The car hit an erosional vacuity that almost threw it off the road. Geology versus the State of Pennsylvania. Geology wins. In eastern weather, the life expectancy of an interstate is twenty years. Mile after mile, I-80 had been heaved, split, dissolved, and cratered. A
fair amount of limestone is incorporated in the road surface in Pennsylvania. Limestone is soluble in distilled water, let alone in acid rain. “Acid rains eat the surface, then water goes in and freezes, thaws, freezes again, and fractures the hell out of the road,” Anita said, easing down toward minimum speed. “That, of course, is exactly how water works on bedrock. But an interstate can’t be compared to bedrock. An conference room utrecht interstate has no soil protecting it. And it’s mostly carbonate. It’s not very resistant stuff.” We were sixty miles into Pennsylvania and had descended from the Pocono Plateau, generally running backward through time and down through the detritus of two great ranges of mountains. Now the country was familiar-valley, ridge, valley, ridge. We were again in the deformed Appalachians. While the Delaware Water Gap had been a part of the main trunk of the foldbelt, this was an offshoot that curled around the western Poconos-a broad cul-de-sac whose long ropy ridges ended like fingers, gesturing in the direction of New York State. It was rhythmic terrain, predictable and beautiful, the quartzite ridges and carbonate valleys of the folded-and-faulted mountains, trending conference room rotterdam southwest, while the interstate negotiated with them for its passage toward Chicago. Looked at in continental scale on a physiographic map or a geologic map-on almost any map that doesn’t obscure the countiy with exaggerated human improvements-the sinuosity of the deformed Appalachians is as consistent as the bendings of a moving serpent. In Alabama, the mountains come up from under the Gulf Coastal Plain and bend right into Georgia and then left into Tennessee and right into North Carolina and left in the Virginias and right in Pennsylvania and left in New Jersey and New York and right in Quebec and New Brunswick and left in Newfoundland.
The rock coarsened abruptly as we drove on westward. There were cobbly conglomerates. They were the first explosive belch from the new Acadian mountains, which came up in the east at a rate ten times as fast as erosion could destroy them and, with a new system of rivers, rapidly shed this downpour of rock. A few miles farther on, another ten or fifteen million years, and we were among roadcuts containing upper Devonian stream channels of a quiet country, a low alluvial plainpoint bars, cutbanks, ripple marks in red river sands. We were forty million years past the Water Gap, and the geology was repeating itself on an epic scale. A new set of coalescing fans had come off the Acadian mountains, and, as the great sierra disintegrated, its co-working space utrecht detritus spread westward thick upon the country and into the seaat least ten tl1ousand feet thick in the east and gradually thinning to the west, this immense new elastic wedge, to be lmown in geology as the Catskill Delta. It stands at the surface of a huge piece of country. Erosion working into the high eastern end has cut the shapes of the Catskill Mountains. The rock lies essentially flat there, and is flat all the way to the shores of Lake Erie. It is the uppermost rock of half of New York State. It is the rock of Chenango, the rock of Chautauqua, too. It is the rock of Seneca, Ithaca, Elmira, Oneonta. In Pennsylvania, it is largely buried, or was sliced and lmeaded into the deformed mountains, but as the so-called Poconos it stands flat and high. The Poconos actually are part and parcel of the New York Devonian elastic wedge. The co-working space rotterdam Poconos are a tongue of New York State penetrating Pennsylvania. The Acadian mountains are gone. The wedge remains. The Acadians, in their Devonian prime, must have been a crowd of Kanchenjungas, to judge by their sedimentary remains, which reach almost to Indiana. As the mountains came down, they stood ever deeper in debris. At Denver, the Rocky Mountains are up to their hips in their own waste.
Dolomite is less responsive to acid. With her sledgehammer, Anita took many pounds of roadcut, and not without effort. Again and again, she really had to slam the wall. Looking at the fresh surface of a piece she removed, she said she’d give odds it was dolomite. It was not responsive to acid. She scraped it with a knife and made powder. Acid on the powder foamed. “This dolomite is clean enough to produce beautiful white marble if it were heated up and recrystallized,” she said. “When it became involved in the mountain building, if it had got up to five hundred degrees it would have turned into marble, like the Dolomites, in Italy. There is not a lot of dolomite in the Dolomites. Most of the rock there is marble.” She pointed in the roadcut to the domal structures of algal stromatolites-fossil colonies of microorganisms that had lived in the Cambrian seas. “You know the water was shallow, because those things grew only near the light,” she said. “You can see there was no mud around. The rock flexplek huren utrecht is so clean. And you know the water was warm, because you do not get massive carbonate deposition in cold water. The colder the water, the more soluble carbonates are. So you look at this roadcut and you know you are looking into a clear, shallow, tropical sea.” With dry land adrift and the earth prone to rolling, that Cambrian sea and New Jersey below it would have been about 20 degrees from the equator-the present latitude of Yucatan, where snorkelers kick along in transparent waters looking through their masks at limestones to be. The Yucatan peninsula is almost all carbonate and grew in its own sea. As did Florida. Under the shallow waters of the Bahamas are wave-washed carbonate dunes, their latitude between 20 and 26 degrees. At the end of Cambrian time, the equator crossed what is now the North American continent in a direction that has become north-south. The flexplek huren rotterdam equator came in through the Big Bend country in Texas and ran up through the Oklahoma panhandle, Nebraska, and the Dakotas. If in late Cambrian time you had followed the present route of Interstate 80, you would have crossed the equator near Kearney, Nebraska. In New Jersey, you would have been in water scarcely above your hips, wading among algal mounds and grazing gastropods. You could have waded to the equator.
