Earth Science Week: Geological Literature
Originally posted on Research & Collections:
Yesterday was Earth Science Literacy Day. You can connect with some of the Big Ideas of modern Earth Science at the Earth Science Week website. I’m going to spin that a bit into an Earth Science Literature Day, one day late.
During my last stay at the beach I made a cup of coffee with (barely drinkable) tap water. It reminded me of one of Mark Twain’s companions, a man who loved big words for their own sake. They had made undrinkable coffee from the alkali waters of Mono Lake. Noone could drink a cup, because “It’s too technical for me.” So at the top of the list is Mark Twain’s “Roughing It”. It has accounts of the Nevada Silver Rush, the Great San Francisco Earthquake, Kilauea, and the joys of working a stamp mill at a gold mine. Everyone needs to know the story of the time the tarantulas got out.
Any book by John McPhee is worth reading, but my favorites are “Assembling California” and “Control of Nature”. If you use a mirror to switch everything from west to east, North Carolina was assembled by the same processes that assembled California. Our second floor exhibit on the geology of North Carolina is called Assembling North Carolina. “Control of Nature” is a book of essays. I read Los Angeles Against the Mountains when I lived in Sierra Madre, one of the towns mentioned. The essay is about mud flows, and debris flows, the wet muddy landslides that come out of the mountains during periods of high rain. When I checked the sediments below the Eaton Canyon Dam, I recognized that the dams weren’t there to capture water. Other essays are on the volcanic eruption that threatened Heimaey, in Iceland, and the efforts to control the Mississippi River.