How the Mountains Grew: A New Geological History of North America

How the Mountains Grew: A New Geological History of North America

by John Dvorak
How the Mountains Grew: A New Geological History of North America

How the Mountains Grew: A New Geological History of North America

by John Dvorak



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The incredible story of the creation of a continent—our continent— from the acclaimed author of The Last Volcano and Mask of the Sun.

The immense scale of geologic time is difficult to comprehend. Our lives—and the entirety of human history—are mere nanoseconds on this timescale.  Yet we hugely influenced by the land we live on.  From shales and fossil fuels, from lake beds to soil composition, from elevation to fault lines, what could be more relevant that the history of the ground beneath our feet?

For most of modern history, geologists could say little more about why mountains grew than the obvious: there were forces acting inside the Earth that caused mountains to rise.  But what were those forces?  And why did they act in some places of the planet and not at others? 

When the theory of plate tectonics was proposed, our concept of how the Earth worked experienced a momentous shift.  As the Andes continue to rise, the Atlantic Ocean steadily widens, and Honolulu creeps ever closer to Tokyo, this seemingly imperceptible creep of the Earth is revealed in the landscape all around us. 

But tectonics cannot—and do not—explain everything about the wonders of the North American landscape.  What about the Black Hills? Or the walls of chalk that stand amongst the rolling hills of west Kansas? Or the fact that the states of Washington and Oregon are slowly rotating clockwise, and there a diamond mine in Arizona?

It all points to the geologic secrets hidden inside the 2-billion-year-old-continental masses.  A whopping ten times older than the rocky floors of the ocean, continents hold the clues to the long history of our planet.

With a sprightly narrative that vividly brings this science to life, John Dvorak's How the Mountains Grew will fill readers with a newfound appreciation for the wonders of the land we live on.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781643135755
Publisher: Pegasus Books
Publication date: 08/03/2021
Format: eBook
Pages: 304
Sales rank: 539,270
File size: 18 MB
Note: This product may take a few minutes to download.

About the Author

John Dvorak, PhD, has studied volcanoes and earthquakes around the world for the United States Geological Survey, first at Mount St. Helens in 1980, then a series of assignments in Hawaii, Italy, Indonesia, Central America and Alaska. In addition to dozens of papers published in scientific journals, Dvorak has written cover stories for Scientific American, Astronomy and Physics Today.

Table of Contents

Note to the Reader ix

Prologue: Mount Rushmore, South Dakota xv

1 The Relics of Hell 1

2 Bombardment and Bottleneck 20

3 The Children of Ur 43

4 Gardens of Ediacaran 64

5 The Great Unconformity 80

6 An Ancient Forest at Gilboa 102

7 Fires, Forests, and Coal 123

8 The Great Dying 144

9 A Grand Staircase 161

10 Western Interior Seaway 186

11 A Calamitous Event 212

12 Extinction 236

13 How the Mountains Grew 253

14 The Great Lakes of Wyoming 284

15 A Drowned River at Poughkeepsie 313

16 A World Bequeathed and the Great Acceleration 339

Epilogue: Rugby, North Dakota 365

Acknowledgements 373

Sources 375

Endnotes 411

Index 433

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