Jack Epstein, Anita’s northern-Appalachian geologist, went to Brooklyn College, too, and subsequently enrolled in the master’s program at tl1e University of Wyoming. Anita tried to follow, in i957, but the geology department in Laramie offered no fellowships for first-year graduate students. (“I needed money. I didn’t have a pot to cook in.”) She looked into places like Princeton, with geology departments outstanding in the world, but they were even less receptive than Wyoming. In those days, Princeton would not have admitted a woman had she been a direct descendant of Sir Charles Lyell offering as tuition her weight in gems. Anita applied to ten schools in all. The best offer flexplek huren eindhoven came from Indiana University, in Bloomington, where her professors were soon much aware of her as an extremely bright and aggressive student with the disconcerting habit of shaking her head while they talked, as if to say no, no, no, no, you cratoriic schnook, you don’t know from nothing. Something of the sort was not always far from her thoughts. (“I am not a very orthodox geologist. I do buy some dogma, if I think it’s common sense.”) Bloomington stood upon Salem limestone, which, in the terminology of the building trade, makes beautiful “dimension stone,” and is cut to be the cladding of cities. It formed from lime mud in the Meramecian age of middle Mississippian time-between 348 and 340 million years before the present-when Bloomington was at the flexplek huren amsterdam bottom of a shallow arm of the transgressing ocean, an epicratonic sea. “You people in New York may have your Empire State Building,” a professor pointed out to Anita. “But out here we have the hole in the ground it came from.”
But first, as we do now, they came into broad green flats abundantly fertile with grass, knee-high grass, a fill for the oxen, the last gesture of the river before it vanished into the air. The emigrants called this place the Big Meadows ofthe Humboldt, and something like two hundred and fifty wagons would be resting here at any given time. “There was a sea here in the Triassic,” Deffeyes remarks. “At least until the Sonomia terrane came in and sutured on. The sea was full of pelagic squid, and was not abyssal, but it was deep enough so the bottom received no sunlight, and bottom life was not dominant.” “How do you know it was not dominant?” “Because I have looked at the siltstones and the ammonites in them, and that is what I see there.” Visions of oceans before and behind us in time, we roll on into Lovelock. SLOW-DUST HAZARD. Lovelock, Nevada 89419. There are cumulus snow clouds overhead and big bays of blue in the cold sky, with snow coming down in curtains over the Trinity Range, snow pluming upward over the valley like smoke from a runaway fire. Lovelock was a flexplek huren utrecht station of the Overland Stage. It became known throughout Nevada as “a good town with a bad water supply.” An editor of the Lovelock Review-Miner wrote in i915, “There is little use in trying to induce people to locate here until the water question is settled. . . . Maybe tl1e water does not kill anyone, but it certainly drives people away.” In i917, Lovelock was incorporated as a third-class city, and one of its first acts was to enforce a ban on houses of prostitution within twelve hundred feet of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Another was a curfew. Another ordered all city lights turned off when there was enough moon.
Here in the Big Meadows of the Humboldt, the principal employer is the co-op seed mill on the edge of town, which sends alfalfa all over the world. On the sidewalks are men in Stetsons, men in three-piece suits, men in windbreakers, tall gaunt overalled men with beards. There are women in Stetsons, boots, and jeans. A thin young man climbs out of a pickup that is flexplek huren rotterdam painted in glossy swirls of yellow and purple, and has a roll bar, balloon tires, headphones, and seventeen lights. There are terraces of Lake Lahontan above the ball£eld of the Lovelock Mustangs. Cattle graze beside the field. The Ten Commandments are carved in a large piece of metamorphosed granite outside the county courthouse.
