Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains

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University of California Press, Nov 15, 2011 - Science - 320 pages
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"Unfold a map of North America," Keith Heyer Meldahl writes, "and the first thing to grab your eye is the bold shift between the Great Plains and the Rocky Mountains." In this absorbing book, Meldahl takes readers on a 1000-mile-long field trip back through more than 100 million years of deep time to explore America’s most spectacular and scientifically intriguing landscapes. He places us on the outcrops, rock hammer in hand, to examine the evidence for how these rough-hewn lands came to be. We see California and its gold assembled from pieces of old ocean floor and the relentless movements of the Earth’s tectonic plates. We witness the birth of the Rockies. And we investigate the violent earthquakes that continue to shape the region today. Into the West’s geologic story, Meldahl also weaves its human history. As we follow the adventures of John C. Frémont, Mark Twain, the Donner party, and other historic characters, we learn how geologic forces have shaped human experience in the past and how they direct the fate of the West today.
 

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When it comes to books written about geology for a general audience there is only one definitive classic: Annals of the Former World by John McPhee. It's hard to imagine that anything could really ... Read full review

Contents

Golden Gate
3
Mother Lode
19
Rivers of Gold
35
A Traverse across the Range of Light
47
Where Is the Edge of the North American Plate?
61
THE BASIN AND RANGE AND THE GREAT BASIN
77
The Growing Pains of Mountains
97
Wealth and Magma
117
Up from the Basement
183
At the Frontier
199
Deep Time Fathoming the Rock Record
217
Seeing for Yourself
233
Acknowledgments
245
Glossary
259
Bibliography
267
Figure Sources and Credits
281

Water and Salt
131
Evolutions Big Bang
147
THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS
163

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About the author (2011)

Keith Heyer Meldahl is Professor of Geology at Mira Costa College in southern California. He is the author of Hard Road West: History and Geology along the Gold Rush Trail.

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