way of finding oil without a drill bit. Arriving at the ranch, he offered his services. Jim Roush was sort of a Music Man-an itinerant alchemist of structure, a hydrocarbonic dowser. He had a bottle that was wrapped in black friction tape. It dangled from a cord, and contained a secret fluid tomographically syndetic with oil. While David Love looked onwith his brother, his mother, and his father-Roush stood a few feet from their house and suspended the bottle, which began to spin. Light flashed on one hand-from a large apparent diamond. In silent concentration, he counted. Ypresian, Albian, Hauterivian, Valanginian-there was a zakelijke energie geologic age in every spin. When the bottle stopped, its aggregate revolutions could be factored as depth to oil. David never saw Jim Roush again, except to the extent that his ghost might haunt the Geological Survey.

St. Matthew’s Episcopal Cathedral

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We passed St. Matthew’s Episcopal Cathedral, which also-as Love had reason to regret-contained in its walls brachiopods, crinoids, and algal buttons. He once taught Sunday school there. He took the kids outside and showed them the fossils in the church walls. He described the environment in which the creatures had lived. He mentioned the age of the rock. He explained how things evolve and the fit prosper. Here endeth his career in sedimentary theology. A few miles north of town, we passed the quarry out of which had emerged not only the university and St. Matthew’s Cathedral but also the lvinson Home for Aged Ladies and the Albany County Courthouse. “It’s a limey sandstone, slightly fossiliferous,” he said. “It holds up pretty well.” We continued north along the foot of the Laramie Range and then turned east into the mountains, climbing a canyon downsection until we had returned to Precambrian time. The rock in this place was even older tl1an the neighboring subsummit granite, and some of it was chatoyant: flashing like a cat’s eye. It flashed every color in the spectrum. The zakelijke energie rock was anorthosite, nearly fifteen per cent aluminum, Love said. When the bauxites of the Caribbean run out, anorthosite will be a source of aluminum. “Anorthosite is tough, has a high melting point, and doesn’t fracture easily,” he continued. “Hence it might be useful for containing atomic waste.” Anorthosite is rare on earth. It began forming during the Archean Eon and predominantly dates from an age of the later Precambrian known as Helikian time. Yet the high Adirondacks are largely anortl10site. The choice they present is to seal up our spent nuclear fuel inside them or dismantle them one at a time to make beer cans. Anorthosite is more plentiful elsewhere. It is most of what you are looking at when you are looking at the moon. Moving on west, another day, we crossed the Laramie Plains on I-80 through a world of what to me were surprising lakes. They were not glacial lakes or man-made lakes or-as in Florida-sinkhole lakes filling bowls of dissolved limestone. For the most part, they had no outlets, and were therefore bitter lakes-some alkaline, some saline, some altogether dry. Of Knadler Lake, about a mile long, Love said, “That’s bitter water-sodium sulphate. It would physic you something awful.” A herd of zakelijke energie vergelijken twenty antelopes galloped up the shore of Knadler Lake. Most of the lakes of the world are the resting places of rivers, where rivers seek their way through landscapes that have been roughed up and otherwise left chaotic by moving ice. Ice had never covered the Laramie Plains. What, then, had dug out these lakes?

A most cordial welcome

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When she went to church on Sunday, Love was there-John Santa Love, who had not been to church in ten years. After the service, it was time to leave Lander.
There had been snow falling since morning, and the road was barely visible. The light faded to a soft whiteness that hardly grew darker when the sun set and the pale outline of the moon showed through the snow. Everywhere was the soft enveloping snow shutting out all sounds and sights. The horses knew the way and travelled on steadily. Fortunately it was not cold, and the multitudinous rugs and robes with the new footwarmer beneath kept us warm and comfortable. More zakelijke energie vergelijken pleasant it was travelling through the storm than sitting at home by the fire and watching it outside. When the conversation ran low and we travelled on quietly, Mr. Love discovered bags of candy under the robes . . . and he fed us both, for I was worse than entangled in wraps and the long sleeves of Mrs. Mills’ sealskin. The miles fell away behind us easily and quietly.
Even as those words were written, the editor and publishers of the Shoshone Pathfinder, in Lander, were completing a special issue urging young people to make their lives in central Wyoming. ‘We beg leave to extend to each and every one of you a most cordial welcome to come, remain, and help develop a country so rich in natural resources as to be beyond the computation of mortal man,” wrote the publishers. It was a country “clothed in a mantle of the most nutritious grasses and sage brush browse.” In its Wind River Mountains were “thousands of square miles of dense forests, which the foot of man has never invaded, and . . . as to the supply and quality of timber in this county it will meet the requirements of all demands for all time to come.” Moreover, there zakelijke energie was coal: “It has been said of our coal fields that the entire United States would be unable to exhaust them in a century. . . . It is in excess of the imagination to contemplate the vastness of this tremendous supply of fuel or what would ever transpire to exhaust it.” And there was oil: “It is a recognized fact of long standing that the quantity of oil stored in the natural reservoirs of this county is so great that no estimate can be made.”