Less delicately, he had equipped me with a military shovel. He asked me to go along the slope digging foxholes a couple of feet deep in order to get rid of the weathered surface and prepare the way for him. As the mountains had given up grains and the grains had come down into the basin, any that had magnetite in them would have settled in a uniform manner, pointing like compasses toward the earth’s magnetic pole. Since the late Miocene, the earth’s magnetic field had reversed itself twenty times-from north to south, from south back to north -and the zakelijke energie dates of those reversals had by now become well established. If Deffe yes could somehow collect unconsolidated but firmly compacted sediment and keep it from falling apart and destroying its own evidence while he carried it to a paleomagnetic lab, he might be able to compare what he already knew from his vertebrate time scale-his expertized horse teeth, his rhinoceros jaw-with the paleomagnetic time scale as expressed by the magnetite in the successive basin sediments. He would thus improve his knowledge of what occurred when-in this basin, this range. Later, he could correlate the ash falls and other stratigraphy of Jersey Valley with other valleys in the region, and make clearer the story of how it all took shape, adding polish to chapters of the Basin and Range. And so he had invented and machined a corer that would tap clear-plastic tubing gingerly into the earth with a micropiledriver made of non-magnetic aluminum. As I began the crude initial digging, Deffeyes said, “There are ten thousand feet of zakelijke energie vergelijken sediment here, and all of it has been deposited in eight million years. I have high hopes for the success of these endeavors. For each sample, I would prefer to go twenty feet into the slope instead of two. I would like to have a bulldozer as a substitute for you. But one has to settle for what one can get.” The first time I put my foot to the ground, the shovel broke in half. It was decapitated. After that, I had to hold its head in my hands and scrape as with an awkward trowel.
Where there were swamps, they were full of awkward amphibians, not entirely masking in their appearance the human race they would become. They struggled along on stumpy legs. The strait separating the Meramecian island from the North American mainland was about four hundred miles wide and contained crossopterygian fish, from which the amphibians had evolved. There were shell-crushing sharks, horn corals, meadows of sea lilies, and spiral bryozoans that looked like screws. The strait was warm and equatorial. The equator ran through the present site of San Diego, up through Colorado and Nebraska, and on through the site of Lake Superior. The lake would not be dug for nearly three zakelijke energie hundred and forty million years. If in the Meramecian you were to have followed the present route of Interstate 80 moving east, you would have raised the coast of North America near the Wyoming border, and landed on a red beach. Gradually, you would have ascended through equatorial fem forests, in red soil, to a high point somewhere near Laramie, to begin there a long general downgrade among low hills to Grand Island, Nebraska, where you would have come to an arm of the sea. The far shore was four hundred miles to the east, where the Mississippi River is now, and beyond it was a low, wet, humid, flat terrain, dense with ferns an fern trees-Illinois, Indiana, Ohio. Halfway across Ohio, you would have come to a second epicratonic sea, its far · shore in central Pennsylvania. In New Jersey, you would have begun to ascend mountains and ever higher mountains, their summits girt with ice and capped with snow, not unlike Mt. Kenya, not unlike the present peaks of New Guinea and Ecuador, with their snowfields and glaciers in the zakelijke energie vergelijken equatorial tropics. Reaching the site of the George Washington Bridge, you would have been at considerable altitude, looking at mountains and more mountains before you in future Africa. If you had turned around and gone back to Nevada a million years later, still in Meramecian time, there would have been few variations to note along the way. The west coast would have moved east, but only a bit, and would still be approximately at the western end of Wyoming.
It was an angular unconformity in Scotland-exposed in a riverbank at Jedburgh, near the border, exposed as well in a wavescoured headland where the Lammermuir Hills intersect the North Sea-that helped to bring the history of the earth, as people had understood it, out of theological metaphor and into the perspectives of actual time. This happened toward the end of the eighteenth century, signalling a revolution that would be quieter, slower, and of another order than the ones that were contem11orary in America and France. According to conventional wisdom at the time, the earth was between five thousand and six thousand years old. An Irish archbishop (James U ssher), counting generations in his favorite book, figured this out in the century before. Ussher abtually dated earth, saying that it was zakelijke energie created in 4004 B.C., “upon the entrance of the night preceding the twenty-third day of October.” It was also conventional wisdom toward the end of the eighteenth century that sedimentary rock had been laid down in Noah’s Flood. Marine fossils in mountains were creatures that had got there during the Flood. To be sure, not everyone had always believed this. Leonardo, for example, had noticed fossil clams in the Apennines and, taking into account the distance to the Adriatic Sea, had said, in effect, that it must have been a talented clam that could travel a hundred miles in forty days. Herodotus had seen the Nile Delta-and he had seen in its accumulation unguessable millennia. G. L. L. de Buffon, in i749 (the year of Tom Jones), began publishing his forty-four-volume Histoire Naturelle, in which he said that the earth had emerged hot from the sun seventy-five thousand years before. There had been, in short, assorted versions of the Big Picture. But the scientific hypothesis that overwhelmingly prevailed at the time of Bunker Hill was zakelijke energie vergelijken neptunism-the aqueous origins of the visible world. Neptunism had become a systematized physiognomy of the earth, carried forward to the nth degree by a German academic mineralogist who published very little but whose teaching was so renowned that his interpretation of tlrn earth was taught as received fact at Oxford and Cambridge, Turin and Leyden, Harvard, Princeton, and Yale. His name was Abraham Gottlob Werner. He taught at Freiberg Mining Academy.
