The Restless Northwest

The world seems stable and predictable. In our daily life, the ground is solid, rivers flow to the sea, and mountains stay put. What could be more obvious than that?

According to the excellent book The Restless Northwest by Hill Williams, all that stability is just an illusion. Williams describes a world that is in constant motion, with continents being pushed and pulled on an underground sea of molten rock. He describes how this process, and many others, came to form the spectacular and peculiar geology of the Pacific Northwest over millions of years. While grounded in hard science, Williams explains the process in a way we can all understand.

Still in doubt? Well you can actually see the evidence for yourself.  On your next foray into the outside world, look around for all the examples set in stone.  If you are traveling by car, bring along Roadside Geology of Washington by David Alt.  Whether you are on I-5 or I-90 you can find out what all those rocks mean. Roadside Geology is a series of books so you can check out the formations of other states as well.

If you want to get out of the car and get more hands on, check out Hiking Washington’s Geology by Scott Babcock.  Babcock highlights many great hikes in the state and helps you find out what it is you are walking on.

After reading about all the monumental forces that shaped the landscape, I must admit a fondness for the huge ice sheets that slowly covered much of the earth during the many ice ages.  Maybe it comes from reading Robert Frost’s poem Fire and Ice too many times in my youth, but there is something fascinating about a world covered in ice.  If you want to find out what really happened, and could happen again, take a look at The Complete Ice Age.

So, lovers of stability, take heed and learn about the chaotic world all around you while perusing the stacks at the Everett Public Library.


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