Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains

Rough-Hewn Land: A Geologic Journey from California to the Rocky Mountains

by Keith Heyer Meldahl

Hardcover(First Edition)

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“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. Frémont, 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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780520259355
Publisher: University of California Press
Publication date: 11/15/2011
Edition description: First Edition
Pages: 320
Product dimensions: 7.28(w) x 10.26(h) x 1.06(d)

About the Author

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.

Table of Contents


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?

6. Where Rivers Die
7. The Growing Pains of Mountains
8. Wealth and Magma
9. Water and Salt
10. Evolution’s Big Bang

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

Figure Sources and Credits

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

"The writing is so conversational that it's hard to believe this is science. . . . Meldahl has captured the wonder, as well as the facts that produced it [the geologic world of the American West] in this vaguely unsettling (so much activity in what we depend on to be still and solid) and enlightening book."—The Atlantic

"Informative and highly readable, "Rough-Hewn Land" belongs on the shelf of any Westerner curious about how that stunning view through the windshield came to be."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"An absorbing book. . . . A good introduction to the geology of the region."—The Guardian

"A unique and intriguing book that perfectly brings together an infectious passion for earth science, a down-to-earth writing style, and deep thinking about how geology affects the human experience."—Washington
Ind Rev of Bks

"A magnificent volume. . . . The broad coverage has something for every geologist, as well as anyone with an interest in the geography, geology, history, and development of the western United States."—Geological Journal

Customer Reviews