The lifeblood of our nation

They disappeared to the north, still shooting. This was boom country now, however temporarily-another world of pickups painted with flames. It had been described in journals as “the hottest oil-and-gas province in North America”-a phrase in which Love found bemusement and irony, because for threequarters of a century the hottest oil-and-gas province in North America […]

Charles Darwin

Cape Verde was where Charles Darwin first got off the Beagle with Charles Lyell’ s Principles of Geology in his hand, and quickly developed such admiration for Lyell’s presentation of the science. Had Lyell told him that the Cape Verde Islands had also been on a voyage-that in a deep geophysical sense they had come […]

The epochs in the history

He measured them, and they were two miles thick. Just above them in time, he found coal. In red and salmon rock nearby were the small tracks and tiny bones of dinosaurs. Larger ones, too. There were beds of marine phosphate. He collected cherty black shales, pure dolomites, dark dolomites, the massive sandstones of an […]

The bull

The bull broke into the high granary. Our only, and small, supply of horse and chicken feed was there. Foolishly, I went in after him and drove him out down the step. Cows began to die, one here, one there. Every morning some were unable to rise. By day, one walking would fall suddenly, as […]

The old-timers

At the Wyoming Information Center, beside Interstate 80 just south of Cheyenne, eleven picnic tables are enclosed in brick silos, and each silo has a picture window, so that visitors to Wyoming can picnic more or less al fresco and not be blown home. On the range, virtually every house has a shelter belt of […]

Mr. Love

Mr. Love is a Scotchman about thirty-five years old. At first sight he made me think of a hired man, as he lounged stiffly on the couch, in overalls, his feet covered with enormous red and black striped stockings that reached to his knees, and were edged with blue around the top. He seemed to […]

New England landscape

And then we went off the lakebed and up into roadcuts of vetch-covered till among the kettles, kames, and drumlins, the Wabash Moraine, the New England landscape of glacial Indiana. “This would be a good place for a golf course,” Anita remarked. “If you want a golf course, go to a glacier.” We left the […]

Second World War

Always, it was found in seeps. Even until a few years after the Second World War, all Iranian oil fields were associated with surface seeps. The first well in Texas-1865-was drilled near a seep. A well in Ontario had been drilled six years earlier, and in the same summer the first commercial oil well in […]

Plate tectonics

The experience was cautionary, to say the least. It did not close her mind to plate tectonics, but it opened a line of suspicion and made her skeptical of the theory’s insistent universality. Her discomfort varies with distance from the mobile ocean floors. She likes to describe herself as a “protester.” The protest is not […]

Pennsylvanian time

There were so many such cycles at close intervals in Pennsylvanian time that Pennsylvanian rock sequences are often striped like regimental ties-the signature of glaciers half the world away. They existed three hundred million years ago, and glacial patterns of that kind have not been repeated until now, when the measure of our own brief […]