The detritus of the mountains rolled into the basin. The basin filled with water-at first, it was fresh blue water-and accepted layer upon layer of sediment from the mountains, accumulating weight, and thus unbalancing the block even further. Its tilt became more pronounced. In the manner of a seesaw, the high, mountain side of the block went higher and the low, basin side went lower until the block as a whole reached a state of precarious and temporary truce with God, physics, and mechanical and chemical erosion, not to mention, far below, the agitated mantle, which was running a temperature hotter zakelijke energie vergelijken than normal, and was, almost surely, controlling the action. Basin and range. Integral fault blocks: low side the basin, high side the range. For five hundred miles they nudged one another across the province of the Basin and Range. With extra faulting, and whatnot, they took care of their own irregularities. Some had their high sides on the west, some on the east. The escarpment of the Wasatch Mountains-easternmost expression of this immense suite of mountains-faced west. The Sierra-the westernmost, the highest, the predominant range, with Donner Pass only halfway up it-presented its escarpment to [the east. As the developing Sierra made its skyward climb-as it went on up past ten and twelve and fourteen thousand feet-it became so predominant that it cut off the incoming Pacific rain, cast a rain shadow (as the phenomenon is zakelijke energie called) over lush, warm, Floridian and verdant Nevada. Cut it off and kept it dry. We move on (we’re in a pickup) into dusk-north up Pleasant Valley, with its single telephone line on sticks too !skinny to qualify as poles. The big flanking ranges are in alpenglow. Into the cold clear sky come the ranking stars. Jackrabbits appear, and crisscross the road. We pass the darkening shapes of cattle. An eerie trail of vapor traverses the basin, sent up by a clear, hot stream. It is only a couple of feet wide, but it is running swiftly and !has multiple sets of hot white rapids. In the source springs, there is a thumping sound of boiling and rage. Beside the springs are lucid green pools, rimmed with accumulated travertine, like the travertine walls of Lincoln Center, the travertine pools of Havasu Canyon, but these pools are too hot to touch. Fall in there and you are Brunswick stew.
The diabase below the contact now is a smooth and uniform hard dark rock, no tweed-its crystals too small to be discernible, having had so little time to grow in the chill zone. The contact is a straight, clear line. She rests her hand across it. The heat of the magma penetrated about a hundred feet into the shale, enough to cook it, to metamorphose it, to turn it into spotted slate. Sampling the slate with her zakelijke energie sledgehammer, she has to pound with even more persistence than before. “Some weird, wild minerals turn up in this stuff,” she comments between swings. “The metamorphic aureole of this formation is about the hardest rock in New Jersey.” She moves a few hundred feet farther on, near the end of the series of cuts. Pin oaks, sycamores, aspens, cottonwoods have come in on the wind with milkweed and wisteria to seize living space between the rock and the road, although the environment appears to be less welcoming than the center of Carson Sink. There are fossil burrows in the slate-long stringers where Triassic animals travelled through the quiet mud, not far below the surface of the shallow lake.
There is a huge rubber sandal by the road, a crate of broken eggs, three golf balls. Two are very cheap but one is an Acushnet Titleist. A soda can comes clinking down the interstate, moving ten miles an hour before the easterly winds of the traffic. The screen of trees damps the truck noise. Karen sits down to rest, to talk, with her back against a cottonwood. “Roadcuts can be a godsend. There’s a series of roadcuts near Pikeville, Kentucky-very big ones-where you can see distributary channels in a river-delta system, with natural levees, and with splay deposits going out from the levees into overbank deposits of shales and coal. It’s a face-on view of the fingers of a delta, coming zakelijke energie vergelijken at you-the Pocal1ontas delta system, shed off the Appalachians in Mississippian-Pennsylvanian time. You see river channels that migrated back and forth across a valley and were superposed vertically on one another through time. You see it all there in one series of exposures, instead of having to fit together many smaller pieces of the puzzle.”