Having a father who enthusiastically dug up fossils and examined road cuts with a hammer or loupe, it was hard not to share his love for geology and history of all sorts. His cellar workbench and shelves had numbered samples of rocks bearing pelecypods, brachiopods and slaty leaf imprints. As kids we climbed up basalt cliffs, looked for arrowheads all the while absorbing a little about the complex geology of New Jersey and eastern Pennsylvania.

That love for understanding what stands under us has never really diminished. So when I stumbled across the U.S. Geological Survey’s “Tapestry” map and learned it was available for download,  I just had to have it. It now sits in my office, on a wall opposite the window.

It’s a beautiful riot of colors, but more than that, it’s a description of how North America has been assembled and shaped over the eons. There’s something restful about walking your eyes across  the crustal stretch marks of the Basin and Range, pondering the sediments in the Mississippi Embayment or following the north-trending folds of the Appalachians. It is a meditation on creation.

Tapestry map

Closer to home, the Arkansas Geological Survey has a wonderful map that not only shows dating for rocks, but also fault location. Here too, (like the view out the living room window), the Ouachitas are very colorful place, shot through with a spider web of faults (one of which I walked across several times capturing this morning’s violets, hairy leaves and tree bones). Ferndale even has its own quadrangle.

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