'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. Fremont, 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.
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.
Preface PART I: CALIFORNIA 1. Golden Gate 2. Mother Lode 3. Rivers of Gold 4. A Traverse across the Range of Light 5. Where Is the Edge of the North American Plate? PART II: THE BASIN AND RANGE AND THE GREAT BASIN 6. Where Rivers Die 7. The Growing Pains of Mountains 8. Wealth and Magma 9. Water and Salt 10. Evolution's Big Bang PART III: THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS 11. Range- Roving Rivers 12. Up from the Basement 13. At the Frontier Appendix I: Deep Time: Fathoming the Rock Record Appendix II: Seeing for Yourself Acknowledgments Notes Glossary Bibliography Figure Sources and Credits Index