Introduction to the Geology of Death Valley

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Introduction to the Geology of Death Valley

Perhaps nowhere else on earth is geology better observed and studied than in Death Valley. The Valley may seem like a place where time has stood still for hundreds of millions of years, but the geologic story here is complex and reveals a land torn by great physical changes.

An introduction to the Geology of Death Valley by Michael Collier captures the drama of the processes that are constantly changing Death Valley’s landscape. He creatively weaves an account of Death Valley’s one-hundred-and-forty-year mining history into the one-and-a-half-billion-year geologic history of the Valley. Through these stories and his perceptive observations of a slowly evolving landscape, there emerges a fresh perspective on Death Valley.

Michael Collier describes flash floods which create broad, fan-shaped deposits of sand, gravel, and boulders; volcanoes blasting forth great volumes of ash that once blanketed the surrounding mountains and valleys; warm, shallow seas that extended over thousands of square miles. He describes a region rent by great earthquakes that pushed up mountain ranges and sand valleys; where thick sheets of solid rock have been pushed sideways for miles or gently slid down sloping mountain fronts; where the earth’s forces have folded, crushed, or moved great masses of rock. As he so well puts it, “The soil of Death Valley – tough scorched, and salt-ridden – has been very fertile for geologic thought.”

Commissioned by the Death Valley Natural History Association, Collier accomplished the goal of taking a complex, and sometimes controversial, geology and transforming it into a story, the essence of solid natural history writing. —

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