Tag Archives: geology




I stand

in the hard

fields and watch

a hill like a wave,

sweeping toward me,

chalk crumbled crest

of the rolling

land ocean.


I can stare

until it topples me;

It is just

a matter of







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Disaster Movies, etc.

While watching the movie 2012, I began to ponder. Of course, the earth’s crust does move, although–luckily for us—it doesn’t usually move as suddenly and catastrophically as it does in a Hollywood disaster movie.  Slightly off topic, but I must report that my husband says our highly market sensitive cable company has instantly provided viewers with a “Disaster Channel.” (ALL DISASTERS! ALL THE TIME!) He says it’s called “news.”

In the sixties I took a freshman level Geology course, with a professor who had very definite—and I know now—conservative–ideas on the subject. I truly enjoyed my introduction to a science I’d never thought much about. I remember vainly trying to argue for the theory of Continental Drift in the final exam. The grad students who did the scut work of grading weren’t impressed by my freshman effort.  I had the distressing experience of getting a “C”. However, Continental Drift is just one among many theories considered far-out that have become proven science during my short lifetime.

This thinking about the rocks beneath the scenery has, unlike some other academic requirements, stayed with me. Any time I travel, I find myself looking closely. Even the dreariest stretch of butchered, bulldozed land beside an interstate has an intriguing story to tell. There have been great oceans here; mountains have risen and then eroded away by wind and water. Here on the Appalachian shield, the cornfields are stained red from iron from the bodies of ancient life. I study the road cuts, analyze the shape of the hills, or gaze down onto a broad green plain cut by a winding river, and enjoy imagining the long term forces which made it so.

Geologic time isn’t like human time. There’s millions of years for great changes to occur on the wrinkled surface of this “third rock from the sun.” Earth once had a single giant super-continent with the now familiar name “Pangaea.” Then it split into two enormous continents with the science fiction ready names of  Gondwanaland and Laurasia, the former in the southern hemisphere, the later in the north, before oceanic spreading took the continental plates to where they are today.

Perhaps this long-term, earth science thinking has something of the escapist in it, and that’s also what’s up with all my current fascination with disaster movies. I’m hoping that our wanton poisoning and reckless drilling, that even the great ecocide now commencing in the Gulf of Mexico,  can be mercifully erased by the mighty passage of Time.

Sidling Hill Cut

Sidling Hill Cut in Winter


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