The interstate

I have a feeling that the hot-spot ideas have been somewhat enlarged beyond the facts. The term itself probably means different things to different people. To me, a hot spot is an area of abnormally high temperature gradients, so high that it can be interpreted as having an igneous mush down below. In the Snake […]

Time-stratigraphic relationships

He knows geology from having found it out himself. He has set an example of the way geology is done-one hell of an example. To compete with Dave, you’d have to do a lot of walking.” Love once picked up a mail-order catalogue and saw an item described as “Thousand Mile Socks.” He sent for […]


To shorten the trip to Lander, and make his own visits more frequent, John Love bought a used Buick. Under severe nervous and vocal strain, he taught himself to drive, alone, on a wide expanse of level ground. Automatically he called “Whoa, there!” when he wanted to stop. He knew a stockman who, in a […]

Geological Survey’s

One after another, I chose a cobble from the roadcut, handed it to Love, and asked him what it was. A Paleozoic quartzitic sandstone, for example-probably Mississippian. Grains rounded. No biotite. In fact, no mica of any kind. A Cretaceous sandstone. That would be from nearby, not from the mountains. A Paleozoic or Precambrian chert. […]

The best general date

In earth history, that was not long ago. He said the best general date for it was ten million years-when the central Rocky Mountains, which had long since taken form as we know them, were bur-‘ ied up to their chins. Only the highest peaks remained uncovered, like nunataks protruding through continental ice, or scattered […]


Less than a mile up the road, we stopped again-at a low, flaky roadcut of Mowry shale. Progressing thus across Wyoming with David Love struck me as being analogous to walking up and down outside a theatre in the company of David Garrick. The classic plays-Teton, Beartooth, Wind River-were not out here on the street, […]

Characteristically smooth

“There I ascertained the most important fact that I now know concerning the advance of glaciers,” he wrote later. From a message in a bottle in a cabin on the ice, he had learned that the monk who built the place in i827 had returned nine years later to find it more than two thousand […]

Difficult to compare

We have rock that is nearly four billion years old. So we have a problem relating. 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 […]

North America

And yet the craton stirs. There is no part of the face of the earth that vertically and laterally does not move. The bedding planes in Midwestern rock, which appear to be absolutely level, do in fact dip. They will descend across a great many miles and then rise, arching over the far rim of […]

Exotic terranes

A schedule of arrivals of incoming exotic terranes will account-as a simple continent-to-continent collision cannot do-for the long spreads of time between one and another of the Appalachian mountain-building pulses. As someone once compacted it for me, “you sweep the New Zealands and Madagascars out of the ocean and then you close it with the […]