JOHN DVORAK worked on volcanoes and earthquakes for the United States Geological Survey for 16 years. He then operated a telescope atop Mauna Kea in the Hawaiian Islands for 20 years.
He has written articles for several national magazines, including cover stories for Scientific American, Astronomy and Physics Today.
He is the author of four books: Earthquakes Storms, The Last Volcano, Mask of the Sun, and How the Mountains Grew.
Photo by Tom Peek
HOW THE MOUNTAINS GREW
A New Geological History of North America
The epic story of how a continent formed,
how it evolved, and how its ancient history
continues to shape our lives.
There is a new Earth—one more dynamic and changeable than anyone had imagined. And the evidence for the dramatic events are in the rocks that we walk over and drive across every day.
HOW THE MOUNTAINS GREW is a geologic field trip across North America, one that follows a chronological history of the continent. It begins at the oldest rocks on the continent, in northern Canada and Minnesota. It tells why there is a petrified forest in Arizona, why Texas is blessed with so much oil, and how North America was almost pulled apart and the western part of Lake Superior formed. Mass extinctions are recorded in a thin clay layer in Colorado and in a jumble of rocks in Mississippi. And an ancient episode of sudden global warming and its consequences is found in southwestern Wyoming, a harbinger of what is in store for North America—and the planet—for the next century.
Here are the places where one can go to touch the Earth's distant past. It tells of times when vast seas swept over much of the land, when the planet was twice entirely encased in ice, and when, through the inexorable whims of nature, the mountains grew.