North Platte River

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Now, as we crossed the North Platte River and ran on toward Rawlins in May, over the road were veils of blowing snow. This was Wyoming, not some nice mild place like Baffin Island-Wyoming, a landlocked Spitsbergen-and gently, almost imperceptibly, we were climbing. The snow did not obscure the structure. We were running above-and, in the roadcuts, among-strata that were leaning toward us, strata that were influenced by the Rawlins Uplift, which could be regarded as a failed mountain range. The Medicine Bow Mountains and the Sierra Madre stood off to the south, and while they and other ranges were rising this one had tried, too, but had succeeded merely in warping the flat land. The tilt of the strata was steeper than the road. Therefore, as we moved from cut to cut we were descending in time, downsection, each kantoor huren per uur amsterdam successive layer stratigraphically lower and older than the one before. Had this been a May morning a hundred million years ago, in Cretaceous time, we would have been many fathoms underwater, in a broad arm of tl1e sea, which covered the continental platform-reached across the North American craton, the Stable Interior Craton-from the Gulf of Mexico to the Arctic Ocean. The North Platte, scratching out the present landscape, had worked itself down into some dark shales that had been black muds in the organic richness of that epicratonic sea. The salt water rose and fell, spread and receded through time -in Love’s words, “advanced westward and then retreated, then advanced and retreated over and over again, leaving thick sequences of intertonguing sandstone and shale” -repeatedly exposing fresh coastal plains, and as surely flooding them once more. In what has become dry mountain country, vegetation flourished in kantoor huren per uur rotterdam coastal swamps. They would have been like the Florida Everglades, the peat fens of East Anglia, or borders of the Java Sea, which stand just as temporarily, and after they are flooded by a rising ocean may be buried under sand and mud, and reported to the future as coal. There were seams of coal in the roadcuts, under the layers of sandstone and shale. The Cretaceous swamps were particularly abundant in this part of Wyoming. A hundred million years later, the Union Pacific Railroad would choose this right-of-way so it could fuel itself with the coal.

Swiss Val de Bagnes

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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 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 co-working space amsterdam 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 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 co-working space rotterdam 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. 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.

A lithospheric microplate

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Taiwan, at this writing, is evidently on its way to the Chinese mainland. Taiwan is the vanguard of a lithospheric microplate and consists of pieces of island arc preceded by an accretionary wedge of materials coming off the Eurasian Plate and materials shedding forward from the island’s rising mountains. As the plate edges buckle before it, the island has plowed up so much stuff that it has filled in all the space between the accretionary wedge and the volcanic arc, and thus its components make an integral island. It is in motion northwest. For the mainland government in Beijing to be wooing the Taiwanese to join the People’s Republic of China is the ultimate inscrutable irony. Not only will Taiwan inexorably become one with Red China. It will hit into China like a fist in a belly. It will knock up big mountains from Hong Kong to Shanghai. It is only a question of time. As an exotic terrane on the verge of co-working space schiphol collision with a continent, Taiwan is a model not only for the building of the American West but for the application of microplate-tectonic theory to the eastern orogenies and the closing of the proto-Atlantic. In this respect, a plane fare to Taiwan has been described as “a ticket to the Ordovician,” a time when something or other, beyond question, produced the Taconic Orogeny, and if it was not the slamming-in of a continent against North America, then possibly it was the arrival of an exotic island like Taiwan. The analogy becomes wider. South of Taiwan are Luzon, Mindanao, Borneo, Celebes, New Guinea, Java, and hundreds of dozens of smaller islands from the Malay Peninsula to the Bismarck Archipelago. Coming up below them is Australia, palpably moving north, headed for collision with China, with a confusion of microplates lying between. According to microplate theory, as Europe, Africa, and South America closed in upon North America co-working space utrecht through Paleozoic time, there rode before them an ocean full of Javas, New Guineas, Borneos, Luzons, Taiwans, and maybe hundreds of dozens of smaller islands.

