"ROUGH-HEWN LAND: A GEOLOGIC JOURNEY FROM CALIFORNIA TO THE ROCKY MOUNTAINS." By Keith Heyer Meldahl. University of California Press. $34.95.
Think of the West and what comes to mind are vertiginous peaks, sculpted tablelands and the infinite vistas of basin and range country. In other words, geology.
Westerners live in the shadow of mountains that are still rising, on the edge of a continent on the move, over fault systems that can unleash the power of nuclear bombs. More so than any other region of the country, we are defined by geology.
In "Rough-Hewn Land," Keith Heyer Meldahl takes us on a field trip from San Francisco to the Rocky Mountains, tracing the genealogy of the landscape. He seasons the story with historical accounts and a synthesis of evolving geologic theory, providing a fascinating guide to the formation of the West.