"History is a wonderful thing, if only it was true"

Tuesday, March 01, 2005

Burning State

The Doc Searls Weblog : Saturday, February 26, 2005

This one is so good that I'll just paste it all
Credit to Doc
I sometimes think there are no Californians. There can't be. We're all just visitors here. The place is too temporary by nature: our culture here is just a Burning Man that lasts a few generations instead of a few days.

Stand in Western North Carolina, below the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Then crank the clock back a couple million years. The mountains will be a little higher, the foliage a little different, but the shape will be about the same. Do the same anywhere in California, and the whole place disappears. Everything we see is still in the process of up out of the depths by lithospheric plates crunching against each other. A train crash in slow motion.

Look at redwoods. Why do they grow so tall, with thick bark and short flimsy branches that don't commence in a mature tree until you get past 150 feet of trunk? Because they're adapted to fire. Look at the the state flower: the California poppy. It's ideally suited to soil minted fresh from exfoliated and otherwise destroyed rock. In other words, adapted to earthquakes.

Look where we live. Our house sits on the former contents of a mountain whose face slid seaward in late Pleistocene time. Our hill is a cake of Eocene sandstone rocks and boulders ("fanglomerate") with a frosting of topsoil. In spite of its violent provenance, it's far more stable ground than almost anything in Los Angeles, where the bedrock is mostly shattered and the topsoil comprised of recently deposited alluvium. The latter is easily disturbed and even more easily liquified by rain and then washed away when its sides are exposed. We feel fortunate. Relatively.

As for myself, I'll stick with good old glacial till, hundreds of miles from any known fault or active zone, tucked up near the North American Craton (orginal continent - north shore of Lake Superior)

Sure we get winter, but snow not slides, and we have nice summers with long days and lazy evenings.

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