Blotches and Pimples

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He did not know that Oil Creek had cut down through Pennsylvanian and Mississippian formations and on into a Devonian coast. Drake knew none of this in i859, and neither did the science of geology. What Drake did know was that there was negotiability in the stuff that was dripping into Oil Creek. It was even used as medicine. Fleets of red wagons had been all over eastern America selling seepage as a health-enhancing drink. “Kier’s Genuine Petroleum! Or Rock Oil! A natural remedy . . . possessing wonderful curative powers in diseases of the Chest, co-working space amsterdam Windpipe and Lungs, also for the care of Diarrhea, Cholera, Piles, Rheumatism, Gout, Asthma, Bronchitis, Scrofula, or King’s Evil; Burns and Scalds, Neuralgia, Tetter, Ringworm, obstinate eruptions of the skin, Blotches and Pimples on the face, biles, deafness, chronic sore eyes, erysipelas …” Drake had, in addition, the encouragement of a Yale professor of chemistry who ran a bottle of the seepage through his lab and said, “It appears to me . . . that your company have in their possession a raw material from which, by simple and not expensive process, they may manufacture very valuable products. It is worthy of note that my experiments prove that nearly the whole of the raw product may be manufactured without waste.” And what Drake had, above all, was the inspiration to go after the substance in its reservoir rock, not to be content to blot it up from the streambanks but to drill for it, never mind that he was making a fool of himself in the eyes of the local rubes. He would punch their tickets later. At sixty-nine and a half feet, he co-working space rotterdam completed his discovery well. There was an oil rush to Oil Creek, and frontier conditions in shantytowns, and forests of derricks on denuded hills. There was a town called Red Hot, Pennsylvania. There was Petroleum Centre. Pithole City. Babylon. In three months, the population of Pithole City went from nobody to fifteen thousand.

New Jersey Highlands

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Conventional thought had been that the old rock of the Green Mountains, the Berkshires, the New Jersey Highlands, the Catoctin Mountains, and the northern Blue Ridge was in place, firmly rooted-autochthonous, as geologists are wont to say. It may have been crushed and pounded in the various orogenies, and metamorphosed, too, but it was nonetheless thought to be securely glued where it first had formed as rock. The belt was supposed to have been the fixed starting block from which, somehow, thrusting had proceeded northwest. The idea had come up through the Old Geology and been incorporated into the substance of plate tectonics. Then, in i979, Vibroseis rumbled into the country and showed that from Quebec to the Blue Ridge the entire belt was deracinated. The Great Smokies and the Skyline Drive, Camp David and the Reading Prong, the Berkshires and the Green Mountains-all of it had moved, at least a few tens of miles and as much as a hundred and conference room amsterdam seventy-five miles, northwest. Using the new data, Leonard meticulously drew a palinspastic reconstruction of North American rock, showing it as it had appeared before it was shoved and deformed. He chose a cross section that had been shot more or less from Knoxville to Charleston and out to sea. The reconstruction showed that the rock of the Ridge and Valley-the folded-and-faulted, deformed Appalachians-had been squeezed so much that its breadth had been reduced about sixty miles. The supposedly rooted Blue Ridge had been moved inland from what is now the coast. Rock of the present Piedmont had come from three hundred miles out in the present sea. This left Africa out in the conference room rotterdam cold and plate-tectonic theory in no small need of a substitute for what had been-and in many classrooms would continue to be-the world’s most “classical” example of a continent-tocontinent suture.