Mother Earth and I

Mother Earth and I March 21, 2019


Hawaii's Kilauea lava lake
The lava lake in Kilauea’s caldera can rise or fall in a matter of hours. (Wikimedia Commons public domain image) And its lava is continually flowing into the Pacific Ocean, making the Big Island a little bit bigger every year.


One of my regrets is that I’ve never taken a geology class.  But the subject interests me very much — and probably for some of the same reasons that history interests me.  I recall a lengthy conversation with the late Eugene Clark in Costa Rica about his early desire to become a historian.  But he was dyslexic, and he simply couldn’t keep up with the reading that his history classes demanded of him, and that a career as a historian would inevitably require.  In the end, he had become a (very fine) geologist, specializing in deciphering the history of landscapes and landforms.  I instantly understood the connection.


We keep a copy of Roadside Geology of Utah in the glove compartment of our car.  And whenever I spend enough time in a place that’s sufficiently interesting to justify it (e.g., Kauai, the Black Canyon of the Gunnison, Hawai‘i Volcanoes National Park, and so forth), I tend to buy a guide to the local geology of the area.  Years ago, my wife and I spent several days in Rocky Mountain National Park with her parents, and I expect that I probably drove them slightly nuts with my incessant sharing of geological discoveries from the back seat.  But it certainly makes the landscape come alive.  Instead of simply passing by features that we scarcely notice, we’re looking at details that take on real significance.


We’ll be spending a little bit of time this summer in the Canadian Rockies, and passing through Yellowstone National Park enroute — a geological wonderland — and, barring unforeseen catastrophe (e.g., an inconvenient life-ending eruption of the Yellowstone Supervolcano), I’ll be following the same long-standing habit.  And one of my aspirations is to make a serious study — well, “serious” by my time-constrained, amateur standards — of Mount St. Helens.  I’ve been in the area before, but never quite to my satisfaction.  Volcanology and plate tectonics are, for some reason, of particular interest to me.


Still, my failure to have a solid, systematic, basic geological foundation or framework for what I’m seeing is an obvious weakness.  So I’ve acquired some materials with which I hope, in fits and starts, to develop at least some rudiments of general geological understanding.


Notice:  This blog post is for entertainment purposes only.  It is not intended for the treatment of any disease, nor does it purport to reflect a double-blind process of peer evaluation or rigorous statistical analysis or to demonstrate a trend.  No atheists were harmed in its production.  These statements have not been evaluated for accuracy by the Freedom from Religion Foundation.



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