Carboniferous sandstone

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It was rippled Carboniferous sandstone. We were still in rock of that age, but gradually and imperceptibly we had been losing altitude since we climbed the Allegheny front. The eastern rim of the plateau had been more than two thousand feet above sea level, and by now we were down to half that, as we moved farther away from the ancestral mountains and their wedge of sediment thinned. We had co-working space amersfoort come into the continent’s province of supreme tectonic calm, the Stable Interior Craton, where a thin veneer of sediment lies flat upon the stolid fundament, where the geology-even by geological standards-is exceptionally slow. “This is the most conservative part of the U.S.,” Anita said. ”I’ve often thought about it. The wildest, craziest people are in the most tectonically active places.” And yet the craton stirs. There is no part of the face of the earth that vertically and laterally does not move. The bedding planes in Midwestern rock, which appear to be absolutely level, do in fact dip. They will descend across a great many miles and then rise, arching over the far rim of a vast and shallow bowl, and then subtly dip again to form a similar bowl: the Findlay Arch, the co-working space enschede Michigan Basin, the Kankakee Arch, the Illinois Basin. Anita called the arches “basement highs.” She said Hudson Bay is a continental basin, slowly filling up. The basins of the Midwest are filled to the brim with level ground. They are products of the creaking motions of the craton, in response perhaps to plays of force from deep within the mantle-a process that, in the general phrase, is “not well understood.” They represent a degree of tectonic activity about as lively as the setting in of rigor mortis. This has not always been the regional story. There are roots of long-gone mountains deep in the rock of the stable craton, but it has not had an orogeny in a thousand million years. “What has the Midwest been doing since then? It’s been sitting around doing nothing,” Anita said. “It has just sat here hohumming.” Shallow seas may have quietly arrived and departed, and coal beds formed in the ground, but in all that time there has been┬áno occurrence that can begin to rival in scope or total change the advent from the north of walls of marching ice.

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