I’ve been lying abed for the last several hours with a happy napping felid and books. Deciding to take a break from an extensive paper on Mount St. Helens’ eruptive history, I dipped in to Written in Stone, my second-favorite book of that title (the first being the one by Brian Switek, of course). I’ve not read it in years. Now that I’ve been to New England, I thought, this is a prime time to peruse it again.
This lead to the realization that Evelyn and I were gallivanting over several exotic terranes. The trouble is, I can’t figure out which ones. In over an hour of spelunking the intertoobz, I’ve come across no end to geologic maps, some showing terranes, all of them seeming to show different terranes for the same area. Argh. If anyone has a good source on the terranes of New England, especially New Hampshire, Massachusetts and Vermont, now would be a perfect time to say so.
Here’s a map of all the places we went, for those who wish to see my area of focus:
My geologic experiences up to this point have been largely confined to the American West. There’s an advantage the West has: there’s a lot more written about the geology out here. Papers are easier to find, books abound, the state geological surveys are fairly comprehensive and have lots of publications online. I’ve only begun to search the East, but it seems these things aren’t quite as true for New England. Sigh.
There’s also the advantage of living here. I’ve spent my entire life poking round the western rocks. I know them intimately. Even the Pacific Northwest, which I’ve only lived in for five years, is as familiar as my cat’s dear fanged face. The East is alien. I’m not used to passive margins (which in the past weren’t passive at all). Some of the rock types we found were cheerily similar, like seeing old friends. But the regional geology might as well be Martian. I haven’t got a grasp of it. I mean, I know some things, but they’re broad strokes. The canvass has been prepared, a few things sketched in, but not so much as a dab of paint put in.
And the geography scrambles my brain. Evelyn and I drove for two hours. In my part of the country, you’re lucky to leave a county in that amount of time, much less cross a state line. We’d crossed three. And, because I’m used to barely scratching the surface of another state in several hours of driving, I’d got the impression Holyoke, Mass was close to the New Hampshire/Vermont borders. Not so. We’d practically made it to Connecticut. This blows my Wild West mind. This does not happen where I come from.
After a few hours, I’m getting the shapes of the states and their relative positions firm in my mind, able to recognize them from a small slice on a map when there’s no anchor like New York to guide me. I’m starting to get a tiny sense of the regional geography. But it’s going to take an incredible amount of work to even begin to understand what we saw. I’ll likely be screaming for help from those more well-versed in New England geology.
I’m tapping my foot and checking my watch at the people who’re supposed to be bringing us closer to this brave new world of man-machine merging, because I could use an upgrade to my brain. I want to be able to stream geology papers directly into my brain. I want to be able to overlay geologic maps with political and topographic maps and understand them, merely by telling that upgraded portion of my mind to go seek out the desired info and make it usable. I want to step into virtual reality and learn this stuff by taste and touch and smell.
I stood out on the porch this evening cursing the fact I’ll always be downright stupid about particular regions of the world. I want to know them all. Intimately. And once I’m done with them, there’s plenty of other planets in the solar system. And beyond: a universe.
This is the only reason I ever crave immortality. I don’t want power. Don’t even necessarily want fame and fortune (although with a fortune, I could subscribe to journals and buy the really expensive books and travel to all the nifty places, so on second thought: fortune, too, please!). I’d just like all that time to immerse myself in science. I’ll start with geology, but I want it all. Every single branch. I want to know all we know in all of the physical sciences, and then I want to plunge headfirst into those brave new worlds were questions outnumber answers and the words on everyone’s lips are, “I don’t know. Let’s find out!”
But I’ll do the best I can with my finite span. After letting my poor brain catch a break by allowing it to return to the easy, quiet rhythms of volcanic eruptions, I’ll plunge it right back into orogenies again. It may end up feeling like a migmatite before we’re done, but we will be able to speak with a semblance of intelligence about New England geology.
And from there, the world…