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Book Review - CP geology

Discussion in 'Archives - Yahoo Canyons Group' started by j b, Feb 6, 2012.

  1. j b

    j b Guest

    Just finished Geological Evolution of the Colorado Plateauby Robert Fillmore (published 2011).  I have been looking for a book like this for a decade.  There are many books out there treating the area's geology in some way, but most of them are too brief or too technical, or consist largely of road logs without sufficient science, or just aren't very interesting.  (It might be useful to bear in mind that never having been trained in the subject, I love "popular" geology books, and I consider "How the Earth was Made" to be the most riveting television of the last few years.  My rule of thumb is that if it contains a cross-sectional view of the earth's crust, then find a comfortable chair and settle in.  If that sounds silly, well, I need only reference what people on this group do for fun, i.e. swim/plow through dark frozen claustrophobic drainage bottoms in the middle of winter.)  Fillmore addresses the different rock formations in a generally chronological fashion, always relating things to particular ancient landscapes whose existence is inferred from the different strata.  There are frequent comments on the significance of various details.  For example: how the changing coarseness of sediments indicate the location and height of long-vanished mountain ranges, why minerals like chert and feldspar help reveal the nature of certain uncomformities, the effects of the rise and fall ad infinitum of the ancient sea, etc.  One of my favorite aspects of the book is how he explains the balance of scientific arguments for and against particular geological interpretations, such as the origin of Upheaval Dome, the nature of the laccolith ranges, or the source for the immense amount of sand that became the Navajo.  (It is not entirely settled, but some evidence based on zircon crystals points to the Appalachians, as has been noted on this group at least once.)  I really appreciate this guidance in evaluating what is more or less agreed upon, and what questions are still open, e.g. the precise timing and impetus that raised the plateau to its current elevation.  While parts of the book--especially the early chapters--focus on eastern Utah, at some point it touches on most regions of the Colorado Plateau, and indeed the entire western US when he reviews the Laramide orogeny.

    Although it does not quite possess the narrative thread of, say, Meldahl's Hard Road West(also very good, a blend of geology and the history of westward migration), overall it might be the more informative and educational book.  If the language tends toward a textbook style in places, it nevertheless remains accessible throughout and contains much general science, delving into chemistry and biology on occasion.  The attentive geological layman should really enjoy it, because it's simply the best I've found on the subject.  It also features several road logs, but even without these it would be a sizable volume well worth the purchase price.  Highly recommended. 

    P.S. I listened to a lecture last week from Scott Burns, a contributing author to the updated Cataclysms on the Columbia, about the Lake Missoula floods.  He was a terrific speaker.  Putting that one on my list.

    Jeff

  2. TomJones

    TomJones Guest

    Thanks Jeff. Put it on my list.

    Tom

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, j b <pofr2004@...> wrote:
    Just finished Geological Evolution of the Colorado Plateauby Robert Fillmore (published 2011).  I have been looking for a book like this for a decade. 
  3. Pete

    Pete Guest

    A belated thanks for the recommendation. I ordered "Cataclysms" as I've been fascinated with that story for years, and put "Colorado Plateau" on my list.

    Pete

    --- In Yahoo Canyons Group, j b <pofr2004@...> wrote:
    Just finished Geological Evolution of the Colorado Plateauby Robert Fillmore (published 2011).  I have been looking for a book like this for a decade.  There are many books out there treating the area's geology in some way, but most of them are too brief or too technical, or consist largely of road logs without sufficient science, or just aren't very interesting.  (It might be useful to bear in mind that never having been trained in the subject, I love "popular" geology books, and I consider "How the Earth was Made" to be the most riveting television of the last few years.  My rule of thumb is that if it contains a cross-sectional view of the earth's crust, then find a comfortable chair and settle in.  If that sounds silly, well, I need only reference what people on this group do for fun, i.e. swim/plow through dark frozen claustrophobic drainage bottoms in the middle of winter.)  Fillmore addresses the different rock formations in a generally > chronological fashion, always relating things to particular ancient landscapes whose existence is inferred from the different strata.  There are frequent comments on the significance of various details.  For example: how the changing coarseness of sediments indicate the location and height of long-vanished mountain ranges, why minerals like chert and feldspar help reveal the nature of certain uncomformities, the effects of the rise and fall ad infinitum of the ancient sea, etc.  One of my favorite aspects of the book is how he explains the balance of scientific arguments for and against particular geological interpretations, such as the origin of Upheaval Dome, the nature of the laccolith ranges, or the source for the immense amount of sand that became the Navajo.  (It is not entirely settled, but some evidence based on zircon crystals points to the Appalachians, as has been noted on this group at least once.)  I really appreciate this guidance in > evaluating what is more or less agreed upon, and what questions are still open, e.g. the precise timing and impetus that raised the plateau to its current elevation.  While parts of the book--especially the early chapters--focus on eastern Utah, at some point it touches on most regions of the Colorado Plateau, and indeed the entire western US when he reviews the Laramide orogeny.
    Although it does not quite possess the narrative thread of, say, Meldahl's Hard Road West(also very good, a blend of geology and the history of westward migration), overall it might be the more informative and educational book.  If the language tends toward a textbook style in places, it nevertheless remains accessible throughout and contains much general science, delving into chemistry and biology on occasion.  The attentive geological layman should really enjoy it, because it's simply the best I've found on the subject.  It also features several road logs, but even without these it would be a sizable volume well worth the purchase price.  Highly recommended. 
    P.S. I listened to a lecture last week from Scott Burns, a contributing author to the updated Cataclysms on the Columbia, about the Lake Missoula floods.  He was a terrific speaker.  Putting that one on my list.
    Jeff
    >
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