Geology… or Hey, Those Tectonic Plates Are Moving!

WARNING: We at Bumbastories are well aware that these little talks about science are not for the weak of heart.

The following is presented as a public service in the conviction that society (that’s all of us) would be a whole lot better off if people (that’s us, again) had a fuller understanding of science and math. For example, they would be better able to read graphs and process statistics, better able to understand something of virology and epidemiology (kind of relevant these days), and better able to follow an argument and discern truth from lies. Additionally, they would gain a wider perspective of the physical world and thus a fuller perspective on their own lives.

OK, OK. I’ve been reading geology books of late.

I got interested in geology and paleontology several years ago. The two sciences just go together kinda like peas and carrots, ham and eggs, or baseball and Ballantine. Geology is unusual in that its grand, underlying principle, plate tectonics, has only recently been established. Indeed, it’s only in the last fifty years that geologists have been able to get a good handle on the processes that shape (and continue to shape) our planet. Earth’s timeline has been stretched back to 4.6 billions years. Yikes! Together with the new data (three cheers for NASA) on our neighboring planets, as well as what we now know about the evolution of stars and galaxies, our place in the universe as a living planet can be fully appreciated. Personally, I am continually amazed how today’s scientists are now able to provide such an astonishingly detailed accounting of all of this planet’s – indeed all of life’s – history and evolution. 

It’s been quite a story – at least so far.

Here are some good books to read:

This mini-sized primer is excellent. It’s clearly written, concise, and teaches tons.
Explains plate tectonics and much more.
Your standard, nicely illustrated handbook for the amateur rock collector. But very informative.
Interesting read for the Californian and for anyone who wants to know where those fault lines are – and how they got there. Every rock has a history, and it’s amazing how much information the geologists are able to obtain and then assemble into a full history of this amazing state. Another strong recommend (sorry, no photo): Assembling California by John Mcphee


This is a coffee table book, but don’t spill any coffee on it! Because it’s just a beautiful book. The great Stephen Jay Gould states in his introduction that they (he and his team of prominent paleontologists) attempted to create a popular book about paleontology that wasn’t “dumbed down”. They succeeded in spades. At least for this dummy. The illustrations are non-pareil. Each page is full of information and wonder. Very well written, illustrated, and presented. 

17 thoughts on “Geology… or Hey, Those Tectonic Plates Are Moving!

  1. As a scientist (of sorts) I thoroughly endorse your stance – unfortunately, your President doesn’t. In order to gain votes he ‘believes’ that the world was made in seven days and is only a few thousand years old. He thinks all science is quackery – especially anything relating to viruses, global warming or extinctions – especially if it gets in the way of him making a few more bucks.

        1. Yes. All well here. Hoping you guys well. Here in LA getting used to masked boredom on streets and hoping the big one is patient. Thank

        2. LOL, yes it will make the news eventually! [I’m hoping centuries ahead!]
          Yes, it is possible. Natural catastrophies have always been on the menu throughout our history. Yet we build and we learn and we live, knowing that. 😉

        3. I’m reading Camus’ The Plague, and he says that plagues and wars happen periodically, we’re always surprised by them, and always think they’ll be over quickly .

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